Wendle

I leave Saturday to spend a few weeks traveling, most of which will be in Malta. In preparation I got a book about a particularly important part of Malta’s long history, and then didn’t read it because I didn’t have a hot spring in which to read — until this last Sunday. After seven hours in the water, I can tell you that my mind is blown (and my skin wrinkled).

Instead of just regurgitating a history lesson, I am going to rewrite it using fictional characters as if it happened here in the valley. I can’t possibly impress upon you how amazing the true story is, but perhaps this will give you a taste.

In 1565 there were two main religions in Colorado: the skiers and the snowboarders. The skiers occupied most of western Colorado, the snowboarders held almost everything east, and beyond were the telemarkers (whom no one cares about to this day).

The snowboarders were steadily expanding outward, and at this time their empire was peaking. A very small but fanatical band of skiers were harassing them from Aspen via kayaks with forays onto their slopes to convert snowboarders into skiers, and also to steal their stashes.

The 70-year-old leader of the snowboarders, Suleiman the Magnificently Stoned, was fed up with Aspen and its leader, Lo de Semplette— who was also nearly 70. Suleiman decided he would launch, up until that point, history’s single largest naval invasion and would crush pesky little Aspen once and for all. Suleiman’s advisers told him this could be accomplished in a couple of days, as Aspen only had a few thousand defenders and scant resources.

Suleiman floated a gigantic fleet from Vail. Nearly 40,000 knuckle-draggers were rowed down the Colorado River and up the Roaring Fork by the sheer force of J-1 muscle power.

De Semplette had suspected the human groomers were about to lay siege to Aspen and had been making preparations. When the enemy was sighted he ordered all the weed harvested, the beer wells poisoned, and the livestock and residents to shelter in the four forts.

The siege began on May 18. Suleiman’s general (named Jerry) and admiral quarreled as to whether they should first take Snowmass and use it as a base, or take Buttermilk so as to have a place to shelter the admiral’s fleet in case there was a storm. The admiral won because the general assumed Buttermilk would be easy and the battle would be over quickly, after which he could then take on the slightly more difficult Snowmass.

Fort Buttermilk was tiny, and the snowboarders relentlessly bombarded it with PBR cannons from Deer Hill. When the walls of the superpipe began collapsing, the general ordered all of his most elite shredders to poach the breaches and take Buttermilk in a decisive and quick action.

Buttermilk, minimally staffed, held back the attack, killing half of the 6,000 elite snowboarders. The general, enraged, then sent in thousands of his more expendable powder flounders. Fueled by Red Bull and purple kush, wave after wave of Deadheads attacked Buttermilk and were rebuffed; their dead bodies filling the deep crevasse between Buttermilk and Deer Hill.

By early June, poor Buttermilk was barely hanging on. All the employees were badly wounded and surviving on only a few bites of merlot-soaked-croissant a day. On June 8, the lifties sent a message over to de Semplette in Aspen explaining that their situation was hopeless, and that they should evacuate and live to schuss another day.

De Semplette responded, “Fine. We got a bunch of bros over here that are happy to replace you, brah. Besides, I’d rather have some steezy pros I can trust over there. Come back and have a safety sesh.”

De Semplette’s sarcasm so completely embarrassed the lifties that they stayed and carved lines doubly hard against the hordes of snowboarders. It wasn’t until June 23 — 36 days after what was supposed to be a few days’ work — that Buttermilk fell.

Jerry then focused his force on Highlands.

Sixty-five cinnamon-whiskey-fueled artillery guns pounded Highlands from three sides, firing tens of thousands of 40s and pony kegs against its much mightier walls. At one point Highlands was a hair’s breadth from a yard sale when the snowboarders unexpectedly retreated. Apparently, instructors from Snowmass — bored from being nearly ignored this whole time — had made a foray into the snowboarders’ camp because all the gapers were away at the Phish concert. Finding no one home, the skiers were able to basically destroy the whole place like renters in April.

Jerry, who has had a long summer being enraged, decided he had better take a minute to deal with Snowmass. He hop-turns the army and pulls them up Brush Creek. Snowmass doesn’t really know what to do, since their walls are very old and not nearly as formidable as Aspen and Highlands. The mayor decides to dress up all the snow bunnies in armor and station them along the walls along with the lifties and begins firing what few bottles of champagne he has at the enemy, well before the bottles could possibly hit the scooting boarders.

From a distance, Jerry sees a great force upon the walls that clearly has bubbles to spare if they are spraying it so casually. He calls off the attack and returns to Highlands.

The attack on Highlands is renewed. De Semplette is able to send reinforcements to Highlands via a bridge over Castle Creek. When Highlands fears it is about to be overrun, de Semplette has the bridge destroyed. The Highlands lifties, now certain there is no retreat, valiantly fight. The skiers were crafty. In one incident, a great siege tower is destroyed by the defenders by cutting a hole at the bottom of their wall, sticking a cannon through it, firing silver chains, and then quickly plugging the hole back up. Gnarly!

On Sept. 8, with his crew literally decimated, Jerry gives up and loads the boats to return to Vail before the weather gets bad. Just as he was leaving, a few Skier reinforcements finally arrived from ­Telluride. The admiral believes it is a great army and tells everyone to row away hard. When the general sees that it is actually a small Powder-8s team, he orders the boats back to shore so he can try to get at least one win against the skiers.

But the snowboarders, who already have a short attention span, are over it. The fresh Telluridians flip wicked tricks all over the wasted snowboarders.

The admiral takes his boats and leaves for good on the 13th of September.

There’s not much left of Aspen and Highlands, Buttermilk is gone. But against all odds, the skiers had succeeded against the massive smell of the festivarians!

The entirety of Skierdom is pretty damn impressed with Aspen, and de Semplette is all over the news for the next century for bringing home the gold. Skiers everywhere sent loads of dough to Aspen as thanks.

That was the last great foray by the snowboarders, whose influence steadily declined after their humiliating defeat.

To this day no one really understands how Vail failed so hard, given all the advantages they had at the beginning, but here we are.

De Semplette died having a stroke while hunting birds and was beatified by the pope as the Patron Saint of Double Blacks.

Wendle will be reporting from the ground of the front lines in two weeks. wendle@­wendlewhiting.org