Mountain Mayhem: Midwinter Scenes
Midwinter in Aspen once was one of the quieter times of the year – not so in this day and age. With wine tastings, birthday celebrations, theme parties and more taking place around the clock and the calendar, the pace never seems to slack anytime of year here.
Back in January of 1951, though, locals conjured up a festival to boost the vitality of ski season, introducing Wintersköl as a “toast to winter.” It’s since become an annual tradition with snow sculpture competition, a canine fashion show, fireworks, a fat cycle challenge bike race and much more.
Another longtime tradition, now in its 42nd year, is the Aspen Business Luncheon, held monthly and organized by Todd Shaver, (who’s quick to note he should not be dated along with it, having taking over the program in recent years). The January 25 luncheon, held at Mountain Chalet, catered by Jour de Fete and sponsored by Pat Marquis with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty and The Bull Market Report, featured guest of honor was Mac Smith. As Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol Director with a decades-long history on staff at the mountain, Smith shared tales from over the years with the initial surveying of Highland Bowl and the Deep Temerity Lift back in the 1970s and realized nearly 30 years later, a dream for Smith and Highlands mountain manager Ron Chauner. He spoke of the days in the 80s when Highlands’ then-owner Whip Jones would travel around the country, inviting groups from colleges and clubs to visit the ski area – his efforts were successful as they came in droves. To entertain them, Whip “whipped up” a variety of spectacles including such legendary performances by ski patrol such as the toboggan launch with Smith soaring over the deck at Cloud Nine towing a sled. Smith surmised he did “80 times a year for eleven years.” He relayed the origins of the Powder Posse, a pre-season phenomenon at Highlands that combines volunteerism with powder skiing in the name of public safety and what it meant to make the invite list. To join for the next Business Luncheon, which is open to one and all, visit http://www.aspenbusinessluncheon.com.
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Many locations on Basalt Mountain were barren as recently as two months ago. However, nutrients unlocked during the Lake Christine Fire and a wet winter have sparked a remarkable recovery. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is leading fire ecology tours to discuss the changes.