Mountain Mayhem: On Cloud Nine |

Mountain Mayhem: On Cloud Nine

May Selby

Kicking off the New Year with a bang, birthday girl Laura Hoffman hosted her 50th at Aspen Highlands, inviting friends to a special night at Cloud Nine. Originally from New York City, where she currently lives, starting in 2008 Hoffman spent several years in Aspen, which has become a second home of sorts. She comes back to town about four times a year — spending anywhere from six weeks to two months in total, though not all at once.

“I have a suitcase of clothing and ski equipment that floats around my friends’ basements,” she confessed.

It seemed only fitting to spend her benchmark birthday in Aspen and at a place near and dear to her heart — Cloud Nine on Aspen Highlands, replete with a snowcat ride up in the dark under the stars, a bonfire on the deck and candlelit setting inside, complemented by birthday décor.

The first time she ever visited the mid-mountain restaurant was on her 40th birthday 10 years ago.

“We just stopped in and had a fantastic lunch. When we were done it had snowed a foot and we had the most incredible ride down. That was the day I thought I wanted more days like this in my life and decided to move to Aspen. I have celebrated my birthday at Cloud Nine every year since with many of the people” who were guests for the 50th celebration, including Cloud Nine manager Tommy Tolleson.

“We actually hatched the plan to celebrate at night at Tommy’s 50th weekend extravaganza in Sweden two years ago,” she added.

Most of the guests who joined for the party either live in Aspen full or part time, along with a few friends from other parts of the country.

“One of my oldest friends who I attended college with, Denise Walters Zubrod, joined in with a toast about our long-standing friendship. Emily Garaffa brought me to tears remembering our many shenanigans over the years and holiday traditions, and Kenny Mark embarrassed me with some flattering comments not to be repeated. Vicki Shapiro put her thoughts to music and had everyone sing a song.”

Unfortunately, a few friends from NYC who planned to come were thwarted by the “bomb cyclone” storm on the East Coast, but the friends who attended ensured everything was just so, including cookies baked by Vicki’s mom, Susan Shapiro, as party favors with Laura’s picture on them, wrapped with a bow for the cat ride down.

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