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|Publisher:||Wolverine Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||4.85(w) x 6.28(h) x 0.38(d)|
Aspen Mountain is one of the best "small" ski mountains in the world. This lil' gem weighs in at only 673 acres, but she skis - and snowboards, as of spring 2001 - big. Defined geographically by several ridges that run roughly north-south and fold into two main gulches, Copper and Spar, you can always find the best snow conditions of the season by working the east and west aspects of the ridges. "Ajax," the locals' nickname for the mountain, refers to a once prominent mining claim, one of the many to dot the mountain prior to the discovery of "white gold." Ajax is well deserving of its reputation for great bumps, awesome gladed trees, and eye-watering high-speed cruisers. On a powder day, ripping through the tight aspen trees in the Dumps is one of the unique riding experiences in Aspen.
Aspen Mountain is also iconic in the history of skiing in the United States. The first skiers felt the thrilling pull of its slopes in the early part of the 1900s. They would drive up the Little Annie's and Midnight Mine mining roads on the backside when they could and ski back down the frontside or Little Annie's Basin. In 1937, the Roaring Fork Winter Sports Club (today the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club or AVSC) installed the first lift - two wooden boats, actually. At ten cents a head and with a capacity of ten, he "boat tow" was rigged with cables attached to old mining hoists and powered by a Studebaker engine. But people really loved it - even if boats occasionally capsized and spilled riders into a gully. After volunteer crews cleared more trails, Ajax hosted the Rocky Mountain Championships in 1940 and the National Championships in 1941.
With the formation of the Aspen Skiing Corporation, the first chairlift officially opened on December 14, 1946, with the debut of Lift-1 and Lift-2. (While it was dubbed the world's longest chairlift at the time, it was actually two single-chair lifts that gained more than 3,000 feet together). The chairs featured built in blankets and foot rests for the 45 minute ride to the top. A day ticket was just $3.75, and you had to lay down $140 for a full season pass. Today, a cushy gondola whisks a 6 pack to the top in under 15 minutes for the 3,267 foot descent. A bit more efficient, I'd say.