Beneath Aspen's Glossy Appearance Are Some Troubled Souls

April 30 2009, 10:48 AM

For almost 70 years, Jim Blanning, a former ski patroller and local legend in Aspen, watched his city evolve into an exclusive mountain resort, writes former 5280 articles editor Mike Kessler for Outside. When his hometown rejected him, on December 31, Blanning came back with four bombs, inciting a confusing and sad incident that ruined New Years' Eve in Aspen and shocked the state. As authorities rushed to respond, Blanning pointed a pistol at his head and pulled the trigger. Blanning's suicide, like that of author Hunter S. Thompson, who shot himself in his kitchen just outside Aspen in 2005, and many others might be blamed on Aspen's "paradise factor," writes The Denver Post. The Aspen area's rate of suicide is 30.5 deaths per 100,000--nearly double the state of Colorado's and almost triple the national average.