Aspen: The Place to Be for Extreme Fun

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 30, 2009 2:03 pm



When you think Aspen Extreme, you might recall a romantic comedy or envision prada-clad celebs and sweater-bearing dogs. Truth be told, the class of living at Aspen is indeed upscale. The shopping is spectacular, and the lodging decidedly plush. But lately Aspen has been gaining growing notoriety for its other, more ‘real’ side. And by this we mean, extreme skiing, extremely good snow conditions, and extremely awesome terrain. (And oh yes, a slew of extreme sporting events.)

If you’re planning on hitting the legendary gem of a ski town, here are five truths you should know:

1. The snow, especially this season—is divine. Think bowls of champagne powder, up to your knees, hips, waist… One of the earliest resorts to receive snow this year, the Aspen/Snowmass area was just charmed with yet another foot of the white stuff this past week.

U.S. Ski Team athletes Lindsey Vonn, Sarah Schleper and Julia Mancuso enjoying Aspen

2. The town is green! All pre-conceived notions aside, Aspen is well-designed and seriously unpretentious. Heated sidewalks eliminate the need for environment-harming salt, recycling is rampant and the police drive hybrids. Good stuff.

3. The resort hosts a massive array of events—with seriously—something fun for everyone. From the Powder Girls clinics, where women can learn the ropes from Olympians Jonna Mendes and Donna Weinbrecht, to the fast-paced, spectator friendly X-Games to the ‘Winternational’ opening women’s World Cup, Aspen recognizes and celebrates ski diversity. In fact, the resort is currently in the midst of their Bud Light Spring Jam, which features live concerts and special lift and lodging packages. Jam events also include off-the-wall happenings, like the Red Bull Schnee Tag, where teams of four pilot a ‘car’ of sorts down the Fanny Hill slope in Snowmass, and land in a 75 by 20-foot pond.

 Aspen recently also wrapped the Helly Hansen Battle in the Bowls, which allowed skiers to race a course designed by top free-ride athlete, Chris Davenport. The terrain spanned several bowls in the Aspen Highlands, and skiers had to complete the race in under four hours. First prize? Lots of cash and the honor of conquering the mountain.

4. You can afford to go. Sure, you might need to stick to window-shopping if you’re a fashionista, but if you’re into comfortable digs and affordable eats, Aspen has something for you. We scored a three-bedroom condo at Lift One for under $200/night, and feasted without burning a hole in our wallet. We especially liked the margaritas at the Cantina (corner of Mill and Main), and they even offered a shot ski, where five could enjoy tequila hits at once. The wood-fired pizzas at Mezzaluna (624 E Cooper Ave) were also yummy and we had cash to spare for dessert.

Cantina patrons take a shot at the shot ski

5. When in Aspen, you’re in good company. Yes, a multitude of celebs vacation there, and Kevin Costner, now a country singer, makes his home just outside of town. But Aspen is the stomping ground for some ski and snowboarding stars, too. Rising U.S. Ski Team star Jake Zamansky grew up in Carbondale, and honed his perfect GS turns on the Aspen slopes. This year, he skied his way to 15th place in GS at the Sestriere World Cup. 

Other notables include 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Chris Klug, a long-time snowboarding  star. Klug’s family owns and runs the Aspen Square hotel, right in the middle of town. 

You may also rub shoulders with Olympian Casey Puckett, a former alpine skier turned skier cross star, and the aforementioned big-mountain guru, Chris Davenport.


Bottom line: Whether you’re looking to be inspired by the slopes that tamed and trained Olympic athletes, entertained by top-notch musicians and events, or treated to affordable food and fun, Aspen is the place to go for an epic ski vacation. And there’s nothing extreme about that.


photo: Aspen/Snowmass, Brian Baade–Shot Ski, FIS, Doug Haney/USSA