2018 SNOWMASS GATHERING
AS YETI FREAKS PLANTED THEIR FEET BACK ONTO THE GROUND AT 11,325’, THE MYTHICAL YETI AWAITED THEM AT THE TOP OF ELK CAMP CHAIR. THE YETIMAN ONLY COMES OUT OF THE WOODS FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS — THE 17TH ANNUAL YETI GATHERING WAS ONE OF THEM.
17TH ANNUAL YETI GATHERING.
This year’s annual gathering returned to its origins in Snowmass Village, CO, July 27-29, 2018, where the very first gathering transpired on the flanks of Fanny Hill. Since then, Gathering has grown eight-fold and we moved 400 Yeti freaks to more substantial grounds in town. In less than a day, an entire village of turquoise was constructed out of thin air. Quite literally at 8,209’. We stuffed every nook and cranny in Town Park full of tents, RV’s, trailers, trucks, van life and hammocks. Even a homemade sushi bar, towed all the way from California’s coastline, popped up in the parking lot where Chef Mendos served up fresh slabs of sashimi Friday afternoon.
KILL THE MYTH. LIVE THE LIFE.
The Yetiman’s surprise cameo at the top of the mountain on Saturday morning brought out the selfie sticks and smart phones, but soon the mountaintop paparazzi brigade slowly fizzled out in favor of riding. They affectionately bid adieu to the furry mascot. Yeti freaks have their priorities straight. With multiple routes down the mountain, including a stage from the 2017 Enduro World Series, you could “choose your own adventure” for the day via bike park laps, sidetracking into the back bowls of Buttermilk via the valley's most renown piece of singletrack – Government Trail. Some brave souls chose to tack on even more miles by venturing into Aspen for an epic day of exploring old mining flumes on Smuggler Mountain.
SOME CONSIDER ATTENDING THE YETI GATHERING AS A RITE OF PASSAGE. WE SEE IT AS ONE BIG FAMILY REUNION. LIKE YOU, EVERYONE WOULD RATHER BE OUT RIDING THEIR BIKE, THAN TALKING ABOUT WHAT THEY’VE BEEN UP TO SINCE LAST YEAR. WE SAVE THE STORIES FOR THE APRÈS.
BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW — THE AFTERTASTE IS SWEETER.
Whether you were nursing your Friday hangover or decided to bite off more than you could chew, everyone got a taste of Colorado’s bipolar monsoon season. Thunder rolled through mid-day, eventually escalating into a deluge of rain and hail. After a summer of raging fires in the Roaring Fork Valley, the thirsty trails in the bike park licked up every speck of moisture, retaining it for hero dirt conditions later on.
Like a scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, riders grabbed fistfuls of peanut M&M's, gummy bears, trail mix and salty potato chips at the mid-way aid station in the Buttermilk parking lot out of desperation as the rain hammered down.
Someone yelled, “Where’s the bacon?!”
FACED WITH THE DECISION OF FORGING AHEAD IN GALE FORCE CONDITIONS TO BAG THE OFFICIAL ROUTE, OR HEADING BACK TO GATHERING HQ FOR RUMORED BACON AND HOOGARITAS. MOST CHOSE THE LATTER, BUT A FEW BRAVE SOULS PUSHED ON.
EVERYONE WAS STILL FIZZING FROM THE DAY OF SHREDDING AND NEAR MISSES. NOW THE STORIES BEGAN...
THE BEAUTY OF DANCING AT GATHERING. NO EFFS ARE GIVEN.
Back at camp, the derecho left its mark. The massive circus tent had levitated and landed on top of several 500-pound barrels weighting it. The Good Samaritans of CrossFit helped situate the tent, and simultaneously warmed-up for the bike toss. Despite their food prep tents being demolished, the Big Delicious crew scurried about, never missing a beat of delivering dinner right on time. A second cell pushed through, but it didn’t stop the production line of Hoogarita’s that had been precisely calculated to pump out 3.5 drinks per minute. The PA system, which is known for being reliably unreliable, crackled under the voice of Yeti in-house IT wizard, Matt Hicks.
“If the wind speed exceeds 35 mph, everyone will have to evacuate the tent. I repeat, everyone will have to evacuate the tent.” The thought of a 40’x80’ circus tent, weighted by the equivalent of two elephants, flying into the air was unfathomable. But like everything at Gathering, you learn to expect the unexpected.
Twilight settled in, and the mood lighting was on cue for stupid human tricks to commence. First, the kids raced the minibikes, launching the plywood kicker. Then the adults raced the minibikes and broke the plywood in half. Bike toss. Then footdown, properly transitioning into a disco dance party under the circus tent.
YETI GATHERINGS HAVE HAPPENED EVERY YEAR SINCE 2001. GET YOUR ASS TO THE NEXT ONE.
When Joey Schusler busts out his trout jumping moves, and adults are being passed above each other’s heads taking drags of whiskey off of Big Joe's infamous “Muffler” in the air, you know the gathering has peaked.
Curfew is typically when local law enforcement pays a visit to the Gathering. This year, the Town of Snowmass Village let us party until bone-tired legs wandered off to individual tents. As the well-intentioned debauchery simmered, Yeti Ambassador Justin Reiter opened the doors to his Speakeasy tent across the field. Anyone who dared to enter was promptly offered a warm cocktail of electrolytes and bourbon.