Photo by Stef Wojcik
Colorado’s current stay-at-home orders regulate that all people should remain indoors, except for making use of essential resources. Pitkin County, however, understands that our four ski mountains are Aspenites’ essential resources. Though many were frustrated with Ski Co’s closing of the resort, everybody adapted by doing the chairlift’s work for themselves through skinning. Now, as much as this is a great way for Aspen to remain a ski town, not everybody has access to skinning gear, so what is the alternative? Sledding, though similar, is even more fun than skinning.
Hiking up and sledding down offers many similar aspects to skinning, just better. Hiking up with a sled is a slightly lighter version of skinning but is by no means easier, given the toe muscles needed for gripping. Hikers and skinners can engage with the same trails on the same mountains (six feet apart, of course) and experience the same thrill of sliding through spring’s buttery snow, but make sure you go in the afternoon to avoid any accidental bobsled courses. Any of the four mountains will do, but the steeper ones, like Highlands, are best for the speedy sledders. With any mountain that you choose, you can go to the top or stop after the first hill and still have a blast, but I highly suggest refraining from doing any backcountry sledding. Powder and trees don’t really get along with sledding. Buttermilk is typically best for park rats, Ajax has the perfect sunbathing zone, and Snowmass is the family bonding mountain.
If you do consider yourself a speedy sledder, make sure you’re extra prepared with expensive snow pants, unnecessary amounts of layers, goggles, a cute headband, some fur gloves plus extras, and a ridiculously cool backpack to stuff everything into. It would probably be smart to bring a buff – I think the newest versions are called 3M 8511 N95 Respirators. Oh and don’t forget a sled!
Now, just to give you a heads up, the skinners stare at you while you scooch your butt across the snow, but they’re really just sad that they didn’t think of it first. Just show them how it’s done but keep in mind that it’s pretty challenging to turn on the typical swiss bobsled. You’re going to have to point your feet, hope the groomers did a good job, and pray that no skinners, especially the one that you passed on the way up, are in your path.
Have fun, be safe, and I’ll see you on the chair next year with sleds instead of skis!