SKIING ASPEN IS HEAVEN
If heaven was packaged up and sold - they'd call it Aspen.
So sublime is the skiing, that I screamed with delight as I swished down the Aspen Mountain trails. The locals call this mountain Ajax, a hearken back to earlier times.
A perfect blue bird day
We silently climb 3,300 feet in 14 minutes as the Silver Queen Gondola lifts us towards some of the best runs in Colorado.
Arriving mid-morning I catch the Silver Queen Gondola directly to the top. It's the longest single stage gondola in the world, whisking punters up nearly 3,300 feet in 14 minutes. It also offers tasty views of the terrain below. I begin to pick out my runs. But to be honest this mountain is so expansive, one could ski all day and never see two trails twice.
The day is blue-bird perfect. The sun drenched white runs, bleed effortlessly away from the top terminal building. Without thinking I slide off and just follow my nose. Pretty soon, I'm flying. The terrain wends its way through tame and wide, wild and narrow. Down Pussyfoot and fast-on into the Tortilla Flats, which immediately funnel me into the Spar Gulch, a signature Ajax run.
I'm channelling it all now, down a gully as the Silver Queen's cabins race me high above to the right, but I ain't stopping. I sweep to the left at Kleenex Corner and rise up and over onto the home stretch, Little Nell, a bit slushy in places, but swiftly delivering me back to the Silver Queen lower terminal.
Now I breathe!
All that rich mountain air
Could it really be that I'm here? Aspen is one of the most famous ski resorts on the planet. It's super-snobby too. But all that rich mountain air, combined with the best conditions of the season is a great leveller. No one much cares who you are, what you're wearing, what you're skiing on or how you got here. All that matters is that we are here. Enjoying it all.
Let's eat and have a beer
For a skier from New Zealand, where the terrain is contained to the barren, open mountain tops, Aspen offers a unique experience. Trails lined with trees.
Taking the gondola back to the top, I'm hungry now too. My mates are at The Sundeck, which is near the Silver Queen's top terminal. When I arrive they're basking on the deck, beers in hand, while conquering stories of how they best tamed this mountain crackle in the air. But it's the look we give each other that says it all. Yes this really is heaven.
This really is heaven.
Giddy now from a couple of beers, we're off again. Everyone breaks away in different directions - yelling, "Follow me."