Bear Crew- vail snopro, Mr. Vertical and Mr. V. Jr., Stroller and Family, southbeachski, COSkiGirl, JC-ski, merrydog, Don Denver, Betsey, Bazzer, and Baz Jr., a.k.a. The Kid.
MIA Bears- Noodler, segbrown and family, Faisie, Roadrash and the Rashettes.
Non-Bears- Rita the hungry German lass, the Park Meadows gang, assorted Bart And Yeti’s regular bar-flies, the Raging South Africans, and the Jovial Argentines.
Arrived on Dec. 20th after an uneventful flight and drive in time to stock up on groceries and make beer call at Bart and Yeti’s.
The Kid and I hop on a chair at Lionshead just as the lifts open. We’d hoped to meet with segbrown and some of her family, but a winter storm warning in SW Colorado has her family skip skiing at Vail for the day, and instead they head off to Silverton early in hopes of beating the severe weather. (They get absolutely socked with deep snow and have their own adventure.) The only real disappointments that we had during our stay was our inability to meet up with a few friends that we had hoped to see. I shared one of the best days I’ve ever had in the mountains with segbrown last April, and was really looking forward to skiing with her again, and having the chance to meet some of her beloved family. On the up side, segbrown and her crew are serious rippers, and they would have laid a serious hurting on The Kid and me, a situation that would only have been amplified as it was the Baz couples’ first day of the season, and we’re wheezing flatlanders, and as yet not acclimated to the altitude.
Prior to making our first run, I was a bit intimidated. Initial jitters are soon absolved, as I remember how to put a pair of skis on edge, and delighted to find that that makes them turn.
The Kid working out his early season kinks
The Kid and I are treated to perhaps the finest snow coverage that we’ve ever experienced at Vail this early in the season. By the time we arrived, Vail reported that 100% of their terrain was open, a big change from last year, when practically none of the back-side was open during our December visit.
We hooked up with Stroller, her husband, father, and eldest daughter for a while in the afternoon, and played in some light crud in the trees. Lots of smiles all around.
We stayed high on the mountain all day, and did not get below Mid-Vail until we made our way down to the base at the end of the day. Coverage was great all over, and there was plenty of superb soft snow to be found in parts of Blue Sky Basin. This held true for all 9 days of our stay.
Plans to meet with Noodler and Faisie were thwarted early in the week by a variety of problems, then again late in the week by their passes being blacked out, so The Kid and I skied together again on our second day. Except for the absence of our buddies, the day was way cool in all regards.
Third day has The Kid and I heading off to ski school. We meet vail snopro and the Instructor Posse at the top of the Gondi. VSP announces that in order to be in his group for the day, you’ve got to want to ski lots of bumps, and do 10’ to 12’ drops. The Kid quails a bit, and opts into a slightly less adventurous group, but I foolishly opt to stick with VSP. We ski a lot, and save talking for the lifts. Here’s VSP’s accounting of the day;
Had an awesome day skiing with Bazz and couple of others. Todays route-
Starting at the top of Ch2- Faro, up Ch7, Never Trees, up NEW Ch5, Milt's, up Ch17, Emperors Choice/ Sweet and Sour, up Ch37, Steep and Deep to Lower Iron Mask, up Ch39, HornSilver, up Ch21, lunch at Two Elk, then Rogers, up Ch11, Prima/ Pronto, up Ch11, blaster down Ramshorn, up Ch3, Minnies. Then it was time for cold adult beverages at Bart and Yeti's...
A brief period of heavy snowfall in the afternoon made the late-day bump runs almost heavenly. Another member of the class is the new Bear southbeachski. He’s all sorts of cool, and survived six consecutive days in VSP’s company.
The Kid had a wonderful lesson, and asked politely if he could take another one with the same instructor on the following day. I, of course acquiesce. Unfortunately The Kid misses out on getting to spend the day with Mr. Vertical and his youngest son.
Mr. Vertical Jr., the original Mr. V, and vail snowpro
Mr. V being smooth between the trees
V Jr. and his rippin’ steeze
V. Jr. again
V. Jr. beats up his dad and me all day. Smiles and groans combine to create a memorable Christmas Eve. We meet VSP and his class at the end of the day on the lower section of the mogul run named Minnie’s. I picked that inopportune time to take my only fall of the day in front of the entire gang. Inglorious to say the least, and I believe that Mr. V captured the moment on his camera, but has exercised the good grace not to post it up.
Back at the lodge, the Jovial Argentines begin a Bacchanalia that will continue for the next 36 hours. Sleep is hard to come by. Baz Jr. finally drifts off at about 3:30, but has no intention of skiing during the coming day. He’s been a dedicated Miami Heat basketball fan since before he could drool by himself, and is fully equipped, (loaded down with take-out chicken wings and other salty, sweet, and fatty snacks,) to spend the afternoon basking in the glow of the televised antics of the talented, overpaid, acrobatic Miami basketball Mafia, and they do battle with the dreaded L.A. Lakers.
I head off to the lifts and just before they open make a joyous rendezvous with my friend merrydog, accompanied by her beau, JC-ski. Our happy threesome heads up and does a few warm-up laps until we’re joined by my old companion COSkiGirl. This joyous reunion marks what I believe is the fourth time that she and I have skied together on a major Christian holiday. As I have noted before, perhaps we are both Hindu, and our respective parents simply failed to notify us. In any case, we all enjoyed a splendid day of good fellowship, fine snow, and some pretty smooth turns.
merrydog grooving with her seemingly eternal smile
JC-ski cruising through the soft crud in Blue Sky
COSkiGirl wanted me to post up a shot of her in her new duds
and sporting her new pack
The obligatory line-dance at the top of the mountain photo
Back at the base, our quartet is joined at B&Y’s for a hearty holiday toast, and then we all head our separate ways for various Christmas dinners. For my part, I made my way back to Park Meadows where Baz Jr. is in a particularly festive mood. Seems that the Heat has thoroughly stomped the Lakers in their game, and The Kid is now ready for a bit of a party.
Park Meadows Lodge is hosting a bring-a-dish and beverage bash for all, and my contribution will be Daddy Bazzer’s Amazing Cajun Style BBQ Shrimp. (At home, I’d serve this with buttermilk biscuits or jalapeño corn muffins, but the oven in the lodge is an unknown factor to me, so I opt out of any baking for the night.) Having built up a pretty fair reputation as a cook during previous stays, the lodge owner, Finn, has volunteered to pick up, (and pay for,) a whole mess o’ shrimps, if I’ll do the cookin’. I enjoy a few tipples of John Jameson’s distilled spirits as I industriously shell, de-vein, and clean a large pile of crustaceans, then proceed to prepare my sauce base, and season the beasties. During this time the Argentines are still frolicking at a lively pace, and are now joined by the Raging South Africans, the lodge staff, and pretty much everyone else within earshot. All doors are open, and wandering souls journey from room to room, spreading good will, fellowship, and noxious fumes.
Round about 9:00 I start sautéing up the first batch of shrimp, and am immediately besieged by a swarm of ravenous celebrants. Our companions fall on the tray of spicy tid-bits like a hoard of rabid, starving wolverines, and the sound of smacking lips and gnashing teeth soon obscures all other sound. This ritual is repeated several times, (the dish is best prepared in small batches,) until the last of the garlic-laced, succulent nibbles is nothing but a fond memory. I, being old and wise enough to know how to safely navigate such festivities, eventually retire to my domicile, and settle down with Catch-22. Most others, being hardier, younger, or less experienced, continue their revelries well into the wee hours. They will not be at the lifts when they open the next morning.
Baz Jr. doing his best to not seem to be bursting with joy
Our neighbor Ashley who’s artificially enhanced proboscis is the bane of her brother Mike’s life
The 26th dawns clear. The Kid is quivering gently, and moaning softly on his cot. I don’t have the heart to wake him, so head off to the mountain alone. Some lessons you’ve got to learn the hard way.
The 27th. Vail reported 4” of fresh. Seemed deeper in some places. A whole lot deeper. Our only powder day of the trip was just grand.
The Kid doing a warm-up lap on the front side. Skiing was too good in the back to bother playing around with a camera.
Some of my favorite ski memories center on the days that I’ve spent with Don Denver and Betsey. They were unable to make it out to Vail during my stay, so VSP and I headed off to Denver late in the afternoon, and paid a visit with them in Denver. Got back into town just before 3:00, so we were both looking and feeling our best that day.
Spent part of the day with my old friend Rita.
Was going to meet with Roadrash and his clan, but Mrs. R had a rough night and as a result the couple decided to rest up today.
Last day on the hill with Baz Jr. He’s a senior in high school, and is deeply involved playing college application roulette. These may have been his last turns of the season, as we’ll most probably spend his remaining school breaks, (and ski $,) visiting those schools where he is accepted.
The Kid on one of our favorite runs in Blue Sky, Resolution
The Kid bringing it on home
I, being more fortunate, and not nearly as smart, will be heading back to Colorado later this month and will attend my first ESA. I’m supremely excited about that, but for the next few weeks will ski only in my dreams.
A brief postscript; The Kid and I arrived home safely on Thursday night. Alas, the same did not hold true of our skis. I've been in contact with the good folks at American Airlines, and they have assured me that our skis are in good shape, and are not lost. They are in fact on the way to us, via Amsterdam, Lisbon, Cairo, and Rome.