In wide 4- to 5-quart pan, combine vinegar, salt, sugar, pickling spice, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add asparagus; if liquid doesn't cover it, add water to cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until asparagus has faded to dull green and is tender-crisp to bite, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat; add 1 cup ice cubes to stop cooking. Let stand at least 30 minutes (see notes).
Drain asparagus and arrange on a platter or seal in a container for transport.