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 ( 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.

Miners, about 1890, on skis in the Aspen area. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Two skiers in an open area between Castle Creek and Maroon Creek, circa 1900. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Credit: Aspen Historical Society

1937: 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.

The old bullwheel on the boat tow lift can still be found on Aspen Mountain. Credit: Tim Cooney

1937: Aspen locals build the eight-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 eight-person sleds that went up and down in opposition. (The original setup, before the eight-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.

Before there were any ski lifts in Aspen, a group of hearty, guided, hike-to-ski skiers at the Highlands Bavarian Lodge in 1936—located near the intersection of Castle Creek and Conundrum Road—pose for a group photo. Judging by the springlike snow on their skis and the eastern-facing late-afternoon shadows, they likely just finished a ski run—quite possibly down Mt. Hayden, which was then being considered for development into a ski area, along with a European-style gondola. Three men in the front are wearing ties. Pictured in the top row are Andre Roch, Gretl Arnold Fuler, Steve Hart, Norman Barwise, and an unknown person. In the bottom row are William V. Hodges, Martha Wilcox, Joseph Hodges, Polly Grimes, and Frank Ashley. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

The White Kitchen Cafe, namesake of the White Kitchen ski run in Highland Bowl, and Louie’s Spirit House, on Hyman Avenue, long before the pedestrian mall was built. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

The bottom of Roch Run in 1947, which ended at the top of Monarch Street. The south end of town is visible, including the downtown core. Two skiers pose for the photo. The one in the cap and goggles is Lt. Bill Bowerman, probably of the 10th Mountain Division. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Skiing on Bell Mountain, 1948. From left to right are Fred Denton, Jerry Wallin (manager of the outdoor skating rink), Jane Duffy, Bob Jones, and Jim Snobble. To their right is the now-named “Hanging Tree” of the “Hanging Tree Line.” Below them, Aspen is visible.
A sign at the top of Aspen Mountain in 1950 shows the Silver Queen trail starting atop Aspen Mountain. The trail went down Buckhorn, across Midway Road, down International, and down what is today’s steep Silver Queen run on lower Aspen Mountain The sign says “All skiers must check with ski patrol at Sundeck before going down Annie Basin or Difficult Creek. They will be closed by 12:00 each day.” The first version of the Sundeck, known as the Octagon, is partially visible behind the sign. Credit: Aspen Historical Society: The Duke Collection

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.

Credit: Aspen Historical Society
1950 FIS downhill. A racer negotiates what is today’s Niagara. The course ran from the top of today’s FIS, down Spar, Niagara, and Schuss Gulley with no gates. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

A view of Aspen and Aspen Mountain, taken from the Eriksen Ranch on Red Mountain. The charm factor was quite high in Aspen in the 1950s, and the ski area was still taking shape on Aspen Mountain. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
Gary Cooper, without ski gear, catching a chair at the bottom Lift 1 in 1950. Friedl Pfeifer is standing at left on skis.
The Ski Inn, 1952. Ruth Whyte stands behind Coca-Cola coolers. A Lift 1 base tower is just behind the inn on the left. Note the elk or bear hide nailed to the wall above Ruth and that an apple costs twice as much as a candy bar. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
A woman in haute ski gear standing at the bottom of the Little Nell Constam T-bar in 1952, which ran up Nell from 1948-1956, when it was replaced by the old Lift 4. Visible above the top of the T-bar is what is now upper Little Nell, which was then called the bottom of the Silver Queen trail. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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

A pair of skiers getting off the top of old Lift 3 on top of Aspen Mountain in 1954. The top bullwheel in the center stood where the guest service center is today. The top of Lift 2 is to the left, and to the left of that, unseen, is the Aspen Mountain patrol building. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Skiers are getting their equipment out of cars after the long ride up from Castle Creek during Operation Jeep Lift in 1954, in an era when everyone in town drove an old jeep. After the Ski Corporation plowed the Little Annie Road, townspeople drove skiers up the backside of Aspen Mountain until repairs on the lift were complete. Sitting in the center Jeep is Dave Stapleton. John Thorpe is standing next to him (white shirt, buzz cut) and Neil Beck is standing in front of John (gray shirt), and Euclid Worden in black cap. The original octagon sundeck is on the left. The top of Lift 2 is in the middle background; Lift 3 is on the right. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Skier transit has always been relevant in Aspen. Fred Iselin is standing, in a ski sweater, left. Friedl Pfeifer, is also standing, with sunglasses, right. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Two skiers being pulled by horses (ski joring) in the street along Mill Street near Wagner Park, 1955. Ski joring was one of many annual Winterskol skiing events into the mid-1980s. The original Lift 1 is in the background. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

A line for Lift 1 at the base of Aspen Mountain in the late 1950s. The popularity of the young ski area was increasing and optimistic growth projections were being made. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

The still-modern-looking Buttermilk base lodge and restaurant, in 1960. The restaurant was replaced by the current Bump’s building in the late 1990s. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

A young skier on Buttermilk Mountain, about 1965. Credit: Source: Aspen Historical Society

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.

In December 1964 and January 1965, members of the Kennedy family came skiing in Aspen. Seen on a lift are, left to right, Robert Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, two unidentified people, and Caroline Kennedy. Credit: Photo by Bernard Kolenberg, Times Union Staff/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Jacqueline Kennedy dons a fur hat while skiing in Aspen, on a trip that took place during late December 1964 and early January 1965. Credit: Photo: Tony Gauba in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

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.

A crowd of people waiting next to a bus in Aspen in 1965. The bus says “Glenwood-Aspen Stage.” By the mid-1960s, Aspen was gaining in popularity among visiting skiers. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
Sheep being driven across the Castle Creek bridge from their summer range in the mountains in 1967. Sheep were grazed on the ski areas in Aspen and Snowmass until the early 1980s. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

The 1970 Winterskol parade in Aspen. The photo was taken from the corner of Mill and Main and shows a large crowd watching the parade in front of the Hotel Jerome. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
People in the crowd during the 1970 Winterskol parade in Aspen. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
The Rubey Park bus station in 1970. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
Aspen Mountain, as viewed from Paepcke Park, in 1970. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

A group of people are caught in a moment outside of Gretl’s “Tourtelotte Restaurant” on the closing day of Lift 1, April 10, 1971. Gretl, in stylish Bavarian attire, smiles at the camera. Ski patroller “Kid” Cunningham is sitting on the railing. Patroller Erik Peltonen is exiting the door with his face to the camera. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
A skier riding up Lift One on April 11, 1971 (Easter Sunday), the last day for Lift 1 before it was replaced by Lift 1A. Truly, the end on an era and a turning point from old Aspen to new Aspen. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

January 1972, Aspen City Council chambers. Aspen Times Editor Bil Dunaway, right, sits in his customary front-row seat. A former world-class ski racer, he seems bemused by the anti-Olympics protest. In 1970, Denver and the Colorado mountains had been awarded the 1976 winter Olympics, but a protest against the games, and the growth they could bring, broke out in Colorado by ’72. Eventually, state voters rejected a funding question and the 1976 games were held in Innsbruck, Austria, instead. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

A typical 1975 ski-bum room in the one-time Silver King rental apartments, which are now the condominiumized Hunter Creek buildings. Note the Hexel (revolutionary split-tail ski) ski poster and World Pro Skiing poster, the rustic housekeeping, trophy beer bottles, rolling papers atop the apple box, and the softball trophy on the counter. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

A Clif Tayler Graduated Length Method class standing ready in front of the A-framed Highlands base lodge in 1975. Behind to the left is the one-time administration building and ticket office. Clif Tayler’s GLM method offered a five-day ski week package, wherein he took rank beginners up through a series of longer skis during the week, to a point where they could parallel ski and do a “wedeln,” an Austrian, quick, side-to-side series of turns.

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.

An Aspen Airways plane on the Denver tarmac in 1978, painted in honor of the Denver Broncos who were about to play in Super Bowl XII. Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach versus Broncos quarterback Craig Morton. Cowboys won, 27-10. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Gretl Uhl, in December 1980, on the deck at her restaurant. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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
could ski.

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.”

The Aspen Highlands ski patrol, about 1980, ski-packing under the Loge Peak lift. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

One of the Marolt twins skiing Shale Bluffs when Highway 82 was two lanes with a parking pull-off in 1980 (probably Steve — sorry, Mike). Skis say “Rock Eater” and hat says “King of the Mountain.” Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Seven Former Olympic ski racers pause for a photo in Aspen on Dec. 8, 1983. They are (left to right) Ni Orsi, Rod Hebron, Jimmie Heuga, Stein Erikson, Kiki Cutter, Moose Barrows, and Stefan Kaelin. Hebron wears a “Sab’s” hat, short for the one-time locals’ favorite Sabbatini ski shop run by Dexter Williams. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Highlands Bowl slide of March 31, 1984. Credit: Via Tim Cooney

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.”

World Cup “bad boy” Billy Johnson winning the Winternational Downhill in 1984 right after winning Sarajevo Olympic downhill. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Rows of snow-covered cabins wait to be put on the cable before the opening of the Silver Queen Gondola for the upcoming 1986-’87 ski season. The “clam shell” cars were the predecessors of today’s cars, which have the seats facing inward. The photo is dated Nov. 13, 1986. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
Aspen patron and grande dame Elizabeth Paepke and Aspen Ski Corporation founding member Friedl Pfeifer riding up the Silver Queen Gondola on Jan. 16, 1986, during the official inaugural ceremonies. The gondola opened for the season in December 1986. Credit: Aspen Historical Society

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.

Ski patrollers demonstrating for a fair contract on city property adjoining the gondola plaza during Christmas week 1986, the year the Silver Queen Gondola opened. The demonstration was over a yearly termination clause in the contract, which was resolved when support for the ski patrol coalesced throughout town. Ski patrollers on all four ski mountains maintain a union called the Aspen Professional Ski Patrol Association. Credit: Aspen Historical Society
Sunday, March 9, 1986, a sad day in World Cup history on Aspen Mountain, after a course blockade or boycott by skiers and coaches leads to the cancellation of Aspen’s World Cup Giant Slalom. Low clouds, warm temperatures, and punchy snow were cited by the boycotters as too dangerous, much to the irritation of Aspen Skiing Company President Jerry Blann (1984-’88), who was unhappy with the racers during his podium speech for not completing the race.

1987: A three-mountain ski pass costs $595 with an Aspen Mountain daily surcharge. Total Colorado skier visits: 9,453,359.

The gondola at the bottom of Little Nell in mid-winter of 1987, showing a free-flowing lift line before corrals, and not a single skier wearing a helmet. To the right is the deck of the one-time Little Nell bar, restaurant, and night club (downstairs and originally called “Nell’s Bottom” in the 1970s). Raucous crowds gathered on the deck on spring days. In the background note the free all-day on-street angle parking along Durant Street for the lucky early bird skiers.

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.

Signs of control work in Highland Bowl. Big fresh turns coming up shortly. Credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

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.

A view of Aspen from the Silver Queen Gondola on Aspen Mountain in 2014. Credit: Brent Gardner-Smith / Aspen Journalism

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.

A view of Aspen through a chair on Lift 1A in 2015. Credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

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.