Aspen Times Weekly: Aspen Untucked with Barbara Platts |

Aspen Times Weekly: Aspen Untucked with Barbara Platts

by Barbara Platts

Aspen, a town where a mimosa is practically required with eggs and toast at breakfast, an open bar is present at every evening event, and any physical feat I am thrilled to have just conquered has been done, I soon realize, by someone else — twice, in a row, in a blizzard, blindfolded.

I grew up skiing in Aspen, but when I moved here full-time a year ago, my impression of the community changed drastically. Aspen feels like a mountain town on steroids, with more social and physical demands than I ever encountered during my college years in Boston, especially now that the season is in full swing.

People here work hard and play hard, then skin 3,000 vertical feet or hike the most technical route of a 14er. The town never stops, and for me, where the grass is always greener in the next yard, I feared I was missing out on something if I did not participate in everything. But posting up on the front lines of the party scene every night while excelling at my job and maintaining an adequate level of fitness is damn near impossible. In order to have it all as a young professional in Aspen, I would have to follow in the tracks of those who post-holed before me: The Aspenites who also moved here in their 20s.

“What I always put first is my health,” said Mark Joseph, a local product designer who moved to Aspen when he was 22 years old.

Is ordering a fourth glass of wine on a school
night, calling in sick to ski on a powder day,
or working until the early hours of the morning overdoing it?

“If something doesn’t make you feel good, then don’t do it. Start with being healthy, and everything else will fall into place. Then you have the energy to do all of these other great things.”

Joseph moved to Aspen in the late ’70s and co-founded The Hub bicycle shop, which he owned for eight years. He dabbled in the party scene in his 20s, but was careful never to overdo it.

But is ordering a fourth glass of wine on a school night, calling in sick to ski on a powder day, or working until the early hours of the morning overdoing it?

“There are plenty of distractions and temptations and it’s easy to go a little too big in Aspen, both in the sports world and the nighttime world,” said Art Burrows, the lead designer and founder of Ajax Design. “It’s important to find a core group of supportive friends and meaningful work.”

Burrows, now having lived in Aspen for more than 30 years, said it took him close to a decade to figure out a routine and a balance that worked for him.

I thought this problem was specific to now — to the millennial generation — but these guys and many others understand it. The challenge of finding balance in Aspen is timeless.

Do the aspects of life: work, fun and health have to be unrelated or are they symbiotic, each feeding and relying on the other two? There may not be any exact formula that answers the question, but knowing the challenge is a start.

And luckily, if I am like Burrows, I have nine more years to figure it out.

Check, please.

Barbara Platts, a local marketing professional, writes about the “mountain millennial culture” that she participates in every day. Reach her at or follow her @barbaraplatts.

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