Aspen Mountain the stats
December 17, 2007
ASPEN Aspen Mountain features 673 acres and 76 designated trails none of them green. The best bets for bump runs, powder and groomers? Read on.ASPEN MOUNTAINTerrain: 673 acresSummit elevation: 11,212 ft.Lift-served vertical: 3,267 ft.Lifts: 8 total, 6 primary: 1 gondola (14-minute ride); 1 high-speed quad; 1 high-speed double; 1 quad; 2 doubles; 2 secondary: 1 quad (Little Nell), 1 double (Bell Mountain)Steepest run: 42 degrees, the Elevator Shaft section of Silver QueenLift hours: Lifts open at 9 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.Designated trails: 76Green runs: NoneBlue runs: 48%Black runs: 26%Double-black runs: 26%Best known for: Steep, bump runs that drop right into the town of Aspen.Whats new: After two decades of faithful service, the Silver Queen Gondola has received a complete overhaul with, most notably, 147 spacious new Swiss-made cabins which went online in the spring of 2006. These new cabins offer more interior space for up to six passengers, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows so you can soak up the surrounding views before plunging down the slopes. The old cabins had 33 square feet of glass; the new ones have 100 square feet. They also feature a level-entry platform, making it easier for handicapped access.Cruisers: Head over to Ruthies Run, on the western side of the mountain, for the best corduroy. The run is the site of the 2007 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup womens downhill and super g. The course is a true leg burning cruiser start at Ruthies just below the exit from the F.I.S. chair, hit Summer Road, drop off onto Strawpile and down to 5th Avenue, then take the Shadow Mountain lift back up. A good number of intermediate runs also drop off the top of the mountain. Take Copper Trail, Seiberts or 1 & 2 Leaf to get over to the lift locally known as the couch for its gentle pace, but formally known as Gents Ridge. Or hit up Dipsy Doodle, Pussfoot, Silver Bell or Buckhorn to drop down to the Ajax Express and a quick ride back to the summit. Spar Gulch and Copper Bowl lead to Kleenex Corner and down to the gondola for top-to-bottom cruisers.Bumps: Ajax, as locals know it, offers some of the best bump skiing on the Western Slope. Some of the best bumps on the mountain can be found in the area known as the Mine Dumps (or just, the dumps) encompassing Bear Paw, Short Snort, Zaugg Dump, Perrys Prowl and Last Dollar. Be careful, the afternoon sun can leave the dumps bare and rocky, but the sun also softens them up for perfect mid-winter runs at the end of the day. Other primo moguls develop in the glades coming off Gentlemans Ridge and down along Jackpot. For a quad burner of significant proportions hit Walshs, Gentlemans Ridge, Jackpot, then traverse over to Franklin Dump, if you can.Powder: Ajax is the locals mountain. So if theres over six inches expect the town to be up early and lined up at the gondola. Be there at 8:30 a.m. to beat the crowds and get a good run in. Ajax skis out quickly so choose your runs well. Anything off Bell Mountain is great on a powder day. The longest steeps go down the Ridge of Bell or off onto the Shoulder of Bell, where excellent tree skiing can be found. If your timing is right, you could be on the eastern side of the mountain when ski patrol drops the ropes on Walshs, one of the steepest runs on the mountain. With enough snow, you may as well straight-line it and get back up to the top as quickly as possible. When the snow gets really deep, the ski patrol will sometimes open the Trainor runs on the far Western side of the mountain where serious skiers can find a few cliffs and pillow drops. Really love powder? Take a powder tour. For more details or for reservations visit the Powder Tours desk in the gondola building, or call (970) 920-0720.Terrain Parks: The only terrain parks at Ajax are the naturally occurring kind, so leave the park skis at home and bring out the powder boards. No gap jumps or tabletops here.Dining: The Sundeck offers amazing views of the Elk Mountain Range and Highland Bowl, as well as offers cafeteria-style food: pizza, salads stir-fry and deli offerings. A full bar also is housed in the Sundeck, which has a huge dining room and a killer patio, if its warm enough. Bonnies, located mid-mountain, offers delicious soups, strudel and other hearty fare at reasonable prices. The Tavern, formerly known as the Ajax Tavern, is the best spot for an afternoon brewski and a good view of skiers coming down Little Nell. It serves as a French bistro of sorts, offering sandwiches and truffle fries. The base of the mountain restaurant will be open for lunch and aprs ski.Signature Event: Many would say the highlight of the season on Ajax is the World Cup, held on the second weekend in December. Apart from two speed events on the mountain, the downhill and super g, there also are activities in town and a concert put on by Blues Traveler during the World Cup weekend. The eighth annual Bud Light Spring Jam, with two weekends of new-school competitions, downtown concerts and parties is a favorite among locals and tourists. The festival features a March 21 Core Party in Aspen and a big air competition on March 23. The Core Party will have notable musicians, DJ mixers, additional stage performers and graffiti artists. Special effects transform downtown Aspen into a massive outdoor nightclub.Aprs Pick: With all of Aspen to choose from, its hard to go wrong. Still, Aspen is changing and our oldest bar, the Red Onion, is no longer in existence. That said, theres still plenty to choose from and the hottest spot is just east of the base of the mountain at the Sky Hotel, called 39 degrees. In the spring, the pool area can get bumping and the fireplace heats things up in the winter. Cruise over to the Double Dog, near the Steak Pit, for a newer bar that has become a true locals hangout. Or stop in at the Cooper Street Pier for a burger and a brew.