(Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series that profiles area residents who live for riding the mountains.)
Matt Boughton doesn’t take for granted how good he’s got it, even though he’s been living in the same zip code his entire life.
Well, except for the four-year college stint he did at Western State in Gunnison, where laps at Crested Butte were routine.
“I was raised being taught to take advantage of what we have here and appreciate it, and I definitely did,” the Aspen native said one recent afternoon while shredding Ajax. “It’s the lifestyle that keeps me here.”
Boughton, 24, was born and bred here, and grew up being coached in the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club to compete nationally in bordercross, halfpipe and slopestyle.
He learned to ski when he was 2 or 3 years old, and skied up until he was introduced to snowboarding.
“I skied until I was 8 and went out [snowboarding] one time, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done,” Boughton said.
That, and mountain biking. Boughton competes on local and national levels in mountain biking racing, a sport that was instilled in him by his father, Bill, at a young age.
“My dad used to race professionally,” he said. “I grew up riding with him and going everywhere, and trying to keep up with him and eventually, him trying to keep up with me.
“I think I always had a love for mountain biking and an enthusiasm for it,” he added. “It gave me motivation to go faster, be better.”
This past summer, Boughton worked at Basalt Bike & Ski. For a decade before that, he was at Aspen Velo. He graduated college in 2010 with a business administration degree with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.
“I’ve always had the idea to open my own bike shop,” he said, adding that he needs more experience before launching his own business.
Currently, he works for Aspen Sports in the Sky Hotel’s rental shop, which affords him to get on the mountain pretty much every day during his split shifts; last season he logged 107 days on the hill. On his days off, he enjoys hiking Highland Bowl, or doing laps in the terrain park at Buttermilk and riding the halfpipe.
Until he was 7, he and his twin brother, Woody, lived with their parents at the West End home of Aspen matriarch Elizabeth Paepcke; his mother had a side job gardening on the property.
“You couldn’t have asked for better,” he recalled. “There was a huge back yard that goes down to Hallam Lake. It was awesome.”
He said he doesn’t remember much else about living there, except that Paepcke appeared to like having the boys around, had a cat and she threw big Halloween parties, of which his father was responsible for setting up the decorations.
“She liked to hang out with me and Woody,” he said. “She was a big part of our family at the time.”
After that stint, the Boughton boys grew up in their parents’ home near Hunter Creek.
Boughton said he doesn’t see himself leaving the confines of the Roaring Fork Valley, ever, except to travel, which is his newfound interest.
“Growing up in a place like this I never felt the need to travel to different places,” he said. “This is such a great place, and I have everything I need here.”
A recent trip to Costa Rica with his girlfriend, Katy, sparked the new passion.
“I got the travel bug when I left the country for the first time in October,” Boughton said. “Now I have nothing but traveling on the brain. I’m trying to figure out how I am going to save up for my next adventure.”
He rides with Katy almost every day, and, depending on his work schedule, he’ll either hit the mountain with friends or go solo.
“A couple of days out of the week I am out here by myself, and I have a lot of fun doing it that way,” Boughton said, adding his favorite run is the trees next to Perry’s Prowl in The Dumps.
As for his future in Aspen, Boughton said he’s watched friends and former classmates move away in the search for a “real job” and a “real life,” and that doesn’t appeal to him.
“I have a friend who wanted a real-life job, lives in Denver and hates it,” he said. “I see a lot of friends coming back.
“I’ve always been one that has wanted to stay here forever,” Boughton added. “I had so many friends in high school who couldn’t wait to get out of here. Where would you want to go? What’s better than here?”
If you would like to nominate a candidate for the ski bum profile, email firstname.lastname@example.org