On the Hill: My first Aspen ski pass
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” I’ll admit I had some misgivings about skiing Aspen.
As my first Aspen winter approached, a part of me was pretty thrilled by my proximity to these hills of lore. But another part was feeling a twinge of nostalgia for my old stomping grounds at Ski Cooper.
Granted, the Leadville resort has only three lifts (if you count the platter lift on the bunny hill). The most challenging runs might only qualify as blues on Aspen Mountain. And there are a lack of amenities like lift-line Kleenex.
But you can buy breakfast for less than $5, there are never any shuttles involved in the day, and it is virtually impossible for me to ski the mountain without running into a dozen people I know. Basically, if you looked up “small-town ski hill” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Ski Cooper.
The question was this: Did I really want to trade Leadville for the glamour and glitz of Aspen ” even if it came with great skiing?
There were other questions. Would I have to replace my comfy outerwear with something fur-lined? Would I end up going into debt over my hot chocolate habit? Would I be ostracized for the hopeless bindings I still ski on because I’m too cheap and lazy to get new ones?
Basically, I expected my days on the mountain in Aspen to resemble the days I snuck over to Copper Mountain to ski while living in Leadville ” the skiing was always great, but the whole experience was a little antiseptic.
But then the lifts opened.
And on my first day out, something weird happened ” on just about every run, I saw someone I knew.
At first I attributed this to the fact that most of the runs were closed.
But it’s been true nearly every time I’ve skied. Given that I’ve only lived in Aspen about seven months (and that I technically live in Carbondale), that’s fairly impressive.
And at the end of the day, it’s the ski hill packed with community members that has impressed me most about Aspen ” far more than the terrain or million-dollar mountaintop restaurants. And while I commiserate with those who lament what Aspen has become, in this small way, I’d argue it’s still a small-town ski hill.
Some mornings, if I pretended there was no manmade snow and the runs were half as steep, I could almost be in Leadville.
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: The Colorado Department of Transportation gives Aspen’s roundabout a poor grade in terms of level of service so it’s thinking about making changes. But first, a study or two must be done.