Celebrate 60 years of skiing on Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Celebrate 60 years of skiing on Aspen

Aspen Times Staff

Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The Aspen Skiing Co. is throwing a party Thursday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the “official” start of chairlift-served skiing on Aspen Mountain.

The world’s longest chairlift, which actually was two chairlifts, was built on Aspen Mountain for the winter of 1947-48. There had been skiing on Aspen Mountain before, but it was with a boat tow.

A grand opening for the chairlift was held on Jan. 11, when a train came from Denver with the Colorado governor, various dignitaries and a huge media contingent, according to accounts from the day.

There were ski demonstrations, fireworks, a parade and a formal dinner hosted by Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke at the refurbished Hotel Jerome.

“A little over a year after Friedl Pfeifer returned to town, only a year and a half after Walter Paepcke first set eyes on the place, Aspen was already being hailed as ‘The Winter Sports Center of America,'” Peter Shelton wrote in “Aspen Skiing: The First 50 Years,” which came out in 1997.

The 60th anniversary is kind of an odd one ” not as notable as 50, 75 or 100 years, but still worth celebrating, said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. So the Skico will serve free beer and cake for as long as it lasts at the Tavern at the base of the Silver Queen Gondola starting at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Attendees are urged to bring old ski passes. Whoever produces the oldest pass by 4 p.m. will win a grand prize surprise. Skico is also urging people to brush up on Aspen history so they can answer trivia questions for additional prizes.

“Aspen Mountain has, throughout its rich history, been the epicenter of skiing’s evolution in this country,” said David Perry, Skico senior vice president, mountain division, in a prepared statement. “It is fitting to throw a party to honor the mountain’s special stature, now at 60 years.”