Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Into the Limelight at Snowmass Village

The skating rink at the new Limelight Hotel Snowmass - already a hedonistic hub for Snowmass Village
(the hotel is in the background and the tall glass section houses the five-storey climbing wall)

The laid-back Limelight Hotel Snowmass
The spanking new Limelight Hotel Snowmass, right on the foot of the slopes 30 seconds from the Elk Camp Gondola, is SO perfect for snow seekers who like to be on the first – and last - lift. With a beautiful skating rink plaza right outside, a climbing wall, two hot tubs, and kids’ play area in the open-plan lavish living-room style lounge, it’s also perfect for groups and families with kids. Even though it only opened in late November, it is already at 90 percent occupancy so people are catching on quickly.

Elk Camp Gondola Snowmass by Hal Williams for Go Snowmass

Ski Butlers Aspen
Riley Tippet (owner of Ski Butlers Aspen, Telluride and Sun Valley) lives with his family in Snowmass and has been eagerly awaiting the completion of this additional asset to base village. The whole Tippet clan loves the improvement to the Snowmass social scene. “We’ve already been there for dinner, hanging out in the kids’ play area and having a sophisticated meal while the kids are fully entertained,” he says. 

With the S’mores camper van opening at 3:30 each day for free treats at the foot of the home run, I can see parents gravitating from the slopes, to S’mores, to the skating rink right outside the Limelight (which has welcoming comfy sofa settings heated by lamps and firepits), and then all piling into the Limelight for the 3-7pm reduced prices on drinks and wood-fired pizza, accompanied by lovely live music most nights. This is fast turning into a happy hub for hotel guests and locals.

Free S'mores daily from 3:30-4:30 by Hal Williams, courtesy of Go Snowmass
The Ski Butlers Atelier at Aspen's Rossignol Store
Ski Butlers’ service was stellar this Feb – skis and poles right on time, fitted in our luxurious mega-modern room at the Limelight. Then, when the constant overnight snowfall required fatter skis, prompt swap to Rossignol Sky 7 HD for me and Rossignol’s Black Ops (only available for rent in Aspen) for Simon. We stayed on these all week due to the constant refills. Also went to visit the new Ski Butlers’ Atelier above the uber-modish Rossignol store. Glamorous retro Rossi clothing downstairs and latest and greatest Rossignol skis upstairs. The motif of the new Rossignol Strato W

for women is a throwback to my 1991 skis which I got in Meribel from the rental shop as part of my job as overseas manager for Crystal Ski. I borrowed them for the season but, during peak periods, had to downgrade due to demand. Ski Butlers’ Atelier manager, Jon Komula is an enthusiastic expert on Rossignol – both a skier and a snowboarder – and an animated Aspen addict. Worth going in just for his ski terrain advice let alone the temptation to take out limited edition skis at the only venue in North America where you can do this. 

First day at Snowmass, sporting my new Obermeyer Hadley Jacket (in honeysuckle print) paired with
a black/white wolf faux fur and black spandex Helmet Hugger - this is OVER my helmet!!
To get an idea of how good the snow was for our early February visit, Aspen Snowmass declared Powder Pancakes four out of the five days we skied there. This means that, when there is eight inches or more of overnight snow, they serve free pancakes at various venues announced on Facebook.

Ploughing the pow on day 1 at Snowmass
On the Monday, our first day, we skied unguided, snapping quick pics in the hazy morning which gave way to the first of four sensationally snowy afternoons. A highlight of our visit on our second day was meeting an interviewee for our upcoming book – A Worldwide Guide to Retirement Destinations to be published later this year by Cambridge Scholars. David Wood retired to Snowmass twenty years ago after a lofty career in finance, culminating in the position of Chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo Financial. 

David and I at the HST Shrine
Although he annually achieves Aspen’s 100-day pin, he still managed to find time to write the shrine guide to Aspen Snowmass: “Sanctuaries in the Snow”. Proceeds of each copy go to college scholarships for needy students in the Roaring Fork Valley. We didn’t have time to visit all 100 or more of them, but David did take us to nine shrines nestled in the woods off Gunner’s View and Bull Run. Hunter S. Thompson’s is the biggest, with dozens of trees daubed with photos of the famous and fantastic writer of articles and books, many of which were made into films such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (whose star Johnny Depp, among other glitterati, attended Thompson’s funeral). The tear-tempting shrine includes photocopies of newspaper articles and images, memorabilia and memos, all encircling a mailbag book swap with a convenient toilet to sit and read on. Along with a single ski pole and one ski, an air horn and an American flag, there’s a feeling of utter devotion from the bereaved band of five friends who, incognito, assembled the Hunter homage exactly one year after his suicide at the age of 67 in 2005. This mountain memorial was awarded Best Shrine by the Aspen Times last year.

Celebrating in style at the Snowmass Golf Shrine
None of the shrines are obvious from the slopes – indeed they are discreetly designed to evade the human eye not least because they are technically illegal under Forestry Service rules. But one of the most cunningly concealed is in a closeted clearing which celebrates golf, Snowmass’s summer religion. Supplicants have set up camping chairs to contemplate the careers of golfing greats such as Seve Ballesteros, Ben Hogan, Payne Stewart and Harry Vardon and, for the in-the-know, there’s also buried booty. Ten-year whiskey, white wine and a couple of other quaffs are secreted in a snow-proof sack beneath the powder, ready for a toasting tribute to these seminal sportsmen - but only after each attendee has chosen an apposite golf quote to recite.

Snow-drenched Snowmass by Jeremy Swanson, courtesy of Go Snowmass 
Our third snow-deluged ski day was fronted by one of Salomon’s PR professionals, Maddy Fones of RYGR agency. A Basalt-based local, she skis as fast and smooth as her Salomon QST Lumen 99s, part of her collection of eight pairs of high performance planks. Such fun skimming Snowmass slopes with her insight and commentary, we did a 90-minute Mach 2 tour of her favourites before recharging at Gwyn’s. Having guides both days was particularly useful as we still couldn’t see a sausage (as we say in the UK) and were literally skiing in a white bubble which occasionally bounced near bewildered boarders and sight-challenged skiers all seeking the same slowly-materializing signage. 

At a point roughly halfway through our five-day Snowmass skiing sojourn, Maddy had to morph from her white office to her Carbondale desk. So, we were left to our own downhill devices which, as usual, focused on following fields of forgotten fresh, and eliciting locals’ secrets from chatty chairlift chums. The Limelight Snowmass is garnering gondola gossip around town since its opening in November. It’s even filching a few Limelight loyalists from the long-established Aspen branch. For many years, guests there used the free shuttles to go back and forth to Snowmass. But now, with a brand new deluxe Limelight right on the snowy slopes, many regulars are now choosing to ski in/out.

Reception at Limelight Hotel Snowmass
Just like its Aspen counterpart, the Limelight Hotel Snowmass is overtly customer-centric –
Tom Rice (right)
this means that there’s a high ratio of staff per guest, with reception hosting multiple manned stations and a really conscientious concierge – Tom Rice – at the Q & A desk. Tom advises on the wide-ranging complementary amenities and programs at the Limelight Snowmass which include First Tracks and Inside Tracks. Naturally, First Tracks is early access to the slopes, meeting at the hotel just before 8 am for an hour’s lead on all other skiers and riders. We did this on the Friday, our last day, and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of phenomenally quiet corduroy pistes and a patina of overnight powder.

But the focal point for us was the Inside Tracks program – a whole day of guiding around Snowmass’s glades, off-piste, black diamonds and double diamonds with our own instructor – for free. Surely the best value for no money in any ski resort in North America! There was a second intermediate level group, too, that day, with their own instructor teaching and guiding around the blues and single blacks of the 3,362-acre resort. Everyone meets up for lunch at Gwyn’s which is a multi-level cafeteria-style lodge at the top of the Alpine Springs chairlift. Its different niches, comfy corners with colourful sofa seating, and separate bar area make for more intimate venues than most large mid-mountain lodges. And, another bonus, the owner is hands-on, hovering around, checking on service, tidiness and amenity refills, and mucking in himself with every job to ensure seamless service all day long. Very rare to see an owner presiding so fastidiously over such a large onhill eatery.

Mark Herman (left) guiding the Limelight Snowmass Inside Tracks program
Our instructor that day was Mark Herman, an inspirational snowboarder and skier, who opted for his board that day due to the abundance of fresh pow – which, did I mention, we had four days in a row due to nightly and daytime decadent downpours? We were blessed with pristine pow into the pm, quiet slopes, no liftlines, and tree-aided visibility in the whirling whiteouts – such consistently good snow, that it will take a lot to eclipse it! It was even fun for Mark – the group was well-matched and only stalled for five minutes at one point to retrieve buried skis. “It’s great to get to ride the powder all day with a fast group,” he said. “Let me know if you need any tips, otherwise we’ll just ski!”

Long Shot, Snowmass's longest run at 5.3 miles, in the Burnt Mountain Glades
Even on the sunny Friday, we were finding powder pockets at the edges of pistes and in the sinuous Sneaky’s Glades. As well as coaxing us up the heady hike into the Burnt Mountain Glades and less arduous schlepp to the Hanging Valley Double-D domaine, Mark’s insider info would prove pivotal for our last day when finally the panorama of the entire resort and Elk Mountain range opened up to us framed by an azure background.

The Inside Tracks team

Mark Herman left, Lisa Waldman right - Instructors for
Limelight Hotel Snowmass Inside Tracks

With 30 years’ experience under her ski belt, Lisa Waldman chose the first run of the day – Long Shot – and then split off with the intermediate group but we got to mingle more when we all congregated for Happy Hour at the lively Limelight Hotel Snowmass. The communal table right by the bar is perfect for garrulous groups and is also the spot where instructors hang out during breakfast before circulating among the guests. In a casual, conversational way, they inform everyone of the various ski/ride programs, both complementary and paid, and advise on runs, lunch spots, nightlife, whatever you need. 

Bob Mattice and I on the Limelight Hotel Snowmass First Tracks
That’s where we bumped into ski instructor, Bob Mattice who we’d met eight years before on a Bumps for Boomers course – if you’ve never heard of this and would like to gen up on bumps and off-piste skills as well as strategies to conserve energy and ‘Ski For Life’™, check it out here: or in this article I wrote several years ago: and also this blog:

I still use the B4B techniques and tactics I learnt whenever I am in tricky terrain like Snowmass’s Hanging Valley or tight tree tracks in Powerline. Bob teaches on the B4B Masters’ Course each season, but is also a private instructor and a regular for the Limelight’s First Tracks and Inside Tracks programs. “Just think of me if you want a fun, knowledgeable, experienced, great guide for all the steep and interesting terrain in Aspen, and of course, modest to a fault,” he says. He also knows about the secret shrines on Aspen Mountain, including John Denver’s which he showed us last time we were there. He came to Aspen after working from 1993-2004 as Director of Ski School at Purgatory Resort in Durango. "I love Aspen Snowmass for the incredible diversity of terrain and individual culture of each of our four mountains. Each has it's reputation - some accurate and some not - and each its unique character, history, terrain and amenities," he says. At Snowmass he loves the glades off the Burn area, the East Wall and AMF in the Cirque and Adios Ridge, Upper/Lower Ladder in the Hanging Valley for steeps and powder. "Long Shot at Elk Camp  for a five plus mile unique ungroomed experience and Sheer Bliss for a long cruiser," he recommends. Faves elsewhere include watching the X Games at Buttermilk, the back of Bell Mountain in Aspen for consistent snow and less traffic, and the Bowl at Highlands for endless lines in unique steep backcountry-style adventures. "I really enjoy the opportunity to ski on a quiet, uncrowded mountain before the day begins at Snowmass and Aspen Mountain with the First Tracks Program. Really centers me for the day," he says. "My plan is to continue to enjoy life in the mountains and the people I meet skiing in Aspen. Can't imagine my life without skiing. Ski For Life!

Bumps for Boomers group tackling tricky troughs on Aspen Mountain - courtesy of Bumps for Boomers
One of the few remaining Limelight Residences for sale 

This friendly professional advice from various instructors each morning is another defining differential of the
Limelight, reinforced by a dedicated ski concierge, stationed every morning at a desk/podium in the kiddy play area to deal with lift tickets, rentals and lessons. The Limelight Snowmass really is a one-stop shop, with everything so conveniently at hand in an atmosphere of sociable, friendly fun. The immense breakfast buffet, the concerned cosseting from all the staff, the ritzy rooms, heavenly hot tubs, leisurely lounge, bustling bar and restaurant, make you lapse into an indolent inclination to spend all your non-skiing hours there. One night we hung out at the communal bar table for six hours, chatting with an ever-changing cohort of après skiers, early evening imbibers, and then diners. Unplanned, unchoreographed, spontaneous socialization and likeminded fun fortified by a customized pizza.

Astis mitts at Four Mountain Sports
Occasionally, however, we did manage to drag ourselves away from the hilarity and home comforts to investigate Snowmass Village a little bit more. The Four Mountain Sports shop right by the Elk Camp Gondola revealed a new gear brand to me – Astis – which makes the most hedonistic hand-wear ever. Fur-lined gauntlets with suede outers, fringing, fur and embroidered trim, these are red-carpet mitts that no-one would stoop to wiping their nose on! Not sure how the fringing would fare in a tight branchy glade but they might be worth the risk.

Just one half of the breakfast buffet at the Limelight Hotel Snowmass

Gwyn's High Alpine, Snowmass
Although we had a bountiful breakfast buffet each morning (free) at the Snowmass Limelight, we’re habitual mid-morning coffee-seekers, notching up two hours’ serious powder ploughing before resetting the mountain muscles over a craft coffee. Onhill, our best find was the coffee bar at Sam’s Smokehouse at the top of the Village Express chairlift. But Base Camp specializes in a mean mocha and lovely latte, too, back at the village. Gwyn’s doesn’t do lattes, but the comfy sofa area is a great place to recharge over straightforward caffeine quaffs accompanied by chocolate confections. For lunch I’m always on the hunt for homemade tomato soup and both Gwyn’s fulfilled that food fantasy, along with other great soups, chilis, salads etc. Sam’s has the best sweeping views (if the snow stops) and Gwyn’s sports the liveliest onhill bar with really good playlists that encourage you to linger over a glass of champers while people-watching from one of their couch and footstool set-ups. Thanks for the freebie Bob!

Gwyn's High Alpine by Tamara Susa for Go Snowmass
Lynn Britt Cabin by Hal Williams for Go Snowmass
Didn’t make it to the Lynn Britt Cabin due to other lunchtime assignations, but hope to next time. It looks quaint and intimate on European lines. 

The Ullrhof escaped our notice in the wintry whiteout as the Big Burn chair was closed the whole time, but we enjoyed stopping off there the last time we were in Snowmass - about six years ago with the National Brotherhood of Skiers – check out my article here:

Snowmass Mall
Although we favoured the animated après at the Limelight and the delicious dinner menu, we were also drawn to Venga Venga which is right on the home run down and anchors the Snowmass Mall, which also deserved a bit of exploration. Arriving just before 3pm Happy Hour, we staggered with powder-pranged quads around the sports shops and cafés, posing for pics on the Snowmass chair and noticing the ice cream bar at the Taste of Philly food stand. Would have to be a bit warmer for that. Venga Venga has a really hopping happy hour, with free chips and dip, discounted wines and draft beers, chirpy servers with pun-punctuated patter, and a panoramic patio with heated lamps and firepits amid sofa seating. Bonus is watching last run skiers sliding past as the slopes start to clear for the evening. It’s just a short ski down to the Limelight’s back door ski locker room – or, for the voluntarily ‘over-served’, a spin on the pedestrian gondola which links the Mall to the Base Village by day and night.

Snowmass Base Village - courtesy of Limelight Hotel Snowmass
 Among over 35 restaurants in Snowmass Village, A Slice of Italy, atop a cute red-and-white painted barn, is a mouthwatering must for pizza and pasta lovers - just a minute’s stroll from the Limelight. Toro at the Viceroy is probably the ritziest restaurant in Snowmass Village, recommends David Wood, who also suggests a sidetrip to Woody Creek to experience the famous Woody Creek Tavern where Hunter S. Thompson used to hold court.

Aerial view of Snowmass by Tamara Susa for Go Snowmass
Although we were content to confine our skiing adventures to the 96 trails and vast off-piste of Snowmass, we were determined to indulge in downtown devilry while in Aspen. A 15-minute shuttle on the Limelight’s free transport or a 30-minute ride on the public bus, Aspen is a centre for culture, the arts, fine dining, eclectic bar scene, dazzling designer shops, quirky consignment stores, iconic eateries like Jimmy’s, and historic hotels such as the Jerome which has recently added a thoroughly modern Stoli Ice Bar and Bad Harriet’s craft cocktail bar.

Barbara Sanders, publisher of SNOW magazine (left) and Lea Tucker (right) on top of the Aspen Art Museum
Out of all of this choice, we picked culture and cocktails our first night downtown: the Aspen Art Museum followed by a new distillery bar, Marble. Meeting up with Barbara Sanders, the chic publisher of luxury SNOW mag in the Art Museum’s rooftop café, we were all guided through the eccentric and edgy exhibitions by Lea Tucker, an educational expert on the background and the meaning of all the modern artwork on display. 

Marble Bar, Aspen
After drinking in the culture, we moved on for another type of tipple at one of Aspen’s newest bars, Marble. Hidden in the Hyatt Residence Club Grand Aspen, it’s a secret even to some of the locals. This craft cocktail concept and tasting room, specializing in infused vodka and whisky, derives from Marble Distilling Co. based in Carbondale. The liquors are actually filtered through crumbled marble from the mining hamlet of Marble. And the elegant and edgy room is rigged out in swathes of chunky marble countertop as well as
quirky marble sculptures. Our cheese and charcuterie platter was served by the marble fireplace on a rugged marble fragment, the cocktails served in funky leaning glasses, and there are Marble-logoed stainless steel straws. Recommend the Howling Wolf made from citrus-infused 80 percent proof vodka with grapefruit juice, lime and pomegranate. Marble’s gradually becoming a hip happy hour hangout as well as a swish scene for live music, comedy, trivia, and special evening events. At $12 for the Howling Wolf, not too expensive by Aspen standards.  

Night out on the town at Mezzaluna
Absolutely hopping on a Wednesday night, Mezzaluna’s fare was as fabulous as the Italian
art work daubing the décor and the pink marble horseshoe-shaped bar and matching tables. I’m an Italian-food junky, so this was top of my list to visit while downtown. You can reserve a table - best to at weekends - but we just turned up and managed to squeeze into a twosome that wasn’t yet filled. After we sat down we saw lines of people turning up and having to wait outside or come back later. Launched in 1986, it’s locally-owned by Deryk Cave and Grant Sutherland now with general manager Anna-Karin Svensson, presiding over the podium. A block away from the Aspen Gondola, it attracts the lunch bunch, après-skiers and evening clientele. Wood-fired pizzas are a specialty but there’s a wide array of modern Italian food with lots of really good gluten-free options. "We say modern Italian cuisine, even though we do have some Asian and traditional American influence as well," says Anna. "We're open year round - Christmas, President's Weekend, and July 4th week are the real busy times." The original artwork, commissioned from art students from Florence, Italy, depicts their rendition of what the word 'mezzaluna' means to them: "a halfmoon and a cutting tool," Anna explains. 

Mezzaluna, Aspen
Our final morning, Saturday, we had a huge breakfast feast at the Snowmass Limelight before jumping on their free shuttle to Aspen Airport. Little did we know, in the crystal clear skies with no delays indicated online, that our airline would cancel our flight just as we arrived. Nonsensical, since other airlines were running as usual (and I got the aviation authority printout afterwards to prove it), we found that we had to re-book for the next day via Vail Eagle Airport after queuing for an hour or more. If we had wanted to wait for an Aspen departure with our airline it would have been Monday! Only one thing to do, check with the Limelight and hotfoot it back – this time to the Aspen branch. Before relaxing into luxury and leisure again, we needed to find a shuttle to Vail Eagle Airport for the next morning and discovered that Colorado Mountain Express – the cheapest option at $79 per person for the two-hour transit – had been recently bought by Vail Resorts and is now the Epic Mountain Express. Phew, sorted!
Bonus night at the Limelight Lounge Aspen

Yappy Hour at the Limelight Hotel Aspen
Having missed lunch we had an afternoon tea craving, discovering Victoria’s to satisfy our need for scones. Back ‘into the Limelight’ we checked in to our sumptuous room to get ready for hot tub and happy hour hilarity. Taking Prosecco in plastic down to the pool area, we discovered a bucket of beers left by a big group that had over-ordered: the sharing economy! Needless to say this led to even more sparkle in the balmy bubbles and we had to shower quickly afterwards to make the last half hour of happy hour. Great saxophone and cello live music, the lounge and bar area was full with birthdays, family get-togethers and tourists and locals intent on après celebration, but we managed to pounce on comfy chairs after some eagle-eye circling. Feeling like more familiarity, we phoned Anna for another table for two at Mezzaluna and really enjoyed our bonus evening in Aspen – after all, there are worse places in the world to get stuck overnight!

Just like the daily powder we had! By Jeremy Swanson for Go Snowmass
Breathtaker Alpine Coaster at Snowmass
Social Media:

Terrain Park at Snowmass by Tamara Susa for Go Snowmass
Snowmass Stats:

4,406 vertical feet, 3,362 acres of terrain, 94 trails, 21 chairlifts
Winter Season Dates:
November 23, 2017 – April 15, 2018
Base Elevation:
8,104 ft. / 2,473 m
Summit Elevation:
12,510 ft. / 3,813 m
Vertical Rise:
4,406 ft./1,343 m
Skiing the trees at Snowmass by Hal Williams for Go Snowmass
3,332 acres/1,348 hectares
Number of Trails:
94 trails
Miles / km’s of Trails
150 miles / 241 km
Longest Run:
5.3 miles/8.5 km
Types of Trails:
Types: easiest: 6%, more difficult: 47%, most difficult: 17%, expert: 30%
Terrain Parks & Pipes:
Three Terrain Parks (Snowmass Park, Makaha and Lowdown), one 22-foot superpipe and one beginner pipe
Elk Camp Gondola by Hal Williams for Go Snowmass
21 Lifts Total: 19 primary: 1 eight-passenger gondola, 1 high-speed six-passenger lift, 1 six-passenger pulse gondola, 7 high-speed quads, 2 quads, 3 doubles, 4 ski/snowboard school lifts (including surface lifts); 2 secondary: 2 platter pulls
Lift Hours:
The Sky Cab opens at 8 am; the Cirque lift opens at 10 am; the Village Express and Sam’s Knob lifts open at 8:30 am; all other lifts open at 9 am and close at 3:30pm.
On-mountain Restaurants:
7 total: Elk Camp, Sam’s Smokehouse, Up 4 Pizza, Two Creeks Cafe, Lynn Britt Cabin (lunches and snowcat dinner rides), Ullrhof and Gwyn’s High Alpine.

Goodnight Snowmass, by Tamara Susa for Go Snowmass

2019 Spring Events Line-Up at Aspen Snowmass

ASPEN SNOWMASS, Colo.—Mar. 14, 2018— Aspen Snowmass announces the 2019 spring events line-up that includes a variety of free events across all four mountains. This year’s calendar contains a host of returning signature events as well as newer happenings throughout the months of March and April.

New to the event calendar this spring, Aspen Snowmass will host The Après Music Festival Apr. 5-7 featuring the main acts of The String Cheese Incident and Umphrey’s McGee.

Back for the 19th year in-a-row, the Bud Light Spring Jam Festival will see the return of Freestyle Friday, the Banked Slalom, free Bud Light Hi-Fi concerts, and more. Other spring favorites will include Bacon Appreciation Day and Sunset Skiing alongside newer events such as the Helly Hansen 4 Mountain Mission and Aspen Mountain 80’s Prom Closing Day.

Bud Light Spring Jam Festival - by Jeremy Swanson /Aspen Snowmass
Upcoming Spring Events

Mar. 15-24
Aspen Snowmass
The 19th annual Bud Light Spring Jam, the premier spring festival in the Rocky Mountains, will bring a schedule filled with competitions, concerts and parties to Aspen Snowmass. The festival features everything from free Bud Light Hi-Fi Core Party Concerts with acts such as Chromeo and Robert Randolph & The Family Band, to competitions such as the Banked Slalom, Freestyle Friday, KickAspen Big Air and the Helly Hansen 4 MTN Mission.

Buttermilk Tricks - Something to Aspire to.
Photo by Jeremy Swanson /Aspen Skiing
As part of the Bud Light Spring Jam Festival, Aspen Snowmass will host two weekends of Terrain Park Boot Camp presented by Noosa. This event gives amateurs and kids the opportunity to learn skills on terrain park features such as rails, boxes and jumps under the supervision of Aspen Snowmass based professional ski and snowboard athletes. Terrain Park Boot Camp will be held on Fanny Hill in Snowmass Mar. 16-17 and Mar. 23-24. This event is free and open to the public, helmets are required and minors must have a waiver signed by a guardian.

Aspen Highlands will once again host Freestyle Friday, an event which consists of freestyle skiers competing in a single elimination competition where they will race side-by-side down a course consisting of bumps and jumps. The winner will be crowned by a combination of the fastest time and overall trick impression. The competition will begin at 1 p.m. and consist of two divisions; Men’s and Women’s 16 and over and Boy’s and Girl’s 15 and under. For the men’s and women’s brackets prizing will consist of $250 for first place, $175 for second place and $75 for third place. For the Boy’s and Girl’s category, prizing will be awarded as $150 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place. Entry costs $25 and online registration is available here. Day of registration will be available at the Bud Light tent outside the Merry-Go-Round restaurant from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Helmets are mandatory.

Big Air at Aspen - by Jeremy Swanson /Aspen Snowmass

KickAspen Big Air is a one-night ski and snowboard Big Air competition in which 20 invited skiers and 20 invited snowboarders battle it out under the lights at the base of Aspen Mountain. Athletes will compete to take home a portion of the $5,000 prize purse, with $1,500 going to first place, $750 going to second place and $250 going to third place in both the ski and snowboard disciplines. The competition will begin at 8 p.m. and include music and a Bud Light beer garden.

Kick Aspen Big Air Night - by Jeremy Swanson /Aspen Skiing Co

Continuing the free Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series, Snakehips will perform Mar. 23 in the Aspen Mountain Gondola Plaza at 7:30 p.m. The UK duo, Oliver Lee and James Carter, have garnered a growing reputation for their unique signature sound; a sensual, contemporary take on old school R&B, influenced by 90s hip-hop throwbacks and 1970s string samples.

This 40-mile backcountry ski race spans an old mail route from the 1880's that connects the towns of Aspen and Crested Butte. The race begins at midnight in Crested Butte and climbs more than 7,800 vertical feet before the extreme endurance event comes to an end in Aspen. In order to maintain safety, the race is done in teams of two and all racers must have the mandatory gear in order to compete. The Elk Mountain Grand Traverse has been a staple event since 1998 and truly tests athlete’s mental and physical toughness.

In partnership with the City of Aspen, the Aspen Ascent uphill festival will return for the third year in a row at Buttermilk with gear demos, vendors, and uphill clinics Mar. 31 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The vendor village will be located at the base of Buttermilk and feature a chance for participants to demo the latest uphill gear as well as partake in clinics. The beginner and intermediate clinics will take place every half-hour at 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Expert clinics will take place every hour at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. All clinics will begin at the base area in the event village. Designated uphill routes will be used by all participants. Four Mountain Sports will be open for the weekend with uphill gear rentals and other end of season specials. Parking at Buttermilk is free and open to the public.

Spring Skiing at Aspen Snowmass
Photo by Jeremy Swanson 
Aspen Snowmass will play host to a brand-new, music and mountain festival at the base of Buttermilk Mountain on Panda Peak, Apr. 5-7 with three days of music, spring skiing and riding and the celebration of Buttermilk closing weekend.  The Après, promoted in collaboration with renowned music venue The Belly Up, will include live performances by Umphrey’s McGee on Friday, Apr. 5 followed by two nights of performances by The String Cheese Incident Saturday and Sunday Apr. 6-7. Tickets are now on-sale with the option to buy a three-day music pass for $99.99 or a three-day music pass plus two-day Aspen Snowmass lift ticket for $219.99. The concert gates will open at 4 p.m. daily. The festival will take place snow or shine. For more information visit,

In celebration of Buttermilk’s closing day, the mountain hosts an annual Bacon Appreciation Day featuring a schedule of all things bacon including bacon waffles at the Cliffhouse starting at 9 a.m., bacon doughnuts at 10:30 a.m., bacon samplers around the mountain from 11 a.m.-it runs out. There will be a bacon and beer happy hour at Bumps restaurant from 2 to 4 p.m. A cost is associated with the lunches and happy hour but all other bacon items are free while supplies last.

In conjunction with Bacon Appreciation Day, Buttermilk will also host an uphilling event called ‘Fueled by Bacon Sizzle Up’ that will begin at 8 a.m. at the base (registration day-of starting at 7:30 a.m. at the base of Buttermilk) and end at the Cliffhouse. Prizes will be awarded for the Best Costume, the Center Cut (person who is in the middle of the pack) and for the fastest, with additional prizes raffled off as well. Bacon will be available at the base and finish line and bacon waffles will be served at the Cliffhouse. Cost is $15 for individuals and $40 for a family of four. To register online prior to the event visit,

The Smith Optics Grudge Match, a snowboard only event, returns to Buttermilk for closing day, on a specially constructed plaza-style terrain park. Competitors will spin the “trick wheel” to determine the maneuvers performed by all competitors, and a panel of shred celebrity judges will pick their favorites to determine a top eight for the final jam. Registration is free, and will take place at Radio Boardshop in downtown Aspen. The winner will take home $1,000 in cash and a pair of Smith I/O goggles. The rail jam will take place just off the deck at Bumps providing the perfect venue to grab a Bud Light and watch all the action.

Sponsored by Red Bull, this intense skiing/snowboarding competition is a downhill sprint from top-to-bottom at Snowmass Ski Area. Skiers and Snowboarders will start together in a Le Mans-style mass sprint to strap into their gear. Then, racers will go as fast as possible down a marked course and finish at the base. The fastest man and woman, in both skiing and snowboarding, will take home a trophy, an Ikon Pass, a Red Bull prize pack and of course, bragging rights. There will also be a separate prize category created for “Dressed for Success.” Each competitor will be assigned a commemorative race bib which will provide access to the après-ski party in Snowmass Village where DJ Naka G and DJ DC will be performing. Participant registration is open here for just $25. Those who register must be at least 18 years of age to participate.

Aspen Highlands Closing Day Schneetag - by Jeremy Swanson /Aspen Skiing Co 

For the third year in a row, Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass will host an end-of-season party featuring free leis, a dance party, and margarita blender bikes. As the party comes to an end, party-goers ski down to the base in just their swimsuits. New this year, the Surf & Snow Beach Party will play host to a pond skim. Both skiers and snowboarders are invited to participate in the pond skim.

Aspen Mountain will round-out the ski season with an 80’s Prom Closing Day Party presented by Goslings, Sunday, Apr. 21 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sundeck. The party will include drink specials with Gosling Rum, a DJ spinning tunes and a prom King and Queen crowned during the event.

For more information about spring events, visit

For lodging deals and packages at Aspen Snowmass, visit

Spring event sponsors include Bud Light, Rylo, Audi, Helly Hansen, Coca Cola, Noosa Yogurt, Lavazza, Alchemy, Snowmass Tourism, Belly Up Aspen, Smith, Hublot, Goslings, RXBAR and Head.

For more information about Aspen Snowmass, visit or call (800) 525-6200. 

Aspen Highlands - Power of Four Race in Highland Bowl - by Jeremy Swanson /Aspen Skiing Co