Ski History

DIY Aspen Mountain History Tour

Use this handy guide to ski back in time on your next visit to Aspen Mountain.

December 21, 2021 Published in the Winter/Spring 2021-22 issue of Aspen Sojourner

1. Roch Run, originally a narrow, twisting ski trail that started at the top of Ruthie’s and included the infamous Corkscrew, was Aspen’s first ski run, cut by volunteers in 1937 and hosting many ski races. Of course, racers had to hike up to the start before Lift One fired up in 1946.

2. Where Corkscrew meets Tower Ten Road, the top hoist wheel of the Boat Tow, Aspen’s original skier conveyance, is still cabled to a tree.

3. The top of the FIS chairlift (Lift Six) was where Aspen’s original Lift One unloaded and Lift Two began its journey to the summit of Aspen Mountain. From here, the FIS run is so named because it was the start of the 1950 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships downhill course.

4. The bottom of Buckhorn, where Buckhorn Cabin sits, offers an excellent view of the massive open flank of Mount Hayden (13,316 feet), which was mapped and planned as a ski resort that, but for a few circumstances, might have been Aspen Mountain.

5. The trees to skier’s left of Zaugg Dump hide the ruins of miner Billy Zaugg’s cabin and the remains of a mining-era tram system that was used to haul supplies and lower ore up and down the mountain, arguably Aspen’s first cable lift.

6. Stand at the top of the Silver Queen trail, and you’ll be standing where racers started the 1950 World Championships giant slalom. Try to ski the run, all double fall lines and ungroomed snow, like a race course. 

7. Dipsy Doodle is named after a ski technique invented by Dick Durrance, a ski racer and Aspen Skiing Corp’s first general manager, who in the 1940s pioneered a series of short, controlled turns to ski steep natural terrain with 10-foot-long, straight, heavy wooden skis.

8. Where Spring Pitch bottoms out and meets Summer Road, downhill racers had to make a hard left at the Airplane Turn (so named because they’d often throw their arms out for balance). Miss it, and they’d crash into fencing before hitting the Berlin Wall, a 12-foot concrete barrier.

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