Switch Up: Do’s and Don’ts for surviving the next 143 days | AspenTimes.com
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Switch Up: Do’s and Don’ts for surviving the next 143 days

Or however long you’re here

Benjamin Welch and Austin Colbert
Switch Up

Confidence is key to enjoying your time on the mountain. Well, confidence and a skill set that can only be developed after multiple trips up the hill, potentially taking some lessons and perhaps a beer at the Sundeck to calm the nerves, like before a date or jury duty or church (is it normal for the priest to be the awkward one in confessional?).

Snowboarding is great, sure, but after so many winters, are we going to be reminiscing about the 1,308th time we rode down Spar when we’re old? Yeah, probably. As Aspen veterans of some caliber, this week we offer personalized do’s and don’ts to keep you smiling on the mountain — or at least arm you against a traumatizing experience.

Do: Get your skis/board waxed and tuned before opening day.



AC: This is especially important for me because I’m already one of the slowest riders on the mountain, so any extra stickiness is a burden on everyone (sorry, Kaya). Then again, I like to enjoy my turns unlike you speed Freaks (RIP Sam Coffey), so maybe I’ll wait a bit to hit up Radio for some fresh wax. Plus, saying I haven’t gotten my board tuned is a good excuse for my tortoise-like pace. Maybe getting a tune should have been a do not …

Don’t: Forget to wash your ski clothes.




BW: Not everyone has the privilege of nearby and/or cheap laundry, or the time or foresight to realize when you get out of the shower that your underwear for the day is gonna have to be a second pair of pants. What, am I just supposed to waddle down to the bank all commando to get a roll of quarters? Surely the teller would notice.

If you gotta wing it til payday, fill a tub of water with half a cup of detergent, a squirt of Dawn and maybe a couple shakes of lemon juice. Garnish with maraschino cherries and a slice of bacon.

Weirded out by washing clothes in the tub? Well, what’s the difference? Nobody has ever witnessed firsthand what goes on in a washing machine anyway; it’s probably the exact same concept. Or there’s always the kitchen sink, but make sure to use boiling water, which kills way more germs that you don’t otherwise want transferring to your forks, pint glasses and Pastafarian colander.

Don’t: Go ski/ride without a mask.

AC: No, this isn’t about COVID. This is more for people like me who, in all likelihood, will certainly bite it good on opening day (and possibly every day after) and a proper mask helps conceal your identity. If I could send it like Gretchen Bleiler (I’ve ridden with her, and I assure you, I cannot), I’d go sans mask and try to show off as much as possible. But when I knock over a gaggle of skiers getting off my first chairlift after a long offseason, it’s best if no one knows who I am. So mask up.

Do: Listen to music if you want.

BW: I guess an “if you want” qualifier could technically also be a “don’t,” but it’s in the spirit of the game so whatever. Some people hate wearing headphones because they can’t hear their surroundings, but that’s what I like about them. I don’t want to listen to the crunch of the snow and let the thought that I’m one 57-mph edgecatch from decapitation penetrate my mind. I don’t need exterior sound; I can basically just feel my surroundings and navigate based on that like a snake, if you will, or the Pinball Wizard. But more about my supple wrist later. Music provides a subconscious-level concentration and drowns out the tinnitus I mysteriously developed in March. Makes me feel like “Baby Driver.”

An added benefit is that if you’re conflict-adverse and you crash into someone there’s an opportunity to hurriedly escape and not hear your adversary screaming epithets at you.* Plausible deniability is my favorite constitutional right.

*Legal disclaimer: Don’t actually try this and if you do I am not liable.

Don’t: Ski/ride without your friends.

AC: Between town coming back to life and the first round of holidays, it’s a time to celebrate with your friends and family on the mountain. Not like you can escape them up there anyway, as we’ll all be standing in the same line for Ajax Express on the 107 acres of terrain we’ll have early on. So, embrace friendship, new and old. Unless you find that one hidden patch of powder. Then, most certainly, cut the cord and send it solo. You can’t put a price on powder, and powder can’t give you COVID.

Do: Dress up.

BW: I don’t know much about mountain fashion, so really what I mean is “wriggle a basketball jersey on over your jacket.” You’d be surprised at how many people will think “Whoa there goes Michael Jordan!” when it’s actually just you. I’m sure there’s a whole contingent of Aspen skiers content to rent tiny little skis, go on one mortifying run and spend the rest of the day looking sexy at apres. I personally am not impressed when I see a plastic person walking around with a Callaway jacket or whatever brand rich old white people (or rich people of any persuasion) wear, but conversely I do hope they realize I’m the only MFer they’ve come across today in an anorak.

I also advocate for props and decorations such as capes, tridents or loaves of bread. Maybe a propeller beanie would help you get some extra air off that roller. I think some people tie little ribbons to their helmets signaling they’re a beginner, but that’s just the equivalent of a “baby on board” bumper sticker. Like, it’s not going to give me extra motivation to swerve out the way, ya know?

Do: Go into the season with some optimism.

AC: No, Mother Nature isn’t yet doing her part in all this and our pre-Christmas outlook looks depressingly bleak from a snow standpoint. But stay positive, as it can only get better, right? Hey, I’m looking at you. I know COVID numbers are again rising and climate change is a nightmare, but … hmm … yeah, we’re all doomed. At least the $400 Diplo concerts are coming back to Belly Up like the good ‘ol days.

Don’t: Leave it all on the mountain.

BW: Attempting to jump from cliff to catwalk and getting featured in a Jerry of the Day video is not how you want to earn your 15 minutes of fame — assuming of course, you’re not already famous, but in which case, that would be funny. Virtually nobody has anything to prove out here at 12,000 feet, especially if you’re on the wrong side of 30, as I am (older than 29). Is charging down that mogul field, or looking for tree stashes 48 hours after a snowstorm, or trying to race your buddy down an opening day ribbon of death worth a potential life-altering injury? Trust me, “I tore my ACL skiing” is not the badge of honor you might think it is. And remember, you’re already working from home, so you’re not getting that extra recovery time off.

Take it easy out there and stay in one piece — besides, who knows what hospital capacity might look like during the holidays and which surgeries might suddenly be qualified as “elective.”


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