If you’ve just arrived in Aspen, and you’ve never been on skis before, Buttermilk is far and away your best choice to learn how to ski. Though it’s home to ESPN’s Winter X Games and has one of the most fearsome terrain parks to be found anywhere, Buttermilk is still, at its heart, an exceptional beginner’s mountain.
Despite its massive size, Snowmass has relatively little in the way of beginner terrain, with just 6 percent of the runs bearing a green circle. It more than makes up for this shortcoming, however, with thousands of acres of some of the best intermediate trails to be found anywhere, including many runs that are suitable for skiers with a just a few days’ experience under their belts.
Learning to ski or snowboard is easy.
First, be under 21.Then slip, slide, tumble and bruise your way down the most difficult trail on the highest mountain you can find. Repeat eight hours a day, seven days a week until mommy and daddy’s money runs out or Christmas break is over.
This weekend, the flame was lit and the games began, again. March 12th rekindled Vancouver, as almost 300 torchbearers ushered in the glow of the 2010 Paralympics Games, March 13-21. And just over a week ago, Challenge Aspen hosted nearly 120 competitors from 20 countries on the slopes of Buttermilk, for the last stop on the IPC Alpine World Cup Circuit.
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“How’s the course?” asks Mudflap, lift operator extraordinaire and congenial mountain host, cooking up brats and award-winning chili at the base of Tiehack during the week’s unseasonably warm race days.
“Are you kidding? Living the dream,” says Challenge Aspen Competition Team Coach John McBride. “It’s a little soft today for ski racing, but for watching a ski race in the blazing sun? Perfect!”
ASPEN, CO - Charlie MacArthur, Aspen’s all-around accomplished mountain man, has a new fascination. He’s taught kayaking for decades, and paddled first ascents through river waterways throughout both the Rocky Mountains and Hawaii; he’s taught telemarking, alpine skiing and snowboarding in Aspen and Snowmass for 27 years, and raced his surf ski through 36 miles of open ocean in the prestigious Hawaiian Moloka’i Channel Race. These days, he’s combining key elements of Nordic skiing, surfing and kayaking across Aspen whitewater, bringing the latest craze of stand-up paddling to local rivers, inviting locals and visitors to jump aboard.
Some things can only get accomplished out of cell range. Most of the time, searching for service means I’m out climbing; no one wears a watch, cell phones sleep and time, as I’ve said, stands still yet simultaneously fast forwards through the day and you’re always late for something when you finally get reception.
The snow has started, and if you're still wondering how you can get your fill, skiing and riding the most versatile terrain in Colorado, look no further. Introducing the all new Colorado Triple Play. This is the ultimate multi-mountain access ski pass for the 2011-2012 season. It offers snow sports enthusiasts the opportunity to catch fresh tracks at Aspen/Snowmass, Steamboat and Winter Park Resort.
CARBONDALE, CO - In most of the Colorado mountain towns where I have lived, there is one peak that dominates the skyline. In Norwood it is Lone Cone Mountain, in Colorado Springs it is Pike’s Peak, and in my new home of Basalt it is Mount Sopris. Driving into the Roaring Fork Valley one cannot miss the stunning view of this peak. It rises over 6,000 feet in less than three miles to its twin summits, both at exactly the same height of 12,965 feet. For me it is a rite of passage to summit the peak that towers above the town in which I live. Not only does this help me to understand where my town lies in relation to the surrounding peaks and valleys, it also affords a familiarity with the mountain that makes gazing up at the peak even more enjoyable and meaningful. Last weekend, I conquered Mount Sopris.
I chose a date and invited some friends, sure that we would have to set several dates before the weather cooperated and we were able to summit. That morning, we woke up to a cloudless blue sky and the weatherman predicting that it would remain that way throughout the day. We drove to the trailhead munching peanut butter and apples, and energetically began the hike. Not long after we began, we passed a gnome, sitting quietly next to his pet chipmunk slightly off the trail. After about two hours of hiking under a canopy of yellow aspen leaves, we reached Thomas Lakes. They were so still that we could see the twin summits of Mount Sopris reflecting in the water. A small pond between the two lakes was covered with a thin sheet of ice, reminding us that winter was on the way. Our midmorning snack refilled our tanks and allowed us to continue onward and upward, constantly marveling at the beauty of our fall-colored valley.
We all know that Aspen has everything. That’s why you live or vacation here. Great skiing, great shopping, great music, great restaurants. Golf, hiking, mountain biking, rafting. There really isn’t much need to go anywhere else. Still, though, if you come to Colorado and just visit Aspen, you’re missing out on a lot of what makes the Centennial State so spectacular.
The Roaring Fork Valley, by anyone’s estimation, is a scenic wonder, with towering peaks, verdant forests and bucolic meadows. But as anyone who has ever visited the Maroon Bells can tell you, the side valleys in this area can be even more spectacular.