Nearing the end of a spectacular lift-served ski season, we’re now in that period of drowning the sadness of it all coming to an end with ever-more-elaborate closing rituals and parties for all four ski areas.
So, in homage to schussing, here are some events to celebrate ski-town living and winding things down – at least until next week.
Everyone’s seen “The Blizzard of Aahhh’s” and “Aspen Extreme,” but go back a decade or two in time for some less-seen footage with the final event of Aspen Historical Society’s Retro Film Series. Screening on Friday, April 12, from 5:30-6:45 p.m. at the Limelight Hotel in Aspen are three short films celebrating local skiing.
“Snowmass in 1967,” shot by local filmmaker Dick Durrance for the Aspen Ski Corp., features a snowcat tour of Snowmass prior to the resort’s opening. Skiing the pristine powder of the Big Burn via snowcat was the way hundreds of visitors experienced Snowmass — and the hype was built up — for several years before it opened.
The NBC News film “Grand Opening of Snowmass” recalls that heady weekend in December 1967 when all the nation’s media, it seemed, were focused on the opening of one of the largest, ski-in, ski-out resorts in the country. And “Highlands Fling,” shot in 1975 by famed ski filmmaker Dick Barrymore, is actually a comedy about a hot-dog skier who enrolls in a beginner ski course to pursue the instructor.
Next up, head to Snowmass on Saturday, April 13, for the Red Bull Homerun, a sprint race for the fastest time from the top of the ski area to Elk Camp. Prizes including a trophy, an Ikon Pass and a prize pack from Red Bull. It’s not quite the Dash for Cash, a short-lived Chinese-downhill-style race in the early 2000s whose finish line was a mound of snow topped by bikini-clad women. But it is a Le Mans-style start, and there is a prize for best dressed.
Then on Sunday comes the party that never used to be advertised. The Highlands Closing Party (a bit of a false alarm this year with two bonus weekends to follow) involves a party on the peak, Highlands Patrol making an explosive final descent, lots of retro ski costumes and hundreds of revelers bouncing the Highlands Alehouse deck in unison to a DJ’s beats.
Save some energy – and a costume change or two – for the following weekend, when Snowmass’ and Aspen Mountain’s closing parties take center stage. The Elk Camp Surf and Snow Beach Party takes over Elk Camp on Saturday, April 20, from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Don a lei and enjoy a dance party, maybe pedal a margarita blender bike, and don’t worry if you don’t ski or snowboard — gondola foot passes are free that day. The party continues after 2 p.m. at Base Village with a “Top Gun” theme, DJs, hot tubs, volleyball tournaments and a pork cook-off. Parents, don’t worry, there’s a kids’ zone, too.
Aspen Mountain closes out the closing parties on Sunday, April 21, with an ’80s prom party at the Sundeck — including crowning a prom king and queen — followed by the final, final closing party (we think) at Ajax Tavern from 2–6 p.m. You can keep your ’80s threads and ski boots on for this one.