Roger Marolt: Confusing philosophical calculus with writing on the wall |

Roger Marolt: Confusing philosophical calculus with writing on the wall

Roger Marolt
Roger This

In springtime, it is only natural for the thoughts of a man, skiing the slush alone on deserted ski slopes, to turn to geometry. Or so I tried to convince myself after the fact when my concentration was broken and I started to feel weird about it. Show me a skier who complains about traverses and I will show you a person who does not understand the angles of skiing the steeps.

While it is true that flat traverses across the mountain after a good run, as in the case of Highland Bowl, or before one, like one must endure to tackle Aspen’s T-chutes, can be a pain in the wax, it is a fact of skiing that you must go sideways across the mountain in order to enjoy the most challenging runs. The scant exceptions are the trails that run directly under rapidly rising ski lifts.

You can make a straight line between point A (the top of Ajax) and B (the Ajax Tavern) through Spar Gulch and never have to traverse, or you can traverse to descend S1 then traverse again to get Shoulder of Bell and then make one last traverse to “Niagara” before you end up at The Tavern. Who has the better story to tell?

On the drive home I was thinking of this and a little trigonometry trying to decide if my magical sports watch is calculating the slopes of the runs I ski accurately (I have my doubts), when I realized I was doing 27 in a 45 mph zone next to the airport on Owl Creek Road, and I almost missed all the private jets parked there, which is inexplicable during the offseasons.

There were certainly not a lot of jets by comparison to the holidays, but there were definitely more than there are restaurants open downtown now. I could not figure the inverse sine for the adjacent angle on this one. Why were they here?

Then it came to me: It was the end-of-season party at Highlands that afternoon. Crap! I missed it again!

At any rate, the people who flew in on those jets did not miss it. They flew here during mud season expressly for it! And, yes, I know it is circumstantial evidence, but I’m sticking to my story because, if true, it’s interesting.

My first impression was these folks are trying too hard to fit in. I hope I am not sounding like an elitist here, because my intention is to sound like an anti-elitist.

I mean, isn’t the end-of-season party for locals who have worn themselves out waiting on and bending over backward for the jet-set crowd all winter? Isn’t it about blowing off steam? Isn’t it reminiscing about experiences over the entire season, not just when you had the chance to pop into town?

The end-of-season parties have traditionally been for the working stiffs and ski bums. It is what we do when no one is looking and the chamber of commerce is closed. I suppose we should take it as flattery that our rich and famous visitors, deep down in their hearts, only want to be like us. OK, let’s go with that.

But, here is the thing, and we have seen it countless times: The coolest things of this town came about by people living here zig-zagging from point A to B to C … all the way to Z, just because that was the casually interesting route, taking detours through places like La Cocina and Cooper Street Pier along the way. Most of the time they probably didn’t know where they were going and, most likely, didn’t have any particular time they needed to be there.

It is a generalization, I understand, but people in private jets don’t seem to be like that. They demonstrate a desire to get from point A to point Z as directly as possible, and have transformed this town in many ways with that shallow angle of attack. Then, when all the stuff in between is overlooked, it actually becomes virtuous, in their minds, to simply smooth over what appear to be rough spots.

And now to point X: It is a matter of time before billionaire trigonometry angles-off the Rorschach blot that is the Highlands end-of-season party into a neat right triangle. It will get polished. It will be made “more successful” because of its own success. We will have big name acts for entertainment. It will become a three-day event with early-bird tickets going on sale for $150 in July. And yet, this is not worth crying about. A couple years will pass and we’ll only vaguely remember how it used to be. Then, we will build another big hotel to try to bring it back.

Roger Marolt inadvertently reset his magical sports watch back to 1987 when he tried to get his heart-rate measurement. Email at