Yesterday, I skied in the US for the first time. I’m lucky enough to be in Aspen – and even luckier in that I’m here on a press trip, researching articles for the Telegraph and Fall-Line magazine.
We arrived on a Frontier Air flight from Denver, only just making it in, as a snowstorm was settling over the valley. Aspen airport, which is 10 minutes’ drive from downtown, apparently has a “three-mile rule” on visibility, and locals say that landing there is like threading a needle.
We circled for 20 minutes before a hole in the blizzard allowed us to land, but unless the pilot had supersonic eyesight, I don’t think there was more than a mile of viz. Definitely better than a four-hour bus transfer from Denver, though.
Great news, for us, anyway, that it was snowing, as there was 10cm of fresh by morning and it was still coming down. Our first day, on Aspen Mountain (aka Ajax), which rises directly from the town centre, confirmed all the cliches I have read and heard about skiing in America.
There were no queues.
The pistes were pretty much empty.
The snow was light, fluffy and easy (maybe we are lucky on this trip, but at least it’s living up to its reputation).
There were unlimited off-piste opportunities, with nearly every inch of the inbounds area ripe for exploration.
Portions at lunch were LARGE.
There was free water, coffee and suncream handed out all over the slopes.
The visibility, even in bad visibility, was fantastic, because of the trees.
There was a lot of smiling and yipping, and great deal of this: “What’s up, dude?” “How’s it going?” “Sick, man.” “Awesome.” “Beautiful.”
In short, I loved it. Even on Ajax, which isn’t an especially large acreage, there is an astonishing choice of runs – mostly on gladed slopes, some quite steep.
Over the next days we’ll be exploring the other mountains – and seeing more of the town, especially beyond the fur-coat-and-jewels brigade, for which Aspen is famous.
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