From the Vault: Snowmass’s 1963 snowcat opening
“Huge Snowmass area opens,” proclaimed “Ski Topics,” a monthly publication by the Aspen Skiing Corporation in March 1963. This opening was with snowcat access only; the ski lifts would come four years later, in 1967. According to the publication, “Aspen now boasts a fourth major ski area. It’s the vast new Snowmass development opened last month by the Aspen Skiing Corporation. Located eight miles southwest of Aspen, Snowmass offers 10,000 acres of the first guided, wilderness ski touring service in the Americas. The area has a 4,000-foot vertical drop, the nation’s largest. There is a wind protected, mile-wide snowbowl above timberline, plus an almost infinite number of runs up to eight miles long. Plans are to eventually develop Snowmass as a huge conventional ski area, with lifts and a complete, self-contained ski community at the base. ‘But work is slated to begin no sooner than 1966, and the future depends on skiers’ reactions to the present limited service,’ according to Ski Corporation President D.R.C. Brown. This winter, uphill transportation is by two 10-passenger Trackmaster Snowcats. These are enclosed and heated to make two runs minimum to the summit each day. Reservations are required and can be made at the Skiing Corporation’s downtown office. The service is available only to capable powder skiers. For them it’s a fabulous experience.” The photograph above shows two snowcats (painted with “Snowmass Ski Tours”) parked at the Snowmass Touring Area, circa 1965.
This photo and more can be found in the Aspen Historical Society archives at aspenhistory.org.
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Perhaps it’s because we are in the abbreviated days of winter and I instinctively know that the sun is shining down-under. But every January I go through a nostalgic period where Australian wine dominates my mind.