Buttermilk’s smooth, smooth ride for families

Making music at Buttermilk

Breaking news: Buttermilk, the easiest of Aspen/Snowmass’ four mountains, is my new top choice for best Colorado resort for young families. Not only did they open a 7,500-square foot state-of-the-art children’s center with many nooks, crannies, hideouts, jungle gyms, rope bridges and a lookout tower, but the ski school and wide-open terrain were top-notch.

I also learned that just one day can make all the difference.

When we were at Snowmass the previous day, conditions were fine yet not optimal due to the lack of snow. However, the heavens didst open and we were blessed with glorious powder at Buttermilk.

The Grownups at Play

The mountain’s seven lifts and 43 trailers are predominantly rated for beginners and intermediates, and even the black diamond (advanced) runs weren’t very extreme so I worried we might get a bit bored until the snow hit. Then it was love at first white as Jamie and I had our best ski day of the season. Because the mountain is geared to less extreme types, the more difficult terrain was a ghost town and we had a powder-perfect playground all to ourselves that morning. If you’ve never skied fresh powder, it’s like floating on a very cold, glorious cloud.

I had a dilemma, though. When it’s snowing, the light is flat and it’s tough to see. The Lasik surgery I had in 2002 is deteriorating so knowing there would be poor visibility, I brought my glasses to wear under my goggles. However, it’s been so many years since I’ve worn glasses when working out that I forgot how fogged up they come. So, I alternated between wearing my goggles and glasses, getting too fogged up to see anything, taking off my goggles, then my glasses, getting blinded by snow and starting the process all over again. Glasses-wearing people: what on earth do you put on your glasses to keep them from fogging?

Of course, these are #FirstWorldSkiProblems and we still had a fabulous time together. Jamie and I spent much of the day on the eastern slopes of Tiehack where the runs are longer and steeper.  At one point, we spotted Hadley doing a black-diamond mogul run with her class. Supportive parents that we are, we started yelling embarrassments encouragements and as luck would have it, she had an illustrious wipe-out. Our job was done.

Buttermilk also boasts an Olympic-size half-pipe commonly seen on the Winter X Games and two smaller terrain parks.  I started gloating about my 0.0005 feet of air after launching off a jump at the Red Rover (read: wussy) terrain park until a class of local 8-year-olds nonchalantly knocked a few 180s out of the park. Tough crowd.

Conquering the Black Diamond

When we skied with the kids at the end of the day, they raved about the camaraderie with the staff.  Hadley pointed out fox tracks under the Summit Express lift and 14,018-foot Pyramid Peak shrouded in clouds. “And when we ride the West Buttermilk lift, do you know what the lift operators do at the midway loading station? If you pretend to fall asleep, they throw a snowball toward you to wake you up!”  After just one day on the mountain, both kids felt like insiders at a small resort community.

We raced over to Tiehack, determined to take Bode down his first black-diamond run. The terrain is much more moderate at Buttermilk so even the black-diamond was more like an advanced intermediate run. Without hesitation, he skied it like a champ and at 8 years old, he can proudly say he conquered his personal Everest.

Which means it’s all downhill from here for Jamie and me.



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