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Aspen 3/31-4/2 2021

mikec142

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Resort or Ski Area
Aspen
Date
Mar 31, 2021
Snow Conditions
  1. Slush or Spring Snow
Had a fantastic time in Aspen this past week. Went to tour the University of Colorado - Boulder and tacked on a few ski days. I'm an Ikon Pass guy so the choices came down to Aspen or Steamboat. My wife isn't skiing these days so we wanted a place where she could occupy herself while my kids and I skied. All three days were at Ajax. We debated doing a day at Highlands which I'm sure would have been great, but we had ski on/ski off accommodations and my wife was meeting us for lunch so it was just convenient to stay at Ajax (and there's plenty to ski there).

3/31 - This was the "coldest" day where temps only got into the low 40's. Even with the bright sun, I was surprised at how well the snow held up. We were lucky as there had been a sleeper storm the two days before that dropped 9". Very little slush, even at the bottom. Of all the places I've skied, Aspen may have the best views. Looking off the back of the mountain at all the peaks is just amazing. Another thing I liked about Aspen is the sustained steeps. There are plenty of long, steep trails that provide plenty of challenge.

4/1-4/2 - Both of these days were in the high 50's with bright sun. Did some of the more aggressive stuff like Walsh's, Northstar, Hyrups. Face of Bell was a ton of fun.

Both the town and mountain of Aspen (Ajax) had a ton of character. It's not a huge mountain so we easily skied everything we wanted to in three days.
 

mikec142

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Here are a few pix from the trip
 

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dblskifanatic

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It is funny how 40-50 degrees does snot effect the snow as much in the Colorado Mountains. My wife and I want to ski Aspen but have never pulled the trigger. We bought tickets on Liftopia 6 years ago and could not go due to a rock slide that blocked the 70 and damaged the highway for the entire time we were there. Glad you had fun there.
 

mikec142

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It is funny how 40-50 degrees does snot effect the snow as much in the Colorado Mountains. My wife and I want to ski Aspen but have never pulled the trigger. We bought tickets on Liftopia 6 years ago and could not go due to a rock slide that blocked the 70 and damaged the highway for the entire time we were there. Glad you had fun there.
There are so many great places to ski. However, there are fewer places that I would say are truly special for one reason or another. Aspen falls into the special category. I hope you and your wife get there soon.
 
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Tonyr

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Nice report thanks for sharing. We skied Aspen for the first time this season too and skied all 3 days at Ajax as well. You are correct Aspen is truly a special place, there is not another ski town out there like it. If you were ski on ski off I'm guessing you stayed at the Little Nell? It looked really nice there, we stayed at the Hyatt which is a few blocks away. In any event it was such a great experience staying in town, I'm glad we did it. Sounds like you were too!

Next year we are going to try Snowmass, the plan is 3 days at Snowmass and a day at the Highlands this time. A local told me that Snowmass was his favorite terrain of the 3 followed by Ajax then the Highlands so we are really looking forward to going back.
 

deadheadskier

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Put me in the Highlands being the best of the Aspen areas camp. I was not a big fan of Snowmass. Most of their good steeps have poor lift layouts to access.
 

Tonyr

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I was told Highlands tracked out quickly but the trail map looks great. I see what you mean regarding Snowmass, it's a long way to get back to the High Alpine lift. Maybe we'll split the days between Snowmass and the Highlands.
 

deadheadskier

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That could be true. Snowmass is massive and their clientele doesn't venture off the groomers as much as the typical Highlands skier. Ajax seemed to get the least traffic of the three. Despite it's small size by Western standards, Ajax is a really fun hill.
 

Tonyr

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That could be true. Snowmass is massive and their clientele doesn't venture off the groomers as much as the typical Highlands skier. Ajax seemed to get the least traffic of the three. Despite it's small size by Western standards, Ajax is a really fun hill.
We really loved Ajax, it has a ton of advanced terrain for such a small mountain. We were there the 2nd weekend of December and it was surprisingly crowded for the early season. I would say the gondola line was a 10 to 15 minute wait each time up, with the line thinning out around 2 pm or so. 70% of the mountain was opened that weekend which was much better than any of the CO resorts other than Wolf Creek at that time.
 

mikec142

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Nice report thanks for sharing. We skied Aspen for the first time this season too and skied all 3 days at Ajax as well. You are correct Aspen is truly a special place, there is not another ski town out there like it. If you were ski on ski off I'm guessing you stayed at the Little Nell? It looked really nice there, we stayed at the Hyatt which is a few blocks away. In any event it was such a great experience staying in town, I'm glad we did it. Sounds like you were too!

Next year we are going to try Snowmass, the plan is 3 days at Snowmass and a day at the Highlands this time. A local told me that Snowmass was his favorite terrain of the 3 followed by Ajax then the Highlands so we are really looking forward to going back.
Tony, your reports all season have been keeping me stoked! Thanks. I wish we stayed at the Little Nell (someday...). We rented a condo in a complex called the Aspen Alps. It's right above the Little Nell on the mountain. Depending on which building you're in (I think there are eight of them) you ski in/out higher or lower on the mountain. The lower units you ski in/out at the same place as the Nell. We walked the 50 yards from our condo right onto the slope about 100 yards above the gondola. Two turns and you were at the bottom.

I lived in Aspen 27 years ago while in between college and grad school so I had some recollection of the layout. I don't want to discourage you from staying/skiing Snowmass. If I recall, I found it very Vail like. Huge mountain with something for everybody. But I also found it to be a bit generic. Either way, you will be in Aspen and that assures a great time!
 

mikec142

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Ajax is small (comparatively). But as you have all said, there is plenty to ski and a lot of seriously challenging terrain. There are no beginner trails there. I recall thinking some of the blue groomers would be considered double blacks at Okemo. Lol.

It was 100% open this past week. And it was totally empty. On Thursday and Friday we had 5-7 minute waits at the gondola btw 11am-1pm. Other than that all lifts were pretty much ski on. Gentleman's Ridge, FIS, Ruthies were all ski on all day. At Ajax Express we might have waiting for a couple of chairs.

I was very happy spending the 3 days at Ajax and not venturing elsewhere. Although when I go back I will definitely get over to Highlands.
 

mikec142

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That could be true. Snowmass is massive and their clientele doesn't venture off the groomers as much as the typical Highlands skier. Ajax seemed to get the least traffic of the three. Despite it's small size by Western standards, Ajax is a really fun hill.
This is pretty much spot on...the Kardashians aren't skiing Ajax or Highlands. Lol.
 

thetrailboss

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#jealous. I love Aspen. Seriously, nice TR and pics. We had a good week at Steamboat. I can't complain--I got five days in. :ROFLMAO: You are right that Wednesday was cold, but Tuesday at Steamboat was colder and windier.

I've skied Ajax and Snowmass. My wife suggested I ski Ajax while she and our daughter walked around town. I figured it was a compromise until I got a few runs in and fell in love with it. I love the layout and the views as you said. Some good pitch and fun runs.

Snowmass--I only got to ski a little bit of it, but it was fun. Huge indeed.

Highlands is on my to-do list!
 

Tonyr

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Tony, your reports all season have been keeping me stoked! Thanks. I wish we stayed at the Little Nell (someday...). We rented a condo in a complex called the Aspen Alps. It's right above the Little Nell on the mountain. Depending on which building you're in (I think there are eight of them) you ski in/out higher or lower on the mountain. The lower units you ski in/out at the same place as the Nell. We walked the 50 yards from our condo right onto the slope about 100 yards above the gondola. Two turns and you were at the bottom.

I lived in Aspen 27 years ago while in between college and grad school so I had some recollection of the layout. I don't want to discourage you from staying/skiing Snowmass. If I recall, I found it very Vail like. Huge mountain with something for everybody. But I also found it to be a bit generic. Either way, you will be in Aspen and that assures a great time!
No I appreciate the insight, I locked in a great deal on a condo over Christmas right in the village so we are committed. I'm not a huge fan of Vail because it is generic and I know Snowmass has alot of the same feel but what looks interesting to me is all of the tree skiing on and off the map which is where we'll primarily spend most of our time.

Just like Beaver Creek or Deer Valley I'm guessing the clientele at Snowmass doesn't go off trail much so there is probably some phenomenon skiing to be had. I've been at Beaver Creek 5 days after it last snowed and there was still tons of untracked lines all over the place. In any event if it's not as good as I'm hoping we'll just spend a day there.
 
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mikec142

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No I appreciate the insight, I locked in a great deal on a condo over Christmas right in the village so we are committed. I'm not a huge fan of Vail because it is generic and I know Snowmass has alot of the same feel but what looks interesting to me is all of the tree skiing on and off the map which is where we'll primarily spend most of our time.

Just like Beaver Creek or Deer Valley I'm guessing the clientele at Snowmass doesn't go off trail much so there is probably some phenomenon skiing to be had. I've been at Beaver Creek 5 days after it last snowed and there was still tons of untracked lines all over the place. In any event if it's not good we'll just spend a day there.
You will have a fantastic time! At a certain level, we are talking about choosing a favorite child. They are all great.
 

jimk

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I've skied almost 100 places in N. America and Europe. When people ask me my favorite the answer is the Aspen group. If you think scenery is great at Ajax, you gotta check out Highlands. The power of three, Ajax, Highlands, and Snowmass is pretty great considering they're all within about 10 miles. Never done Buttermilk, but they say it's a sneaky place to go for powder leftovers a couple days after a storm.
 

jaytrem

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Another nice thing about Ajax is the high concentration of European skiers. Apparently if it's snowing they don't go skiing. At least that's what a hotel worker told me when I was heading out. Seemed true both times in skied there in a storm. First time the gondola wasn't on hold at opening, there were about 10 of us that headed up Little Nell and then the other chairs. Crazy, there was already about a foot. We were all rather happy. 2nd time was last year, was mid-season so more people out there, but ridiculously quiet for a powder day. Ski onto every lift and most chairs empty. Not sure if the rest of their mountains have a similar situation, I assume not.
 

Edd

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Aspen ranks among my favorite trips. I want to return but want to bring more friends along. I skied 4 days but didn’t do Buttermilk.
 

mikec142

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In an effort to keep the stoke level up as my season has come to an end, I’ll add a couple of pix from our trip. 🤙
 

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