We’ve come a long way | AspenTimes.com

We’ve come a long way

Dear Editor:

Regarding Monday’s Aspen Times article about the 1976-77 ski season: Hah! No way. This December it at least looked like we had snow, and we were skiing.

I flew into Aspen on Dec. 17, 1976, for the World Pro Ski Race, and Aspen Mountain looked like a cupcake with too little frosting – just a dusting on the top – and Highlands had a strip of snow at the bottom made by a snow gun lent to them from, I believe, Hunter Mountain in New York.

From the air I didn’t even know that Buttermilk was a ski area, and it was warm. Just before Christmas I went to breakfast at Andre’s in just a light shirt and a sweatshirt.

Right after New Year’s, Phyllis and I drove her Vega station wagon (no snow tires) over Independence Pass (which was open) to go ski Copper Mountain, as they had one run open (they had one or two snow guns). At the top of the pass (remember, this was early January) people were hiking and skiing Heart Attack Hill, and not much more.

I still remember trying to poach a powder run at Copper on a closed run next to the one they had open. I ducked the rope and got about 6 inches before my skis bottomed out on the rock field just under the light covering of snow. That December wasn’t a function of poor skiing. Skiing was zero!

In February it started to snow, and March was huge!

We are so blessed by the investments Aspen Skiing Co. has made in snowmaking over the years (1976-77 was their – and everyone’s – wake-up call). I skied Aspen Mountain the other day (about the anniversary of my ’77 Copper trip) and had a great time. Thank you, Peter King and all your snowmaking and grooming staff, for all your good work.

Grafton Smith


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