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Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

There are good, great, incredible, and perfect days of skiing. I know the differences because I experienced each last week. One common denominator in all of them was that each was a bonus day, a freebie, where Skico kept the lifts lifting after the season officially closed. It’s enough to make you feel like you really do live in a ski town. Thanks!

As for my ranking scale, last Saturday at Highlands was a really good day of skiing. There was about 6 inches of fresh powder, on top of a day-old 12 inches, on top of at least a foot that fell two days earlier. Yes, it was deep! And, yes, it was light, for awhile. It wasn’t like I was the only one anticipating the great conditions, either. My son and I took the bus because the parking lot was full by 8:30 a.m.

Now, if you’ve never skied deep powder on a foggy spring morning with a 12-year-old boy who has been pent up in school all week and who would rather ski real snow even more than “riding” virtual boards down a digitized Swiss Alp with a Wii joystick, I might claim that you have never skied before. The kid wouldn’t stop! After streaking (not in the ’70s sense) down Deep Steeple Chase half a dozen times, my thighs felt like they were going to explode, I was sweating like a lilac soaker in July, and a slice of pizza at the Merry-Go-Round sounded like an invitation for fine Sicilian cuisine.

When the sun came out, we relaxed the rest of the afternoon knowing that springtime had really arrived. No kidding; you could almost pinpoint the exact moment it happened. It might have been a great day, except I had skied the day before which was, in fact, a great day and still fresh in my mind.

It was a well-advertised Friday Powder Posse day at Highlands. So much snow had fallen in the two weeks since the lifts last ran there that the ski patrol needed help making tracks to stabilize it for the weekend reopening. Imagine that! When it comes to powder, I know of no greedier hoarders of it than the Highlands Ski Patrol. Think about how much powder must have been lying on the slopes that they couldn’t cut it all to crud by themselves. Yes, there was that much!

A mob of approximately 378 showed up for the “mandatory” two laps on The Bowl and then all the Deep Temerity you could handle. I thought I could handle a lot, but by three in the afternoon my body felt like a sandbag in Fargo. It wasn’t just me either. My brother was toast. Our buddy John was toast. Tongues were dragging like dog leashes in Wagner Park when the poop patrol isn’t looking. Honestly, I have never had that many vertical feet of untracked powder in beautiful blizzard conditions in all my life … except for the day before.

Last Thursday was an absolutely incredible day of skiing! It was an unadvertised Powder Posse day. Only 50 people and a foot of fresh snow showed up for this gem. The ski patrol was hoping for a better turnout, but we were happy to disappoint them.

A mountain the size of Highlands can swallow 50 people as quickly as we were gulping breaths between face shots. Thick fog added to the feeling of isolation. Our group of four made two laps on the Bowl without seeing another soul. Heck, we could barely find each other up there. You couldn’t pay a million dollars and expect to feel more elite. We found out that it truly is lonely at the top, but there aren’t any tracks there either.

Later, we skied Deep Temerity until they said we had to go home, and then finished off the day on No Name over which not even so much as a weasel had crossed all day. Has Moment of Truth ever been trackless and bump-less at 3 in the afternoon? Well, the answer is yes, but only until we skied it a minute later.

But, before all of this, I had already experienced the perfect day of skiing. It was nearly two weeks ago, the day after Aspen Mountain closed for the season. An anonymous donor purchased the day at an Aspen Ski Club auction and invited 500 of his closest Aspen Elementary School friends and their parents to join him for a day on the hill. He even bought lunch. If you can think of a better win-win-win-win situation, you’re mistaken. Skico looks great, the ski club raises some cash, the donor feels awesome, and the kids and their parents are ecstatic.

But wait, there’s more! Picture this: There is not a cloud in the sky, the temperature is warm, but not hot, and six inches of mid-winter snow covers the ground. Nobody is a stranger, and everybody is a friend. Optimism overwhelms everything, even the smell of moldy hay creeping in from the edges of melting snow at the base area. A freckled 8-year-old recognizes you from coaching his soccer team. “I’m gonna thki thircles around you,” he says with all the confidence you hope you had a part in instilling in him. You laugh and say, “someday,” which will be sooner than either thinks. It’s perfect!

Kids are my heroes. Their sins are small, their desires are sustainable, and their dreams are huge! As I followed my daughter and her friends around Aspen Mountain, I realized that the only pains anybody felt from living in those moments right in front of our ski tips were from sunburn and dimple cramps.

Where there are children there is hope, as in a glimpse of the future with fresh eyes. If you spend a day skiing with them you know that the world is going to be OK. Such an outing made possible by the generosity and enthusiasm of so many in our community, not to save the world but to simply share what we have to be grateful for, promised that the good, the great, and the incredible days of our lives were yet to come. So far, so good.


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