Colorado -

Aspen Snowmass, CO

Four amazing mountains

By Robert Choquette, co-founder and former Editor of Skier Magazine and Marilyn Griffiths, special Contributor

It’s been a couple of years since we last skied Aspen and, as we sit in the shuttle van speeding along the highway from Denver airport, we’re excited to reacquaint with one of our favorite areas. It’s the consummate all-American ski destination, with four amazing ski mountains, all on one lift ticket—Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. And, the free regular shuttle service makes it a breeze to hop from one to the next.

The Gant, in the heart of historic downtown Aspen, with its plethora of upscale shops, restaurants and bars, is where we’ve often stayed, but this time we’re headed slopeside in Snowmass at the Timberline. The higher altitude takes a little getting used to—we’re breathing pretty hard just unpacking! But, drinking lots of water makes it easier for us to adjust.

Since we’re staying here, we easily catch the first chair up the Village Express, the starting point to access Snowmass, the largest of the four ski areas. Snowmass is where everyone, regardless of their ability, will find exactly what they want. Skiing with the family? Head for Elk Camp region with its gentle, undulating slopes that meander around islands of evergreens. Looking for highspeed cruisers?

Then Big Burn is definitely your territory. The whole area is wide open and made just for you. More of the steep and deep type? Try Hanging Valley and Cirque with its chutes, bumps, couloirs and out-of-bounds- like steeps. You’ll find everything you’re looking for, and so much more. Today, we spend much of the morning high speed cruising the Burn. As usual, the snow is soft and dry. As our legs start to throb (the altitude is about 3,600 meters), we head a little lower for lunch over at Elk Camp’s mid area. We could spend all week here, but there are so many other areas just waiting to be explored.

Aspen Highlands is not at all glitzy. It is a favourite among locals, strong skiers, and those simply looking for something different. In addition to the many lift-accessed slopes, you can also enjoy snowcat access to the entrance of Highland Bowl. Should you choose the latter, however, keep in mind that you will have to hike about 45 minutes.

Buttermilk, with its jumps and snowparks and super easy runs is, obviously, extremely popular with the younger set. Aspen Mountain is the one right in the heart of Aspen. It’s popular with intermediate and strong skiers alike. The base slopes are pretty steep, funnel and can sometimes be icy, so downloading on the gondola is always an option. There are no green runs here.

Aspen is our choice for today. Great skiing up top and almost never crowded, we take more than our fill and now must decide whether to eat on mountain at the summit—with the great views—or go into town to choose from a variety of eateries. Since we’re still in ski boots, we opt for the Sundeck restaurant at the summit. Come evening, we make our way into town and enjoy a fabulous meal at La Hosteria.



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Text from 2015-2016 ski magazine

 

mountain chic

By Alexis De Gheldere, Outdoor Travel Journalist

Everything, for everyone… that could definitely be Aspen’s slogan. From celebrities to ski bums to parents with kids in tow, everyone is sure to find exactly what they are looking for in Aspen. With lodging located right in the village of Aspen, the easiest and most obvious place to start is probably Aspen Mountain itself. To kick things off in style, take the km-long gondola ride up, and enjoy the long run down (more than a few minutes, we guarantee!). Although there are very few bowls the glades, which are just bursting at the seams with snow and most easily accessed via the Gentleman’s Ridge and the International run, are sure to please the most discerning of off-piste enthusiasts.

The most satisfying in-bounds/gated backcountry-like terrain is located to the left as you make your way down to Traynor Ridge. Though there are six official trails on the map, you can always go off and explore in search of some great fresh tracks. Come evening, enjoy the calm, quiet atmosphere that reigns in Aspen village as you linger in its many restaurants and boutiques. Those who love shopping will be well served by the countless brand name boutiques, testament to the village’s chic allure.

Located a little to the west of Aspen Mountain is Aspen Highland, a mountain the local ski bums flock to and a place I truly enjoy for its laid-back vibe. When you go, the very first area you want to head to is the Highland Bowl. A right of passage for any self-respecting skier, this bowl can only be reached via both a snowcat ride followed by a 40-minute hike up to the summit, at 4,000 metres. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking, and the skiing is nothing short of phenomenal! All I can say is… WOW! Keep in mind, however, that this particular bowl is only accessible after a good snowstorm.  Highland Bowl is best after a good snowstorm but is open most of the main part of the season and fresh tracks can be found days after a big dump.

Here’s hoping your timing is good! After Aspen Highland, if you venture farther West still (the resorts are so close together, it takes just a few minutes to get from one to the next), you’ll end up at Buttermilk, the most family-oriented of all the Aspen resorts. Despite its reputation as a milder mountain, the terrain here is still as steep as you’d find in Mont Tremblant. After all, this is Colorado!

But, if you are in search of couloirs, steep glades and mind-blowing bowls, then I’d suggest you’d stick to mountains other than Buttermilk. Places like Snowmass will give you all the couloirs, moguls and thrills you have come to Aspen for. With all this in mind, you will definitely be able to enjoy a whole week without skiing the same tracks twice.

Have a great trip!

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Aspen/Snowmass Sizzle from Aspen Snowmass on Vimeo.

Ski stations Accommodations Snow Conditions
TEMPERATURE (CELSIUS)
Month Min. Max.
January -14 1
February -12 4
March -7 7
April -4 10
May 1 16
June 5 22
July 8 25
August 8 24
September 4 20
October -2 14
November -8 6
December -13 2

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