“I’ve got the energy of a 2-year-old,” Dick Jackson quipped on a recent sunny day at the Cloud 9 restaurant atop Aspen Highlands.While everyone at the table knew that the reference was to the arrival of his 2-year-old daughter Tashi, whom he and his wife Paulina recently adopted in Nepal, there was no doubt that the enthusiasm on Dick’s face was, well, childlike.The driver’s license of the longtime local flyer, climber and mountain guide may say he is 55, but he exhibits the mountain wisdom of an 80-year-old, the body of a 30-year-old and the energy of a 20-year-old as he shepherds his business, Aspen Expeditions, into a new phase.For years, Aspen Expeditions has run trips out of its funky office above the Butcher Block in town. If you want to climb a fourteener, ski the backcountry, or parasail off the top of Aspen Mountain, it is the go-to place. But now, with a global vision in mind, Aspen Expeditions has expanded its scope to create a place for adventure travelers who wish to travel with great people to the world’s great places.On the agenda is a collection of 12 trips a year that will take small groups of the healthy and the wealthy to places like Mount Blanc in the French Alps and Kyajo Ri in Nepal. Though these trips are not for the weak of back or the faint of heart, they will be “high end,” meaning the creature comforts will be accentuated.You will read more in the local and national press about Aspen Expeditions and its roster of trips in the weeks and months to come. But the important element of Dick and Paulina’s story, at least in the eyes of this columnist, is their commitment to the mountains, their town and the people who love both.While there are numerous other companies, ranging from Butterfield & Robinson to Travel-Sobek, that provide quality trips, Aspen Expeditions’ trips will, as a result of the passion that Dick, Paulina and their group of accredited guides feel for their sport and their destinations, likely provide a different perspective. The focus will be on the journey, not the destination. The important part of their trips will be the camaraderie, the esprit de corps that develops among both the travelers and the guides.In short, they exude the Aspen Spirit.Sound like what you’re looking for? Climb the steps above the Butcher Block and you may one day find yourself 20,000 feet up.
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