I guess I’m a ski bum. Otherwise, how to explain the pleasure of the chronicle of Lo Semple last Saturday? He spoke my language. He unveiled made-up skiing events that may not be enjoyable by objective assessment, but purely satisfying for anyone whose alter ego finds the smell of hot ski wax from an iron on a bench. more pleasant than the designer scents of flickering candles on the counters of local boutiques. .
A pair of skiers did 38 laps on the precious slopes of lift 1A in one day. The following week, another pair did 40. Not giving in, the first pair then completed 68 laps on Sam’s Knob. Mostly meaningless to anyone but die hards, it equates to an incredible descent of 55,000 vertical feet. Strength! Endurance ! The awful pain! It’s not for the champagne sprayer at Cloud Nine or the loafers who will pay $4,800 for bottle service in a private tent on “Snow Beach” at the Sundeck this spring.
Of course, downhill skiing is a sign of boredom in the winter doldrums. However, what is impressive is that these skiers did not abandon the course laid out on opening day to treat themselves to a long, warm weekend. No no no. They stepped up the mid-season shade of gray and headed straight into the eye of the storm.
I was that, but a humble back and wayward knees now prevent me from being a world-class February intensifier. I always go for it as hard as I can, but when the dogs scream after a run on S-1, you accept the minor accomplishment and head for the chair cut from old skis to quarterback from there.
Lo highlighted his participation in the “Black Diamond Challenge” that our team of skiers dreamed up in 1995. It was a dull January day, devoid of authentic skiing excitement (eg powder snow or galendasprung contests). Going up lift 1A it occurred to us that we had to ski all the black diamond runs in Ajax that day. We did about five races per random selection and realized the challenge was probably impossible.
“Probably” leaves a crack in the window of opportunity. I grabbed a trail map and read it with a cold beer that evening. I scribbled. I drew. I imagined. And, threw a lot of tissue paper into the box. Fun has become an obsession.
For weeks we wildly swapped spreadsheets and ideas for packing all of Ajax’s expert runs into one regular day’s skiing. In addition to the large number of previously unrecognized black diamond runs, we had to consider lifts and ski times. There were impasses, frustrations and headaches.
We finally got it! I’m still pretty much convinced there was only one way to connect all the trails on Aspen Mountain in one day.
I couldn’t sleep the night before P-tex hit the trail. The hardest thing was to chain the prints on paper. The hardest part would be to ski that volume of steeps, bumps and crud in one day. I should mention that there are sections where you have to ski one run and walk to the next as it’s faster than taking the lifts.
We accidentally created an event with a symmetry between goals, layout, and constraints almost as perfect as the game of baseball. We never guessed that the time it takes to ski each Ajax black diamond was perfectly in sync with the length of a normal operating day, if everything went perfectly, meaning no stops, no crashes , without ski lifts. It turned out to be an elegant mix of endurance, strength, speed, timing and a bit of luck.
Hope this inspires diehard skiers to try the Black Diamond Challenge and/or come up with something else to keep the winter excitement from freezing. To those who say that skiing is a recreational activity, I remind them that almost everything that happens on the slopes is competition. We do it in so many ways, from the gear we use, the kits we wear, the best mountain, NASTAR medals, 100 day pins, first rope runs, the cup of the gondola line, with or without a private instructor, the Buck-off on Ridge of Bell, etc. The list of small contests flows. And, once in a while, someone offers an open contest.
Every true skier has something to prove. If you play the game long enough, eventually you will. Whether anyone cares or not is another story.
Roger Marolt notes that this game was invented before the opening of T-chutes, Bingo Glades and the Reardon area of the mountain. Today, the task would be impossible. [email protected].com