Aspen’s ski history has more forgotten details than all the closets in town. Nevertheless, in this timeline of ski-related events and anecdotal tidbits — from dipping floor boards in pig slop to fashion curved ski tips to the opening of the Silver Queen gondola — we have come a long way.
This compilation comes from old newspapers, native Aspenites’ and locals’ recollections, archived cassette-taped interviews, history books, graduate theses, Aspen Skiing Co. records, and the indefatigable help of the Aspen Historical Society. Where discrepancies occurred, a consensus of sources pointed toward accuracy.
A more condensed version of this timeline appeared in and was developed in conjunction with Aspen Sojourner Magazine (aspensojo.com) in 2014. In reading this living document, reflect on how present-day Aspen could not be what it is today without building upon the succession of all that was temporarily modern in the past.
1880: In February, through some seven feet of snow, B. Clark Wheeler “skis” into town from Leadville on Norwegian snowshoes to complete the first survey of Ute City. He renames the town Aspen.
1880–1890s: Scandinavian silver miners nail leather foot straps to curled 10-foot wooden boards, introducing “Norwegian skees” as a transportation tool. They schuss with a single steel-spiked pole dragged between their legs as a brake. It was said that the boys from the Connemara Mine on Aspen Mountain came down from work in 10 minutes. (The Connemara is the rocky dump on the lower skier’s left of Silver Queen.)
1899: Starving occupants of the town of Independence escape record snowfalls (up to 18 feet were reported) and avalanches by fashioning some 75 pairs of skis from their cabin walls and skiing into Aspen. Accounts said it snowed every day that winter in Aspen.
1900s–1930s: Aspen locals rip up hardwood floors of deserted buildings to make skis, curling the tips with steam and fashioning straps from rubber inner tubes. Fred Willoughby delivered mail on skis to the Midnight Mine. He and his brother Frank skied back home via Aspen Mountain from Buckhorn Saddle.
1930s: John and Frank Dolinsek made skis from house boards and dipped the tips in boiling pig slop to warm the wood, before bending a front curl. They liked to ski the cow trails on Aspen Mountain. They said that West End townspeople climbed and skied down Aspen Street from where Lift 1A now stands, while East-enders skied lower Smuggler Mountain.
1932: The first U.S. ski manufacturer, Groswold Skis, is opened by Norwegian Thor Groswold in Denver.
1936: Ted Ryan, Billy Fiske, and Tom Flynn hire Swiss mountaineer André Roch (pronounced “Roke”) and Gunther Langes to survey the Aspen-Ashcroft area for skiing. They explore Mount Hayden on Groswolds.
1936: Ted Ryan forms the Highlands Bavarian Corporation and builds the first Aspen-area ski lodge at the junction of Castle Creek and Conundrum Valley. Seven dollars per day ($120 in 2016) includes access to hike-to-ski terrain, a room, all meals, and lessons with the Otto Schniebs ski school. With ski resorts already in Europe and Canada, Aspen makes bids for ski notoriety. Roch and Lange guide skiers on Mount Hayden and Castle Peak to Ashcroft.
1936: The Roaring Fork Winter Sports Club (RFWSC) — the original predecessor of today’s Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club — is formed. Every Sunday, André Roch gives free ski lessons on Maroon Creek Road at the foot of what is today Aspen Highlands and at the base of what is today Buttermilk.
1936: André Roch marks the first ski trail on Aspen Mountain. Frank Willoughby engineers the project, and local volunteers cut the run, which extends from the top of what is now Ruthie’s down Corkscrew to the top of Monarch Street. Trail is named Roch Run.
1936: Aspen locals build the six-passenger Boat Tow from the bottom of today’s Lift 1A to the bottom of what is now Corkscrew and Tower Ten Road. (The top hoist wheel is still cabled to a tree there today.) Materials are a secondhand Studebaker motor, two old mine hoists, and two 10-person sleds that went up and down in opposition. (The original setup, before the 10-person sleds were installed, consisted of a toboggan attached to the uphill haul line, wherein a single passenger reclined on the toboggan with his skis.) The Boat Tow costs $600 ($10,000 in 2016) to build. Skiers pay $0.10 per ride.
1937: Ted Ryan’s Aspen films (in Technicolor) screen in Chicago, showing assorted “ski champions” schussing five miles down Mount Hayden to Ashcroft. The German Ski Team trains at Highlands Bavarian Lodge, as Italy joins Axis powers. RFWSC holds the first-ever Aspen ski race across from the lodge on Richmond Hill.
1937: The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad starts running “snow trains,” bringing skiers and winter enthusiasts to Aspen. Because of poor roads, the railroad would dominate skier travel for the next decade.
1938: The city of Aspen and the Works Progress Administration build a warming cabin at the top of Roch Run and a 50-meter ski jump between what is now lower Slalom Hill and Little Nell for “youth development” and regional competitions.
1938: The Aspen Ski Club (formerly the RFWSC), a group of local ski enthusiasts, sponsors first Southern Rocky Mountain Ski Association (SRMSA) downhill and slalom championships on Roch Run. The downhill started at today’s Midway and took over four minutes to run. With no lifts except the boat tow, racers and skiers hiked up. Future Olympian and soon-to-be Aspenite Barney McLean competes, recollecting a foot of new snow and “nobody knew very much about turning.”
1938–39: Elizabeth Paepcke, wife of industrialist Walter Paepcke, and a group of friends get a ride up the backside of Aspen Mountain with the Midnight Miners in their trucks. Paepcke skis down the front and grasps the future ski area’s potential.
1939: SRMSA championships held on Roch Run.
1940: D.R.C. Brown becomes president of the Aspen Ski Club. SRMSA championship held on Roch Run. Billy Fiske dies as member of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
1941: The U.S. National Downhill and Slalom Championship is held on Roch Run, giving Aspen its first international exposure. Roch Run gains attention as one of the best race courses in the world. Ted Ryan’s Aspen ski movies continue to show around the U.S., with footage of local mountain scenery, and word of Aspen’s beauty and potential spreads throughout the ski world.
1941: Plans are drawn for an aerial tramway up Mount Hayden from Ashcroft. Architect Ellery Husted envisions a “Williamsburg Village of the West” as base village. Fifteen runs are plotted from the top of Hayden into Castle Creek. The Colorado Legislature OKs $650,000 in bonds to build 4,000-foot, Euro-style “tellaferry” up Mount Hayden. Pearl Harbor puts everything on hold. Ted Ryan offers his Ashcroft property for $1 to U.S. Army ski troops for training for the duration of the war.
1942: The Southern Rocky Mountain Ski Association holds ski-jumping and cross-country events in Aspen. World-record-holder Alf Engen, from Norway, gives a ski-jumping exhibition. Events include skijoring (a skier is pulled behind a saddle horse through a course) on Main Street and rope racing (two skiers tied together on a 30-foot rope) on Roch Run. A gala ski ball follows that evening.
1942: The 87th Mountain Battalion trains in Ashcroft but eventually moves to Camp Hale near Leadville as part of the new 10th Mountain Division.
“Two boards upon cold powder Snow, YO HO!
What more does a man need to know?”
– 10th Mountain Division song
1943: Tenth Mountain Division troops cross the Williams Mountains from Camp Hale on Groswold Skis, march into Aspen, and are met by the town band. Some stay at the Hotel Jerome, and are given a steak and a room for $1. Sergeant Friedl Pfeifer is among them and takes note of Aspen’s ski potential. Division veteran of those maneuvers, onetime Aspen Mountain ski patrolman, and colorful longtime local the late Shady Lane, once recollected how abundant wildlife could be seen from anywhere in town. By Lane’s account, when the soldiers came to town and camped in empty lots, uncountable elk, deer, and bighorn sheep regularly populated the lower flanks of the mountain.
1945: As 10th Mountain soldiers and Aspenites-to-be fighting in Italy, Bert Bidwell saves Friedl Pfeifer’s life in battle. (Bidwell would tell a surprised Pfeifer a month before Pfeifer’s death in 1995 that it was he who had saved him in Italy.) Pfeifer returns after the war, minus part of a lung, forms the Aspen Ski School with fellow 10th Mountain veterans Percy Rideout and Johnny Litchfield, and takes over the Boat Tow. Intrepid skiers ride up back of Aspen Mountain with Midnight Miners to ski the front side to town. Pfeifer promotes Aspen Mountain over the Mount Hayden proposal.
1945–46: Walter Paepcke conceives of Aspen as a cultural center and plans the first ski lift with Friedl Pfeifer. With the Hayden-tram plans tabled, Aspen Mountain’s reputation presents the best opportunity to evolve the hike-and-ski experience to chairlift-ride-and-ski. The renowned Roch Run links outside and local interests to present Aspen as the happening place to ski.
1946: The Aspen Ski Corporation is founded by Friedl Pfeifer, Johnny Litchfield, Percy Rideout, and Walter Paepcke. D.R.C. Brown leases his mining claims on Aspen Mountain to the new company.
1946: Summer brings the construction of Aspen’s first chairlifts: the single-chair Lift 1 to today’s Midway and Lift 2, which runs from the top of Lift 1 to the new octagon Sundeck at the mountaintop where beer, pop, ham sandwiches, and coffee are served. Together, the two lifts were billed as “the longest chairlift in world.” Aspen Mountain opens on Dec. 14. A season pass costs $140. A day pass is $3.75.
1946: The first annual Roch Cup ski race is held. The ski train to Aspen from Denver, with dining and sleeper cars, runs regularly. Mike Magnifico’s cobbler shop becomes Magnifico Sports Shop, the first to sell ski equipment in Aspen, including handmade Magnifico ski boots.
1946: Walter Paepcke opens the county airport, which consists of a log cabin and gravel runway.
1947: Dick Durrance films “Winter in Aspen” and cuts Ruthie’s Run without necessity of Forest Service approval.
1947–48: The Little Nell run is cleared and widened as a beginners’ hill. The Constam T-bar is built. Night skiing debuts; tickets, $1. Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol is formed. Six patrol phones installed. Lift 1 and Lift 2’s combined uphill capacity is 1,070 skiers an hour. The Friedl Pfeifer Ski School, with Fred Iselin as co-director, joins the Aspen Ski Corp. The two men were nicknamed the “Mount Rushmore twins.” Klaus Obermeyer invents the down jacket — originally cut from down comforters — for the cold rides up Lift 1.
1949: Unable to compete with automobiles, the Denver & Rio Grande railroad runs its last passenger trains to Aspen; it continues with freight until 1969.
1950: Fifteen-hundred people book rooms in town as Aspen hosts the first F.I.S. World Championships to be held in the United States. Downhill course starts at top of today’s FIS, then down Spar, Niagara, and Schuss Gully, with no gates. Zeno Coló wins the combined with “witches brew” wax concocted by fellow Italian Mike Magnifico. Stein Eriksen sails 150 feet in the air off of the Willoughby jump during an exhibition.
1951: Spar Gulch run is widened. A daily lift ticket costs $4.05. Winterskol — an event-filled celebration for locals during the slow part of the ski season — is started by Red Onion bartender Jack dePagter, who later opened the family-style Holland House lodge at the base of Lift 1. Total ski tickets sold statewide at four ski areas in Colorado hits 175,000.
1952: Walter Paepcke starts Aspen Airways with surplus DC-3s; planes become the most efficient travel from Denver for skiers. Larger planes and multiple airlines begin an evolution of operations to service Aspen.
1953–54: A lean year. Annual snowfall: 59.10 inches. Total Colorado skier visits: 192,500
1954: Lift 3 from lower Tourtelotte (Tortilla Flats) to the Sundeck built, for $120,000 ($1 million in 2016). Highway 82 is paved.
1954: “Operation Jeep Lift”: Lift 1 breaks, so the Ski Corporation plows Midnight Mine road. For one week, townspeople drive skiers up to top of Aspen Mountain in their jeeps. They receive $1,109 in tips. Thirty-five Jeeps hauled 2,500 skiers.
1955: Aspen logs 62,000 skier visits. Pfeifer’s ski school is the biggest in the country.
1956: Lift 4 installed from bottom of Little Nell to top of Nell with a midway exit ramp, replacing the T-bar. The Sundeck is enlarged with a windowed deck. Fred Iselin survives an avalanche burial on Aspen Mountain’s Back of Bell.
1957: Lift 5 is built from the bottom of Bell Mountain to the top, carrying 700 skiers per hour and nearly doubling uphill capacity to the top of Aspen Mountain. Whipple Jones and Had Deane propose a ski area on Sievers Mountain, in the Maroon Creek Valley. Pitkin County Commissioner Tom Sardy spearheads the paving of a single runway at Aspen airport (Pitkin County Airport) for larger planes. Airport is renamed Sardy Field.
1958: Friedl Pfeifer and Art Pfister open Buttermilk with a single T-bar and a bus from town. Whip Jones opens Aspen Highlands with two chair lifts, a T-bar, and a rope tow; Stein Eriksen heads the ski school. Skier visits jump to 139,400 for the season across the three mountains.
1959: D.R.C. Brown becomes president of the Aspen Ski Corp. Lift 6 is built on Aspen Mountain. New Lift 2 replaces original.
1960: First trail grooming on Aspen Mountain: Oliver Caterpillar tractors with blades smooth moguls, followed by a crew that packs the snow with their skis. Freidl Pfiefer holds the first Aspen Pro ski race at Buttermilk. Toni Spiess, Anderl Molterer, Stein Eriksen, and Pepi Gramshammer compete.
1960: After consolidating numerous mining claims totaling 880 acres, Waddell “Waddy” Catchings proposes Little Annie Ski Area with Gondola from Castle Creek Road to Little Annie Basin, connecting with chairlift to Richmond Ridge. He finds little financial backing.
1960–68: “Surfer bums” discover Aspen and become the first ski bums. In 1965, The Denver Post dubs them “ski-niks.” Emergence of marijuana in town. The advent of stretch pants makes skiing more fashionable.
1962: Four new ski jumps — 7, 12, 25, and 40 meters — with a viewing stand are built at the bottom of today’s Slalom Hill on Aspen Mountain to replace the original 50-meter jump. The jumps are sponsored by the Aspen Lions Club to “help boys make the jump to manhood.” Two new chairlifts are installed at Buttermilk.
1961–62: The Cloud Nine lift and restaurant are built at Aspen Highlands. Olympic Bowl opens. A rival ski area — Vail — opens.
1963: The Aspen Ski Corp. buys Buttermilk. Ruthie’s double chair (Lift 8, capacity of 1,000 people per hour) is built on Aspen Mountain. All downtown Aspen streets are paved. Fred Iselin becomes head of ski school.
1964–65: Exhibition and Loge Peak lifts open at Aspen Highlands. Buttermilk West opens. Aspen Highlands logs 68,000 skier visits; Buttermilk, 87,500; Aspen Mountain, 174,000. Annual snowfall is 219 inches.
1966: Gretl’s (now Bonnie’s) restaurant is built on Aspen Mountain. Aspen Airways offers four flights per day from Denver; a standby ticket costs $25.
1967: Independence Pass is paved.
1967: Mt. Baldy opens as Snowmass-at-Aspen ski area, an Alpine village with five chairlifts. “A planned development with heavyweight corporate proficiency,” says Skiing Magazine. Day ski ticket: $6.50. Rudimentary snowmaking tried on Little Nell ski run, Aspen Mountain.
1967: Aspenite and U.S. Ski Team director Bob Beattie, along with French Ski Team director Honore Bonnet and Swiss journalist Serge Lang, start the FIS World Cup circuit.
1968: Aspen Mountain hosts its first World Cup race, the Roch World Cup, (“World Cup” first becomes official FIS event in ’67). American Billy Kidd wins the slalom. International ski school jamboree, called Interski, is held on Aspen Mountain.
1969: The Thunderbowl lift is built at Aspen Highlands.
1970: Bob Beattie’s World Pro Ski Tour racing begins. Hippies start to polarize town. Mix of outsider residents, old-timers, and visitors give Aspen a distinct character. Aspen Mountain lifts painted green with blue chairs. The Aspen area’s four ski hills have a total of 30 lifts, with a combined uphill capacity of 26,885 skiers per hour.
1971–72: The double-chair Lift 1A replaces the original Lift 1, ending at the bottom of Ruthie’s lift instead of Midway. The Aztec trail is cut for World Cup. Ted Ryan opens Ashcroft Ski Touring and the first Pine Creek Cookhouse. A short-lived ski patrol/Teamsters strike on Aspen Ski Corp.’s mountains sees patrollers replaced by scabs. Cliff Taylor introduces the Graduated Length Method of ski instruction at Aspen Highlands.
1971: Spurred by filmmaker Dick Barrymore and the K2 demo team, a spontaneous, word-of-mouth “first hot-dog contest” dominated the Ridge of Bell under the Bell Mountain lift on March 1, where the only rule was to go top to bottom as spectacularly as possible. On a razor-blue day 2,000 irreverent spectators watched 89 local competitors rip. Ski instructor Sid Erickson won by popping “Sealander’s Rock” at the top skier’s left of the steep Ridge, before flying over all the bumps in three turns, performing a never-before-seen stunt of luck and skill. A wet T-shirt contest followed at the Red Onion night club. D.R.C. Brown rode over the extravaganza. After smelling marijuana, he later declared there would never be another hot-dog contest on a Ski Corp mountain.
1973: Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol begins the Cloud Nine Restaurant deck jump. Doug “Beaker” Driskell is the first to jump 60 feet — while pulling a toboggan — over the restaurant crowd.
1974: Aspen’s season pass price doubles to keep local “yahoo skiers” from skiing too much, because tourists are intimidated. Ted Ryan ends the Mount Hayden ski-area dream and gives the Ashcroft property to the Forest Service for preservation. The Mace family and Toklat Lodge remain as part of the deal. Aspen ski areas break 1 million skier visits.
1975: Dave Farny buys out Waddy Catching and revises Little Annie Ski Area plan with base development on Smith Ranch (now North Star Preserve). With an $18 million budget, he proposes 3.6-mile-long “dog-legged,” 2,250-passengers-per-hour gondola from near Ute Cemetery to Richmond Ridge, summiting to a 1,200-seat restaurant. Numerous studies and issues cause extended controversy among Pitkin County residents. By 1983 “Farny’s Folly” is dead on the planning table.
1975–76: Ski bum culture peaks, causing the Aspen Ski Corp. to suspend validity of the three-mountain ski pass on Aspen Mountain because rowdy locals were driving away ticket-buying tourists — only employee ski passes and day tickets honored there. Full ski passes are only good for Buttermilk and Snowmass. Locals flock to Highlands pass instead. A Roaring Fork citizens group petitions the Forest Service for reinstatement to no avail.
1976–77: The renowned drought year—annual snowfall is 85.70 inches (see 1953). Independence Pass remains open into January and Aspenites drive over to ice skate on Twin Lakes. Aspen Mountain opens Jan. 10, and the first cloud-seeding program is attempted to produce snow. Austrian Franz Klammer follows his legendary “edge-of-disaster” Olympic-gold downhill run at Innsbruck with a win at America’s Downhill on Aspen Mountain.
1977: Snowmaking is installed on lower Buttermilk; cost: $800,000.
1978: Twentieth Century Fox buys the Aspen Ski Corp. Marvin Davis buys 20th Century Fox, and the Aspen Ski Corp. becomes a private company amid much corporate shuffling. The Crown family buys a 50 percent stake.
1978: The Aspen Ski Corporation becomes the Aspen Skiing Company.
1979: First Gay Ski Week is held.
1979-80: 1980: After a 14-year run where she served homemade food at her eponymous Aspen Mountain restaurant, Gretl Uhl did not renew her lease at the end of the ’79-’80 season because she couldn’t accept the terms of the new agreement offered by the Ski Company. Known as the “Maven of Strudle,” she used 200 cases of Paonia apples each winter to make her signature desert. Half of the dishes she served were Bavarian and the other half American. She hired ski bums, hippies, and local housewives and established her trade-mark two days on and two days off policy so all her employees
1980-81: Limited reinstatement of full three-mountain ski pass with partial validity for Aspen Mountain: Season pass sold for $300, good on Snowmass and Buttermilk, costs extra $10/day for Aspen Mountain validation sticker. Highlands pass still locals’ protest option. Bonnie Brucker (later Rayburn) takes over Gretl’s and a new restaurant legend begins. Aspen Mountain ski patroller Art Nerbonne hung out there so often he became known as “Artie near Bonnie’s.”
1980: Before any snow flies, local Aspen high schoolers, the Marolt brothers, Callahan brothers, and Francois Pelletier ski the bare-rock shale steeps off Shale Bluffs on old skis, when Highway 82 was still two lanes. They cause traffic jams of gawkers on the highway. Multiple days of “rock skiing” result in only one injury, and the spectacle is shut down by the sheriff’s office.
1981: The first Winternational America’s Downhill is held on Aspen Mountain. Americans Tamara McKinney and Phil Mahre win GS. McKinney goes on to win the World Cup GS title. Ski Magazine writes about Aspen snowmaking: “Most guns in the west.” Snowmaking exists on 155 acres of Aspen Mountain, 60 acres on Snowmass, and 74 on Buttermilk.
1981: An Aspen original, Ralph Jackson, the “Clown Prince of Skiing,” whose fictional persona was Aspen’s “underground ski school director,” dies. Famous for top hat, cigarette holder, bearskin coat, and blarney.
1983–84: A massive avalanche in Highland Bowl kills ski patrolmen Chris Kessler, Tom Snyder, and Craig Soddy while they are doing control work. Aspen Mountain records highest-on-record annual snowfall of 278 inches. Aspen Highlands becomes the first of Aspen’s four ski areas to allow snowboarding.
1984: U.S. Ski Teamer and “bad boy” Bill Johnson follows his Sarajevo Olympic downhill win at the Winternational Downhill — after Franz Klammer calls him a “nose picker.”
1985: Snowboarding is allowed on a trial basis at Buttermilk. A dorm room still costs $15 per night at the Aspen Highlands Inn. New high-speed-quad Lift 3 is built on Aspen Mountain.
1986: The Silver Queen Gondola opens; a ride to the top of Aspen Mountain now takes 14 minutes versus 30 on the existing chairs. The era of faster, higher-capacity lifts begins in Aspen, setting off two decades of record growth in Roaring Fork Valley. Aspen Professional Ski Patrol Association, (APSPA) a labor union, forms amid labor contentions with Aspen Skiing Co. President Jerry Blann, after he dramatically cuts employee benefits.
1987: A three-mountain ski pass costs $595 with an Aspen Mountain daily surcharge. Total Colorado skier visits: 9,453,359.
1988: Snowmass allows snowboarding. The inaugural 24 Hours of Aspen ski race on Aspen Mountain sees sleep-deprived teams of two ski racers average 65 to 70 laps in 24 hours for charities, with only gondola rides to rest. Aspen Mountain holds its first women’s World Cup Ski race.
1988–89: The landmark Little Nell après-ski deck and bar are torn down, replaced by the five-star Little Nell hotel. Men’s World Cup racing returns to Aspen. Ingemar Stenmark, the winningest racer of all time with 86 World Cup victories, wins his final race in Aspen.
1991–92: The full three-mountain season pass (Aspen, Buttermilk, and Snowmass) is reinstated at $1,600, without an Aspen Mountain surcharge.
1993–94: American A.J. Kitt is robbed of his World Cup downhill victory on Aspen Mountain, as warm temperatures, low clouds, and a controversial rut on the road above Straw Pile incite a Swiss protest and the cancellation of the race. The Crown family acquires 100 percent of the Aspen Skiing Co. and purchases Aspen Highlands.
1994–95: A near-record annual snowfall of 239.36 inches; avalanches close Castle Creek Road. Man buried in Conundrum teepee. A uniquely wild piece of Aspen history dies when Aspen Highlands suspends the ski patrol restaurant deck jump. A four-mountain day ski ticket costs $52. A.J. Kitt again robbed of Aspen Mountain World Cup downhill victory by FIS decision because 37 racers hadn’t yet run due to heavy snows.
1997: Stein Eriksen is knighted by the King of Norway. The Cirque Headwall platter lift opens at Snowmass, powered by wind-power credits. A new Ruthie’s triple chair replaces the double on Aspen Mountain. After 17 years, Bonnie retires at the end of her lease and Brigitte Birrfelder takes over the, keeping the name Bonnie’s Restaurant. The restaurant continues to hire locals and to keep a work schedule that allows employees to ski.
1999: A new Sundeck is built on Aspen Mountain and includes the new, private Aspen Mountain Club.
2000: The Aspen Skiing Co. tries to change name of Aspen Mountain to Ajax to avoid marketing confusion over having a snowboard ban on only one of four mountains. Locals protest, preferring historical Aspen Mountain instead of Ajax.
2001: Ski Company president Pat O’Donnell reverses course and allows snowboarding on Aspen Mountain, beginning April 1. Aspen Mountain keeps its name.
2002: Highland Bowl opens to its summit for hiking up and skiing down. The annual 24 Hours of Aspen ski race permanently cancelled. Buttermilk hosts the X Games for the first time.
2005: Nick DeVore wins first Colorado Freeride competition on Burnside Cliffs, Snowmass, jumping three cliffs on telemark skis. First Aspen-area high-speed “six pack” chairlift installed at Snowmass; capacity: 3,000 skiers per hour. The first Summit for Life uphill race is held on Aspen Mountain to benefit the Chris Klug Foundation.
2011: The Power of Four ski mountaineering race debuts, a grueling ski-mountaineering event with 12,000 feet of vertical gain over 25 miles. The single-day ski ticket breaks the $100 barrier ($104).
2012: Snowmass adds 230 acres of hike-to terrain on Burnt Mountain. Gwynn’s High Alpine Restaurant is last independently operating restaurant on all four mountains.
2013: Suicide on ski area. Jeff Walker skis Aspen Highlands bowl laps before taking his own life in a wooded out-of-bounds area. Extended search for him after being reported missing yields no results. Out-of-bounds snowboarder discovers the missing man’s body weeks later with gun nearby.
2013–14: Aspen’s four mountains now have total of 42 ski lifts with a capacity of 55,213 skiers per hour. Skier visits up 7.8 percent from the year before to 1.4 million, while Colorado visits up 10 percent to 12.6 million. Annual snowfall 226 inches. Jan. 31 remembered as “24 in 24,” 24 inches of snowfall in 24 hours.
2014-15: Strong snow start stalls with second lowest January total of 5.26 inches. Women’s World Cup racing on Aspen Mountain. Biggest X Games ever at Buttermilk with best athletes and some 100 Olympians competing. Snoop Dogg plays concert.
2015-16: U.S. racer Mikaela Shiffrin wins World Cup slalom on Aspen Mountain by an astonishing 3.5 seconds, the largest margin of victory in modern women’s ski race history. El Niño weather-pattern year delivers late snows in March and April, rounding up to snowfall of 225 inches, with an extended weekend skiing on Aspen Mountain for Memorial Day and the first weekend of June.
2017: A La Niña weather-pattern year begins with low snowfall. Aspen Mountain does not have enough snow to open on Thanksgiving Day. Opens with limited skiing on Nov. 27. On Dec. 19, up to 19 inches of snow in 48 hours, setting up a great start to the season.
FIS men’s and women’s Alpine World Cup Final comes to Aspen Mountain March 15-19. First time since 1950 FIS World Championships.
Tim Cooney, a freelance writer and veteran Aspen Mountain ski patroller, is collaborating with Aspen Journalism and the Aspen Daily News to explore Aspen history. The Daily News published the timeline as a two-part series, on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016, and on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016.