Can we rescue the 1A area? | AspenTimes.com

Can we rescue the 1A area?

Dear Editor:

Aspen, late 1950s-early 1960s, how clearly I remember trudging across town all those quiet early winter mornings … leather boots, heavy skis on my small shoulders, I was eager to take the long single-chair lifts up to the old sundeck. My ride went past chalets, over “Strawpile” race course, up by “Corkscrew,” into the forest, out into aspen groves all leafless and sparkling with snow crystals. The ride was crisp, quiet, peaceful, and slow enough to contemplate small animal tracks in fresh snow.

Sometimes it could be a little bit lonely for a kid unless it was snowing. Snowflakes seemed like tiny delicate messengers telling me of something indescribably beautiful. I would ski from the very top of the mountain to the very bottom, and take the long ride back up again … I loved those mornings.

Many years later, Lift One, much shortened, having long since been relegated to its same old beginning place but with only a few chairs attached anymore, still has chalets nearby … but not for long it seems. If redevelopment plans go ahead the Lift One Area will be irreparably changed. It breaks my heart to think that any of the chalets near Lift One should be torn down or moved and I cannot comprehend why anyone could be allowed to disturbed them … (OK, take off the “new” dining room addition of Skier’s Chalet Restaurant which nearly impedes the old lift, but otherwise leave the chalets alone).

And why are they labeled “faux” chalets? There is nothing faux about them … They are beautiful and they are older than most of us in town. They are historic to me. Why should they have to be moved to make a museum? They are already part of an historic “museum” right where they are, near the old Lift One. They are reminiscent of that part of Aspen’s history that was delightfully European in flavor. And I dare say they could be renovated inside to be wonderful affordable, employee or music-student housing so sorely needed in Aspen.

If any of the chalets are moved or torn down the whole space and feeling will change and we will all lose something essential and very dear … in summer it is a rare place of quiet and peace, lovely to walk through with its thick soft Chewings Fescue grass (that wonderful grass that used to be growing everywhere in Aspen before bluegrass sod became popular). Passing through there in winter I am flooded with memories and tangible sensations of skiing down to the old lift line, or, in to have lunch at Howard Awrey’s with my family and multitudes of friendly folks, surrounded by all those wonderful photos of ski racers: Tony Sailer, Zeno Colo, Anderl Molterer, Dick Durrance, Max Marolt, Buddy Werner, and many others. Some of those in the photos, Anderl, Dick and Max for example, were right there eating Howard’s delicious lunch along with the rest of us. Those were wonderful times when everyone greeted each other with genuine affection and joy.

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These days feel different … an uneasy feeling. Many of us feel overwhelmed by all the mega projects and the tremendous impact they have on the town and townspeople. We feel shut out of many places and activities we used to enjoy. The Lift One Area is a rare quiet place for peaceful contemplation and a reminder of those glorious days of old. Is it too late to rescue our beloved Lift One Area?

Mary Janss

Aspen