Aspen’s uphill nation rallies for full-moon event at Tiehack
January 13, 2017
The moon was about the only no-show at Tiehack on Thursday night.
Hundreds of people — young and old, from upvalley and downvalley — skinned or hiked up the slopes of Tiehack on Thursday evening during the full wolf moon. People were strung along the designated slope individually and in small groups. It had the appearance of a large centipede inching along, with the head lamps used by many people bobbing at they climbed.
The full moon ascents have been popular for years as uphilling has surged in popularity. But while there used to be a few dozen people huddled at the picnic table at the top of Tiehack or partying at a warming hut farther up the mountain, now hundreds of people make the trip.
Aspen Skiing Co. started offering dinners at the mountaintop Cliffhouse restaurant last season and renewed the event this year for the full moons in December, January, February and March.
The Cliffhouse sold more than 300 dinners Thursday night, according to Rich Burkley, Skico vice president of mountain operations. That was about double the number of meals typically sold at the events, he said.
Scores of additional people hiked up to the restaurant but didn't eat. Longtime local musicians Bo Hale, Rob Leventhal and John Zajicek, performing as The Aspen Biker Trio, set the groove in the back dining room of the restaurant, which was nearly filled to capacity, with waves of diners coming and going. The entrance dining room also was mostly full.
This month's event might have had more drawing power because it was a fundraiser for Wilderness Workshop. The locally grown conservation group received 10 percent of the proceeds from sales at the Cliffhouse on Thursday evening. Numerous staff and supporters made the trip.
The weather wasn't much of a draw. It was warm but clouds obscured the moon and snow flurries fell for much of the evening.
Burkley said a visible moon probably would have dispersed people more by attracting some of the patrons outside to the fire pit.
After getting their fill of fun at the top, people left on their own timetable and skied back to the base of Tiehack or West Buttermilk. Skico marked the designed route on Tiehack with flashing lights spaced along the slope. The grooming crew laid fresh carpet on the designated slope, so it made for a fun ski down, especially for those willing to ditch the headlamps.