Question: During the X Games at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, is the mountain open or closed for skiing and riding?
Answer: Buttermilk is open, it’s awesome and despite the hive of activity at the bottom of the mountain, only 8% of Buttermilk’s terrain is utilized by the Winter X Games. The rest of the mountain is largely empty. It’s the perfect time to ski, ride and learn.
X Games Buildup
For four days each January, Buttermilk plays host to the world’s most amazing extreme snowsports athletes. During the month leading up to the Winter X Games, the Buttermilk base is transformed.Snow guns fire, snow cats roar and rock-solid, enormous big air jumps, slopestyle features and of course, the superpipe are fashioned from what is usually light fluffy Colorado powder.
Much of Buttermilk’s base area is taken over by ESPN and their crew. You wouldn’t be alone if you drove by and thought, well, “The mountain looks closed. It looks like a construction site and I’m not going there.”
But you’d be wrong, and you’d be missing out on some fun skiing and a really great deal.
The Perfect Place to Learn and Improve
Each of the four Aspen/Snowmass mountains has an outstanding ski school, but Buttermilk was specifically designed with students in mind. Green beginner runs are found at the base and off of West Buttermilk Express, while intermediate runs cross the mountain, allowing natural progression as students improve. The Tiehack side of the mountain offers advanced black runs, as well as moguls. Excellent glade skiing is found across the mountain and tree skiing is actively incorporated into many ski and snowboard school programs, adding fun and adventure.
And, of course, there are the terrain parks. Beginning with itty-bitty features for itty-bitty skiers (or moms and dads), the parks, like the terrain, progress naturally, stepping up in size and difficulty, with the added inspiration of being on the X Games mountain.
Buttermilk is a great mountain for skiers and riders of all abilities to learn, practice and perfect new skills in a low-key environment. As Kevin Jordan, the Children’s Coordinator for Buttermilk, puts it “Our pros can help anybody, of any level, improve. We can always make easier terrain harder.”
Just For Kids
Question: What’s big and purple and just made mom and dad’s life easier?
Answer: Max the Moose, or more specifically, the Max Express bus.
Each morning at 8:45, kids going to ski and ride school at Buttermilk, hop aboard the purple Max Express at the Gondola ticket office in downtown Aspen. Accompanied by ski school staff, the kids are escorted to ski school, where they get their gear, meet their class and spend the day on snow learning from Pros who specialize in making skiing and riding super fun. The Max Express returns to Aspen, with it’s merry crew, at about 3:30 p.m.
And what about that big, purple Moose? Max the Moose is the mascot of the Buttermilk Ski School and is often found skiing and riding on the mountain. He’s friendly, but elusive, which makes spotting Max during a lesson a big deal! Other fun programs for kids in Ski and Ride School at Buttermilk include Wednesday Race Days, Thursday S’mores Days and a Pinata Party each Friday.
So here’s the great deal: From January 10 to February 2, private lessons at Buttermilk are only $349. Normally, private lessons are $680, so this is just about half-price. The Buttermilk Deluxe private lesson package includes a full-day private lesson Pro for you and up to four of your friends and family. That means five people can take a full day lesson for less than $70 each.
You can choose a ski, snowboard or telemark lesson and all ages and abilities are welcome. Children ages 2-4 are limited to skiing, and Aspen/Snowmass requires a one-to-one ratio for this age group.
In addition to the lesson, the package includes one equipment rental, one lift ticket to be used during the lesson and discount coupons for lunch on-mountain at The Cliffhouse or Bumps (my favorite). Reservations with the Ski and Ride School are required.
- A Family Guide to the Winter X Games, January 5, 2012.
- The Yin and Yang of Aspen? Part Two: Buttermilk, January 27, 2011.
- Perfect Timing at Buttermilk and Snowmass, January 22, 2012.
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