This blog comes to Colorado Ski Country from Kristen Lummis of BraveSkiMom.com.
Two big things happen at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen each January. The first, as you may have guessed, is the Winter X Games, at Buttermilk through at least 2014. The second is not so obvious, but it’s related to the X Games. It’s the Buttermilk Deluxe private lesson package, also known (at least to me) as “one big screaming deal.”
Winter X Games at Aspen
Buildup to the X Games
For four days each January, Buttermilk hosts the world’s most amazing extreme snowsports athletes. During the weeks leading up to the X Games, the Buttermilk base is transformed. Snow guns fire, snow cats roar and rock-solid, enormous jumps, ramps and, of course, the superpipe are fashioned from soft Colorado powder. Much of the Buttermilk base is taken over by ESPN and their crew.
You wouldn’t be alone if you drove by and thought, “The mountain looks closed. I’m not going there.”
A Place to Learn and Improve
Actually, Buttermilk is wide open. The X Games utilize only 8% of the mountain’s terrain, leaving lots of room to ski powder, trees, moguls and Buttermilk’s outstanding groomed terrain. There is also a lot of room for learning and teaching lessons.
Buttermilk was specifically designed with students in mind, a teaching mountain to complement the more difficult terrain on Ajax. Green beginner runs are found at the base and off of West Buttermilk Express, while intermediate runs cross the mountain, welcoming progressing skiers. The Tiehack side of the mountain offers advanced runs, as well as moguls. The glade skiing is excellent and actively incorporated into many ski and snowboard school programs, adding fun and adventure.
And then, there are the terrain parks. Beginning with itty-bitty features for itty-bitty skiers (or timid parents), the parks, like the terrain, progress naturally, gaining in size and difficulty.
Buttermilk is a great mountain for skiers and riders of all abilities to learn, practice and perfect new skills in a relaxed environment. As Kevin Jordan, the Children’s Coordinator for Buttermilk, puts it “Our pros can help anybody, of any level, improve. We can always make easier terrain harder.”
For Kids Only
As Aspen’s teaching mountain, Buttermilk places a big emphasis on children’s programs. Recognizing that most families will be staying in Aspen, the resort provides the Max Express to take kids to and from ski and snowboard school each day. Children board the Max Express every morning at 8:45 at the Gondola ticket office in Aspen. Accompanied by ski school staff, kids are escorted to ski school, where they get their gear, meet their class and spend the day on snow learning from pros who specialize in making skiing and riding super fun. They return, happy and tired to Aspen at about 3:30 p.m.
In addition to occasionally helping on the bus, Max the Moose is the mascot of the Buttermilk Ski School and is found skiing and riding on the mountain. He’s friendly, but elusive, which makes spotting Max during a lesson a big deal! Other fun programs for kids in ski and snowboard school at Buttermilk include Wednesday Race Days, Thursday S’mores Days and a Pinata Party each Friday.
A Bit More About Buttermilk Deluxe
From January 10 to February 2, private lessons at Buttermilk are $349, reduced from the normal price of $680. The Buttermilk Deluxe private lesson package includes a full-day private lesson pro for you and up to four of your friends and family. That means five people can take a full day lesson for less than $70 each.
You can choose a ski, snowboard or telemark lesson and all ages and abilities are welcome. In addition to the lesson, the package includes one equipment rental, one lift ticket to be used during the lesson and discount coupons for lunch on-mountain at The Cliffhouse or Bumps. Reservations are required.