Tag Archives: Aspen Snowmass

Powder day skiing at Snowmass Mountain
Four Mountain Sports

Honestly, the crew at Four Mountain Sports is obsessed with the gear they rent, and know just the right skis to match your style and ability.

The four mountains of terrain at Aspen Snowmass offer a million possibilities for skiers. From day-to-day, you might be ripping it in the terrain parks, lining up for a crack at fresh tracks in Highland Bowl, or maybe you’re just laying low on groomers.

Either way, having the right pair of skis to match the conditions and terrain can make a world of difference.

Every year, Four Mountain Sports rents the most modern skis from such brands as K2, Rossignol, Blizzard, Nordica and Salomon. Here are three skis we’re buzzing about in 2015 — and the ideal terrain and conditions to use them on.

BLIZZARD BONAFIDE 180cm

Best Used For: Anywhere, Anytime.

What We Like About It: This ski goes all over the mountain, and given its knack for handling any type of turn, it’s a great choice for those of you who want to tackle every imaginable type of terrain in a single day. The smooth but stiff feel of the Bonafide will allow you to beat your buddies top-to-bottom and look good doing it. Get ready for a ride.

Where to Ski With It: Open it up on The Burn with some GS turns, or tighten it up in the Dumps on Aspen Mountain.

Availability: All Four-Mountain Sports locations

Rental tier: Premium

LINE SICKDAY 95

Best Used For: Days with variable conditions

What We Like About It: For many at Four-Mountain Sports, this is their favorite ski, largely because it epitomizes the modern, all-mountain ski with lightness, quickness and versatility. Its stability makes it great in any size of turn, and allows you to hold the edge for as long as you want. Skis powder better than many wider skis. No wonder Skiing Magazine named it the Ski of the Year in 2014.

Where to Ski With It: At home on Aspen Mountain’s Face of Bell as well as Buttermilk’s groomers. You may want to pick a different ski for terrain parks.

Availability: All Four-Mountain Sports locations

Rental tier: Premium

KASTLE FX 94

Best Used For: Days with variable conditions

What We Like About It: Designed by Aspen Snowmass skier extraordinaire Chris Davenport, the Kastle FX 94 is one of the most versatile all-mountain, all-conditions skis made today. Made with a Silver Fir and Ash core to sheets of Titanal and rubber foils (really, the best materials available) Kastle has produced a ski with an incredibly smooth feel. Don’t be surprised if you ski with more confidence on this beauty.

Where to Ski With It: Thrash the steeps on Highland Bowl, or connect several groomers for an epic top-to-bottom run at Snowmass.

Availability: All Four-Mountain Sports locations

Rental tier: Premium

Snow

Last week, I sent a heartfelt note to all of our groomers thanking them for their incredible work on the mountain.  While we had a great start to the year, it’s no secret that the jet stream  pounding the Northeast has been taking the moisture that normally hits our mountains and sending it up and around to Boston!  Despite that fact, our cat drivers have been working their magic, keeping our slopes in pristine condition with freshly groomed soft snow every day and mother nature has provided plenty of sunshine.  The patrol has done an incredible job keeping all of our steep terrain open and ensuring we could all enjoy the chalky soft, smooth snow that covered our expert trails, which would have been impossible to access without their hard work packing, shoveling and even blowing snow into the entry points.

With all of these blue skies and beautiful weather, I can barely walk down the street without someone complimenting me on the team’s fine work.  I of course give recognition where it’s due and that is the point of sharing this with all of you.  Our on-mountain crews have really shown their commitment, skill, and dedication to the skiing and riding experience through this dry spell.  My hat is off to all of you.

I wanted to make this point now, because the forecasters are seeing a major shift in the jet stream and the weather has already begun to change.  This week has been quite cold and we received 5 inches of snow on Tuesday, and up to a foot is forecast for the weekend.  Even more encouraging is the news from our friends at aspenweather.net, who say that the ridge aloft will move out to 140W, by the middle of next week.  In layman’s terms this means big snow for the second half of the winter.  I don’t know about you, but that news makes me want to stand up and scream “Bring it on!”  I’ll see you out there, or not, because I’ll be in a few of my secret spots lapping up fresh tracks…

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Mike Kaplan
President & CEO | Aspen Skiing Company
P: 970-300-7102 | F: 970-300-7110
www.aspensnowmass.com
Snowmass | Aspen Mountain | Aspen Highlands | Buttermilk
Aspen Skiing Company was named one of Outside Magazine’s top 100 “Best Places to Work” for 2014

The dragon atop the gong at The Cliffhouse.
The Cliffhouse with Pyramid Peak in the background. ©Kevin Day for Aspen Snowmass

The Cliffhouse, looking more Himalayan than Mongolian. ©Kevin Day for Aspen Snowmass

A while back, I was chatting with Jim Butchart — the Executive Chef of Aspen Snowmass — and the topic of favorite on-mountain meals came up. The first thing that sprung to his mind, literally, were the vegetable spring rolls at The Cliffhouse atop Buttermilk. “Nobody knows about them,” he noted.

That last line — nobody knows about them — could describe a lot of things at Buttermilk, such as the powder stashes on Timber Doodle Glade, or the way the aptly-named Javelin propels you at gleeful speed when its groomed.

The Cliffhouse may seem unassuming at first glance (well, except for that view of Pyramid Peak), but once you see what’s cooking here, its pretty clear this restaurant is one Aspen Snowmass’ true hidden gems.

When I was up there a few days ago, I went for a Pho noodle bowl, which they make at the Mongolian grill station, as well as a glass of carrot-lemon-ginger from the juice bar.

It’s mostly an order-it-exactly-as-you-like kind of place. First, hit up the salad bar and load up on the veggies you want them to fold it: edamame, yellow bell pepper … whatever sounds right.

Pho noodle bowl at The Cliffhouse. ©Kevin Day for Aspen Snowmass

Pho’ing it up at Cliffhouse. ©Kevin Day for Aspen Snowmass

Head to the back, hand it over, let them know whether you want rice or noodles (you can choose between mongo, which has yakisoba noodles, or Pho which uses a traditional rice noodle) and then watch them cook it all up on the traditional Mongolian range top (which is a monstrous piece of equipment … instant kitchen envy).

At the end, you can add garnishes, such as basil.

The slippery noodles and layers of Asian flavor — green onions, ginger, soy beans, pepper, basil — instantly recharged me.

And since it was gorgeous, bluebird day, I ate outside on the patio with this view of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Creek Valley.

Panorama from The Cliffhouse atop Buttermilk. ©Kevin Day for Aspen Snowmass

The panorama from The Cliffhouse atop Buttermilk. Click to enlarge. ©Kevin Day for Aspen Snowmass

One more element I’d recommend: It may be cliché to throw an egg on everything at this point, but seriously — do it. The extra hit of protein does a body good when skiing at Buttermilk. Zero lift lines usually equals an extra two or three runs per day.

The dragon atop the gong at The Cliffhouse. ©Kevin Day for Aspen Snowmass

The dragon atop the gong at The Cliffhouse. ©Kevin Day for Aspen Snowmass

locally sourced salad greens from Elk Camp
Executive Chef Jim Butchart

Executive Chef Jim Butchart.

Aspen Snowmass has long been committed to operating a four-mountain resort in the greenest way possible.

From generating carbon-negative energy at a nearby coal mine to qualifying for LEED certification in four of our buildings, our resort has always gone the extra mile to demonstrate a commitment to our environment.

That desire carries over to our acclaimed restaurants as well.

Lead by our Executive Chef Jim Butchart and our Environmental Foundation, we’ve followed through on several promises to keep the environmental impact of our restaurants — and the food they serve — to a minimum. Here’s how.

Sourcing Local Foods

Fresh greens from Elk Camp Restaurant, Snowmass, CO

Fresh greens from Elk Camp Restaurant at Snowmass

Fortunately for everyone, the most environmentally friendly practice also translates into the most flavorful food. Sourcing local ingredients — such as produce, poultry, dairy and more — not only helps the local economy and reduce our carbon footprint, but it also delivers the freshest, most flavorful food for our guests.

“We get a good deal of our product from Source Local Foods on the Front Range,” notes Jim Butchart. “And we’re searching every possible avenue to find even more local foods. But the biggest challenge is that very little is growing in our valley when we have the highest demand in winter.”

Because of this, our food and beverage team is helping local growers apply for grants that will allow them to build out infrastructure for supplying local produce in winter. Money from these grants can go toward building high tunnels for year-round growing or even increasing staff.

“We’re not going to be complacent and say ‘oh, it is what it is, we can’t source locally in winter.'” Jim adds. “We’re actively finding ways to get what we’re looking for, which is even fresher ingredients.”

Serving Locally Raised, Grass-Fed Beef

Locally raised beef on the menu at Ajax Tavern, Aspen Mountain.

Locally raised beef on the menu at Ajax Tavern, Aspen Mountain.

Along similar lines, Aspen Snowmass gets all of its beef — for 12 restaurants across all four mountains — from local ranches. Case in point, we’ve recently developed a partnership with Carbondale-based Crystal River Meats. Supporting local ranches who raise grass-fed beef not only reduces the energy needed to raise and transport beef, but it also helps the local economy.

“We want to support the local economy. That has always been our goal,” notes Jim. “One way to do that, is to support local ranchers, such as Crystal River Meats.”

In the case of Crystal River Meats, it’s an operation that has stayed family-run for generations.

“They’re real cowboys,” Jim laughs. “I tell my chefs that when I can’t get a hold of Tai to place the order, its because he’s out there on his horse ranching. It’s the kind of thing we want to support for many reasons.”

Expanding Our Composting Program

In addition to having a comprehensive recycling program, Aspen Snowmass has also enhanced its composting initiative.

“Logistically, it’s not easy to pull off composting across the mountains,” Jim admits. “We have to have special trash bags, we have to haul it down the mountain with a snowcat, and then we have to deposit it in special containers at the bottom. But it is something we’re committed to, and we’re looking to keep expanding it because its important.”

Currently, six restaurants on Snowmass compost in the kitchen, while both restaurants on Buttermilk compost in the front- and back-of-the-house.

“None of these things help the bottom line,” Jim admits. “But at the same time, we don’t want to transfer these operational costs to our guest. We do these things because they’re the right thing to do.”

The Return of Valhalla Nights

Valhalla Nights at Snowmass

This past Friday, Aspen Snowmass kept the Elk Camp Gondola running until sunset as a mix of locals and vacationers, families and couples, foodies and revelers headed up to Elk Camp for the first of 10 Valhalla Nights this summer.

Rock climbing wall at Valhalla Nights, SnowmassHeld every Friday through the end of August (as well as select Tuesdays), this evening party serves up delicious food, drinks on the Elk Camp patio, live music, and classic summer pastimes from s’mores to hula hooping to mountain biking to badminton. It’s the summer rendition of the popular Ullr Nights, which is held at the same locale in winter.

I came up with my wife and two daughters — ages 4 and 5 months — and I’m convinced it was the mellow vibe that kept the kiddos tantrum-free well-past their bedtime. The event offers up several kid-friendly activities that appeal across a spectrum of ages. So while the older kids tackled the climbing wall (or could enjoy Bike Snowmass’ mountain biking trails), our oldest played in the giant sandbox, explored wildflowers on a nearby nature trail, and danced a jig to the live music.

But most of all, she enjoyed the gondola ride — her first since she was a baby. The views of the forest as the sun set, the promise of a playground at the top … she was downright giddy with anticipation. (And here I was, thinking that s’mores or the Strider bikes would be her favorite part).

roast chicken, golden beets, mac and cheese, Elk Camp RestaurantAs for my wife and I, we are foodies, so the roast chicken with golden beet salad and asparagus, and creamy mac-and-cheese was an immediate dose of comfort.  And it was especially cool to see a few selections of Colorado wine (yes, Colorado makes excellent wine) on the wine list.

Valhalla Nights will be held this upcoming Friday (July 18) from 4pm to 8:30pm. For more information on future dates and other details, check out the official page for Valhalla Nights.