Most North American ski towns and resorts were not built by corporations. They were (and still are) built by the people who make their homes there, love there, raise families there, and yes, are buried there. For example, consider Aspen Mountain in Colorado.
“Ajax,” as the mountain has been called since 1800’s mining days, began as a town ski area with locals cobbling ski lifts that ranged from funky rope tows to a contraption called the “boat tow,” a sled filled with merry skiers pulled up the mountain by a glorified mining winch. People sacrificed for what we have.
Aspen native Neal Beidleman is no stranger to this. Check out page 29 of his new guidebook to Aspen ski areas, where you’ll find run #6, Keith Glen: “Formerly Back of Bell 3, this run was dedicated to Keith Glen Beidleman, who was killed in a freak accident while clearing trails for the gondola…” This is Neal’s brother, and the book is dedicated to him.
Yes, you can have great terrain like Aspen, but in so many ways it is people who make a ski resort. Neal’s book acknowledges this by not only giving us copious local history in his chapter intros and run descriptions, but sprinkled through the book are cameos of individuals who make the Aspen area what it is. You read those and you know the type of skiers the ski runs in this town have to satisfy, and you know why a guidebook such as this should have probably happened years ago.
The meat of “Aspen Ski and Snowboard Guide” is the trail descriptions. If you are new to the area, this book will keep you out of the “sheep syndrome” when you slide off a lift and end up blindly following everyone else because you have not a clue how to enjoy the mountain. That said, this book is NOT a fluffy tourist guide. It’s pithy, complete, and even details more than 150 runs that are not on the trail maps. In other words, if you’re local you will still find this to be a valuable resource. Example: I’d like to know Snowmass better, and find places to practice steep skiing so my worn legs can function for spring backcountry ski alpinism. Looks like a few things on the Hanging Valley Wall might fit the bill — and thanks to the book, I’ll not make the mistake of starting down the line with 50 feet of mandatory air. Thanks to Neal!