Revelations Among the Mountains - Skiing in Aspen

As the plane began our descent, I peaked out the window and caught a glimpse of what I encountered for the first time a year ago: captivating snow capped mountains surrounding a very charming town which was founded in the year 1880. Just steps away from the airplane, I slowly started to recognize that friendly environment which insulates this community known as Aspen. Picturesque mountains, pine forests, and shiny creeks greeted me everywhere I turned on the brief ride to my hotel.

Yes, it was that time of year when I visit Aspen for its annual spring skiing season, along with hundreds of others, making for a terrific sense of camaraderie among the slopes. This particular week leads up to St. Patrick's day, and the revelry started early, long before March 17th. Kicking off the celebrations (Mardi Gras style) was the "Mad Hatters" party on Monday night, at the magnificent home of Richard Alt. Positioned at the top of the Aspen Alps area (within steps of a chairlift), Richard accommodated a very festive crowd, all sporting creative hats and outfits.

Tuesday morning we discovered a wonderful surprise- a delightful 1" snowfall, perfect for extra fun on the slopes. Apres skiing activities grabbed everyone's attention that afternoon, with everything ranging from hot spiced wine, live musicians, and outdoor socializing from 4 - 7:00. The prestigious Little Nell hotel offered a winning combination that day: a roaring fireplace, terrific Apres ski atmosphere, and sensational food and drinks (even the visiting dogs were treated like kings.) This place thought of everything !! Challenging, fun, and exhilarating are three words that describe the skiing on Wed. afternoon, highlighted by a breathtaking view on top of Aspen Mountain (outside the Sundeck restaurant) where I was visited by very friendly, hungry birds who were not bashful about eating my french fries. In the spotlight Wed. night was the "Lemon Drop Party" which took place on the 6th floor of one of Aspen's most historic and accommodating hotels- the Mountain Chalet. The drink of the evening was a thirst - quenching lemonade drink, supplemented with just the right amount of tequila. Lively music, countless tables of gourmet food, and amiable guests made for great ambiance at this particular soiree; even the outdoor terrace with a spectacular view seemed very inviting ....

Snowmass Mountain and all of its appealing qualities were beckoning us on Thursday morning as we looked forward to skiing at a place we've been at only once before (a year ago). An enjoyable shuttle bus ride brought us within 20 feet of the Snowmass Village Mall, offering tremendous shopping before, during, or after skiing. Sunny skies and 41 degrees were the ideal conditions as we positioned ourselves on a swift chairlift and proceeded to climb upwards. Leisurely blue colored slopes led us to an outdoor event as echoes of laughter and music could be heard long before we reached the location of the Snowmass Picnic. I've never seen so many people in one place smiling and having a good time outside in the winter as I did here; feasting on bratwurst, grilled chicken, and gourmet salads while wine, beer, and pop flowed from every direction. Suddenly out of nowhere I was given a slice of exquisite Tiramasu. Unbelievable !! It tasted as good as it looked.

The pinnacle of the Aspen experience for me came at about a quarter to three that day when a chairlift operator enlightened me that there were green - colored novice slopes at the top of Snowmass Mountain, descending to the midway area (half way up). Could it be true ? Why didn't someone tell us this information before when we asked ? Sure enough, "Max's Park" and "Lunch Line" safely delivered us to the half way point as the employee indicated. These two particular slopes offered something quite unique- extraordinary views, cliff- side paths, all on beginner's slopes from the top of Snowmass Mountain. Outstanding !

Overall, my Aspen experience could not have been much better, from the 18 - minute gondola excursion (at Aspen Mtn.) to the exhilarating ski slopes at all three resorts, to the employees and party guests who acted like they've known you for 20 years...

Once again Aspen exceeded all of my expectations !!

JPW

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