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Entries in Aspen Historical Society (5)


Aspen Party Week

Every March for the past 50+ years a large group of hearty souls descend on Aspen for Spring skiing and Aspen Party Week.  The core group of about 200 revelers from all over the country visit Aspen to take advantage of the bluebird skies and the POW POW.  Led by the Crawford Brothers from California, The Beradino Brothers and  Mr. and Mrs Gooch from the East Coast and Al Gross from Vegas this group has evolved into the hardest partying, good timingest, mate swappingest group of 60 to 80 year olds you will ever see.

Click 4 pix.  Aspen Party Week

Aspen Party Week's line-up is so chock full of events on and off the mountain that even AspenSpin can't keep up.  The Tamale Party, The Cheeseburger Party, The Mad Hatter Party, The Snowmass Picnic, The Lemondrop Party, The Sneak-a-Peak Party ( paying homage to the infamous Sneaker Ball) The Wine Party, The After-Wine Party and more.  Every day is a different soiree and by the end of the week....there are a lot of bruised livers. The traveling 200 don't ski as much as they used to (many just forgo the shredding) but they party just as hard.  They do love their grog.

This year Aspen kicked off it's annual core party...with a highlight reel show from Chicago jam band Umphrey's McGee who played a free set in the center of town.  Just eye-ballin' it...I'd say it was the biggest core party of all time. Additionally, Aspen Mag hosted their millennial party and Aspen Historical Society threw a ski fashion retrospective to culminate a HUGE week.

Click 4 pix:   ASPEN PARTY WEEK

As always, EPIC fun was had by all.




The Soul of Aspen Mountain.

The Soul of Ajax panel discussion 3/6/11 Click 4 pixNobody is sure how Aspen Mountain picked up the nickname Ajax...but the purists in Aspen don't use that moniker anyway.  They prefer to call their beloved "back yard" by it's given name...Aspen Mountain.

The Aspen Historical Society presented the Soul of Aspen Mountain as part of their successful historical series, Time Travel Tuesdays.  Each of Aspen's Power of Four will get their due...next Tuesday's session will explore the Soul of Buttermilk.

Aspen Mountain's panel of experts shared their insights and love for Aspen Mountain before a standing room crowd at The Limelight.  Panelists included Aspen vets, Gaard Moses, Val Edgington, Brigitte Birkfelder, Jim Hancock, Eric Peltonen and Tony Vagneur.

The Soul of Aspen Mountain (click 4 pix)

Everyone in the room agreed that Aspen Mountain is a very special place.  Tales were swapped by the panelists and the audience.  It was a unanimous decision that THE PEOPLE, THE COMMUNITY and THE Camaraderie and the fact that Aspen Mountain is situated as part of the town itself give Aspen Mountain a unique and extraordinary place in their hearts.

A lot of love for Ajax. Click 4 pix.Gaard shared stories of sperlunking and exploring the inner beauty of Aspen Mountain and nabbing mining claims and living on Little Nell.  He admitted to now living downvalley in "the Middle Kingdom".

Val has been a liftie since 1978.  She came to Aspen immediately after college and her loyalty to the Ski Co. was evident.

Brigitte actually grew up living in The Sundeck.  As a young lady...she was best friends with the ski patrol...even though they used to stuff her in the trash bins (they were playing with her) but she would come back for more.  She used to ski down to school...and this was the days before grooming.  On powder days, her Mom would ski down first to cut the trails so Brigitte could get to school on time.  She now owns and operates Bonnie's...a historic eatery that serves the best food in Aspen.

Jim admitted to being an "Ajax-Aholic".  He finished his last AA run just an hour or two before the event.  He is now in charge of the race crew and sets the course for the World Cup Races every November.  He offered the theory that Aspen skis much larger than it's 675 acres.  "It's fall line skiing...top to bottom"

The stories were flowing. Click 4 pix.Before moving to Aspen in 1966, Eric heard that it "only snowed at night" and that the medians on Main Street had Pot growing in them.  He shared a story about the infamous Ski Patrol strike over "the cleaning of our ski pants".  He admitted he loved Aspen...and "I can't afford to leave".

Tony V has been shredding Aspen Mountain for 62 years.  Referring to Aspen Mountain he is "still seduced by her beauty".  He told boyhood tales of sneaking onto the T-Bar and bouncing the chairs so vigorously that the cable popped off the rollers.  He refused to identify his "secret stashes" but told the crowd that he skies POW POW every run...if he wants it.

The room was overflowing with like-minded Ajax (oops, sorry) lovers.  When the time was up...people did not want to leave.  They wanted to share their own epic stories about Aspen Mountain.  When asked to compare races held at Aspen Mountain to those at Snowmass, one Aspen Mountain vet said,  It's a downhill race, not cross country".

There was a lot of Love in that Room.  To learn more about the Soul of Ajax and the other 3 local mountains in Aspen...visit the Aspen Historical Society.

Photo: Courtesy of Aspen Historical Society.




Pioneers of Shred.


 Pioneers of Shred. Aspen, Colorado. Click 4 pix. The Pioneers of Shred, a.k.a the members of the board assembled last night at The Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.  The Aspen Historical Society created a panel discussion with some of the most influential Snowboarders in history for AHS's first Time Travel Tuesday session of 2012.  The snowboard community in America (and especially Aspen) owes a debt of gratitude to the 8 shredders who gathered on the Wheeler stage to discuss the history of their sport.  One thing was clear about all the Pioneers of Shred...each one has a HUGE passion for snowboarding and mountain sports in general, and the stoke is alive and well and thriving in Aspen, Colorado.

Click 4 pix: PIONEERS of SHRED

The Members of the Board:

Kevin Delaney. World Champ and Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Famer.

Jeff Grell.  Inventor of the High-Back binding and owned a Snurfer in 1968.

Chris Karol.  Pro rider and former program director for AVSC.

Chris Klug.  Aspen's own Olympic Medalist, an organ recipient. Colo Ski & SB Hall of Fame.

Larry Madden. Opened Aspen's first snowboard shop, alternative Edge in 1990.

Travis McClain.  X Games Gold Medal Winner and head SB Coach at AVSC.

Susan Saghatoleslami.   The first shred betty in a male dominated sport.

Chris Tribble.  Influential filmer, captured the birth of snowboarding on film.

The discussion was spirited and informative.  The audience was filled with friends and fans and mountain riders..snowboarders and skiers alike. Stories from the past flowed from the stage and the audience could feel the camaraderie amongst the Shredders.  It was evident that the snowboarding community remains very tight and that the members of the board were enjoying their reunion.

Apparently riding on one plank attracted plenty of attention from the ski patrol in the early 80's and getting kicked off the mountain was a common occurrence in Aspen back then.  Even without lift access these die hards were so determined to ride their shred sticks...that hiking up the mountain and inventing their own modified equipment was their only solution.  Aspen Highlands was a hotbed for snowboarding in the early 80's....that is once all the paper work and insurance forms were completed.

It's easy to forget that snowboarding is a relativly new sport.  Established in the late 60's and early 70's snowboarding didn't really take off until the early 80's and it became an Olympic sport in 1998.   It wasn't until 2001 that snowboarding was even allowed on Aspen Mountain.  The sport has evolved into the mainstream very quickly and according to local hero Travis McClain "the Olympics needed snowboarding more than snowboarding needed the Olympics".   Some industry insiders credit the growth of snowboarding with saving the entire ski industry.  From the first "snurfers" who rode their wooden boards with a rope and no bindings to today's shred masters ripping double blacks alongside the skiers..snowboarding is clearly a legitimate BIG TIME sport.  The friction that used to exist between skiers and riders no longer is part of the equation. In fact snowboarding has been very influential in the development of shaped skis and fat skis Chris Tribble admitted that in the early days snowboarders were "slow and kind of in the way" but now with better equipment and technique...they are leading the charge.  Former World champ Kevin Delaney laughed that he knew the sport had really made it when "skiers started wearing baggie pants".  All the pioneers agreed...it doesn't matter how you slide down the mountain, on 2 sticks or 1...its all about creating "smileage".

It was like a great big knuckle dragger family reunion at The Wheeler.  Kudos to Aspen Historical Society for assembling such a meaningful and enjoyable group to share the history of snowboarding.  If you enjoy history and you love Aspen...get into the mix with Time Travel Tuesday's (TTT).  The weekly programs are fun, interesting and informative...yeeeeah dude, you might learn something. 

Click for pix:  PIONEERS of SHRED

The Pioneers of shred. Time Travel Tuedays with the Aspen Historical Society

The Smiths and susan..the first shred betty. Click for more photos.Team photo; Aspen Historical Society at Pioneers of shred. click 4 more pix. 


Early Season / Locals Only

Early December n Aspen is a good, good time.  The tourists have not checked in on foursquare yet. Early season conditions do not deter the locals from getting after it.   Everyone wants to win the party.

Click the Pix...you know you want to.


ASPEN HISTORY 101 with Aspen Historical Society

LOCALS ONLY   Sky/Red Onion/ Belly Schtupp

A BIG Wednesday at Sky / Red Onion / Belly Schtupp CLICK 4 PIXBartender Appreciation Night at The Wheeler Opera House. Click 4 pix.Slts Cabbage, Tony V. and the Aspen Historical Soceity presented Aspen History 101. click 4 pix.


Ski Gangs of Aspen.

The Ski Gangs of Aspen.The Buckaroos.A cessation of hostilities occurred last night in Aspen as the SKI GANGS of ASPEN convened in a peaceable fashion. The Aspen Historical Society played the role of Switzerland and The Mountain Chalet provided a neutral location as a truce was finally called.  Ski Gang members wore their colors proudly and gathered in harmony to discuss their history, the fantastic memories and the camaraderie that is only obtained by shredding the GNAR with your people.

The Bell Mountain Buckaroos, The Dogs, The Bobs, The Powder Sluts, The Flyers, The Acme Racing Company and The Ski the Trees Foundation were well reperesented. Ski Gang members from such sets as Chicks on Sticks, The Bro's, The Menopausal Mama's, The Nachos and The Skizeers were also in attendance.  

Most of the SKI GANGS of ASPEN were formed in the early 70's and continue to flourish to this very day. Its all good clean fun but the on-mountain gang rivalries exist and they are quite real.   Groups of friends, skiing together, partying together and enjoying Aspen life to its fullest evolved into the various organizations.  Customized hats and logo gear along with their distinctive personalities helped identify who was who back in the old days...and now. 

The Flyers and the Dogs.The Buckaroos sang a love song, The Dogs barked, The Powder Sluts were promiscuious and the Bob's ....well they're just the Bob's.  Everybody in the SRO crowd had fun.  The tales of epic ski days gone by began to flow.  Details of the famous Bell Mountain Buck-off were revealed, a tradition that still exists in modern times. Closing day at 1 pm atop the Ridge of Bell is usually the only time that so many gang members get together cordially in one spot.   If you've ever tried to ride the Gondola with some scruffy looking locals ...and been scared off by their loud barking , than you know what its like.  Stories of past heroics became fodder for hecklers in the audience.  Laughs and flashbacks were shared by all.


A few secrets were finally revealed.  The Buckaroo's consider themselves the first ski gang in Aspen--- but that was heavily disputed by other gangs.  Dates and details are a bit hazy as short-term memory loss appears to be one side effect of ski gang membership.   Some gangs refuse to call the season ending bump extravaganza on the Ridge of Bell the "buck-off", they prefer the "rumble on the ridge".  The Powder Sluts admitted..."we like it soft" and "6 inches on the slopes is better than 7 inches in the sack".  The Dogs didn't have much to say...they just yelped and barked a lot.  Lead dog, Dim Tim uttered a few words on behalf of his pack, one rival gang member in the peanut gallery shouted "we didn't know Tim could talk".  One of the Bob's was accused of carrying a difiulator with his backcountry gear.   Other Aspen gang-bangers admitted to now regularly skiing the "over 60 line". 

It was BIG fun for everyone to share their anecdotes of POWDER DAYS gone by... and those yet to come.  The large room was filled with esprit de corps and the friendly rivalries that still exist.  Mike Monroney of the Aspen Historical Society summed it up by sharing sentiments that he overheard at a recent buck off..."those old guys (and girls) can still rip".  Most of them will be skiing with their gangs today.  Keep up if you can.

The Powder Sluts. Mary, Karen and Polly like it soft.The Dogs: They always ski in a pack. Let the barking begin.The Flyers brought their own soap box to stand on.The Bobs, doing what they do.... striving for world peace.The Bell Mountain Buckaroos. Known for their skiing and their singing in the gondola. Full disclosure, AspenSpin is a Buckaroo ( we're the tone deaf one).