Gondolas that whisk you to the alpine are amazing amenities. What a fun, quiet and somewhat green way to get people up into the mountains and learning to appreciate what we’ve got above the fur shops and jewelry stores of most larger North American ski resort towns. Reporting today on gonde ride and hike we did recently up Aspen Mountain.:
It’s a funny thing, but I recall that years ago ski mountains around here with summer lift operation were virtually deserted — it seemed like no one appreciated the kind of access that cable “rope ways” provide. That changed over the years. Now we’ve got everything from mountain bike rides to weddings being supported by ski lifts and gondolas from here to Whistler and beyond.
Our group consisted of my old high school friend Mike Collins and his family, as well a a few other Aspen High School alum who were bold enough to go for a stroll. This is the same Michael Collins who was President and Chief Executive Officer of Big Mountain Resort out of Whitefish, Montana, till he stepped down in 2003. Before that, Aspen Ski Corporation sent him to Whistler, British Columbia in 1978 and he was named as the area planner and project construction manager for the then new Blackcomb ski area. Mike and I did some of what could only be called insane climbing when we were in high school, including an attempt on the east face of 14er Capitol peak, where we turned around when every chunk of rock we could grab became portable. Good memories! My only regret; not hitting Mike up for tickets at Big Mountain when I could have. Oh well, win some, loose some. Nice to see the boy and his great family, as well as others from those school days in the old mining town (when it was actually still somewhat of a mining town)!
In all, Aspen Skiing Company appears to be making quite an effort to utilize their Aspen Mountain gondola as a summer ammenity. I’d like to see a better system of mountain bike singletrack at the top of the mountain, but then, that’s hard when you’ve got a mix of private and USFS land to deal with. As it is, what they’ve got works and has potential. More info.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.