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It’s anniversary season in Colorado ski country, with Aspen Snowmass, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, and Crested Butte all ready to celebrate major birthdays. That means parties to honor each one’s legacy, and plenty of time spent reflecting on how far snowsports have come in the Centennial State. To help you get in on all the fun, we rounded up all the best anniversary events happening at those ski resorts, along with some historical tidbits.
Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort
How They’re Celebrating: All season long, you’ll find banner flags at the base highlighting historical moments. Aprés enthusiasts can also toast the anniversary with an Aspen 75 (à la a classic French 75 cocktail), a delectable blend of Belvedere Vodka, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, and bubbly Chandon Brut available at all on-mountain restaurants, as well as the Little Nell and the Limelight Hotels.
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
Join the Party:
- January 9–11: Coinciding with Aspen’s official opening day 75 years ago on January 11, 1947, Aspen Snowmass and Pop-Up Magazine will host three nights of mixed-media storytelling (think: live-action skits about local ski culture and the story of ski racing set to music) at the historic Wheeler Opera House.
- January 11: Gather at the original Lift One site at the base of Shadow Mountain around midday for a reenactment of the original opening day.
- Follow along via Aspen Snowmass’ social media pages and the hashtag #75YearsOfAspenSnowmass to keep tabs on definitive events and other highlights.
Best Historical Tidbit: Aspen Mountain became an official ski area in 1946, but industrious adventurers had been sliding down its face long before that. In 1937, the Aspen Ski Club built the mountain’s first ski lift, the 600-foot-long, wooden “Boat Tow” that used old mining equipment and a converted Ford Model A engine to pull one “boat” to the apex in three minutes, while the other, empty boat slid down. The tow opened on January 27, 1938, charging 10 cents a ride or 50 cents for a half day.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
How They’re Celebrating: Though the resort’s actual 75th anniversary falls on December 10, Arapahoe Basin has pushed its bash to April 1 to 3 to take advantage of what the resort boasts as an “unrivaled” spring vibe, which often means swimsuits as ski attire and parking lot libations. Bust out the onesies and ugly sweater/jean combos for the ski area’s throwback skiing events, and plan to stick around for beach parties and live music.
Join the Party: The evening of April 1, the resort will host a formal, reservation-only dinner (no kidding). More details to come.
Best Historical Tidbit: Arapahoe Basin’s Pallavicini Chair, which serves double-black diamond terrain directly from the parking lot, has long been a favorite among the ski area’s core clientele. Its glory is even inked in history: When original owner, Ralston Resorts, sold Arapahoe Basin in 1997 to the current owners, Canadian real estate company Dream—thereby separating them from Vail Resorts—a group of cheeky employees responded by drafting up a document designed to look like a handwritten scroll and dubbed it “a declaration of independence.” The first sentence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all ski areas are created common and equal, except, of course, Arapahoe Basin—‘cause we have the Pali Chair!”
Breckenridge Ski Resort
How They’re Celebrating: Keep an eye out around the base area for impromptu celebrations by the resort’s roaming DJ (Snow)Cat, teasers for opening of the new Freedom SuperChair in early December (exact date will depend on snow conditions), and more nods to the big birthday during their Spring Finale celebration April 18–May 30. Breckenridge will also have historical highlights on its social media channels with the hashtag #60yearsofBreck.
Join the Party: Stop in at the Breckenridge Welcome Center (203 S. Main St.) to view the free “60 Years of Breckenridge Ski Resort History in 60 Objects” exhibition, courtesy of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. The exhibit will feature personalized artifacts, from skis and snowboards to lift chairs and trail maps, that tell the stories that have shaped the resort.
Best Historical Tidbit: On December 16, 1961, Peak 8 Ski Area opened with one double chairlift and a short learners T-bar. Back then, entry would only run you $4, or $2.50 for kids; for an additional $10, you could get a day-long lesson. Since then, Breckenridge has boasted a handful of “firsts.” It was the first in the world to install a high-speed, four-person lift in 1981; the first resort in Colorado to allow snowboarding in 1984; and it hosted the inaugural snowboard World Cup in 1985.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort
How They’re Celebrating: Crested Butte Mountain Resort has long been a low-key, off-yonder ski destination. Its 60th anniversary celebration will mimic that modest tradition. One of the newest acquisitions under Vail Resorts, it will follow in sister ski area Breckenridge’s footsteps by offering small reminders of the celebration throughout the season, including free keepsakes featuring Crested Butte’s 60th anniversary logo and banners in the base area.
Join the Party: Commemorate the milestone at the Al Johnson Uphill/Downhill Telemark Ski Race on March 19, followed by a free concert and fête known as Ski Town Breakdown.
Best Historical Tidbit: Traveling through the Elk Mountains back in the 1800s was no easy task—especially when carrying mail through wintery conditions. Yet as the Postman’s Oath goes, “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” General store proprietor and postmaster Al Johnson would surely have added snow to that line-up of uninviting weather conditions: Each week, the stalwart mail carrier navigated an arduous 18 miles between Crested Butte and a remote mining camp carrying 40 pounds of mail on his back. Today, the annual Al Johnson Uphill/Downhill Telemark Ski Race commemorates his commitment to his task.
(Read More: 10 Ways to Make Skiing in Colorado Fun Again)