Slope Smarts

Our Mini Guides to Spring Skiing Essentials

From a playlist for the gondola ride and mixing the perfect cocktail to how to wear a bowl strap and private mountain party venues, we give you tips for the perfect spring day.

By Brook Sutton Illustrations by Dana Parker March 7, 2018 Published in the Midwinter/Spring 2018 issue of Aspen Sojourner

Nano Guides

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1. Choose the Right Ski Outfit

Anyone can tell you to layer (and you should, by the way), but spring calls for more flair than just technical gear.

  • Hawaiian shirts? Yes.  
  • Shorts? Can you say full-leg road rash? A firm no.
  • Insulating layers or windproof layer? Both. However, it’s the wind, not the temperature, that chills the most.
  • Helmet? Yep. Those trees don’t get softer when the sun shines. 
  • Sunglasses? Slip a pair in your pocket. Goggles at lunch get real old, real quick.
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2. Kick-start Your Day with the Right Playlist

17 (or so) minutes of sun-soaked, get-up-and-go tunes for the gondola ride up Aspen Mountain.

  • “Here Comes the Sun,” The Beatles
  • “That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars
  • “Quimica (Dance With Me),” Bomba Estero, Balkan Beat Box
  • “Slide,” Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, and Migos
  • “Hot in Herre,” Nelly
  • “Sun Is Shining,” Bob Marley
  • “Soak Up the Sun,” Sheryl Crow
  • “The Dark of the Sun,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • “Cool It Down,” Velvet Underground
  • “Up All Night,” Beck
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3. Use a Bowl Strap the Right Way

Toting your skis on your back makes the nearly 800-vertical-foot hike up Highland Bowl a lot more manageable. Buy bowl straps—essentially a long loop of webbing—at ski patrol headquarters on Loge Peak.

  • Put your skis together and jam the tails into the snow, so the skis stand upright. 
  • Stand facing your skis’ edges. 
  • Center the strap behind your skis and hold it with two hands outstretched. 
  • Hook the lower part of the loop under the binding heel pieces.
  • Hook the upper part of the loop under the binding toe pieces.
  • Keep the strap taut and bring your hands around the skis. 
  • Cross one side of the loop under the other and wrap both sides around the skis once again.  
  • Wrap at least two to three more times, based on your size (after two full wraps under the heel and toe pieces, the straps can go above them for a sturdier ride). 
  • The two loops will be your shoulder straps, so they should be snug. 
  • To help a friend put on his or her perfectly looped bowl sling, lift the wrapped skis straight upward and guide the shoulder straps on like a backpack.
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4. Wax Hacks

Rocking sticky skis may be a great ab workout, but who wants to be working their six-packs when slush bumps are calling?

  • Start off right with a “coarse,” or spring structure, tune from a local shop to texturize smooth bases and minimize the friction from wet snow. Then load your pockets for these on-the-fly tweaks.
  • For caked-on snow, scrape the base of skis with a credit card, then swipe on some Chapstick.
  • Fill a travel bottle with Dawn dish soap. A swipe across the edges and bases will clean and degrease that grippy black sludge that slows down skis.
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5. Party Like a Rock Star

Think a private, on-mountain party is too posh for your pocketbook? Think again. Everything is big in spring: the heat index, the fun quotient, the crowds! When you want a little privacy for your closest amigos, rent one of these rustic, on-mountain gems for your personal soirée. Pack up your own provisions, or have them transported in for a fee. 

  • Buckhorn Cabin or Tourtelotte Park picnic area, Aspen Mountain. $75, 970-920-0755,
  • Wine Cabins…. now plural! Snowmass built a new Wine Cabin at the bottom of Slider in summer 2017. Rent the new digs, or the classic one at the top of Sam’s Knob. $80, 970-923-0469,
  • No Problem Cabin, at the top of Summit Express on Buttermilk. Grills and propane are included in the $50 fee, 970-920-0781,
  • When a picnic table and your pals equals a party, try tailgating in the small parking lot at West Buttermilk or taking in the views at Picnic Point on Aspen Highlands.
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6. Mix the Perfect Spring-Worthy Cocktail

Upgrade your margarita repertoire with this refreshingly spicy concoction. Or let the pros at Ajax Tavern mix one for you.

  • Flaming Ridge of Bell, courtesy Ajax Tavern
  • 2 oz jalapeño-infused Suerte tequila
  • 1⁄2 oz Cointreau
  • 3 oz sour mix
  • 1⁄2 oz simple syrup
  • 1⁄2 jalapeño pepper (seeds removed)
  • Splash of orange juice
  • Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and pour into a salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with lime wedge. Salud!



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