Aspen Mountain, CO - A Pictorial
By Jim Kenney, aka JamesJ
EpicSki Travel Correspondent
The dog days of August 2014 are halfway behind us. It's not too soon to begin thinking about next season's ski vacation destinations. I plan to post a few pictorials over the next month of some fine ski areas I visited last winter. First up is Aspen, Colorado, one of the oldest and best ski resorts in America. Between the four ski areas of Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk there is something for everyone and plenty of it within a ten mile radius. But Aspen Mountain, the area's first ski hill founded in 1946, is pretty dang special all by itself. Like a prized silver nugget preserved from the region's mining past, Aspen Mountain is a bona fide treasure because of challenging terrain, moderate crowds, and ridiculous proximity to a world class resort town.
My son Vince and I got a chance to ski Aspen Mountain, aka Ajax, during Christmas week 2013. It had been a good early season and conditions were beautiful with a dusting of 2-4 inches of new snow on the morning of our visit. Even better, the holiday crowds were surprisingly manageable all across the 675 acres/76 trails of the resort. We rode pretty much every lift on the mountain with little or no lines. Even the Silver Queen Gondola rising 3267 vertical feet from the edge of town was walk-on both times we boarded it.
Ajax is a compact, no-nonsense mountain with robust bump runs, great black diamond tree skiing, and a long, continuous fall line ideal for logging tremendous amounts of vertical. There is some scenic blue square terrain near the summit of the mountain and a few gulches and switchbacks to aid intermediates navigating back to the base. However, after exploring the summit novices might be advised to simply download on the Silver Queen Gondola for an easy way back to town. Anyone who comes to Aspen more for shopping/dining/nightlife and less for skiing would be better served by the milder terrain at Snowmass and Buttermilk.
Please click on the photos for expanded views. All photos are by Jim Kenney.
View of Aspen Mountain from the streets of Aspen. The photos that follow depict the mountain layout in a clockwise direction from the base to summit and back.
Kleenex Corner is a convergence of runouts on the lower mountain.
Following the bumps along The Ridge of Bell Mountain leads straight to one of the coolest après ski towns anywhere.
Spectacular view of the Roaring Fork Valley from Copper Trail.
Photo op of Highland Bowl from the 11,212' summit of Aspen Mountain.
Bonnie's is a great little on-mountain dining spot at 10,400' just below the summit of Ruthie's Chairlift (vertical 1364').
Looking down on Tortilla Flats from the rather steep Face of Bell Mountain.
Tracking up a nice little dusting of fresh snow under the FIS Chairlift (vertical 591') with Bell Mountain in the background.
Dodging Aspens in Bear Paw Glades to the skier's left of the FIS Chairlift.
EpicSki member Shredhead taking it home with the town of Aspen a couple thousand feet below.
Aspen Mountain website: http://www.aspensnowmass.com/aspen-mountain
Aspen Mountain trail map: http://www.aspensnowmass.com/aspen-mountain/trail-lift-grooming-map
About the Author
- Husband, father and civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a Washington D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim’s ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism’s Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article. To read other articles by Jim, click here.