Closing Day At Aspen Highlands

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Axel Pond Skimming Click to watch Axel pond skimming

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(As I was taking a photo of Josh from ZG Tech he recognized me from my website photos that he had helped to design. Glad to meet you Josh, Meow)

Saturday night Wade and I had a very last minute bonfire party. Good friends and tequila provided the perfect ingredients to help me transition back from flip flops to snowstorms.

When I awoke the next day, needing the fun factor to continue, I got ready to hike the Aspen Highlands Bowl one last time. I had missed the epic day of the year which was the day after I returned from the beach and I needed retribution. Also, their closing day party has been voted number 1 for best closing day at a ski mountain in the country and I wasn’t going to miss it.

Driving in I was met with a big smile and a friendly hello from the “Aspen Cool” parking attendant who set the precedent for an incredible day by announcing that he would honor the last punch on our parking pass next year.

As I got my things together the people spilled out of the car next to me, moaning and reeking of alcohol. They were all in town to visit Brevitt’s ski instructor, Cool Beans, who was looking quite dapper with his slicked back hair, vintage sunglasses and business suit. His friends were clearly in need of guidance. He instructed them like they were his ten year old ski students  and then elegantly sauntered off to the slopes.

His friends fell apart when he left, moving like they were in a thick vat of marshmallow crème. I don’t think this is what they had in mind to pay penance for their sins committed the night before. This crazy Aspen lifestyle of partying hard and skiing harder is not for everyone.

One overzealous man bent over to put his ski boot on and almost passed out from a head rush taking ten minutes to quietly recover with a stunned and nauseous look on his face. When they were finally ready they noticed that their hot Latino lady friend did not have her ski boots on yet but she was looking pretty good with her big fashionable eyeglasses, perfect hair and makeup and a cute bright orange ski suit with strapped on butterfly wings . “Ahhh, come on Gucci Bunny,” they moaned, picking up her skis for her and leaving her to wrestle with her alien ski boots.

It was very surreal at the base of the mountain and felt very Lewis Carroll like as Gumby streaked by with his cape flying in the wind.

A  beaver slowly and aimlessly shuffled by me in his enormous feet and proportionately enormous flat tail and bulging legs. The head of his costume was off so that he could better drink his to go breakfast beer that was wrapped in a paper bag.

I dropped my equipment and quickly spilled out all of the contents of my backpack to get to my camera and raced off to find Gumby and the beaver.

I never found the elusive beaver but like Alice in Wonderland I was not want for other interesting creatures to cross my path. I approached an Easter Bunny at guest services and introduced myself. His name was Chris Smith and he told me how he had just taken over the Parks Department in Basalt. Everybody in town seems to have more than one job so that they can stay here in the mountains. He seemed to be quite happy with both jobs and he hopes to be able to continue working at Guest Services with Tom Patras, who he seemed to admire greatly.

Chris told me of his big night on the town the night before, hopping around and laying eggs. Apparently, it’s tough being an Easter Bunny.IMG_3636

(Chris Smith – AKA Easter Bunny)

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(Poor Gumby has a drinking problem. FYI Gumby is fourteen. I found out later from his mother while at Lacrosse practice)

Everybody was hiking the bowl in hula skirts and Kiss makeup and I was thankful that the hoof up there was a slow one. It seems that Easter weekend is a big and crazy one for the young at heart. As I slowly made my way up I overheard conversations like, “Dude, I couldn’t find my underwear this morning and I don’t know whose boxers I’m wearing.” IMG_3647

(Still winter conditions hiking the bowl today)IMG_3652_2

(Jason, my snow angel, awaiting the bowl which is shown above him. I met him eating snow, Brevitt’s favorite thing to do, as he waited for his pack of young Spanish students to hike the bowl with. Thank you Jason for fixing my skis that were embarrassingly hanging loose on my pack. BTW, my boys would love to ski with a cool guy like you, as would I. You could also help me with my Spanish. So, please contact me by email if you see this)

After making huge soft turns through untracked powder in the trees and into G4, I sat on the Loges lift and made friends with  Lee and Kevin.

I really don’t have a good promotional line for my blog yet so when they asked me what it was about I gave them my shortened version of my long winded answer. “Was that too long of an explanation?” I asked.

They graciously told me that they would actually like to hear more and asked me to start from the very beginning. We had a lot of fun going back to our Kindergarten days.

They reminisced about  deep rooted trauma inflicted by bowel movements left on the classroom floor and mean teachers who made them put away their popsicle stick and eraser head people and I thought about how amazing it was that a twelve minute chairlift ride could deliver such depth.

Before we parted they told me of a costume they had seen where a man was wearing a bathrobe with used condoms and cigarettes glued to it. They pontificated about what type of person would be so outwardly rude and disgusting and we concluded that it would be a person that we didn’t need to know.

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(Lee and Kevin)

I skied down to the pond skimming action to find that I had missed my little Axel’s courageous plunge into the deep pool. He appeared out of nowhere, all alone and wrapped in a blanket, his face very pale.

I worried about hypothermia and took him shivering and sopping wet to sit in front of the fire.  All of his other pond skimming friends began to trickle in to recover, stripping off their wet clothes as much as they dared, and gleefully pouring the water out of their ski boots.

Axel said it was a little scary when he crashed into the deep water and the heavy weight of his ski equipment began to pull him down and then adding insult to injury the ski patrol hit him on the head with the lifesaving device. After I saw the video I saw that his story was slightly fabricated and realized that he is a storyteller just like his mother.

Actually, I was very impressed by how organized the ski patrol were, handing blankets out to the pond skimming kids and doing a very good job of slowing down and managing the mass of crazy riders and skiers.

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(Axel pond skimming)

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(Axel reaching hypothermia in his wet clothes)

As soon as Wade and I did the kid swap so that he could hike the bowl, the day took a 360 degree turn. Axel was miserable from having to put on wet ski boots and ski down the mountain in his cold, sopping wet clothes and Tucker was exhausted, crying the entire way down.  I perilously led them down the mountain like a mother hen protecting them from the happy, party people recklessly flying down to get more action at the bottom.

The energy was incredible at the end of the day, although I don’t see why they don’t hire one amazing band to unite the crowds, instead of having the clash of music from every business assaulting the ears of bystanders and adding to the chaos.

Wade and I were wishing that we could hang out to watch the scene but the kids would have none of it and so we locked and loaded up to leave.

I am sad that the mountain is closed for the season but with all of the great skiing still to be had, Aspen Highlands will only be closed to those not hearty enough to skin their ascent to get the best turns of the season.

Enjoy the photos:

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(Cookie Monster at the top of the bowl)

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IMG_3645(it’s wasn’t easy getting his sexy, tight ski pants over his boots)

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(Old school babes at top of bowl)

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Oh how I miss the ski life of Aspen! New England cannot even compare.
    Somehow Aspen Skiiers can dress in hula skirts,bright colored lycra, snow bunnies, ski bunnis, easter bunnies, beavers, and bathrobes with condomes taped to them and still seem cool!
    I can just visualize you going on a tangent about what you do…speaking really fast but getting it all in and then looking at the men thru your long eye lashes, batting at them and your huge wonderful smile asking if the story was to long!!!! You being totally irrisistable.
    My poor Axel skiing into a pond with all his cloths, ski boots and all, and then get clunked on the head (typical Wernick feature!) …only you would tear yourself away from the wild party scene and take him in to warm up by the fire……I would have been like…just jump up and down to get warm…as there is a cool dude skiier with long hair eyeing me! (as if…)
    I am only sad that you actually took your beach wear off!
    Nantucket soon enough!
    xoxo

    • Mouse, thank you for making me feel so loved!

      I highly doubt that Kevin and Lee thought I was irresistible since they were approx. half my age.
      Your Axel is a quiet, sweet, wonderful, crazy little boy.
      Believe me, I wanted to slam dance with you to the music but all parents know that the key to enjoying that day at Highlands is to get out before the scene quickly turns completely inappropriate for kids.
      Love you, J

  2. Oh, amazing post. These photos are so fabulous they make me want to go skiing – and I’ve never, ever been. I’m probably the one Canadian who has never been skiing. Mostly, though, I think I just want the tequilla…

    Peryl

    p.s. Tx for trying to break down the walls on my site – I know it’s a pain! Don’t know if you’ve tried to sign in anonymously – if you scroll down you can do that – then of course you get hit with nasty submit codes. Sigh.
    .-= Parenting ad absurdum´s last blog ..An Easter Hangover =-.

  3. I think I’m flattered….or just old.

    Back in the day, the Ski Patrol would jump over the lunch deck….pulling sleds!

    I’m sure others remember the way the bottom dropped out as you cleared the last peak before the top of Steeplechase. Slow, two-seater chair, no bar as I recall.

    I used to hang in Glenwood on weekends, summer and winter. My team won the Strawberry Days/Festival raft race through Glenwood 5 years running (free beer at finish).

    Any of that still going on?

    Now I’m spoiled. I run HELISKI.com and HeliskingReview.com, so I only heliski…
    and sorry for the shameless plug.

    tj

    • TJ, Strawberry Days are still going on. Not sure about the raft race though.

      As far as jumping over the lunch deck, the new highlight is the apres-ski at Cloud Nine. It ROCKS!

      Don’t worry about the shameless plug, I’ll visit your site soon and do the same. We skiers must stick together and help each other out, right???

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