Closing the Ski Season in Aspen

Relaaax...It's Aspen

Relaaax…It’s Aspen

Smooth, silky, soothing, sultry, relaxing—that’s Aspen. And that’s how my ski season ended this year, and it was lovely. Just what I needed, too.

All kinds of celebrating from pond skimming in bikinis to dancing in ski boots typically take place on closing day at most ski resorts. Skiers and boarders in fun and crazy outfits cut loose as a way of toasting the end of a long ski season marked by few or many turns and often lots of hard work (in the case of those that work in ski towns). I celebrated Telluride’s closing day a month ago and enjoyed closing week festivities on the Front Range mid-April, so I had my share of end-of-the-season partying.

With the closing of its four mountains (Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass), Aspen has certainly seen a lot of colorful merrymaking these past weeks. So it wasn’t surprising that this bonus weekend of skiing on Ajax was marked by a bunch of folks—mostly locals—primarily interested in cruising the slopes of their beloved mountain for the last time. Sure there was a smattering of tutus, tiger costumes and wacky wigs along with a vibrant assortment of flowered shirts and shorts, yet the scene was pretty tame. The emphasis was on the skiing; in this case beneath azure blue skies on what were surely the warmest days of the year thus far. (It hit 70 degrees in the town of Aspen on Sunday.)

Spring Slush---Woo-hoo!

Spring Slush—Woo-hoo!

I went with my boyfriend, Steve, since after a fabulous day of skiing on near wintry snow in Keystone mid-April we felt far from ready to hang up our skis. This past weekend offered a different experience, one punctuated by startling contrasts of skiing on sweet corn snow on two super warm days. We went to sleep on Saturday night with the windows wide open delighting in a balmy mountain breeze while listening to the snowcats rumbling on the mountain. Our senses felt tricked and we loved it.

Both Saturday and Sunday we skied three hours which began with nice, sweet turns on sugary snow at 10 a.m. and ended with big, sloppy, wide-open rotations on slush by 1p.m. We stopped each day totally beat and just in time to enjoy a frosty beer and a tasty lunch at Aspen Mountain’s Sundeck, the best place around to enjoy spectacular views of the region’s towering peaks. The food and the whole fun-loving, easy-going scene of this top-of-the-mountain restaurant rate as stellar as their commitment to minimizing their impact on the environment. (This LEED-certified building is just one of many ways in which Aspen Skiing Company has shown their dedication toward the “greening” of their ski resort.)

Chilling with My Bro and His Wife

Steve and I Chilling with My Bro and His Wife

My Brother with His Wife and Friends

My Brother with His Wife and Friends

Inside the Sundeck at Aspen Mountain

Inside the Sundeck at Aspen Mountain

We had a mellow visit with my brother and his wife—two avid Aspen skiers that live in nearby Redstone—before packing it in. I took the gondola ride of shame down while Steve powered through the slush. To me, downloading in those conditions is totally acceptable, especially after a mid-day beer and in truth, I didn’t receive much teasing for my choice not to ski down.

The Town of Aspen, Aspen Mountain and the Gondola During the Seaso

The Town of Aspen, Aspen Mountain and the Gondola During the Season

The Sundeck Backdropped by the Highlands Bowl in Winter

The Sundeck Backdropped by Highlands Bowl in Winter

I met a lady on the ride who filled me in on how incredibly fun it is when the mountain opens for Aspen Food & Wine Classic (mid June) or other special doings. My mind flashed to the thrill of skiing on snow—no matter how soft—after having shifted into full-on summer mode. “What fun,” I said.

“It’s a blast,” she added. “It puts people in super moods. And it’s good for working on your tan, too.”

“I’ll have to try that some time,” I replied as I thought about maybe not packing my clothing and gear too far away into storage from now on.

As many already know, skiing in Aspen is swell no matter what time of year.

More on Aspen Mountain

In addition to hopping on the gondola right in town, there are many advantages to skiing Aspen Mountain. The terrain ranks tops for all (except beginners), the on-mountain dining is superlative and the service throughout is excellent. Here, in addition to the overall experience and amenities, attention is in the details. I like, for example, how the gondola operators pull the ladies skis off first (they choose the shortest) and how hot chocolate and treats are freely served to guests. I also love the little plaques in the gondola cabins that reveal tidbits of Aspen history—of skiing and the town in general—of which there are many. Indeed, Ahhhspen is a place geared toward kicking back and RELAAAXING in style.

Note: Word is that the mountain might not be opening this year for Aspen Food & Wine; this, of course, depends on how fast the snow melts this spring. It does, however, sound like there will be skiing on Memorial Day weekend.

A-Basin, the highest ski resort in Colorado, will surely be open through the first part of June, if not longer.

Lodging

Steve and I stayed at The Gant, the most established place of lodging in Aspen for luxury condo rentals. Since the beginnings of the ski resort, The Gant, located within a short distance to the gondola, has been an Aspen favorite and for us, amenities such as a balcony, spacious rooms and kitchen and a pleasing decor added to the tranquility of our stay. I also took note of the real, working fireplace, which, of course, we didn’t need during this visit, yet I’m sure it adds a lot to a cold weather-stay.

The Gant

The Gant

The Gant at Twilight

The Gant at Twilight

Gant Interior

Gant Interior

Dining

Since it’s already off-season in Aspen, many of the hotels and restaurants were closed. We went very local and enjoyed pasta Friday night at Mezzaluna and a steak and burger feast at Little Annie’s Saturday evening.

For more on Aspen, read Great Dining Experiences in Aspen and Snowmass, Aspen/Snowmass Lodging and Dining Picks for this Summer, Snowmass Slated for Another Culinary Crescendo, The Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Fest: When Snowmass Sizzles, Skiing, Smores and Storytelling at Snowmass, What a Glorious Day, What a Beautiful Week, Skiing and Spa Going: Part Two in Aspen and Aspen Highlights.

Thank you to Aspen/Snowmass for some of the images in this post.

On-Mountain Humor

On-Mountain Humor

 
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