As a beginner skier, the first thing you will notice about the Aspen Mountain trail map is that there are no green runs. This is true. Aspen Mountain (also known as Ajax) is not a good place to learn how to ski, but once you feel as if you can comfortably negotiate blue runs, you will find plenty of interesting terrain to explore.
The bulk of Ajax’s intermediate runs can be skied by riding the Ajax Express lift. Start by taking the Silver Queen Gondola to the summit, and from there take 1 & 2 Leaf or Copper Cutoff to Silver Bell or Silver Dip, both of which offer gentle, undulating terrain that gets groomed on a regular basis.
Both runs will lead you down to the bowl-like setting of Deer Park, where you will find the Ajax Express high-speed quad. Ride back up and take a hard right when you get off the lift to reach Buckhorn. This run is a little steep at the top but flattens out fairly quickly. Near the bottom of Buckhorn, either make a right onto Midnight, a rolling cruiser through the trees, or continue along Ruthie’s Road to North American, a wide-open slope above Bonnie’s restaurant.
These runs will bring you back to the Ajax Express lift. If you’re feeling up for a challenge, take the lift back up and try tackling the moguls of Dipsy Doodle, which can be found directly under the lift near the top, or Pump House Hill, which will be to your left near the bottom of Midnight. Once you feel confident on those runs, try your hand at the high-profile bumps of Easy Chair, a classic mogul run off of Silver Bell that sits right below the gondola.
If moguls aren’t really your thing, continue on past the Ajax Express lift to the F.I.S. lift and take the short ride up to reach Ruthie’s Run, a broad cruiser with spectacular views to the north and west. Follow Ruthie’s Run down to the Ruthie’s lift and make a few laps in this area on Roch Run and Gene Reardon’s Run, both of which get groomed regularly and serve up uncrowded skiing and a variety of interesting pitches.
Once you’ve had your fill of the Ruthie’s area, either head straight off the top of the lift to get back to North American and another gentle run called Tourtelotte Park, or continue down past the bottom of the lift on Summer Road. Bypass the steeps of Corkscrew Gully to reach the World Cup race course on Strawpile and 5th Avenue. These wide-open runs are a great place to make some high-speed turns on your way down to the Shadow Mountain lift.
At the end of the day, if you find yourself still near the top of the mountain, take either Spar Gulch or Copper Bowl to get down. Both of these runs get a little steep but are broad enough to be easily manageable. Be careful when you reach the point where they intersect, though, as there will be lots of other skiers around, particularly late in the day.
Both Copper and Spar will lead you past Kleenex Corner and out to Little Nell. For one last hurrah, however, take Tower Ten Road past Little Nell and hit the moguls of Magnifico or Lazy 8 Gully before heading right on Summer Road to reach the bottom.