Just outside my backdoor, Aspen Mountain rises abruptly for 3,200 feet from the valley floor and the tiny mountain hamlet I call home. Many locals here tend to develop strong preferences for certain mountains to the point that snobbish arguments often ensue regarding which mountain is most superior. While these conversations are usually more passionate in the Winter, due to proximity and sheer active opportunity, I’m always happy to admit what mountain I am partial to. Affectionately known to locals as Ajax, Aspen Mountain would have to be my pick as the choicest of the four mountains for all four seasons.
This past July I had the good fortune of showing ultra stud Joe Grant around the mountain for a short time as we prepared for his assault on the Hardrock 100. It was a short run by both our standards, but I think Joe got a good taste of what this particular mountain offers. Soft, shady, cruiser singletrack to gnarly, stupid steep, hiker pitches. Many times during our short run did joe remind me just how lucky I am to have access to the dirt of this massive hill just 90 seconds from my door. It really is a gem.
Today was the first time this season that I made it to the apex of Ajax on a pair of skis. It simply does not get much better than it was this morning. I was joined for the skin by good buddy, ripping skier, and Marmot athlete, Greg Ernst for a beautiful bluebird ascent of the most classic and direct route up the mountain. An hour and change after we began the climb, we arrived at the top to solitude and absolutely perfect ski conditions. The ride down was mind (and quad) blowing. Dipsey Wall and Back of Bell are going off right now and Greg and I had endless pow of the blower variety all to ourselves. It was perfection.
The last time I made it to the summit on foot was October 15th on an equally ideal day. Below are some pictures from that run and today’s ski that I think will give you at least some appreciation of what us haughty Ajax lovers feel when we’re out on our mountain. You should be able to tell what outing each photo came from.