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Wednesday March 6, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

It's Katie's last mountain to visit in Aspen. The one most spoken about, the newly updated, the biggest by far. What does she make of it?

Aspen Snowmass is the largest ski area in the Aspen quartet.

In fact, after Vail down the road, it's the biggest ski area in America.

And that's without what its Buttermilk, Highlands and Ajax buds add.

For Katie's accounts of Day 1 and Day 2 in Aspen, catch up here:
En route to SnowmassEn route to Snowmass

It's a strange place.

I left it last to visit here of all the four Aspen mountains.

Not really for any reason, but weather-wise and stoke-speaking I was glad I had my days in each mountain as they rolled out.

It was all most people spoke about.

And being the neggy b**** I am, this more irritates me than fills me with anticipation and excitement.

Or maybe I had spent too much time among super-stoked Americans, craving for a day or two the lower-key, quiet enjoyment the Alps bring.

Especially after my Buttermilk revelation.

I'll remind you of the gliding, rolling blues and aspen tree gorgeous-ness that you have nearly completely to yourself at Buttermilk, as well as pockets of powder to own, even days after it's snowed.

It's as close as you'll get to being alone with nature, whilst still inbounds.

And the slopes of Snowmass aren't really so different from Buttermilk.

Wide open and lovely rolling blues, except with much bigger vertical - nearly 1,350m, the biggest in the USA.

But whereas Buttermilk has a beginners and kids' zone, Snowmass is more the intermediates hill for the skier-rider that wants to ski and ski and not worry about here you'll end up;

You'll ski safe and more than likely end up at base.

Plus, someone will help you if not.

Aspen SnowmassAspen Snowmass

It's why it's a family favourite.

I was remembering my first ski-scare, during some apres in Snowmass.

I must have been 8 or 9, skiing with my sister 3 years older than me.

Somehow we crossed a border and weren't in France anymore and lifts were shut.

We didn't have any local money, of course being before the Euro, and no mobile phone, it being the 90s.

I suppose I'm lucky to have my biggest ski scare already past, as what's a worse nightmare as a child than to be lost in a foreign country...

In short, there'd be none of that here.

Snowmass is easy as pie to navigate and to reach home easily at the end of the day, without worry you'll be stuck or lost come closing time.

Plus American's are the friendliest most helpful of skiers there are.


On the other hand it is not really a “skier’s mountain” either. 

It doesn't have the variety of terrain like other big areas.

You'd have to zip to Ajax or Highlands for this.

Compared to the other North America ski resort 'giants', Snowmass measures quite low in annual snowfall.

But if you're an intermediate or with the entire family, then what does it matter?

It has a lot of sky, and the base restaurants are to boot.

Essentially, high-end fast food with American service and comfort.

Heaven to enjoy, skipping some runs, on a sunny day with a Bloody Mary.

Snowmass quiet sideSnowmass' quiet side, far skier's left

But really it's the ski area that reminded me most of a European one.

A good, purpose-built resort like Val Thorens in Les3Vallees or Les Arcs in the Paradiski.

Which of course it is: a purpose built resort that came about in the mid 60s.

It was pioneered by Stein Eriksen, a Norwegian Olympian who had a hand in the development of several of America's prestigious ski resorts.

Recently Snowmass has had a whopping $600 million invested.

I was right on time to enjoy it, the new development opening in November 2018.

The Limelight Hotel was the highlight of my Snowmass visit.

It's vibey, dynamic, luxurious and relaxed all at the same time.

Two huge outdoor hottubs steam the front view as you come off the hill into the new site circle.

The hotel overlooks the outdoor skating rink, enjoyed early-evening by little skaters.

The Limelight has fire pits and deck chairs to keep warm by and watch it all from.

Not to mention the best pizza I've had in the States, a wicked beer selection and even better (for me) wine list.

And it won't break the bank, especially with it's helpful 3-hour Happy Hour with half price food and drinks.

Out of the ski hills I've come away least wowed with Snowmass but this base station and hangout was probably the best.

Especially if you don't have the energy for the beautiful but sceney life of Aspen town.

Aspen is certainly one of my favourite ski towns; it's high-end, glamorous, cool and not quite like any other.

But after a few nights doing the high-life, relaxing and taking it easy in the comfortable luxury of the Limelight Snowmass really hits it right...
Aspen SnowmassKatie at the Limelight Hotel in Snowmass

Better still, stay at the Limelight, though book in early as the hotspot has been fully booked since opening at the start of this season.

On Mondays and Thursdays the hotel has free guiding.

It's Ajax and Highlands on Monday, and Snowmass on Thursday.

In an expensive resort, this is an excellent service saving big bucks and is hospitality at its peak.

And if service and hospitality are America's strong points, it's here in Aspen where its at its ultimate best.

Intermediates and above can benefit from this guiding, whether you're a cruiser or a charger.

Aspen SnowmassAspen Snowmass

Snowmass had the most skiers on the mountain than any area.

But really by European standards, you're all good.

Even on the busiest weekend of the year, you won't be fighting for your turning space.

There was also the biggest range if ski ability, so it's here you'll find your lower intermediate back up if you're intimidated on Highlands or Ajax.

Aspen SnowmassAspen Snowmass

Free Smores for all after skiing.

And all are happy at apres time.

Me especially with my feet up warmed by the flames, a Californian Chardonnay in hand and a prosciutto pizza on the way...

Aspen SnowmassLimelight Snowmass

Aspen SnowmassS'MASS S'MORES

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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