This is not just a big year for Aspen—by historical standards, it is huge.
Aspen is one of the most famous ski towns in the world, as much a luxury brand as a destination, and for as long as I can remember, the town and its namesake ski resort have stuck to an “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” strategy where very little of note changes. Every year I write round-ups of important expansions, additions and changes at major ski resorts for a variety of media outlets (read my latest What’s New in Skiing piece here at Forbes), and in the past three decades I can’t recall ever having occasion to write a What’s New in Aspen story. Until now.
I went back there just before the busy Christmas week and skied the big new terrain expansion on the first day it was open. I also checked out the other newsworthy happenings around town. Collectively, these represent the biggest changes here in the past 40 years. If you have not been to Aspen in a while, it might be time to think about going back.
Aspen Mountain (also known as Ajax), is just one of the four mountains comprising the Aspen Snowmass resort, but while Snowmass is by far the biggest, Aspen is the most famous and the only one actually in town. Its base is walkable from most of the best hotels, shops and restaurants, and the mountain occupies prized real estate because, as the old adage goes, it has location, location and location. The one drawback is that it is on the smaller side, and I’d argue that it has the least skiable acreage of any destination resort this famous in North America.
That’s why Hero’s, a 150-plus acre addition of new terrain, is such a big deal. First off, it increases Aspen’s overall stature by more than 20%, which on a relative basis is one of the biggest terrain expansions in American skiing in many years. Secondly, it greatly diversifies Aspen’s style of skiing and snowboarding by adding the mountain’s first ever intermediate (blue) glades (along with some new double black runs). All in all, there are three large new glade areas, four new cut trails and extensions of existing favorites, making these runs longer than ever. The name “Hero’s” was chosen to honor historic local figures, from Army 10th Mountain Division veterans to ski patrollers.
By: Larry Olmsted I Forbes I January 3, 2024