„I see you’re traveling with a larger travel group“. National’s rental car agent looks at me eagerly as if he’s expecting a delegation from the German Skiing Association. „No, not really,“ I answer with astonishment and a questioning facial expression. „Well, you booked our biggest SUV. There fit easily 8 persons in“ answers Mr. National. Okay, the eyes were probably bigger than the driver’s license, but less than 10 minutes later I steer the Star Destroyer into downtown Denver. Because before my stay in the brand new Limelight Hotel from Snowmass, the travel planning set the NHL game of the Colorado Avalanche against the New York Rangers.
And so, I end the first evening with a spectacular 6:1 home win in the Happy Hour tariff, which includes 2 tickets in the Pepsi Arena for the price of 1 ticket including beer in a plastic cup.
What a show, just like at the Interstate 70, which is already bursting at 7am the next morning. The whole town seems to be on its way to the ski resorts that start at Keystone, then continue via Vail and Beaver Creek to luxurious Aspen. Anyway, I need 4 hours and a half to reach Snowmass, where the Limelight has recently opened its doors directly at Elk Camp Gondola. Last year there was still a big construction site here, today one looks at a perfect skating rink and rides from the hotel directly with the gondola to the 3.452 meters high Elk Camp.
I am still too early for the check-in, but not for the first kilometres of slopes this year. Let´s get into the new ski gear and ride up the mountain, because skiing in Colorado is like carving on champagne. If you don’t believe it, come by yourself or read my article from last year. Snowmass is a real monster of a skiing area, has 96 runs and offers with the „Long Shot“ an 8,5 km long mogul run through the woods at Burnt Mountain.
After one hour I already gasp for air, because queues, crowds or hut polka are not to be found here. The experience of skiing with American calmness dominates. Everything is easy, the helpfulness at the medieval lifts is high and the fun factor is constant at 120%. The only thing missing is the right hotel, preferably one where you can ski directly from the trail into the heated ski room. Since this winter this wish has finally come true with the new Limelight. And after testing the Aspen branch last year, I was among the first proud guests at the Limelight Snowmass.
The furnishings are modern and stylish, the rooms are extremely spacious and offer, in addition to two sensationally large King Size Beds, a suite with mini kitchenette and fridge. In addition, there is a beautiful sunny balcony and a wonderful bathroom with shower tray and double washbasin. The offer is rounded off by a spa and fitness area as well as the cosy lobby, where the legendary breakfast is served in the morning.
Where else can I get Scrambled Eggs with Extra Cheese? And that’s what you’ll need the next morning, because it’s snowing very heavily. Normally I’m more of a fair-weather driver, but considering 20 centimeters of fresh Colorado powder, I’m getting weak, too. So, get out of the hotel slippers and into the deep snow, which first has to be pushed to the side.
The trails are hardly visible anymore and so one simply drives between the wonderfully snow-covered Douglas fir trees on sight and enjoys the quietly trickling snowfall, which is apparently contagious, because as soon as I thread the first hump of the Long Shot, I’m already hitting the butter-soft snow hill. After 20 minutes, I finally reach the first ski run marker, which tells me that I have just covered ¼ of the distance.
What fun you can have here, a bit off the „main trails“, completely exclusive to yourself.
Not much more is going on the next day on Aspen Mountain, Ajax for short. Now sunshine is served in addition to the loose powder snow and so the Silver Queen Gondola takes me directly up to the Sundeck at 3.418 meters. Normally it can do this in 14 minutes, but due to the winds in the upper third we are on the way for half an hour.
Just in time for lunch I finally meet my incredible host Tucker Vest Burton, who already brought me to Aspen last year. We meet at Bonnie´s, the favourite restaurant of the locals, and philosophize over apple strudel and soup about the best ski resorts in the Alps. The Alps?
Well, Tucker is planning a trip to the Dolomites and of course I can give her some nice tips in Alta Badia and Val Gardena. It’s already crazy, while we Europeans dream of Perfect Powder in Aspen, my American colleagues long for the downhill runs in Austria, Switzerland or South Tyrol. After a good hour it’s time to say goodbye again, but we promise to meet again, either in Bavaria or in beautiful Colorado.
No visit to Aspen can end without a dinner in the Crêperie du Village and so on the last evening I sit again at my regulars‘ table in the rustic hut cellar and order „Steak a la plancha“, which is nothing else than fillet of beef on hot stone with rosemary potatoes.
What a finale for an unforgettable time in Aspen and Snowmass. There were grandiose descents, a chic new hotel and lots of fresh snow that almost crashed my star destroyer. In any case, Lord Vader would have freaked out when the giant SUV starts to slide in front of the roundabout and with a ridiculous 5 km/h just reaches the last gradient. Question to National: „Did you actually put winter tyres on me there? We’ll see how the giant baby reacts to sand and scree. To be continued.
Warning: Skiing in Aspen/Snowmass can be addictive. Information and help can be found here in the blog or by direct message.
This article was written at the invitation of Limelight Snowmass and the Aspen Skiing Company. Many thanks to the fabulous Tucker Vest Burton, without whom all this would not have been possible.