Pond skimming photos from closing day at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area | SummitDaily.com

Pond skimming photos from closing day at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

Text and photos by David Gidley
Special to the Daily

Almost every year in the closing weeks of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area's season, a small alpine lake forms above tree line in the upper reaches of terrain served by the Lenawee lift and is known as Lake Reveal. Rarely does it not form. In some years with a high snowpack, some diligent skiers kick out the perimeter of the pond to hasten its formation. A week before A-Basin's closing, the lake did not exist and some booters reportedly helped it form this year. Once the lake is "in," both skiers and snowboarders line up above the pond and enter the waters in an attempt to get to the other side, thus pond-skimming. This is a spring tradition among the A-Basin closing crowd: a test of courage and a rite of passage for many.

As closing day nears, more and more pond-skimmers come out of the woods to test their skills: balance, coordination, dexterity and speed are all necessary elements to a successful crossing. Sometimes a little experience in water skiing or wake boarding comes in handy. Speed is the clincher and without enough of it one's body merely sinks before making it to the other side. There are short stretches for the novices and long stretches for the bold and intrepid.

One strange phenomenon of the group dynamic is the spectator's reactions. Once a large crowd has gathered, just your average pond-skimmer that makes it across receives no accolades of applause. What gets the crowd roaring is outrageous water-born tricks (going in switch or backwards, going switch mid-pond, flying across and barely touching-down and/or flips on exiting), outlandish costumes and above all: carnage. Yes, the crowd is adamant for the display of ritual wipe-out and water-yardsales, the hairier the better: tumbling somersaults across the lake with large splashes of submersion get the best approval. Skis, poles and even snowboards get temporarily lost. Untold numbers of phones, Go-Pros, sunglasses and keys remain in the murky depths. Yes, folks, carnage is the name of the game and if you want to get noticed, then wipe-out as BIG as you can. And come back next year …