Full-moon partier breaks leg after hours in Buttermilk terrain park

by Dorothy Atkins, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Aspen Skiing Co. officials are asking that hikers be responsible when they attend full-moon parties at the top of Buttermilk after a California resident broke his leg coming down the mountain early Thursday morning.

Dispatch received a 911 call at 2:01 a.m. from a man who reported that a member of his party had a possible broken leg and was in the Buttermilk terrain park. The group was coming down the mountain after attending a full-moon party at the top.

The injured man was a 27-year-old from California, according to a Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office press release. At around 3 a.m.,, the man was located, stabilized and transported to Aspen Valley Hospital in a joint effort between Mountain Rescue Aspen (MRA), SkiCo personnel, the Aspen Ambulance District and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Officials do not know if the man was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

SkiCo is likely not going to try to shut down the full-moon parties, according to Jeff Hanle, SkiCo spokesman.

“What we are going to do is ask people to stop acting like children,” Hanle said.

People who use the mountain after hours are responsible for their own safety, Hanle said. It’s not SkiCo’s responsibility to shut down the mountain at night. Even if the company wanted to, there’s no practical way to prevent people from going up in the middle of the night, Hanle said.

“It’s not like we’re going to put armed ski patrol out there,” he said.

If more partiers are injured a decision to ban the moonlit fetes will likely come from the sheriff’s office and not SkiCo, Hanle said.

In addition to putting themselves in danger by partying at the top, hikers have been trashing the mountain.

After February’s full moon, Alex Kahnweiler, a Buttermilk ski patroller, wrote a letter to the editor asking that hikers pick up after themselves. Over the years full-moon parties on Buttermilk have become more popular and hikers end up leaving bottles, food and at times waning camp fires at the top.

“On most mornings after a full moon, [ski patrollers] are left with the time-consuming and irritating task of cleaning up after hikers,” Kahnweiler’s letter said. “We have had to pick up multiple garbage bags worth of beer cans that were scattered through the woods, we have had to put out bonfires that were left burning through the night, and we have had to clean up partially consumed wine bottles and partly eaten food from the warming hut.”

Kahnweiler encouraged people to enjoy themselves hiking up, but asked them to be respectful and clean up their trash.

Ultimately, SkiCo’s message is to have fun, but behave and act responsibly, Hanle said.

“It’s just not cool to act like a bunch of hooligans and to trash the mountain,” Hanle said.