On the hill: Chair of the mountain
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – It was Saturday afternoon at Aspen Highlands, and I was getting on the Exhibition chair with my 9-year-old daughter and two of her skiing classmates.
Do anyone else’s kids obsess about the chair numbers? Mine always howl when chair 100 passes by as we ride uphill. And if they actually ride on a chair with a nice, round number – 10, 50 or 100 – it makes their day. So I wasn’t too surprised when, as we skied up to the loading area, the kids insisted on letting chairs 48 and 49 swing past before enthusiastically boarding number 50.
“This is my best chair day ever,” chirped Chloe.
“Me too!” hooted Annabelle.
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The big deal, however, was not just the number on the chair. It was the color.
Instead of the usual dull gray, the steel frame of chair 50 on Exhibition was painted gold. And to these children, riding the golden chair was like winning one of Willie Wonka’s golden tickets.
I’ve ridden the Exhibition chair countless times, starting years before any of these kids were born. But I’ve never noticed a golden chair – on any mountain, going any direction, carrying passengers or not. Listening to these girls chatter about the golden chair – they insisted on touching it with their fingers, in addition to riding on it – was like being invited into some secret clubhouse. Cool.
On Monday I called the Aspen Skiing Co. to find out more.
According to spokesman Jeff Hanle, three chairs were painted last year in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Highlands and Buttermilk – one on Exhibition, one on Loge Peak and one on the Summit Express at the ‘Milk.
Think maybe Gretchen Bleiler took a lucky ride on the Summit Express gold chair before her Winter X Games performance last weekend?
Keep an eye out for the golden chairs. If you’re lucky enough to catch one, it’ll make your day. Especially if you’re skiing with a kid.
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