The winter of 2014-2015 was tough for Aspen; it brought only 88% of the mountain’s regular snowfall. (At least that’s the number that was mentioned by several locals I rode up the gondola with when I got the chance to combine a few days of late-March skiing in Aspen with a business trip to Denver.)
But for me that was plenty!
And while the locals were complaining about the spring skiing conditions (hard in the morning, soft in the afternoon), I enjoyed it all. As an easterner, I was raised skiing in sub-par conditions, and I relished the chance to ski in warm sunshine.
Of course, many of those locals can afford to be choosy. Many of them, especially recent retirees, ski 100 days a season, and they’re accustomed to skiing only during the best hours of the day.
But on both days I skied, I was waiting for the gondola when it opened, just before 9:00. And I skied all day, interrupted only by a long lunch with my wife in the middle of the day.
Technically, Aspen is composed of four separate ski areas. The original, known as Ajax Mountain, borders downtown Aspen and has no beginner terrain, only intermediate, advanced and expert, while a few miles away are the expansions, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk, which feature a wider variety of terrain as well as features like snowboard parks.
I stuck to Ajax, because it was very convenient to our hotel, and I could lunch with my wife. Plus, it has plenty of steeps, which I love.
Here’s a photo I took from the top of Walsh’s, a double-black diamond trail that featured big bumps softened by the morning sun.
The picture doesn’t do it justice. Suffice to say that I had a barrel of fun and I didn’t get hurt. And after returning home, the only lingering discomfort is from the effects of two days of sun on my face at 11,000 feet!