December 12, 2017

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Snowmass Winter

Snowmass Village has always been one of America’s premier family ski areas. Extensive beginner ski runs at the bottom of Snowmass mountain graduate to the wide-open runs of The Big Burn and Elk Camp. The Snowmass Renaissance has seen an extensively upgraded lift system with two new gondolas, a new six-passenger lift that gives bottom to top access in less than ten minutes as well as new on-mountain restaurants.

At Snowmass Village 95% of the lodging is ski in/ski out making access to and from skiing easy and fun for families. The new Base Village is part of this Renaissance with new restaurants, contemporary bars, extensive outdoor sun drenched seating for après ski enjoyment and beautiful new condominiums. Kids rule in the 24,000 square foot Treehouse, the largest children’s ski school and child care facility in North America. You really have to see this facility to believe it.

If you want to rip steeps and chutes do not write this hill off. Let’s give you 4,400 feet of vertical drop to work with, runs over 5 miles in length and areas like Hanging Valley Glades, The Cirque and KT Gully. One of the secrets of Snowmass skiing is the trees. The tourists don’t go there and locals are mostly over at Aspen Highlands. Untracked lines last for days in the Snowmass trees. There goes the secret so you owe me a toast at après.

The skiing is spread over 3,132 acres with intermediate skiing access from one side of the mountain to the other.

Another Snowmass secret is the cross country skiing. The world class facilities at The Snowmass Club offer great rolling trails laid out over the golf course. The are extensions off of these trails that go among the trees of lower Snowmass mountain and over into Owl Creek where the scenery and skiing are so pristine you’ll swear you are in a commercial. AMH tip: head over to Castle Creek valley just a few miles towards Aspen for the incredible trails at Ashcroft ober Aspen. The easy 2 mile climb up to the Pine Creek Cookhouse is the classic “first date” excursion for many young Aspenites.

The trick with Aspen/Snowmass…ready? The trick is not to tank yourself with the world class nightlife and hoopla; there are just too many incredible experiences in the Roaring Fork Valley. As my old man used to tell me, “He who hoots with the owls at night cannot soar with the eagles at dawn.”

The Aspen/Snowmass area is comprised of four major ski areas operated by the Aspen Ski Company – Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Snowmass and Ajax. Collectively they call it the Power of Four. A free shuttle will ferry you between the various ski areas, so you can enjoy the mountain of your choice regardless of where you stay in the valley. And, each mountain has something different to offer:

Aspen – Here the gondola is located in the heart of town, making for quick and easy access to the top of the mountain. The terrain is steep, and there are no beginner runs on the mountain. After a day on the hill, enjoy the hip après ski scene. This is the people watching hill, make sure to grab some of the homemade apple struedel around 1 pm at Bonnies, they grow their own apples.

Snowmass – the most family-friendly of all the resorts. The largest of the mountains, it’s known for extensive ski-in/ski-out lodging and wide, open trails including the Big Burn.

Buttermilk ­- considered the beginner’s mountain, it boasts a variety of easier terrain and a highly rated ski school. The mountain is also snowboarder friendly, featuring five terrain parks. Buttermilk has hosted the Winter X games for an unprecedented nine consecutive years. 2010 marks the winter competition’s last year in Aspen.

Aspen Highlands – is known as more of a local’s mountain. With a new base area, the mountain itself is steep with, with good backcountry access. Got Game? Hit the Steeplechase runs off the top to get the sweat going. Then take the free snowcat from the top of the mountain to the drop point for the 30-40 minute hike to the top of infamous Highlands Bowl. Now you’re having a big league day.

By now the sun has moved around so ski Olympic Bowl in the afternoon sun with jaw dropping views of the Maroon Bells, North America’s most photographed peaks. You’ll find a killer après ski scene back at the base in the afternoon.