The Lady Returns
For those few who missed it, last week’s High Points dealt with the annual transformation of Buttermilk from beginners’ mountain to agro-sport Mecca. The bitchification, if you will, of a gentle mountain into a beastly broad via the use of a little cosmetic collagen for berms and some heavy mascara for signage. All in the name of good television.Well, this week a re-transformation began once again, and, as of Wednesday, just hours after the X Games closed and the final parties were extinguished in the early morning hours, Buttermilk was back to her old self. And with apologies to both the Aspen Skiing Co. and ESPN, she is a far better mountain in her natural state.By noon on Wednesday, the Tiehack parking lot was its traditional half-full. The sides of the slopes were peppered with uphillers on snowshoes, or heavy-metal gear with skins attached. The Noubar Stone family was snaking its way, father in front, mother in the rear and three boys, none older than 10, in the middle, down Buckhorn in a Norman Rockwellian tableau of the perfect family ski vacation. A visitor from Austria was commenting from the chair that the views upvalley to Pyramid Peak reminded him of his home Alps.When asked at the bottom of Tiehack if he was happy to have his mountain back, patroller Flint Smith answered, “Hell yeah.” And rightfully so. As good as the X Games were, and Saturday was a momentous day in Aspen history, we are so lucky to live in a place where great events come, set up their tents and entertain us, but also, just as assuredly, go away and leave us and our mountains to our own rhythms.And the rhythm at Buttermilk is decidedly mellow. This month’s Aspen Magazine, in its listing of things that are “Hot and Not,” includes Buttermilk in the “Not” list with the caveat that it’s hot during ESPN’s Winter X games. Well, we all are entitled to our opinions, but if you ask the trekkers, the skiers, the boarders and those who were just sitting, faces turned toward the sun outside the Cliffhouse on Wednesday afternoon, Buttermilk was a pretty nice place be. Hot, or not.The Winter X Games were great – especially Gretchen Bleiler’s smiling thank yous to “everyone in Aspen and Snowmass and Downvalley.” But now that they are gone, don’t forget to pay a visit to the little lady between Highlands and Snowmass.Buttermilk’s back.
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