Aspen: The Power of Four – Buttermilk

Published by PlanetSKI on

The so-called beginner’s area of Aspen and home to the X Games. But Buttermilk is much more… Here’s why you should ski it. See original article

One mountain – two sides.

Buttermilk mountain is home to the Winter X Games – where it’s fresh enough to boast that our boy Woodsy championed in January.
It has the Red Bull Double Pipe.
It’s also the named ‘family area’ or ‘beginner’s zone’ of the iconic resort.
I put this in quotes here as it would be underselling it to leave it like this.
I went with too low an expectation, and was completely blown away.

It’s a wonderful ski mountain. Mellow and meandering, yes. But need all slopes be a challenge?

Empty runs, sick views and perfectly groomed pistes should feature on any visitor’s itinerary.

The three main chairlifts service the entire ski hill and are fast quads. There are 44 trails across a vertical drop of 619m; Another 5 small lifts for novices and ski school lie at the base. Aspen Buttermilk is small and fun.

The majority green and blue runs are unintimitdating, but then… And here comes its other side: It is legendary for its terrain parks. Not just that, but the cream of crop parks.

Buttermilk hosts the ultimate action sports competition for us winter lovers, the Winter X Games

Aspen Buttermilk - Winter X Games
Aspen Buttermilk – Winter X Games

From top to bottom, Buttermilk is one terrain park after another. From the obvious one you can’t miss from the main road – Buttermilk Main Park – there’s a 22-foot superpipe, and jumps, logs, banks and rails stretching along 2 miles.

There are seven Buttermilk parks in toto. The main park is quite possibly the best terrain park in the USA – so for the spectacle it’s wonderful.

What better than watching people throw themselves off the kickers and halfpipe from the prime seating position of a chairlift?

Buttermilk views
Buttermilk views

Let’s not forget the uphill. There were many people skinning up and I can see why. The pitch is perfect: The views are lovely.

So would the light be, am or pm, whichever your touring jam. So tourers, carvers, families or freestylers – here’s an Aspen adventure.

Buttermilk is the smallest Aspen’s four mountains, but by no means should it be missable.

For those that need a tougher ski during a day, head to the Tiehack Express and lap a few times. Racer’s Edge is a steeper piste on the far skier’s right. Timberdoodle Glade is another to test out…

Buttermilk X Games


Pyramid Peak rises behind Buttermilk. It stands tall, at over 4,000m. But closer, out over to looker’s left, is Aspen Peak and the Highlands pistes – the momentum builds for this upcoming ski day…

There’s a valley between Buttermilk and Highlands. Long there has been been talk of a link between the two, but for now there’s a pedestrian-ski bridge over a river linking.

You won’t miss the wicked views of the Maroon Bells from Buttermilk.

Maroon Bells (from a step or 2 closer…)

Possibly best, and most affordable, ski food on the 4 mountains. There’s a Mongolian BBQ and Pho bar. Eat on the mountain, at the top of Summit Express.

The Cliffhouse lodge is up there, and isn’t your usual pit stop for food on the mountain. Though it does looks like it. The self-service cabin really excels in the food it serves. Order a bowl of chilli for the ultimate skier’s lunch.

More impressive still is the Pho bar where you can build your own bowl with veg prawns and meat, and they’ll cook something delicious up fresh with your chosen ingredients.

Mongolian Grill, Cliffhouse Buttermilk - Aspen Times image
Mongolian Grill, Cliffhouse Buttermilk – Aspen Times image
Cliffhouse, Buttermilk
Cliffhouse, Buttermilk

Buttermilks is a fun combination mountain – Seeing kiddos ski themselves down the perfectly pisted, long, empty slopes that end with the ballsy teens taking on the world-class park. What better combination?

Inspire the young; Keep young the inspired.

How do we get the new generation going quite so well as to run the elite and cool jumpers next to those setting out?

Buttermilk am
Buttermilk pm

Those ain’t no beginner lines…

They’re certainly lines of those in the know.

In the know of where to ski on a Sunday, away from crowds, to get that serene Sunday feeling.

It was a ski-perfect day.

And I will ask anyone to ski it before writing off Buttermilk as a hill just for beginners, or one of the four not for them.
It’s really the mountain I was most impressed by. And the perfect foil to Aspen Mountain, which won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

I like a different atmosphere day-to-day, to change up the skiing. Ajax is steep, busy and energetic on that majestic mountain. Buttermilk is peaceful, mellow and all about being out there in nature, at one with it. It also feels massively safe – as safe as you can be in the mountains. Entirely inbounds, the whole mountain is snow safe.

There’s also little opportunity to go off route, and off piste – you’ll either end up at the base station, or far skiers right at the Tiehack. You’d feel ok your kids taking off to do one by themselves (as many are)…

Buttermilk tree runs
Buttermilk tree runs

It’s written everywhere that if you’re not beginner or a little skier or rider, Buttermilk will bore you. Well I’m an experienced ski journalist and had the most gorgeous day here. If you’ve come all this way to ski Aspen, ski all of its sides. I’d suggest getting your legs back here, if you can resist the draw of Ajax from the centre of town (just as I did not…).

Or, if you’re really smart, you’ll forget the bowls of Highlands on a powder day and come here for your own lines (so some Buttermilk ski-resident advised).

Buttermilk hospitality

Think Austria has good hospitality? Ski America – given we’re in one its most glamorous resorts – and dotted around the mountain there is hot cider, coffee, water and suncream. No more grappling with Swiss waiters on the mountain for a glass of tap water…

Buttermilk base area, kiddy-drag

Last thing.

Isn’t Buttermilk the cutest name for a mountain?

Read the blog for Day 3 at the locals mountain – Highlands

Categories: BlogWinter


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