…I’m driving away from Jackson Hole, WY, my mind running a million miles per hour wondering what is in store this next week. I am thinking to myself, “ man, this drive is a real doozy”. Driving over 12 hours across the Western part of the United States and we still have to cross the most mountainous state of Nevada.” In a race against time, I look up and finally above the dashboard, I see the familiar blue essence of Lake Tahoe.
The next six hours I am in a state of confusion, mixed with delusion and a bag of ski clothes that really need an extra rinse in the washing machine. I dump everything into the washing machine, repack my bag, and load it onto the shuttle bus at 3:45 a.m. leaving So. Lake and headed to Reno for my flight to Denver. The last thing on my mind before drifting into a nice shuttle- snooze dream was…
“…a place where the beer flows like wine and where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano……
I’m talking about a little place called Aspen.” Booyah! For the Freeskier Magazine, Freeskier Fest 2015 Buyers Guide Test.
I’ve already seemed to misplace my boarding pass, I look up and quickly notice, “Wachstafari” formally known as, Lucas, completely infatuated with his iPhone sending “shred ready” vibes and waiting at our baggage carrousel. Despite my stomach eating itself, I was stoked to catch up with my friend that I hadn’t seen in a few months ( I hadn’t eaten a decent meal since WY and forgot about my complimentary bag of peanuts). Thankfully, Lucas and I were on the same level, stoked and ready for Freeskier Fest.
Rolling out of DIA both of us with our own 100 lbs. worth of baggage, and our sights set on Aspen, we headed straight to Island Four, Rental Cars of DIA, Denver, Co. I quickly start reminiscing about my favorite islands, like Japan and Hawaii, and just as quickly-slapped with…Rental car island, where everyone is in a hurry, and a little bit pissed off.
After one ridiculous rental quote, I proceeded to the next option, “I found a killer deal Lucas, half the price of the first quote.” As we board the shuttle to the rental car service, we are well on our way to winning already. High fives a plenty! We arrive, only to find out that the gal on the other end had misunderstood in our brief phone conversation regarding my rental car requests. She thought I said Nissan Altima, which simply wasn’t going to get Dumb and Dumber to Aspen by 5:00 p.m., let alone meet our deadline for ski drop offs. Our half price quote just turned into a full price quote real quick. “We’ll take it. A Subaru! I can get 70 miles to the gallon on this hog.”
We hit the I-70 for Aspen after nourishing ourselves at Einstein Bagel. Smooth little ride got us to Aspen in nothing short of a, “fashionably late appearance”. The moment Lucas and I walked up, each of us holding a two piece cutlery set with serrated steak knife edges in each hand, I felt a change in the air and in that moment in time, knew I was exactly where I needed to be for the next few days. Pit Viper sunglasses, one of each model peeked over to examine a ski handmade near Canada in the USA, by ski bums with jobs.
We found a sweet little spot to stay in Basalt, CO. Just about 15 to 20 minutes away from the town of Aspen. With everything a ski bum could wish for, I became anxious for the days ahead and soon fell into a deep, deep sleep full of pow lines and cowboy hats.
7:30 a.m. we roll into Aspen, Snowmass. Lucas and I had previous knowledge of meeting at the Gondola at 8:15 a.m. After driving through a maze of large structures, shopping malls, gondolas passing over gondolas, and no recognition of anyone involved with the test, we came to the conclusion we went the wrong direction. Following iPhone directions to the Gondola at Aspen”, isn’t necessarily the best of directions in Aspen- the Head Honcho of Mountains. This little place called Aspen, isn’t so little after all. We eventually made it up to Ajax, explored, found several natural jump lines and NASed deep POW, DROPPED NASty lines, and made shred friends at Freeskier Magazine.
The following day was much better for us. We acclimated, we knew where to go and what lines to ski, and felt “right at home” for Freeskier Test. Our job was to go shred with ski testers, editors, representatives, anyone involved with Freeskier Magazine on behalf of Lib Tech NAS. We skied with a lot of great shredders, everyone involved was dedicated in some fashion. Freeskier Magazine was holding a daily Instagram contest under the hash tag #freeskierfest and today, the first day of whole Test, was all @libtechNAS day. The daily prize was a bottle of champagne and just like that, Lucas and I scored buttery combinations and finished the day with a bottle of bubbly. Rumor had it, two kids were out ripping lines, riding hard and fast on two unconventional Narrow Ass Snowboards, part of a two piece cutlery set, @bennyschmitt and @wachstafari shredding the Hollywood Line.
Our final day in Aspen really capped it off. We ripped some laps early, shot some great photos on the mini golf lines from the previous day, and had an all time wind lip session with the Freeskier crew. The results?? Six jumpers and three men wearing lab coats accessorized with clip boards, one photographer, and a bunch of killer shots. After the session came to an end, we said our goodbyes, downloaded with our gear and test skis and took off in route for Denver, CO.
As we were driving away, I felt an overriding waterfall of satisfaction with Lucas and I’s doings. The car ride to Denver was long but enjoyable with stories and memories stoking us up for the upcoming overall reviews. With one last adventure, the beats were turned up and the Subi was schmabbin.
With thoughts of cutting costs for our last night in Colorado, we decided on a luxury suite located a convenient ten minutes away form DIA. We quickly learned the difference between Aspen luxury and ten- minute- DIA-drive luxury. Before laying our sweet heads down to rest, Lucas rolled back the covers and flipped his pillow over to find a nice little stain resembling the aftermath of a drooling sleep with a snuss. Closing our eyes we tried to ignore the “luxury” and instead focus on the great memories we had made in the past few days. Our night ended with great laughs, and some weather channel special on Avalanches. A perfect end to a one-of-a-kind special week.
-Benny Schmitt 3/14/14