FOR THE LOVE OF FOUR MOUNTAINS
Prior to a visit to Aspen, I was an Aspen reverse-snob. You know the type, ‘Why go to Aspen?’, ‘Surely better places to ski than Aspen’, ‘All I hear is bloody Aspen, Aspen Aspen’.
And then, like all true reverse-snobs. I actually went there and saw it for myself.
In the words of a ski-blogger reverse-snob in the gondola on Aspen Mountain;
“Now, I see why people JUST come to Aspen”.
Aspen is located in Colorado State, accessible via a drive from Denver international Airport or smaller regional airports of Eagle and Aspen. It is a short-ish drive from Vail Resort, and 3 hours from Steamboat Ski Resort, thus making a ski-road trip possible if one was so inclined. (I was inclined).
It is an actual town, with a thriving centre largely focused on tourism. If you’ve been to Australia and know Noosa in Queensland, Aspen is Noosa on snow. Meaning very significant shopping and dining in a sport/ outdoors sport inclined setting. Buses within the town are free and the SKIER IS KING. When a skier crosses the road, the traffic slows. A reverse of what happens if you attempt this (minus the ski gear) in Shanghai or Hanoi.
This is a great resort for a couple, a long-much anticipated (expensive) special occasion, or if money is no object. I’m planning to return here when i turn 40, sans children.
WHAT’S SO GOOD?
|Out of the Gondola window @ Ajax|
The main drawcard for this resort is CHOICE. Four mountains of Ajax, Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk are linked via the one pass, each mountain catering to very particular skier types. Buttermilk for learners and/or kids, Snowmass is where the ski school is located but can happily accommodate intermediates, highlands for the lovers of hiking, adventure and beauty, and Aspen Mountain (known as Ajax) for the lovers of vertical. Some resorts are just for skiing, but Aspen town gladly accommodates avid shoppers, diners, browsers and people watchers. A great place to take a girlfriend who is only ‘half skier, half shopper’.
If Ajax mountain had a soundtrack, it would be
Braveheart or something haunting backed with drums. Our visit coincided with a handy dump of fresh snow, falling in all the right places. It was unpopulated enough that our thrills came cheap. Not the best place to take my father, who was a little nervy after a leg-break (note to self).
Highlands’ drawcard is ‘ skiing ‘the bowl’, and keen skiers from all ages line up for ‘the bowl’ to open after ski patrol bombing, like puppies waiting for a treat. Chairlift rides all over this mountain are spec-tac-u-lar viewing. Runs are generously wide and there are plenty of faces to explore.
SNOWMASS AND BUTTERMILK
We didn’t ski there due to time constraints, but the ski school and a lot of supporting accommodation is located at Snowmass, and there X-Games was being held at Buttermilk during our time there. love to hear some reports on experiences skiing there. Some all accounts the skiing is quite decent at Snowmass if it’s a family trip you’re after.
|Highlands. Appreciate THAT.|
|Waiting for patrollers to finish blasting|
|Waiting for ski patrol to finish blasting to open the lift.|