Riders rank snowboard runs
February 10, 2004
We originally wanted to do a story on people’s “favorite places” to snowboard, but it was like asking 19th-century miners just exactly where their latest gold strike was.
Finally, a particularly buff rider from Telluride dumped one of our researchers upside down in a Snowmass Village snowbank … we figured she had a point and adjusted our goals.
So welcome to some advice on people’s SECOND favorite place to board.
“The terrain at Buttermilk is ideal for snowboarding because everybody has to learn sometimes. West Buttermilk offers the ideal terrain for getting it all figured it out, especially Larkspur, which has a very consistent pitch and width and is often uncrowded. The Tiehack side of Buttermilk offers open, well-spaced trees that are ideal for getting your powder toes down.” — Greg Smoyer, Buttermilk fanatic.
“I don’t know, I’ve really only been on Buttermilk because this is my first day and I think that big wall at the bottom is way steep, but everybody says I’ll be doing that run, “The Wall,” in no time. Is that really hard?” — Sharon Ackerman, Ohio.
“I’ve been training for the Olympics for halfpipe and in my opinion the pipe at Snowmass is the best in the world … most of my friends also like to ride pipe, so I’m usually with them,” — Sang Back, Korean Olympic team.
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“Alpine Springs is definitely my second favorite, but I suggest the visitors keep an eye open because I like to get air,” — Aimee Sheeber, local.
“Burnt Mountain, where you’re back there away from others, sort of backcountry, and can explore natural gullies and also build some big jumps. It’s easier to make laps because of the new Two Creeks lift on that side of the mountain … it’s starting to get a little more populated, but you can expect that,” — Mitch Stout, local.
“Primarily, I love the Cirque because of the many photography possibilities … lots of cornices, rock drops and Alaska-looking terrain, and the killer powder at that altitude,” Rob Gracie, local. (Rob is a nationally known snowboard photographer.)
“The Wall at Snowmass just has so many killer lines that I really couldn’t narrow it to just one … I lived in Snowmass a couple of years back when I began my professional career; today there are a lot of talented young riders coming from the Aspen/Snowmass area,” — Dave Basterrecufa, Sandy, Utah.
“Elk Camp has the most amazing trees for intermediate riding. They are catching on in popularity but they are very safe and fun. There are a few roads mixed in with the trees just below the top lift terminal but once they fill in, they make for fun whoop-de-dos. Elk Camp is loved by intermediate skiers and boarders will find the same pleasure in the long, curvy runs with plenty of banks to cruise up and down.” — John Hickenberry, frequent Snowmass visitor
“Sunlight. It’s cheap and I can take my kids and show them what mom can do,” — Jenny (no last name given) long-time local.
“Spar Gulch on Aspen Mountain, it’s dope, like a huge halfpipe with highway hits and mogul gaps … you just have to read your uphill to watch out for fast Aspen skiers,” — Jesse Dempsey, local
“Anywhere backcountry, either by hiking or sled … you need to be more educated about the dangers of the wilderness, but the rewards can be life-inspiring,” — Jason Troty
Hate to say it, but Spar Gulch on a snowboard is one of the funnest runs on the planet. If snowboarding is like surfing and therefore trails are like waves, Spar Gulch is like Rincon, the classic winding long right point break below Santa Barbara. The challenge in Spar isn’t, as many people imagine, to go from bank to bank across the trail, although that is possible towards the bottom, but rather, it is climb up and down the lowest Face of Bell and carve huge turns off the top, just like on a wave. Really, really fun. Catch it when you can. — B. Gardner Smith, skier and rider
“Golden Horn [at Aspen Highlands] is a wide-open intermediate bowl, great for going fast and carving big turns.” — Denver Post 1998-99 Best of Winter guide