Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cross Training….Aspen Style

Cross Training….Aspen StyleAfter a solid 10 day training block it was time for a recovery week and conveniently we were headed to Aspen.  My bro and family from Australia have a fine tradition of renting slope side accommodations in Snowmass for a few weeks each year.  They usually have one week with some extra space before their friends join them and this is when we snuck in a few  days of big fun 
Scott and Dad
 Unfortunately the dates did not coincide with the kids ski week so it was just John and me sneaking away for some fun. The added bonus was my Dad and Kathi joining us for a few days.  It has been 10+ years since I last skied with my Dad and it was such a treat.  We hopped on the bus and skied AJAX Mtn and had a sensational day. 2 days post big dump and it was sunny and cold with terrific conditions.  John, Scott, Dad and me headed out and did some nice runs together.  Dad entertained us with stories of the mountain from the 60’s and 70’s!  The best were about the Wine Jug stashed behind a tree and the ski poles that were hollowed out and filled with schnapps. We had a lot of fun and Scott and I took a few detours on the double blacks to ensure we got our fill.  Beautiful lunch and Dad called it a day and we found some good stuff late in the day.  Albeit day 1 my legs were anything but fresh…carrying Saturdays ride, Sunday’s run and GWL+ Honey Springs on Tuesday. I had enough by 3:00.
View of Highland Bowl from AJAX- headed there on Saturday
We went out to dinner in Aspen that night and what a great town. Twinkle lights on all the trees and similar amount of diamonds on most women.  Aspen=Money indeed.  Fur must have made a comeback, sadly, as many women and some men were decked out head to toe in precious animal coats.

Gotta love a close up on the lift
Friday Dad and K left for home and we rolled out the front door and skied Snowmass.  Huge mountain filled with memories of my childhood. After a few or maybe 1 warm up we were soon on the Cirque Poma taking us to the top of the mountain, followed by a  high mountain traverse, duck out of bounds –oops, in search of more skiing.  My favorite moment is Nancy saying “Scott, really on this massive mountain there are not any runs in bounds- really not any that are suitable for skiing?”  Apparently not or personally I think he likes the added adventure.  The option was a long drop out of bounds in snow that I was not too sure about so I opted for the inbounds double black and it was perfectly sweet- lots of trees, fresh snow and as steep as you can ask for.  Scott wanted to ski together so he agreed to stay legal for the run as well.  John was in all day lesson so he was having fun with his Aussie instructor while we found the sweet spots and called it day around 3.
This was very cool.....cannot imagine cruisin down on this
 I had great aspirations of a transition run each day – après ski style.  Let’s just say they remained great aspirations.  I was tired….my brother can kick my ass on the mountain and I decided to have fun, ski and take a real break from swim.bike.run.
Chillin with Taz and Jax
 Après ski hot tub with me niece and nephew.  Terrific dinner, good wine and family dinner!    Legs are tired, but not trashed, face is wind burned and we all were feeling good.
Highlands Bowl
 Saturday was the day for The Highlands Bowl!  Bus to Highlands and to the top of Highlands we go…really no warm up runs today.  This is an epic bowl in that you ski to a point, take off your skis and then jump on  a snow cat and ride another 100 feet up and then you strap on your ski’s and hike another 400 feet to the summit.  It is a bit like mountaineering in that you are hiking up a ride, drop off on one side and the wind is howling. Everyone’s head are down and slowly making the trek. I managed to pass a lot of people on the way up- just get me to the top- the blowing wind, icy steps and 12,000+ feet elevation confirmed that I have no desire to climb Everest.  
 
Just in case you are not sure....lots of signs
Map of the bowl 

We hiked up the ridge line- to the summit

I summited first- and the plan was for me to ski down and wait and capture Scott of video.  Seeing there are 10-12 ways down- with variations of 39-47% pitch it was hard to know which was to go.  The top was beautiful and out of the wind so I took my time and eventually slid off the top and started down.  It was steep, really steep and now was relatively deep.  Thankfully no one was videoing me, no one paying attention as everyone is worried about themselves- so I skied on down- it was not pretty but it was a lot of fun.  At the bottom of the bowl it was warm and sheltered from the wind so I laid in the snow, enjoyed the sun and waited for my subjects.  

I am a poor ski videographer but I tried….everyone made it down and huge kudu’s to John! Well done mate.  We started at 9 and were done with this adventure by 11:45- so early lunch was in order! Celebration at the Cloud 9 Austrian Restaurant.  Weak afternoon of skiing after that…Scott went back for one more bowl run- minus the hike, Nancy and I blindly took Kellsburgs (horrifically steep double black, monster moguls and icy) – really not all the fun. We both laughed wishing we could somehow blame Scott for the run but well he was not around.  Another few and we call called it a day with a cold beer at the bottom of the mountain in the sunshine.
Post Highlands Bowl Lunch


Very cool ice bar set up outside Cloud Nine Restaurant

Great skiing, lots of fun family time and more memories in the bank!  Sitting her in the airport waiting to go home I have that post Ironman feeling of hunger.  I have done nothing today but have eaten more my 10am than most days by dinner…oh well!