Aspen Times Weekly: X Games Survivor’s Guide

by Barbara Platts

I still remember my first X Games. The weekend began at 4 a.m. on a Saturday, when I strategically persuaded two of my friends to drive up from Boulder with me for 24 hours of thorough debauchery. I was a senior in high school and had heard tales of my brothers and cousins annual X Games trips with their friends. And that year, for the very first time, the tradition was passed down to me.

Today, the initial excitement that woke me up in the early hours of the morning six years ago to drive west in search of a promisingly epic X Games weekend has mostly dissipated. The Games just feel like another weekend now…one with insanely large crowds at the base of Buttermilk, lines around the block at the best bars and clubs, and negative amounts of parking spots downtown. But, if you are a young local or even an overwhelmed visitor, there are ways to survive the upcoming weekend, and maybe even have a little bit of fun. What follows are tips I have collected during my years of X Games participation.

To go or not to go?

Seasoned locals will say that the No. 1 rule of X Games is to not actually go to X Games. It’s a much warmer experience to watch it on a television screen at a bar in town or at home. However, being on the edge of the halfpipe, watching legends like Kelly Clark launch into the air right in front of you while everyone else in the country views her on a small screen, is an unforgettable experience. I recommend going to the Games at least once for a competition.

When you go, overlook that cute mini-dress and those fitted jeans in your closet. The base of Buttermilk is cold, especially after 4 p.m. Dress like you are about to go skiing on a particularly snowy day. I am also a big fan of wearing excessive amounts of toe and hand warmers.


Pre-gaming, if 21 or older, is of the utmost importance for most — well, really all — activities involved with the X Games No booze is sold on X Games grounds, so get your drink on before heading to the base of Buttermilk. Ensuring that your fridge is fully stocked with booze before the weekend starts will help make things easier (see “The Night Scene”).


Parking is difficult in town and impossible at Buttermilk. Opt to leave your car at home and take public transportation around town and to the Games. However, many people will be doing the same, so plan on leaving at least two buses early to get to your desired location.

The Night Scene

Most of the clubs in town will have some kind of cover for the weekend or will close their doors for private parties. The rest of the establishments will fill to the brim with desperately thirsty patrons. This is a weekend during the year where I become a huge advocate of the house party. Indulge in that fully stocked fridge, design a killer playlist, and spend some time in your humble abode with 30-50 of your closest friends.

If you must go out, be careful who you flirt with…they may be underage. One of the main age demographics for X Games is the 13- to 24-year-old market. Large groups of high school and college students will be traveling up to Aspen for the weekend (as did I), and may even try to sneak into bars and clubs despite their young age. If you get talking to a boy or girl and have the suspicion that they were born after 1993, it may be wise to ask them for some identification.

If you do not agree with some or all of the information I have shared, throw good sense to the wind and make your own grand mistakes. It is the X Games, after all. Part of the fun is figuring out the rules — and when to break them.

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.