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Words of wisdom

Jon Maletz

It was late October when I first sat down with Klaus Obermeyer.The slopes were covered with grass and the foliage was in the midst of its brilliant and colorful transformation, but the talk immediately turned to skiing. It was a topic he knew like no other, and I was grateful for the opportunity to converse with an icon. I figured this was the perfect – and maybe my only – opportunity to find out everything I could about Aspen from a man who had been here from the resort’s humble beginnings in the 1940s.We talked about the past, present and future, and in between I asked Klaus about his favorite haunts on the area’s four mountains. His face lit up – even brighter than usual, if that’s possible – when he talked about his favorites, Aspen Mountain and Highlands. It was a sentiment many locals echoed.But when time is tight and he endeavors to make a few turns on some soft corduroy, Klaus said he heads for the Tiehack lift on Buttermilk. Such was news to me; I had always been convinced it was a learning mountain that had little to offer a serial intermediate like me.For the past month, I have used Klaus as my trail map. Every area he recommended I crossed off the list. Every place but one.So, Wednesday morning, I threw the skis into the back of the Jeep and headed toward Buttermilk. My car was one of six parked in the lot at Lower Tiehack.I immediately regretted not heeding Klaus’ words sooner. Sure, the steeps were rather gentle, but they were the perfect antidote for my nerves and joints after a powder day on Ajax. The snow was soft and deep in the glades, and the corduroy untouched. And the best part: The entire place was empty. It took me nearly three full runs to pass another skier. As I came to a stop at the bottom and clipped out of my bindings, one thought immediately came to mind. It was obvious Klaus knows as much about the valley’s mountains as he does about down jackets.


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