“It’s Happening Saturday, Baby!”
With that Austin Powers-like panache, an Aspen Flyer newspaper headline heralded the opening of the new Snowmass-at-Aspen ski resort in the winter following the Summer of Love in 1967. Now this December, fifty years later, the resort reaches, uh hum, middle age, and it has never been better. Let the festivities begin.
Snowmass was famously conceived as a family ski hill, but in subsequent seasons it matured into a monster of a ski mountain. While generations of families still come annually for holiday cruising down the iconic Big Burn, it is the rocky cliffs of the Cirque, the deep snow in the Hanging Valley Glades, and the never-ending double fall lines of Powderhorn that give the 3,300-acre behemoth cred amongst the downhill cognoscenti. Today, there may be no more versatile place on the planet to ski than Snowmass.
To honor the history of the mountain and Snowmass Village, and to promote the current reinvention that is taking place with new developments, Snowmass will host a season-long celebration, beginning December 15.
That Friday will feature $6.50 lift tickets (for a single day, on Snowmass only) as a homage to the price charged on the first day of operations back in ’67. That’s a savings of, call it $148.50, over today’s base single-day ticket rate. It’s good to be fifty.
The weekend will also see a retro party at the Elk Camp Restaurant, fireworks over Fanny Hill, a return of the long-lamented Banana Days scavenger hunt, and a Golden Gala at the newly renovated Viceroy Hotel (already sold out). Many Snowmass eateries will turn back the clock, offering dinner deals for $19.67 or $50. Throughout the season, skiers can look for the golden anniversary signs that designate the first runs that were opened the winter of ’67, along with a retro-timeline mural in the new base village that wraps the Limelight Hotel.
And Snowmass will be the focus of the sliding world come January 10-14th when it hosts one of three legs of the 2017-’18 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix. Athletes will compete for spots on the US Olympic team in ski and snowboard slopestyle and halfpipe, totaling five Olympic-qualifying events for the PyeongChang Olympic Games in February 2018.
Of course, all of this takes place above a backdrop that is destined to define a new identity for the next fifty years of Snowmass as a resort. Over the next decade, the Aspen Skiing Company, East West Partners, and KSL partnership will spend $600 million to create a Snowmass Base Village for the future.
With a nod toward the designs of Aspen architect Fritz Benedict, who created the original West Village, the new complex of hotels, retail, restaurants, and residential spaces will incorporate a more contempory design vernacular. There will also be public spaces including a Discovery Center and a five-story climbing wall, sure to inform and entertain kids who have yet to be born. Much of the work is already under construction, with completion dates for the Limelight expected in time for the 2018-’19 ski season.
Fifty years ago this winter, Snowmass-at-Aspen flew in actress Jill St. John and singer Jack Jones, the Kimmie and Kanye of their day, to celebrate the opening of the resort. Stein Eriksen flew over the heads of the assembled in freestyle leaps that were the cab 1080 double cork of their era. And if you had $25,000 in those days, you could buy a ski-in, ski-out lot at the fledgling resort.
Much has changed. But to this day, the alpine sun on your face and the soft snow beneath your skis on the Big Burn still feel exactly like they did in that first season of ’67-‘68.
HIGHLIGHTED SNOWMASS WINTER EVENTS
SNOWMASS 50TH ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND | DECEMBER 15-17
This winter, Snowmass celebrates its 50th season-long anniversary. The actual
anniversary weekend, December 15-17, kicks off season-long revelries with a retro
costume party, fireworks, anniversary dine-around with $19.67 and $50 prix fixe menus
at participating bars and restaurants, revivals of classic events such as Banana Days (an
on-mountain scavenger hunt featuring 1,967 bananas), a vintage invitation Cabin Jump
and rail jam, and more. Throughout the season, 50th anniversary events and activities
keep the celebratory spirit alive, including historical mountain tours, golden trail signs
denoting the mountain’s original runs, dining specials, an art installation, frequent parties
and fireworks, official merchandise for sale, and more.
TOYOTA U.S. GRAND PRIX | JANUARY 10-14
Joining two stops in Copper Mountain and one at Mammoth Mountain, Snowmass is set
to host the third of four stops of the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix. U.S. Snowboard Team and
U.S. Freeski Team athletes from around the country compete in Snowmass for a chance
to be named to the U.S. Olympic Team. Athletes compete in five ski and snowboard
slopestyle and halfpipe qualification events on Snowmass’s award-winning park and pipe.
NBC Universal will present over 15 hours of coverage from all events on NBC and NBC
MARDI GRAS | FEBRUARY 13
A 35-year tradition in Snowmass, Mardi Gras kicks off with the early morning Mother
Of All Ascensions uphill race, followed by an afternoon of revelry with a traditional bead
toss at 3:00 p.m. and a finale of fireworks at 7:30 p.m. Bars and restaurants around
Snowmass Village offer food and drink specials and a fun, festive atmosphere.
ST. PATRICK’S DAY | MARCH 17
Get lucky in Snowmass! Enjoy festive drinks and delicious fare both onmountain
and off-mountain with highlights including live music, plenty of
green beer, along with Irish stew and corned beef and cabbage.
STARLIT TREKS & MOONLIT TREKS
Spend the evening under the stars with a 1.2-mile snowshoe or cross-country
ski around the Snowmass Club golf course, with a stop for cookies and hot
chocolate. End with a family-style pasta dinner at Black Saddle Bar and
Grille with live music and s’mores. Starlit Treks and Moonlit Treks occur on
the Saturday nearest the darkest night (Starlit Treks) and full moon (Moonlit
Treks) of each month. Starlit Treks feature an ACES (Aspen Center for
Environmental Studies) astronomer on hand to chat about the night sky, while
Moonlit Treks feature a guided tour with an ACES naturalist.