Flying Tomato in 3D! Check out Aspen’s Buttermilk Mountain for a thrilling time this winter
Here are the stats, but they don’t really tell the whole story of Aspen’s Buttermilk Mountain:
Drive Time and Distance from Grand Junction: 2 hrs, 12 min, 126 miles
Season dates: Dec. 11, 2010 to April 3, 2011
Base elevation: 7,870 ft./2,399 meters
Summit elevation: 9,900 ft./3,018 meters
Vertical rise: 2,030 ft./619 meters
Terrain: 470 acres/190 hectares
Number of trails: 44
Miles/kilometers of trails: 21 miles/34 km
Longest run: 3 miles/4.83 km
Types of trails: Easiest: 35 percent, more difficult: 39 percent, most difficult: 26 percent, expert: 0 percent
Parks and pipes: Two terrain parks: Buttermilk Park, with more than 100 features, including a 22-foot superpipe and an X Games slopestyle course; Panda Pipe and Ski & Snowboard Schools Park, for the beginners
Lifts: Nine: 2 high-speed quads, 3 doubles, 2 handle tows, 2 ski/snowboard school lifts
Lift hours: Lifts open at 9 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.
Rental/retail: Four — Mountain Sports at the base of Buttermilk (Better yet: Gene Taylor’s here in GJ or in Snowmass, because they’re locally owned and wonderful people to do business with!)
On-mountain restaurants: Two: Bumps and The Cliffhouse
Lift tickets: $100 for a one-day adult ticket at the window. Discounts if you buy in advance.
Stats still don’t tell the whole story.
They don’t speak of this mountain’s 50-year history of wide-open, gently rolling hills designed to flatter the average beginning downhill skier.
That’s more true today than ever, especially for skiers riding on a pair of these super-wide, super-short, super-new style downhill skis that practically anyone can ski on.
Even old geezers like me.
The stats don’t mention that the view from the top of Buttermilk, looking westward toward 14,025-foot Pyramid Peak, is breathtaking.
The stats don’t talk about one of the all-time great Hall of Fame ski instructors, Frog Fortin, who once roamed these slopes, teaching local handicapped kids alongside celebrity brats how to enjoy themselves in one of the most beautiful winter wonderlands in the world.
Memories of Frog can still be found all across the mountain.
The stats do declare that this mountain has two Terrain Parks, but there’s no mention of the fact Buttermilk has been voted No. 1 by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine Reader’s Poll for best park and pipe.
Many of us had no idea what a terrain park was until we watched ESPN’s X Games. That’s where we saw some kid named the Flying Tomato hurtle through the air, launching himself out of a 22-foot “SuperPipe” made of snow and ice, executing somersaults, twists and other funky maneuvers — on a snowboard.
Remember last year’s X Games at Buttermilk when Shaun White, aka the Flying Tomato, landed two incredible double corks back to back in the final at Buttermilk? Then, for good measure, he added an amazing double McTwist 1260 to cap his gold medal run?
It was thrilling to watch that run on TV, but viewing the enormity of that monstrous superpipe up close and personal — from the chairlift at Buttermilk — makes you marvel at the athleticism of snowboarders (as well as their incredible numbness to feeling or threat of injury).
Ollies, soups, poptarts, Haakon flips, cabs, indys, tail grabs — you know, all those cool moves snowboarders talk about?
Well, Buttermilk loves ‘em.
Who knew 50 years ago that this gentle little beginner slope known for those wide-open cruiser runs would turn into the world epicenter for weird and wild snowboarders and their avant-garde X Games?
For the 10th year in a row, more than 250 professional ski, snowboard and snowmobile athletes from across the globe will land in Aspen/Snowmass to compete in ESPN’s Winter X Games 15 on Buttermilk.
If you really want a treat, drive to Buttermilk between Jan. 27-30. All events at Buttermilk are free and open to the public. Daughter Bridgette, who saw the events two years ago, can tell you, however, it’ll be crowded.
Even so, here’s the most important piece of information for all snowboarding X Games enthusiasts: Aspen/Snowmass will host a free Bud Light Hi-Fi concert at the base of Aspen Mountain on Jan. 29, featuring Big Boi.
The kids tell me Big Boi is like the Flying Tomato of hip-hop.
In addition to 24 hours of live programming on ESPN, Winter X Games 15 will be offered on ESPN 3D for all the SuperPipe, Slopestyle and Big Air competitions, as well as on ESPN International, XGames.com, ESPN3, SportsCenter and ESPN2’s X Center.
Think of it: A flying tomato in 3D.
Or, you could just go skiing.
And, if you’re looking for those long, smooth cruiser runs on gentle rolling terrain, Buttermilk is still a nice place to ski.