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Snowmass history: Hungry for glory

Sid Wheeler (left), the owner of Garfunkel's Deli, shakes with Jim Metcalf, owner of the Village Deli, after they pied each other in the face at the end of a "Deli Doo" ski race during Wintersköl. The image was published in the Aspen Illustrated News on January 25, 1968.
Aspen Historical Society/Aspen Illustrated News Collection

“Another new Wintersköl event was the Deli Doo, a race between Garfunkel’s Delicatessen and the Snowmass Village Delicatessen,” the Aspen Illustrated News recapped in January 1968.

“The two teams ran four heads. Garfunkel’s won the first and last heats, Village Deli won second and third. The owner of the Delicatessen whose team lost won a pie in the face. Sid Wheeler and Jim Metcalf, owners, simultaneously (pied) each other’s face(s). The course consisted of five gates. At the first gate the racers ate a pickle, at the second a hot pastrami sandwich, at the third a cheese cake, at the fourth a half pint of sauerkraut and at the finish a piece of chocolate cream cake. The two owners raced in the last heat for a real photo finish.”

Aspen History: Lindley Hut

One color slide of a man on a backcountry ski trip at the Lindley Hut in the upper Castle Creek valley, April 1961.

“Lindley Hut is dedicated, opened Wednesday,” announced the Aspen Times on January 1, 1960. “This area’s newest and most comfortable mountain cabin, the Lindley Hut, was officially opened at an informal dedication ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 30. Originally scheduled for last September, the dedication and official opening ceremony was postponed when early snows delayed completion. Wednesday’s informal ceremony was witnessed by Mrs. Grace Lindley McKnight and Clarkson Lindley, widow and son of Al Lindley, to whom the hut is dedicated. Lindley was a well-known skier and ski official. A member of the 1932 and ’36 Olympic Ski Teams, he was killed in a light plane accident in Nebraska in 1950 while flying to Aspen to help select a training squad for the 1952 Olympic Games. At the time he was chairman of the NSA [National Ski Association] Olympic Ski Games committee. The Lindley Hut was constructed under the supervision of Stuart Mace, who also designed it. The hut is now open to the public. A charge of 50c per day per person or $1 a night will be made. This, according to Mace, who is in charge of the hut, will be used by the NSA to improve other huts in the area.” The image above shows a man at the Lindley Hut in the upper Castle Creek valley, 1961.

Snowmass history: Skiers, skiers everywhere

Cars drive along on Brush Creek Road in Snowmass Village circa 1970 with Snowmass Ski Area visible in the background.
John Smith/Aspen Historical Society courtesy photo

“Skier count tops other mountains,” touted the Snowmass Villager on January 4, 1968.

“The five lifts at Snowmass carried 2,490 skiers on Saturday, Dec. 30, the Aspen Skiing Corp. has announced. … This was greater than any other mountain in the Aspen area this year, but not greater than the record on Aspen Mountain. In 1965, the lifts on Aspen carried a record 2,900-plus. … The total for Snowmass apparently surprised everyone but Rollie Herberg, Snowmass-at-Aspen general manager. Herberg predicted a minimum of 2,500 some day during the holidays.

“One thing no one expected was the crush of cars around West Village during the holidays,” the Villager reported. “West Village Association Manager Art Small said that facilities were provided in construction last summer to park 450 cars, but an actual count of vehicles on Dec. 30 showed 860. To handle the extra traffic, a parking lot was bulldozed out of the snow at the bottom of the No.1 lift for the convenience of local patrons who had no need to visit lodges.”

Snowmass history: Ready for action

Instructors stand at the morning line-up ready for students on a snowy day at Stein Eriksen's Ski School on opening day of Snowmass-at-Aspen on December 15, 1967.
David Hiser/Aspen Historical Society Hiser Collection

Instructors lined up at the ready for students of all levels to join Stein Eriksen’s Ski School at the new Snowmass-at-Aspen ski area in December 1967. Students were assigned an instructor based on their skill level and instructors would wait below a sign bearing their name. Signs pictured are for instructors Magne (Nostdahl), Amund (Ekroll), Herman, Karl, and Sepp (Kessler). Nostdahl joined Eriksen’s team originally at Aspen Highlands when it opened in the 1958-59 ski season and then was recruited over to Snowmass-at-Aspen in 1967. Other instructors like Martin Nordhagen and Kjell Vanghagen also followed Eriksen to Snowmass from Sugarbush, Vermont, where they each taught for one season after coming over from Norway.

Snowmass history: A construction completion ‘saga’ at Snowmass-at-Aspen

Amid nearly-finished construction at the Snowmass Mall, a bus with flowers painted on it is on the left (the ski rack attached to the side reads "Snowmass-at-Aspen"), and two people walk down the road carrying skis. Related images were published in the Aspen Illustrated News on December 21, 1967, with an article about the ski area, which opened December 15, and the construction work still underway.
Aspen Historical Society Aspen Illustrated News Collection/Courtesy photo

A week after opening day, Cort Freeman from the Aspen Illustrated News reported that “The saga of Snowmass-at-Aspen’s frantic completion program was being told.”

“There was one story about a group of sheet-rockers who were flown in from Los Angeles to complete the Willows Condominiums,” Freeman reported on Dec. 21, 1967. “They arrived in their short-sleeved shirts and light-weight slacks saying, ‘Hey man, you didn’t tell us it would be cold out here.’ … There were rumors that the press was disgruntled over the lack of completion, but I didn’t talk to a skier who thought things were bad. Maybe those skiers could remember when the best conditions a few years ago were far short of Snowmass-at-Aspen’s worst.”

Snowmass history: Fresh snow and festive air

An NBC News reporter (right) interviews Bill Janss, principal developer of Snowmass-at-Aspen, and Bill's wife, Mary, inside a restaurant on the Snowmass Mall at the resort's opening on Dec. 15, 1967.
David Hiser/Aspen Historical Society Hiser Collection

While the day before opening Snowmass-at-Aspen was a chaotic series of last-minute completions to the resort and hotel rooms and snow coverage was minimal, opening day on December 15, 1967 was met with fresh snow and a festive air.

NBC News filmed the finishing touches and opening ceremonies, which included scenes of Stein Eriksen and his ski instructor crew flying down the mountain showing off their skills with Stein bursting through a covered opening hoop. Scenes also included skibobs, ski patrol and skijoring along with interviews with key people like Bill and Mary Janss. The couple was interviewed by an NBC News reporter inside one of the many new restaurants in West Village during the opening activities of Snowmass-at-Aspen.

Snowmass history: Heiko Kuhn comes to Snowmass

Heiko Kuhn appears in The Snowmass Villager on January 25, 1968. The photo accompanies an article about a snowmobile race in Snowmass.
Dodie Gust/Aspen Historical Society Aspen Times Collection

“Heiko Kuhn heads Snowmass recreation,” The Aspen Illustrated News introduced in the 1967-68 winter edition.

“Heiko Kuhn, recreational director at Snowmass-at-Aspen, adds an unusually appropriate background to Colorado’s newest four season recreational community,” the Illustrated News reported. “This summer, he was assistant golf pro at the Aspen Municipal Golf Course. From 1962-1967, he was the public relations director at the Aspen Highlands, and for ten years prior, a physical education teacher in Denver. Kuhn’s experience as ski racer, golf pro, expert in tennis, basketball, ping pong and ice hockey qualify him to direct the events and activities for the resort’s grand opening to take place on December 15, 1967.”

Snowmass history: “A wild, gusting, blasting kind of skiing”

A panoramic view from across the valley shows Snowmass Ski Area, Fanny Hill, Sam's Knob, the hotels and buildings of Snowmass Village Mall and parking lots at Snowmass-at-Aspen, taken by David Hiser in March of 1968. Capitol Peak can be seen in the distance.
Aspen Historical Society Hiser Collection/Courtesy photo

In a 1968 November issue of Ski Magazine, Morten Lund’s article “Snowmass — The First Season” offered a rave review of the new resort as a nearly singular experience in the U.S.

“I skied down Snowmass’ Big Burn with Stein (Eriksen) and Pepi Gramshammer last winter and it was like something out of the innermost desire of a jaded ski photographer to capture the ultimate perfect action sequence,” Lund wrote. “It was a wild, gusting, blasting kind of skiing, with me hanging on and trying to schuss it as fast as Stein and Pepi were swinging it, with Stein’s wife Garvine holding even, alas. I can hardly ever remember Stein skiing like this in the East. But there’s hardly anyplace — all right, let’s be fair — there’s no place like Big Burn in the East. And almost none in the West.”

Snowmass history: Resort gets a big lift

A postcard features a color image of the Couloir Chairlift, also known as Sheer Bliss, at Snowmass Ski Area circa 1980, photographed by R.C. Bishop.
Aspen Historical Society Bishop Collection/Courtesy photo

“Snowmass Area Gets Big Lift” headlined the Aspen Skiing Co. newsletter for November 1975. “Load testing is now complete for the new No. 9 ‘Couloir’ lift at Snowmass, the largest lift in terms of cable size and other specifications ever manufactured by the Riblet Tramway Company. Rising over 2,000 ft., in a length of 8,000 ft., the lift serves a variety of intermediate and expert terrain immediately east of the famed Big Burn. Most important, the lift completes the basic ‘ski circus’ that allows skiers to utilize all upper Snowmass facilities without returning to West Village.”

The new lift, also known as Sheer Bliss, brought the total number of lifts in Snowmass to 11, providing access to more than 1,300 acres.

Snowmass history: The (snow)cat’s meow

Skiers participate in a snowcat tour at Snowmass in 1966. The snowcat dropped them where the Cirque Poma is now in this image, photographed by David Hiser and published in the Aspen Illustrated News on Jan. 27, 1966.
Aspen Historical Society Hiser Collection/Courtesy image

In the fall of 1967, the Aspen Illustrated News announced that Snowmass would continue its ski touring service.

The “Snowmass guided touring service will be continued this coming winter in a slightly different form” as the Snowmass-at-Aspen ski operations were opening as well. “Charges for this service will be $5 a day in addition to a lift ticket.”

Tours would originate at the “top of the No. 4 lift and proceed in the Sno-Cat to the West Willow Ridge area at an elevation of approximately 12,600 feet. From here they will have a choice of tours into Moraine Valley or East Alpine” and would terminate at the maintained ski slopes. Lunches were not served but could be packed in or enjoyed at one of the new West Village restaurants. The article then warned, “Unless you are an experienced powder snow skier, Snowmass does not recommend that you attempt this tour.”