On the Hill: The bucket list | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: The bucket list

Nate Peterson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” After a bizarre New Year’s Eve, you made a point of getting out on the mountain Thursday morning to clear your head.

As it so happened, you got into a gondola bucket with a number of longtime locals and, unsurprisingly, a lively conversation ensued about the previous night’s events. A couple of passengers had plenty to say about Mr. Blanning and his erratic behavior, rehashing anecdotes about some of the other stunts he’d pulled throughout the years.

Then one local, who worked at the Sundeck, said that it had been a while since something so shocking had taken place in Aspen. That led to a back-and-forth from all seated about some of those old, well-known stories which infamously made all of Aspen stand still.

If you’ve lived here long enough, you probably know all of them.

If not, here’s a run-through of the list we came up with:

– The chilling night Gonzo originator and American counterculture hero Hunter S. Thompson killed himself at his “fortified” compound in Woody Creek while a blizzard hit the valley.

– The summer of 1977, when serial killer Ted Bundy escaped from the Pitkin County courthouse by jumping out of a second-story window. He was captured six days later, only to escape from the Glenwood Springs jail on New Year’s Eve, 1977.

– The day in December 1985 when Steven Grabow, an alleged drug kingpin, was killed in the Aspen Club parking lot when a bomb planted in his jeep exploded.

– The night in 1976 when skiing champion Spider Sabich was shot at his Aspen home by his girlfriend, French singer and actress Claudine Longet.

There’s probably more (Michael’s Kennedy’s untimely death on Aspen Mountain, just to name one), but that’s all we could think of before the gondola doors opened. We all left each other agreeing that 2009 would be a great year if it didn’t include any more national headlines coming out of Aspen.

Unless, of course, there’s a story yet to be written about more record snow totals. After Wednesday night, you’re certain that’s some press that all of Aspen would welcome.


Recent weather has been dry and mild with occasionally gusty winds out of the W and SW at higher elevations. Observers are reporting that many above treeline westerly aspects are stripped of snow. A number of natural slides occurred last weekend. In addition to those described in previous reports, we just received information of previous natural activity on N-E-SE aspects of Hayden, Leahy and Monument. Supportive snow was found on below treeline slopes in this area.

We have not heard about any recent slide activity from the Aspen zone, but there have been a couple of significant slides since Tuesday from the nearby Vail-Summit zone. Mild weather since Monday has helped to settle the snowpack. Observers this week have noted significant night time development of surface hoar.

The avalanche danger for the Aspen zone is CONSIDERABLE on NW-NE-SE aspects near and above treeline. The danger is MODERATE on W-SW-S aspects near and above treeline and on all aspects below treeline.

Avalanche or snowpack observations can be submitted at http://avalanche.state.co.us/pub/contact.php?subject=Backcountry+Observation.

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