The best way to understand Buttermilk is to look at the mountain from two points of view. First, known throughout Aspen as being the “beginner’s hill,” Buttermilk boasts an abundance of trails that are tailored for the “never-ever” skier or snowboarder. Second, as home to the ESPN Winter X Games, the “Milk” has hosted the best skiers and boarders in the world every year since 2002.
While there aren’t the storied steeps of Buttermilk’s resort neighbors (Aspen, Snowmass, Highlands), you will find something for every skill level at the mountain located right past the roundabout. Wide, expansive runs make up the majority of the terrain. West Buttermilk has mellow grades and slower chairs for youngsters and newbies to get comfortable on, the Tiehack side gets steeper and more challenging, and in between there are easy-to-find glades and trees to tuck into right next to the groomers.
Extreme athletes and aspiring X Gamers spend most of their time sliding, soaring, and spinning in the world-class terrain parks (there are five to choose from, creating more than two miles of rails, jibs, and boxes to play with) and halfpipes (Panda Pipe is the place where beginning freestylers can learn the tricks that X Games’ athletes and Olympians throw in the 22-foot Superpipe).
There is only one ski-in, ski-out accommodation option at the foot of Buttermilk: The Inn at Aspen. However, the resort sits a few minutes from downtown Aspen and Snowmass Village, and, apparently, there are “14,303 pillows within a 10-mile radius” of Buttermilk (the folks at Aspensnowmass.com did the counting, and I trust them). Buses run like clockwork between all four of Aspen’s mountains, allowing people to stay anywhere and ski everywhere.
The après-ski scene is pretty nonexistent at Buttermilk, but the Cliffhouse is located at the top of the Summit Express chairlift. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more scenic place in Aspen to have a drink or recharge your battery. The panoramic views of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Creek valley are stunning.
FYI…The United States Snowboard Halfpipe team will be meeting at Buttermilk after the ESPN Winter X Games this year to train for the Vancouver Olympic Games. Stop by the Superpipe during the first week of February if you’re interested in watching the best in the world (the U.S. snagged four of the six possible podium spots in Torino, Italy) work on tricks, or pick up the newest issue of Aspen Peak magazine to learn more. (I’m not above shameless self-promotion.)
main photo courtesy of Aspen Skiing Company and Daniel Bayer.