10/2/12 – Aspen: first impressions

Aspen airport, a tricky spot to touch down, but worth a try to avoid the four-hour bus ride

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.

Silver Queen gondola, which ascends from downtown Aspen. The red bubbles contain an iPod dock

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).

Simon Usbourne, from the Independent, and one of our guides, Ted Mahon

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 even something resembling a "Dumb and Dumber" jumper in the Sky bar, a great apres haunt

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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7 Comments

Filed under Off-piste, Transport, United States

7 responses to “10/2/12 – Aspen: first impressions

  1. Amazing isn’t it 🙂 Enjoy Highlands!

  2. Yolanda, are you still in Aspen? The British Team are in Steamboat Springs competing on the World Cup until 18 Feb. We have 3 races left. Come and say hello, it is not far from you, relatively speaking!

    Andrew

    • Hi Andrew, Afraid not – have come down with a bump in GB. I would have loved to though… Hope you’re having a successful season – I will have a look at your site soon! All the best and good luck with the last races. cheers, Yolanda

  3. Wow, you are moving in classy circles. Here in Fernie It’s steep deep tree sking, kit held together by duck tape and apres of beer and nachos while watching the hockey – real dirt bag skiing, loving it as usual on day 77, Bill

    • Well … I would LOVE to be in Fernie right now. I’m been busy but am looking forward to a good read of your blog, which is still required reading for anyone who loves the deep, steep stuff!

  4. Pingback: 29/2/12 – I hope Pippa Middleton’s ski poles are the right length | morethanskiing

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