Little Piggy Grows Up

“It’s honest food from real farmers, put forth by passionate butchers and chefs using primal cooking techniques,” says Brady Lowe, visionary founder of Cochon555’s national competitive chef series, about Heritage Fire, the no-protein-barred, wood-fired event that’s become the local darling of the Food & Wine weekend. “Together, through eating, we become stewards of the good food movement, motivate change and influence our food system from pasture to plate.”

One of the primary live-fire events in the country right now, Heritage Fire, aka “Fire” if you’re one of the initiated, will take over the lawn on the slopes at Snowmass Base Village for the fourth year June 16. Beyond furthering the cause (the event is a fundraiser for Cochon555’s sister charity, Piggy Bank), it’s an all-in, lip-smackin’, free-flowing good way to go the distance with 3,500 pounds of heritage breed meat — and all the trimmings to go with.

Sink your teeth into this

Whole pigs. Dry-aged beef. Duck. Octopus. Lamb. Goat. Squab. Eel. Rabbit. Oysters. Chicken. Sturgeon. Artisan cheeses. Heirloom vegetables. Disparate as these ingredients may seem, they all have one thing in common: Heritage, or heirloom, origins.

What else may show up on grills, in smokers and on spits or asados over fires lit before dawn and fanned to ideal cooking temps is anybody’s guess. Chefs are known to pack their Yetis and load up trucks to haul product, ingredients, cooking utensils and other essential gadgets from as near as Aspen and as far as Houston, Chicago and Seattle.

Once it all hits the slopes, so to speak, nuanced techniques enhance the back-to-basics concept of (not to mention flavor rendered by) cooking quality meats over flame.

The Main Course – Fifty-plus chefs and butchers preparing heritage-breed protein translates on the plate to over 100 different dishes. Survey the crowd, keep your eye on what’s passing by on plates and make sure to circle back to stands you’ve already hit for whatever’s hot off the fire.

National chefs include John Manion of El Che Bar in Chicago, Shota Nakajima of Adana in Seattle, and Houston’s Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi of Kata Robata and Jean-Philippe Gaston of Izakaya in Houston.

Coming up from Denver are Steve Redzikowski of Acorn, Joshua Pollack of Rosenberg’s, Bill Miner of il Porcellino, Nate Singer of Blackbelly, Daniel Asher of River & Woods, and Kelly Whitaker of Basta, to name a few.

Aspen homeboys include Jim Butchart and Andrew Helsley of Aspen Skiing Co. and Herb Wilson of TORO Kitchen & Lounge at Viceroy Snowmass.

Side Dish – As tempting as it is to go all hog, stray from the meat for a moment now and then to forage for a sampling of craft cheese from Les Trois Petits Cochons, Yellow Door Creamery, Cello, Savile Row, La Quercia, and Cypress Grove at the Cheese Experience. Go raw at the Tartare Bar. Get a hit of sweet at a Pop-Up Pie shop by Mike’s Pies and Swine and Sweets, an innovative spin on dessert spotlighting notable pastry chefs working with Perfect Puree of Napa Valley. Check out the new Tromp “Hora de Familia” experience, celebrating the first Global Cochon555 event in Mexico City later this year, as well as Royal Oak’s Natural Charcoal “Dirty Steak” Tomahawk Bar. And swing by the Pop-Up Butcher Demo and Silent Auction with celebrated butchers Kate Kavanaugh and Josh Curtiss of Western Daughters in Denver.

Pair It Up – From Topo Chico sparklers to premium cocktails from Breckenridge, Buffalo Trace and other top distilleries at the Manhattan Project, El Tesoro Tequila margaritas to rosé from Chateau D’Esclans, there is a perfect pairing for every tidbit and taste. Silver Oak, Kosta Browne, Pax Wine Cellars, Sandhi, and Twomey Cellars will be pouring wines as well.




Fun Times for Families and Kids of All Ages

Snowmass Village will live up to its reputation as a family destination this summer, thanks to a bevy of events that are sure to please and thrill young ones and older ones alike.

Along with a mix of day camps — including those at the Snowmass Recreation Center and Anderson Ranch, as well as Camp SMashBox and Camp Aspen Snowmass — the Ice Age Discovery Center and the rec center are open daily.

Add to those a plethora of special events and daily events, and you can see why Snowmass Village is the place to be for summertime family fun in the Rocky Mountains.

Here’s the lowdown on what to enjoy:

Special Events

July 4:Fourth of July celebration

Celebrate Fourth of July evening in Snowmass with complimentary lawn games, music, sweet treats and more. The festive event coincides with the Snowmass Rodeo and culminates with fireworks over Fanny Hill at 9 p.m.

July 21:Deaf Camp Benefit

Benefiting the Aspen Camp of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Deaf Camp Benefit was established in the 1970s with the help of John Denver, Jimmy Buffet, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others to support the Aspen nonprofit. The Deaf Camp Benefit is a free event though donations are encouraged. The 2018 event features music by the Spin Doctors and Mandy Harvey.

Aug. 17-19: Zoppé Italian Family Circus

The Zoppé Italian Family Circus welcomes guests into the intimate 500-seat tent for a one-ring circus that honors the best history of the Old World Italian tradition. Starring Nino the Clown, the circus is propelled by a central story that features acrobatic feats, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, clowning and plenty of audience participation. This theatrical show has been entertaining audiences for seven generations.

Sept. 7-9: Snowmass Balloon Festival

The 43rd Annual Snowmass Balloon Festival fills the sky with color as more than 30 balloons launch at 7 each morning from Town Park, along with the theatrical Night Glow on Saturday evening in Base Village.

Sept. 8: Septemberfest

The second annual Septemberfest returns to Snowmass Base Village with wine and sake tastings, food vendors, children’s activities, music and more, all culminating with the Nigh Glow Balloon Show.

Sept. 16-17: Aspen Snowmass Vintage Car Race, presented by Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing Ltd.

High-octane racing comes alive on the streets of Snowmass Village with the Aspen Snowmass Vintage Car Race. Now expanded to a two-day race, watch as vintage Corvettes, BMWs, Porsches, Mustangs and formula race cars from the 1960s and 1970s fly by during this event.


Snowmass is home to its Very Important Kid program, which provides ample opportunities for family fun every day of the week. Details are available at, along with the listings below.

Aspen Center For Environmental Studies (ACES) Nature Hike

details: Explore the Snowmass Nature Trail on a two-hour guided tour with an ACES naturalist. Learn about the diversity of wildflowers in the lush meadows, aspen forests and the nearby beaver bond.

age range: 6 years and older

when:  Daily, June 18 through Sept. 3; and weekends of Sept. 8-10, 15-16, 29-30

time: 10 a.m.

where: Meet at the Ice Age Discovery Center on the Snowmass Village Mall

cost: Free

contact: 970-925-5756, and 970-922-2277,


Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Hike

details: Learn about Snowmass’ Ice Age Discovery on a two-hour hike through a guided tour with an ACES naturalist.

when: Daily June 18 through Sept. 3; and weekends of Sept. 8-10, 15-16, 29-30

time: 1 p.m. (two-hour round-trip tour, approximately 3.5 miles)

where: Meet at the Ice Age Discovery Center on the Snowmass Village Mall

level: Moderate hiking, leisurely pace

cost: Free

contact: 970-925-5756, or 970-922-2277,


Lost Forest at the top of Elk Camp Gondola

details: Activities include an alpine coaster, zip lines, biking trails, ropes challenges and climbing walls. There are ponds to fish in, creeks to hike along, places to enjoy nature alone or in groups, two disc golf courses and guides to help you find your next adventure.

when: Daily, June 22 through Oct. 1

time: 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

where: Outside the Elk Camp Restaurant at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola

cost: $21 gondola ticket, ages 3 and younger are free. Lost Forest packages start at $84 and include the gondola ticket.

contact: 970-925-1220,



Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center + Postcards

details: Touch replicas of mammoth and mastodon teeth. Wonder at full-size skull and femur fossil replicas. Read Ice Age books in the children’s library. See video from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and learn the story of the Snowmass Ice Age discovery through creative displays, educational panels and interactive programming. Suitable for adults and children of all ages.

age range: All ages

when: Mondays, June 18 through Oct. 1

time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

cost: Free

contact: 970-922-2277,



Elk Camp Farm to Table Dinners

details: Live entertainment, family-friendly activities, and à la carte dining featuring farm-fresh Colorado-grown products. Free gondola access from 5 to 9 p.m.

age ranges: All ages

when: Tuesdays, July 10 through Aug. 21

time: 5-9 p.m.

where: Elk Camp Restaurant at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola

cost: Free gondola access with à la carte menu options

contact: 970-923-1227,



Snowmass Rodeo

details: This authentic Western event includes bull riding, team roping, barrel racing and bronco riding. VIK kids can compete in calf scramble and mutton bustin’. There also is a petting zoo and a mechanical bull. Top off the night with s’mores around a cozy campfire. Free admission for VIKs 10 years and younger.

age range: All ages

when: Wednesdays, June 13 through Aug. 22

time: Gates open at 5 p.m., rodeo starts at 7 p.m.

where: Snowmass Rodeo Grounds

cost: Kids 10 and younger free; youth (11-15 years), $15; 15 years to adults, $20

contact: 970-923-8898,



Family Fun Zone at Snowmass Free Concert Series

details: Kids can romp through the Family Fun Zone featuring a bouncy house, face painting, hula-hooping and more while mom and dad kick back and enjoy the sunset as acclaimed artists take to the Fanny Hill stage.

age range: 3 years and older

when: Thursdays, June 14 through Aug. 16

time: 6-8 p.m.

where: Fanny Hill concert venue

cost: Free

contact: 970-922-2233,



Fridays on the Mall

details: Music Festival students, extended retail hours, local vendors, sidewalk sales, food-and-beverage specials.

age range: All ages

when: Fridays, June 15 through Aug. 17

time: 4-8 p.m.

where: Snowmass Mall

cost: Free



Snowmass S’mores

Details: A cozy fire and tasty s’mores bring friends and families together during this evening activity. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

age range: All ages

when: Fridays, June 15 through Aug. 17

time: 6-8 p.m.

where: Westin Snowmass Resort fire pit

cost: Free

contact: 970-922-2233,



Family Biking Adventure

details: VIK families can ride or cruise through a variety of paved and dirt trails together after visiting Gene Taylor’s Sports. Receive 50 percent off bike rentals for VIK parents and kids.

age range: 4 and older

when: Saturdays, June through September

time: All day

where: Gene Taylor’s Sports

cost: Varied; 50 percent off bike rentals

contact: 970-923-4336,



Family River Rafting Day

details: VIK families with children 6 years and older can join Blazing Adventures for a day of rafting and get 15 percent off for their entire family.

age range: 6 and younger

when: Sundays, May 27 through Sept. 30

time: By reservation

where: Roaring Fork, Arkansas and Colorado rivers

cost: Cost varies per river section; call for pricing.

contact: 970-923-4544,


Biking Snowmass: On the Trails

Snowmass Trail System

Getting there: There are a number of ways to access the Snowmass Trail system, including the gondola. For the loop, start at the Snowmass Recreation Center and ride on the Brush Creek Bike Path until you cross Brush Creek Road. There you will hit the Ditch Trail.

Trail Talk: Snowmass is full of rides with beautiful scenery, including aspen trees, wildflowers and meadows.


Snowmass Trails To Aspen Shuttle Ride

Distance: 17.6 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

The dirt: Start at the small, dirt parking lot on Owl Creek Road, then ride the Owl Creek Bike Path for about 50 yards to Tom Blake Trail. Don’t be confused by the brief paved interruption on Tom Blake Trail (the uphill on Faraway Road), which eventually leads to Hidden Lane (also paved). Make a right and descend Wood Road. Make a left and a short singletrack leads you to Fanny Hill Ski Slope.

This is one way to ride from Snowmass ski area to the base at Buttermilk. Connect along Sleigh Ride, The Ditch, Connector and West Government. You can make a complete loop by riding the Owl Creek Trail paved bike path or venturing through Sky Mountain Park singletrack. Riders will enjoy miles of singletrack through aspen groves and forest. Technical rocky areas and roots offer a challenge for even the experienced.


The Snowmass Loop

Distance:  24.1 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

The dirt:  Snowmass has one of the best singletrack riding systems in Colorado and it continues to expand. Riders experience rolling jump lines on Deadline Trail, forests and flowers on Tom Blake Trail, rocks and grassy meadows on Cross Mountain Trail and epic mountain views on the fast, smooth descent of Rim Trail. Ride the loop clockwise, and try to make it to Rim Trail, the most beautiful portion. Make sure to grab a bike trail map before you head out to explore; there’s a lot to see.


Rim Trail Loop

Distance: 10.5 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

The dirt: Park at the Rodeo Lot in Snowmass Village. Ride up Brush Creek Bike Path to just below the ski area. Cross Brush Creek Road before the final turn to the ski area and ride Divide Road to the Rim Trail trailhead.

This singletrack loop includes a lot of climbing on a bike path to 7 miles of singletrack. There’s about 1,800 feet of elevation change, so it’s a challenging ride. You’ll start off with a quick climb. Check out the incredible 360 degree views at the top before descending on some fun and fast singletrack. From here, it’s pure descent to the parking lot.


Sky Mountain Snowmass 

Getting there: Park at Buttermilk Ski Area and hit the Buttermilk Connector Trail, which leads to Owl Creek Trail. As the path veers away from the airport runway and starts to climb, make a right on Airline Trail to begin your ascent.

Trail Talk: Note that the sections of the ride within Sky Mountain Park will be affected by the annual wildlife closure from Dec. 1 to May 15. Dogs are not allowed within the park.


Sky Mountain Park Loop

Distance: 18.6 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

The dirt: Sky Mountain Park includes the ridgeline between Brush and Owl Creeks, with amazing views of Aspen, Snowmass, Independence Pass, the Elk Mountain Range and downvalley. From Airline Trail, turn left onto Skyline Ridge Trail. Take it to Deadline Trail. At the end of Deadline, make a hard left onto Highline Trail. Follow it until you make a right to join Lowline Trail, which loops back to Highline. You’ll end up near the base of Viewline Trail and a kiosk, where you can take Ditchline Trail to the Brush Creek Bike Path to finish your ride.

Festive Village

September is anything but sleepy in Snowmass Village.

In fact, several of Snowmass’ hottest events of the summer season — plus a new festival this year — are packed into the month of September. September in Snowmass continues to grow each year from a tourism standpoint, with more visitors as well as more events on the calendar.

From 2013 to 2017, occupancy in Snowmass for the month of September has increased from 21.2 percent to 48.8 percent, Snowmass Tourism marketing director Virginia McNellis said.

As of late spring, McNellis said, Snowmass is “on pace to either meet or beat those numbers this September.”

Snowmass’ revenue per room — a common industry metric also known as “RevPAR” — also has tripled across those four years, McNellis said.

With breathtaking mountain vistas that blend the vibrant green hues of summer with bright autumn golds — and cooler, yet still sunny, sweater weather — we don’t question September’s increasing popularity.

“Snowmass looks its best (in September),” McNellis said.

Noting the month’s strong event lineup, she added, “just having that vitality and that extra bit of fun really helps us grow September.”



(Aug. 31 to Sept. 2)

Kicking off the month on a holiday weekend, Snowmass welcomes Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ Labor Day Experience, which organizers call “an open air, dance-oriented extravaganza of popular R&B, rock, funk, blues, world and soul music.”

Thousands of locals and visitors flock to Snowmass for this summer highlight that, for many, is as much about being in the company of friends and socializing as it is about the bands.

That said, Jazz Aspen Snowmass, now in its 27th year, draws top-notch talent to our little valley.

The masses travel with them. Jazz Aspen Snowmass estimates the three-day festival attracts more than 10,000 concertgoers each day.

Headlining this year’s Labor Day performances are Lionel Richie, Jack Johnson and the Zac Brown Band.



(Sept. 7 to 9)

Another Snowmass Village summer favorite is the annual balloon festival.

The 43rd annual Snowmass Balloon Festival is a time-honored village tradition, drawing thousands of spectators and visitors annually.

Watch as a bundle of more than 90,000 cubic feet of colorful, rip-stop nylon and a massive wicker basket evolve into a sea of bright colors stamping Snowmass’ skyline.

As one of the highest altitude hot air balloon festivals in the county, the Snowmass Balloon Fest also attracts pilots and enthusiasts from all over.

More recently, the festival added a nighttime jazz-band “glow show” choreographed to the movement of glowing balloons.



(Sept. 8)

Hot air balloons in the morning as part of the balloon festival, followed by the second annual “Septemberfest” celebration of fall in the evening, left a lull in the afternoon that one local hopes to fill with crisp, bubbly cider samples.

“I thought this will help, mid-day, to kind of piece it all together so it flows from one event to the next,” Daly Bottle Shop owner Reed Lewis said of his inaugural “Cidermass” event this fall.

Also known as the Snowmass Cider Festival, Cidermass will feature hard cider tastings from 25 to 30 vendors from around the country, with an emphasis on local companies as well, Lewis said.

Pointing to Snowmass’ wine and beer festivals as examples, the longtime village resident added, “I just felt like one of the things that works up here are events where people can sample. And cider is already exploding, I just felt it was a really good fit, especially in the fall.”



(Sept. 8)

Proof that Snowmass’ growth in September is not only a marketing strategy, but also an organic, local push: in 2017, Snowmass restaurateur Dave Dugan launched a festival dedicated to celebrating the month.

In an effort to up the fun, get people together and also raise money for a worthy cause, Dugan debuted Septemberfest last year.

“Let’s celebrate fall, let’s do bigger events, do some good in the world,” Dugan said. “We really want to give a reason for people to come together.”

Septemberfest will offer a marketplace-style experience in the Base Village events plaza with local vendors, restaurant booths, children’s activities, sake and wine tastings, music and more.

The goal is to offer something for everyone in the family, Dugan said.

“I think there’s a mentality in Snowmass that we have a great mountain, but if you want to have fun, go to Aspen,” he said. “It’s always going to be family-friendly, and it should be. But we can have events, we can have a nightlife.”



(Sept. 16 to 17)

Calling all car enthusiasts — this is the weekend in Snowmass Village that will offer all things automobiles. A car show kicks off the events Sept. 15, followed by the second annual Aspen Snowmass Vintage Car Race on Sept. 16 and 17.

Presented by Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing, the two-day race will feature more than 120 high-end cars from Porsches and Ferraris to Audis and Corvettes.

For more information on Snowmass’ Motoring Classic and vintage car race, visit


(Sept. 14 to 15)

Q: What beats wining and dining for a worthy cause on a beautiful fall afternoon in the mountains?

A: We don’t know.

The Rotary Club of Snowmass will host its annual wine dinner and festival mid-September.

One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit educational scholarships and nonprofit organizations throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.

The weekend will commence with a pairing dinner at the Viceroy Snowmass on Sept. 14.

Viceroy executive chef Herb Wilson will prepare the four-course “Northwest Passage” dinner, which will boast five wines from American Viticultural Areas in Oregon and Washington state.

The three-hour grand tasting will take place at Town Park Sept. 15.

Visit for more.



With a lineup that boasts time-honored traditions like the nearly 50-year-old Snowmass Balloon Festival (more on page 8) and inaugural events alike, summer in Snowmass is an eclectic mix of old meets new.

This summer, Snowmass welcomes four unique new events — AdventureOUT, Yeti Tribe, the Colorado brewery Running Series and Cidermass — creating “one of (Snowmass’) most robust event calendars ever,” Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello said.

On the following page is what you should know about the new guys in town …


(July 4 to 8)

The nonprofit that produces Aspen Gay Ski Week, AspenOUT, is launching a new LGBTQ event in Snowmass Village for the summer.

With an emphasis on outdoor experiences
and community building, AdventureOUT Snowmass will differ from the 41-year-old
Gay Ski Week, said Kevin McManamon, AspenOUT executive director.

“We’re not (planning it) as party-heavy as Aspen Gay Ski Week,” McManamon said, adding that AdventureOUT will focus more on daytime activities.

And in true Snowmass style, the event also will cater to families of the LGBTQ community.

“We’re marketing it to the general LGBT population, but with a little more focus on family,” McManamon said. “The LGBT family market is burgeoning (and) kind of exploding with everyone having kids, so we want to provide those folks with a family-friendly atmosphere.”

He said the timing of the event also is more convenient for families to attend than Aspen Gay Ski Week, which occurs during the school year.

Snowmass “has always been a popular stop during Gay Ski Week,” Abello said, “and we have been working with AspenOUT to develop a summer option” for about two years.

The AdventureOUT agenda so far includes activities such as hiking, biking, rafting, rock climbing, Jeeping, a farm-to-table dinner and an outdoor concert.

For more information on the inaugural LGBTQ event in Snowmass, visit


(July 27 to 29)

The Yeti Tribe is a “diverse group of freaks that share (a) devotion” to owning and riding Yeti Cycles, according to the company’s site.

From Patagonia to Nepal, Yeti Cycles hosts gatherings in mountain regions throughout the world and Colorado, with “tribe” locations in Crested Butte, Montrose, Durango, Steamboat, Telluride and Minturn.

The gathering will include a weekend of camping in the mountains and single-track trail riding along Snowmass’ renowned trail system.



(Aug. 12)

In 2012, two folks in Minnesota launched an event consisting of a 5k run that would start and end at a brewery, where a party would then follow.

After four successful years, in 2016 the duo decided to expand its series to Colorado, with a home base in the Denver metro area, said Brady Archer, Colorado Brewery Running series director of events.

By 2017, the Brewery Running Series boasted 17 races in Colorado and added several other states to the list, as well.

In August, the Colorado series will launch its first mountain trail run in Snowmass Village, beginning and ending at the New Belgium Ranger Station.

After a few years of growth and establishing a following, Archer said, “We’ve now gotten to the point where the buzz is big enough to get us into the mountains, and hopefully bring the fun with it.”

The Brewery Running Series, which will host 120 to 130 events throughout eight states this summer, donates 10 percent of its total revenue to select nonprofits each year.

For more information on the Snowmass run, visit


Finding New Paths with the Lost Forest

Steve Sewell believes the Lost Forest will be a game-changer for summertime in Snowmass.

“It will offer interesting and fun activities for families,” the mountain manager said, “and I think it’s going to give people a reason to stay in Snowmass a couple more days.”

Consider Sewell a reliable source when it comes to Snowmass and its affairs on the hill – he started working on the Snowmass ski patrol in 1977 and has been the mountain manager since 2006.

In case you haven’t been following or this is your first time here – in which case, welcome – Aspen Skiing Co. in June 2017 started building a $10 million, on-mountain adventure center at Snowmass Ski Area.

With an extensive plan that called for amenities such as an alpine coaster, zip-line, ropes course, climbing wall and more than 15 miles of new bike trails, Skico wasted no time in realizing its dreams of building an adventure park at Snowmass.

The U.S. Forest Service granted the skiing company final project approval June 20, 2017, and construction started the next day, Skico director of business development Peter Santini said.

The Lost Forest is based just up the gondola at the Elk Camp area, which Skico hopes will serve as a social hub in the summer months.

Skico debuted its 5,700-foot “Breathtaker Coaster” – the only part of the Lost Forest open year-round – in time to ring in the ski area’s 50th anniversary.

Sewell said the alpine coaster, which opened mid-December, was well received by locals and visitors through the winter.

“It was an overwhelming success,” Sewell said. “Everybody loved it. It was a really good winter activity.”

Along with the coaster, Skico completed about 7.5 miles of the total 15.1 miles of added bike trails.

This summer, it will knock out the remaining 7.6 miles of new trails along the Elk Camp side of the mountain and “open those just as soon as we complete the trail and it’s ready to ride,” Sewell said.

For Skico and White River National Forest offi-cials, the Lost Forest has been a long time coming.

Snowmass was the fifth ski resort in the White River National Forest to pursue a summer recreational plan since Congress passed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act in 2011.

But the conversation was spurred at least a decade ago, according to Roger Poirier, a mountain sports program manager at the White River National Forest.

Poirier recalled when Vail Resorts submitted an application for an alpine coaster at Vail Ski Resort in 2006 or 2007.

“At that time, we didn’t have any direction to make a decision,” Poirier said. “The White River National Forest didn’t have direction that spoke to these types of activities.”

White River National Forest representatives spent the next few years crafting a policy and determining what would and would not be appropriate on its lands.

The key, according to Poirier, “is really just to try to find the right blend of activities for each resort that still maintain a National Forest setting.”

Vail, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin are the other ski areas under the White River National Forest, which hosts more visitors for recreation (more than 10 million annually) than any other national forest in the country, to add summer attractions to their resorts.

“We went from 0 to 60 at Vail and Breckenridge, so we’ve learned a lot of things and been able to apply some of those lessons learned to Snowmass,” Poirier said. “We’re really excited about what Snowmass is looking to do, and we’re up there a lot this summer making sure the construction is going well.”

For tickets and more information on Snowmass’ Lost Forest,





Thrill of a Lifetime

What entices one to straddle an aggressive, 2,000-plus pound animal whose sole goal is to buck off riders by any means necessary?

Local bullrider Christian De La Cruz learned the moment he sat on a bull for the first time.

“It was the craziest adrenaline rush I ever felt in my life, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” the 24-year-old De La Cruz said. “There’s no feeling like it.”

Longtime Snowmass Rodeo stock contractor Darce Vold — who also serves as executive director of Snowmass Western Heritage Association, which produces the 45-year-old rodeo each week — echoed that sentiment.

“The life of the cowboy is a dream to many. There is a freedom that the Western way of life provides. Our rodeo contestants at Snowmass live that dream,” Vold says. “The contestants enter the arena from many walks of life, but at the end of the day, it is about the adrenaline rush in anticipation of your turn and the love of the game.”

De La Cruz can attest — he has been hooked on the sport and the fires
it has created inside him since that first taste at the Snowmass Rodeo four summers ago.

“It’s hard to describe it,” De La Cruz says.

He settles on the word “addicting.”

Born along the Pacific coast in Guerrero, Mexico, De La Cruz guesses he was about 6 when his grandfather brought him to his first rodeo.

The family relocated from Mexico to the Roaring Fork Valley when De La Cruz was still young and his father worked as a caretaker for real estate agent Carol Dopkin’s Aspen ranch, where De La Cruz grew up.

After years of watching the local rodeos and partaking in the mutton bustin’ event, De La Cruz decided around 15 that he wanted to get more involved.

His parents, however, vetoed the idea for “obvious” reasons, he admits, and preferred that he stick with “other sports that didn’t involve playing with bulls.”

And why bull riding, of all the events at the rodeo?

“I was always very drawn to it,” De La Cruz says. “Call me crazy, but it just looked like the most fun one.”

Several years later — in his 20s and on his own terms — De La Cruz signed up to ride a bull on a whim at the Snowmass Rodeo.

“I’m not quite sure what clicked,” he recalls, “but I just remember being at the rodeo and being like ‘you know, I think I’m going to finally do this.’ ”

With no practice or gear of his own, De La Cruz found himself in the shoots sitting atop Smoke Wagon, who just so happened to be one of the largest bulls at the Snowmass Rodeo.

De La Cruz chalks his first experience up to a second-long rush of pure adrenaline.

Though he was terrified to ride Smoke Wagon — who to this day remains one of the larger bulls he’s ridden — he tried to remain as calm as possible.

“Animals can sense everything that you’re feeling,” he explains, “and if they sense that you’re scared, they will use that to their advantage.”

A true adrenaline junkie, De La Cruz says his biggest fear isn’t getting hurt or being in pain, but rather injuring himself to the point that he can no longer ride.

“I think that’s most of the cowboys’ fears, really,” he says. “They really enjoy what they do and to get hurt so bad that they can’t do it anymore is devastating.”

And in a sport where the name of the game is to hold onto a bucking bull for eight seconds, which can seem like a lifetime, injuries are inevitable.

After being hurled off a bull, De La Cruz says, there is a chance of then getting stepped on by the animal.

“You can’t play this sport without getting injured,” he adds. “It’s going to happen at some point.”

A lesser-known fact about bull riding is the level of technique involved.

“It’s more than just holding on for dear life. It’s very technique-oriented. You wouldn’t think so, but it is,” he explains. “It’s really a full-body thing, not targeting one specific area. There are specific moves you want to make when a bull bucks specific ways, which took me awhile to figure out.”

An athlete growing up, De La Cruz says bull riding remains the most challenging sport he’s pursued.

After three summers, he thinks he is just beginning to get the hang of it.

“Hands down to the other guys out there for making it look super easy, because it’s not. It’s not easy at all,” De La Cruz says. “And that’s the reason I’m still doing it, because I want to be good at this sport.”

Critic’s Picks


Alison Knowles: “Proposition #2: Make a Salad” July 15, Aspen Art Museum

The museum is celebrating the third iteration of its ongoing “Ritual” exhibition with a performance of one of contemporary art’s most influential and historic participatory events. Knowles debuted the work in 1962, asking participants to literally make a massive salad together. It has been performed (and eaten) in recent years at the Tate Modern in London, on the High Line in Manhattan and at Art Basel in Miami. The Aspen event will be a “plein air variation” on the original concept.

Larry Bell rooftop sculptures at Aspen Art Museum, June 1-Dec. 16

Nina Katchadourian’s “Twitchers and Cheaters” at Aspen Art Museum, June 1-May 2019

Chris Erickson at The Art Base, June 8-July 6

“Freak Power: Hunter Thompson’s Campaign for Sheriff” at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, opening June 20

Jay DeFeo’s “The Ripple Effect” at Aspen Art Museum, June 29-Oct. 28

Cheryl Donegan’s “GRLZ + VEILS” at Aspen Art Museum, June 29-Dec. 16

Tara Donovan at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, July 12

David Notor at The Art Base, July 13-Aug. 3

Ajax Philips’ “The Palace of the Beast” at Bird’s Nest Gallery, opening July 13

Francis Alÿs, Sophie Calle, David Hammons, and Ana Mendieta in “Ritual” at Aspen Art Museum, opening July 17

International Artist Award Honoree Ai Weiwei at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, July 18-19

ArtAspen at Aspen Ice Garden July 27-29

“Name Unseen” silent auction at The Art Base, Aug. 10-18

Brad Reed Nelson at The Art Base, Sept. 14-Oct. 5



An Evening with Joyce Yang and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet: Aspen District Theatre, Aug. 10 and 11

This astounding program was the cultural high-water mark of last winter in Aspen, featuring Yang on live piano with the dancers of Aspen Santa Fe performing Jorma Elo’s “Half/Cut/Split,” Jirí Kylián’s “Return to a Strange Land” and Nicolo Fonte’s “Where We Left Off.” A revelatory marriage of music and movement, this encore performance is a can’t-miss for Yang’s passionate local following in the classical music crowd and for dance enthusiasts.

“Readymade” by ka·nei·see collective at Aspen Fringe Festival, Aspen District Theatre, June 8

World premiere by Bryan Arias at Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Aspen District Theatre, July 7

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at Aspen District Theatre, July 21

Pilobolus at Aspen District Theatre, July 28



“A Decade in Concert” Presented by Disney Animation and the Aspen Music Festival and School: Benedict Music Tent, July 30

An opportunity for kids as young as 3 to see their first orchestral concert, and for symphony regulars to loosen up with some popular entertainment, this world premiere concert event will showcase clips from nine Disney movies from the past decade – “Frozen” among them – with live music conducted by Disney’s Richard Kaufman. It is expected to tour the globe after the Aspen premiere.

Yeethoven at Aspen Ideas Festival, June 27

Jupiter String at Harris Concert Hall, June 28

Pianist Conrad Tao with the Aspen Chamber Symphony at Benedict Music Tent, June 29

Pianist Yuja Wang with the Aspen Festival Orchestra at Benedict Music Tent, July 1

Daniil Trifonov piano recital at Harris Concert Hall, July 10, and with the Aspen Festival Orchestra at Benedict Music Tent, July 15

“The Barber of Seville” at the Wheeler Opera House, July 12-16

Premiere of Anders Hillborg’s “Homage to Stravinsky” by the Aspen Festival Orchestra at Benedict Music Tent July 22

Premiere of Stephen Hartke’s cello concerto by the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra at Benedict Music Tent, July 25

Harris Concert Hall 25th Anniversary with violinist Robert

McDuffie, July 28

“Trouble in Tahiti” and Charlie Chaplin’s “A Dog’s Life” at Harris Concert Hall, Aug. 2

“An American in Paris,” Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra at Benedict Music Tent, Aug. 15

Seraphic Fire at Benedict Music Tent, Aug. 17 and Harris Concert Hall, Aug. 20 and 22

Vocalists Tamara Wilson and Ryan McKinny with the Aspen Festival Orchestra at Benedict Music Tent, Aug. 19



Leslie Odom Jr.: The Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience, Benedict Music Tent, June 22

The Tony- and Grammy-wining vocalist, who originated the role of Aaron Burr in the groundbreaking Broadway musical “Hamilton,” also has two solo jazz albums to his name (and those ubiquitous Nationwide insurance commercials, though it’s doubtful he’ll sing the jingle as he headlines Junefest). The concert marks Odom’s Aspen debut in a post-“Hamilton” moment when he is red-hot and in-demand around the world. A bonus: he’ll perform with student singers from the Aspen Music Festival and School.

Xavier Rudd at Belly Up, June 3

The Flaming Lips at Belly Up, June 8

The Drunken Hearts at Snowmass Summer Concert Series, Fanny Hill, June 9

Ziggy Marley at Belly Up, June 18

Gomez “Bring It On” 20th-anniversary tour at Belly Up, June 19

Brother’s Keeper with Jeff Pevar at American Renewable Energy Day, Fanny Hill, June 21

Grace Kelly at the JAS Café, Aspen Art Museum, June 21

A-Trak at Belly Up, June 21

Leslie Odom at the Jazz Aspen June Experience, Benedict Music Tent, June 22

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience, Benedict Music Tent, June 23

Mary Chapin Carpenter at Belly Up, June 24

Laila Biali at the JAS Café, Little Nell, June 28 and 29

Kiari “Offset” Cephus at Aspen Ideas Festival, June 28

Ray Charles Tribute with Take 6 and special guests at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Experience, Benedict Music Tent, June 30

Thievery Corporation at Belly Up, July 4 and 5

Glen David Andrews at Snowmass Summer Concert Series, Fanny Hill, July 5

The Hot Sardines at the JAS Café, Cooking School of Aspen, July 6 and 7

moe. at Belly Up, July 11

ZZ Ward at Belly Up, July 13

Scott Tixier Quintet at the JAS Café, Aspen Art Museum, July 13

Igor Butman and Fantine at the JAS Café, Aspen Art Museum, July 14

Ann Wilson at Belly Up, July 15

Michael McDonald at Belly Up, July 19

Django Festival All-Stars at The Temporary, July 21

The Spin Doctors at the Aspen Deaf Camp Benefit, Fanny Hill, July 21

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening at Belly Up, July 23

Beats Antique at Belly Up, July 25

Melissa Etheridge at Belly Up, July 26

Chris Isaak at Belly Up, July 28

Muskateer Gripweed at Snowmass Summer Concert Series, Fanny Hill, Aug. 2

Sammy Miller and the Congregation at The Temporary, Aug. 4

Nicki Parrot Tribute to Peggy Lee at the JAS Café, Aspen Art Museum, Aug. 10

Allan Harris with the H2 Big Band and special guests Carolyn Leonhart and Shirazette Tinnin at the JAS Café, Aspen Art Museum, Aug. 11

The Bronx Horns: Tribute to Dizzie’s 100th at the JAS Café, Aspen Art Museum, Aug 16

The Kills at Belly Up, Aug. 16

Dianne Reeves at the JAS Café, Aspen Art Museum, Aug. 18

Matt and Kim at Belly Up, Aug. 18

Christian McBride, Benny Green and Russell Malone at the JAS Café, Aspen Art Museum, Aug. 18

The Temporary’s First Birthday Party with Davina & The Vagabonds at The Temporary, Aug. 18

Lionel Richie at Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, Snowmass Town Park, Aug. 31

Boz Scaggs at Belly Up, Aug. 31

Jack Johnson at Jazz Aspen Labor Day Experience, Snowmass Town Park, Sept. 1

Gary Clark, Jr. at Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience, Snowmass Town Park, Sept. 2

California Honey Drops at Belly Up, Sept. 19



Mohsin Hamid: At Aspen Words, June 19

The author of “Exit West” and the winner of the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize will speak about his work and its social impact with new Aspen Institute President Dan Porterfield at the Aspen Words Summer Benefit. “‘Exit West’ is a novel about migration and how our world is changing and could change, how we are all migrants and how we might find an optimistic future together,” the Pakistani novelist said in April upon winning the prize.

Novelist Tom Perotta at Aspen Summer Words, June 17-22

Novelist Anthony Marra at Aspen Summer Words, June 17-22

“Hidden Figures” author Margot Lee Shetterly at Aspen Summer Words, June 17-22

Memoirist Bich Minh “Beth” Nguyen at Aspen Summer Words, June 17-22

Environmentalist and author Paul Hawken at Aspen Ideas Festival, June 26



“Ragtime”: Presented by Theatre Aspen, at the Hurst Theatre in Rio Grande Park, June 26-Aug. 18

The largest summer cast in the company’s 35-year history brings this epic, Tony-winning musical to the tent stage. Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, the musical captures 20th-century New York with the intersecting stories of an upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a Harlem musician.

“A Doll’s House, Part 2” at Aspen Fringe Festival, Black Box Theatre, June 9 and 10

“Flight of Fancy” at The Temporary, June 23

“The Christians” at Aspen Chapel, July 5 and 8

Consensual Improv at Thunder River Theatre Co., July 13

“Godspell” at Theatre Aspen, July 14-Aug. 18

“Our Town” at Theatre Aspen, July 20-Aug. 4

Getting Real with 14ers

After the deadly summer of 2017 on the high peaks and backcountry of Pitkin County, local officials are determined this summer to make sure people are armed with good information about what they are getting themselves into.

Five people died in six weeks in climbing accidents on Capitol Peak, widely considered one of the toughest of the state’s 54 mountains above 14,000 feet. Two additional climbers died in separate accidents on the Maroon Bells. Another hiker died in Conundrum Valley when she suffered acute altitude sickness.

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said it was the worst summer of his 32 years in Aspen-area law enforcement. He’s determined to do something about it. His office is teaming with Mountain Rescue Aspen and the White River National Forest to undertake a “peak awareness” program that will create a blitz of information this summer about the dangers posed by the Elk Mountains surrounding Aspen.

DiSalvo said all parties agree that the campaign needs to be blunt, even if it chases some business away. They won’t fall victim to the “Jaws syndrome” made infamous in the shark movie when tourism and government officials claimed the beaches were safe when they knew they weren’t.

“I think we can make a difference,” DiSalvo said. “We’re all not afraid to say, ‘This is deadly, this can kill you.’”

Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer concurred.

“We’re doing our very best to reach out and educate people before they enter the forest,” she said. “We want everyone to take these mountains very seriously and understand the risks they are taking.”

Before the team could craft an information campaign they had to determine, or at least ponder, what happened last summer.

“Was it just a unique season? Was it our turn to have a bad year?” DiSalvo wondered.

Bad luck doesn’t appear to cover the extent of it. Forest Service officials say there is anecdotal information that visitation to the high peaks and backcountry is higher than ever. Results of a survey are expected soon to test the theory.

Meanwhile, alluring video, pictures and descriptions of exploits on the big peaks are plastered all over social media and drawing more people to the backcountry — often unprepared. An estimated 311,000 people annually hike and climb the fourteeners, the name given to mountain higher than 14,000 feet.

While the numbers are lower for Capitol and the Maroon Bells than for most other peaks, these challenging areas are drawing some people who appear ill-prepared for the effort.

“In decades past, climbing had a very significant focus on mentorship. You got into it by climbing with more experienced people, who would gradually take you on more serious climbs and show you the ropes and help you in that process of becoming skilled,” said Lloyd Athearn, executive director of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the ecosystems of the high peaks weather the surge of use.

“Nowadays, whether it’s our culture of immediacy or social media there seems be this (attitude of) ‘I’m just going to skip that apprenticeship period and just go straight into climbing harder mountains,’” Athearn continued. “I think that comes with some pretty serious risks. I’m not even sure some of these people know what they’re biting off.”

Mountain Rescue Aspen President Justin Hood has some insight into the tragedies last summer on Capitol Peak. He recalled his own initial trip up Capitol years ago when he was just 17 years old.

“I really recall total fearlessness getting up there, and then my nerves just feeling completely shot when I turned around and looked down across all the Knife Edge and all the way back to K2,” he said.

Mental control, physical exhaustion or both become issues for some climbers after they reach the summit. Hood said some climbers are determined not to return the way they came. While they may have never read about a route from Capitol Lake up the face to the summit, they convince themselves it must exist.

That alternate-route thinking is believed to be the cause of three of the 2017 deaths.

“They start looking to the left and see the lake and they go, ‘I bet there’s a way down over here.’ The rational thinking is changing fast,” Hood said.

Capitol Peak used to be one of the last fourteeners that climbers tackled. Hood isn’t sure peak-baggers wait and build up their experience any more.

“Now they’re just going for all the glory,” he said.

So, Mountain Rescue, the Forest Service and Sheriff’s Office will fund education efforts aimed particularly at less experienced climbers and those unfamiliar with the notoriously “rotten” granite of the Elk Mountains.

The agencies enlisted two guide services, Aspen Expeditions and Aspen Alpine Guides, to make six presentations for climbers in the Front Range and two in Aspen this summer. While venues weren’t secured as of press time, the idea is to go to the REI store in Denver, the American Alpine Club at Golden and possibly a sports shop or two to target the Front Range crowd, Hood said.

In Aspen, presentations will be at MRA headquarters and a gear shop.

In addition, the guide services will offer four courses each on mountaineering over the course of the summer. They will go over skills such as route finding, necessary equipment and skills needed on Class III and Class IV terrain, which is more difficult than Class I and II hiking and minor scrambling.

The events will be subsidized by MRA, the Sheriff’s Office and Forest Service to keep the cost down to about $50 per person, Hood said. There is the potential to have 12 students per class, so they could reach more than 90 people.

MRA and the Forest Service also intend to place representatives at busy trailheads at times throughout the summer to engage with climbers.

It will be more about collecting information from the climbers after their experiences than grilling them about preparedness as they embark, Hood said. MRA wants to learn what people encountered and how it matched their expectations so that the awareness campaign can be tailored to needs.

The peak awareness effort also will include websites and pamphlets designed to get out information on key points of preparedness. Hood said sites such as, a well-respected place for intelligence about the mountains, always have been good about working with public agencies to get out vital information.

“Nobody wants anybody else to die in these mountains,” Hood said.

In a separate education effort, Colorado Fourteeners Initiative will shoot a series of videos this summer to try to prepare people for climbing the big peaks throughout the state, not just in the Elk Mountains surrounding Aspen.

Athearn said he envisions six to eight videos of one to two minutes each. They will focus on topics such as route finding, proper gear, what’s different on Class III and IV routes from the easier Class I and II routes. A video also will note the six peaks where history shows statistically the most injuries and deaths occur — Capitol Peak, Maroon Peak, North Maroon Peak, Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.

“With 2017 being such a big year for 14er-related fatalities — especially on Capitol — it seemed the time was right to move forward on this video series,” Athearn said.

The organization received funding from the Colorado Tourism Office, the Aspen Skiing Co. Employee Environment Foundation and a private funder to make the videos. Schroyer said her office will work with CFI to provide the permits necessary to make videos in wilderness. She is enthusiastic about using the videos as another tool to prepare climbers.

Athearn said it will take an ongoing effort to build peak awareness because there is constantly a new group of people becoming interested in hiking and climbing the big peaks, many of them from out of state. CFI’s videos and the Aspen-based education effort must reach a church group coming by bus from Kansas, for example, or an individual traveling from Atlanta, he said.

One possible tool that won’t be pursued is permanent markers of some type to delineate the route on the high peaks, where it is often difficult to discern a trail.

“Right now that’s on hold,” Schroyer said. “We’d like to try some of these other steps first. It’s still not out of the question.”

One potential downfall with permanent markers is people might be lulled into thinking all they have to do is follow the path. It might attract people who don’t possess the skills needed for a difficult peak —  the opposite of what the peak awareness campaign is all about.

DiSalvo said he feels good about the effort the team is making to get the word out, but he acknowledged it is challenging to reach the intended audience and getting them to listen.

“I don’t know how to get information to people who really have no business being up there,” he said. “I can put that message out. I can’t control how they receive it.”