Aspen Mountain Lifts & Terrain

Aspen Mountain Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

  • Vertical (ft)
    7,945 – 11,212 (3,267)
  • Average Snow Fall
    300 inches
  • Lifts (8)
    1 gondola
    1 high speed quad
  • Ski Season
    mid Nov - mid April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 76
    Longest run – 3 mi
    Beginner - 0%
    Intermediate - 48%
    Advanced - 26%
    Expert - 26%

Aspen Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The small to medium sized Aspen Mountain sits fully below the tree line. Aspen Mountain caters well to strong intermediate skiers and snowboarders who love to cruise the corduroy, and advanced riders who thrive on moguls. Aspen Mountain (aka Ajax) has no beginner terrain and only a small amount of expert terrain.

The shape of the ski resort is long and skinny. The top part of the mountain consists mainly of blue groomed runs. Short steep black and double black trails originate from a few ridges, and these feed into more blue runs that follow the gullies.

The main lift is the Silver Queen gondola which runs the full vertical of the ski resort. There are a few lifts that service the top section of Aspen Mountain, and some skiers may only ride these mid-mountain lifts without ever skiing to the base. As to be expected, the snow quality up high is better, and the runs that drop into town are steep enough to scare many timid intermediates.

You’ll see plenty of impressive ski fashion at Aspen Mountain; this is the most glamorous of the Aspen Snowmass ski resorts. In general the skiers have the ability to back up the outfits, although some of them know it (we saw quite a few show ponies!)! And even though snowboarding has been permitted at Aspen Mountain since the early 2000s, snowboarders are still a rarity on the slopes.

Aspen Mountain Lifts

The Silver Queen gondola has received a major overhaul. The cabins are spacious and have floor to ceiling windows, and it whips up the mountain in only 14 minutes. There are two other fast lifts, Ajax Express and Ruthie’s, whilst the other lifts are ssssslow. The reasonably short Gent’s Ridge quad chair takes a painful 13 minutes.

The Bell Mountain and Little Nell chairs only run when it’s busy. Thankfully this isn’t very often, and crowded slopes and lift lines are generally not a problem at Aspen.

Lift Tickets

The Aspen Snowmass lift passes are valid at any of the four Aspen Snowmass ski resorts. Like everything else in Aspen, you have to pay a premium for lift tickets. With the exception of Vail and Beaver Creek, the lift tickets are the most expensive in the country. Like elsewhere you can get discounts for multi-day tickets and advanced purchase.

Aspen Snowmass is on the Ikon Pass.

Aspen Snow and Weather Conditions

Aspen doesn’t get as much snowfall as Utah or some other Colorado ski resorts, but an average of 300 inches (7.6 metres) per season is nothing to be sneezed at.

Aspen is at adequate elevation to potentially give you altitude sickness, but it’s lower than many other Colorado ski resorts and the top of Aspen Mountain is 400 metres lower than that of Snowmass, so the snow quality may not be quite as good. The base area is at an elevation of only 2,422 metres (7,945 feet) and even though the slopes are largely north facing, it’s not surprising that the runs that drop into town get rather icy at times. They don’t seem to have good grooming techniques such as grinding to prevent the slopes from getting sketchy.

Aspen Mountain has snow making capabilities on 85 hectares (210 acres) of terrain; 33% of the ski area.

Ski Terrain for the Beginner

Aspen Mountain has zero, zip, and zilch terrain for beginners.

Aspen Ski Terrain for the Intermediate

Aspen Mountain has reasonably good terrain for intermediates, although there are much better resorts for intermediates to ski in Colorado.

The mellowest of the blue runs are at the top of the mountain, whilst the runs into town are steepish blues, so low end intermediates may want to play up top all day and then download the gondola.

The blue runs off Ruthie’s are a great way to get in plenty of vertical, and the snow quality is good, but those practising technique may find the camber a bit challenging.

The blue runs down to the Gent’s Ridge chair are very good, but you’ll potentially get frustrated with the dawdling speed of the lift.

For the Family/Kids

Aspen Mountain isn’t great for a lot of families because of the lack of kids’ facilities and the absence of green terrain.

Terrain Parks & Pipes

This is not the ski resort for you if you’re a terrain park shredder. Head to Buttermilk Mountain or Snowmass.

Advanced Skiing Aspen Mountain

Aspen Mountain has plenty of runs for advanced riders. Racers with sharp edges can head down the skiers left of the mountain below Ruthie’s for some fast turns. Otherwise take plenty of glucosamine because Aspen Mountain is a mass of moguls and your knees may need all the assistance they can get. Bell Mountain is probably the best spot to hone your bumps technique, and runs vary between open wide mogul runs and trails with a spattering of trees.

Advanced riders should also be able to tackle most of the double black diamond terrain (see below). The exception may be if it’s icy and the bumps are thigh high!

Advanced powder hounds who love truly fresh powder may not enjoy Aspen Mountain. Fresh powder doesn’t last long, and the dumps of snow are generally not big enough to level out the bumps. It’s rare that there’s beautiful smooth virgin powder to ride.

With only 273 hectares (675 acres) of skiable terrain and 76 trails packed into it, there’s only a little room left for off-piste and genuine tree skiing.

Aspen Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Many of the double blacks are steep but rather tame relative to some other ski resorts (including Snowmass). The double black trails tend to be very short and most of them require a long ski in and ski out. For example the double diamond runs below the Gentleman’s Ridge take a long time to get there, they’re over in a flash, and then you have to ride all the way down to town which is a bit tedious - you get a lot of déjà vu if you want to lap these expert runs.

A popular area is “the dumps” where some of the terrain features were formed by the miners as they excavated their way into the mountain. The tightness of the runs as well as the features provide some technical challenges.

The gate accessed Trainor Ridge area falls into the extreme category. It’s only 25 acres in size and the lines are very short (only about 500 feet of vertical), but there’s plenty of fun in there with chutes, tight trees, rocky outcroppings, cliff-lettes and the odd mining shaft. Like any super steep slope it requires plenty of snow cover so it’s often not open, and its low elevation adds a further challenge for Mother Nature.