6 Reasons Why You Should Ski Buttermilk this Season

Activities, Ski Snowmass | 4 Comments

While often overlooked by hardcore adventure seekers for the dramatic steeps at Aspen and Aspen Highlands or the extensive terrain at Snowmass, skiing and snowboarding at Buttermilk Mountain is a must for visitors to the Roaring Fork Valley. Not only is skiing and riding at Buttermilk quick and convenient; you’ll often find smaller crowds and therefore shorter wait times to ride the high-speed lifts. 

Although it’s the smallest of Aspen’s four mountains, Buttermilk is known for its overall friendliness, extensive terrain parks, skinning terrain, as well as its annual hosting of the Winter X Games (for nearly two decades now!). Here are the six reasons to ski and snowboard at Buttermilk this winter:

#1 — The Convenience (and Free Parking/Shuttle) Factor

Buttermilk Mountain sits a mere three miles from Aspen, making it easily accessible to anyone staying in the valley. RFTA offers a frequent and free Four Mountain Connector shuttle seven days a week during the winter season, which will get you to and from Buttermilk with ease. 

If you prefer to drive, you’ll find free parking in any of the three Buttermilk lots. No matter where you end up parking, a ski lift is just a short stroll from your car. To get to Buttermilk’s main parking lot, turn at the light just south of the airport, at the base of the Buttermilk Mountain. You’ll also find a tiny parking lot immediately beside the Tiehack lift, and a small parking lot next to the ski trails at West Buttermilk (you’ll drive through a residential area to get there, following the signs which say “Private” but permit skier access during winter months).

#2 — Fast Lifts and Terrain Variety 

The Speedy Buttermilk Lifts

With three express chairlifts at Buttermilk, you’ll be able to pack in the runs and experience terrain all over the mountain. The speed of the lifts (plus the smaller size of the mountain when compared to the other three ski areas) also guarantees that even if you end up separated from your party, you’ll be able to reconvene quite quickly. Besides the high speed lifts (Summit Express, Tiehack Express, and West Buttermilk Express), Buttermilk provides a dedicated area for beginner ski lessons, equipped with both a magic carpet (Mitey Carpet) and a small chairlift (Panda Peak). 

From Beginner to Advanced Terrain

While Buttermilk is best known as a beginner’s mountain, it’s friendly to skiers of all levels. You’ll find 44 trails covering its 470 acres (35% rated easy, 39% rated more difficult, and 26% rated most difficult). The West Buttermilk trails tend to be more gentle, as do many blue runs descending under the Summit Express lift. Steeper and more advanced terrain can most reliably be found on the Tiehack side of the mountain. 

While the black runs at Buttermilk may not compare to the black diamonds at Aspen Mountain difficulty-wise, any skier craving a challenge will still find steeps, bumps, and narrow runs through the trees. Buttermilk also has small off-piste areas, should the groomed trails get “old.” 

Buttermilk’s Terrain Parks

Buttermilk packs five terrain parks and more than 100 mega features — including the X slopestyle and super halfpipe — into its relatively small ski area. That’s exactly why ESPN has chosen Buttermilk to host the Winter X games year after year; the Winter X Games park includes over 40 jumps and 25 rails. While the X Park zone boasts impressively large features, it’s usually closed to skiers and snowboarders for an entire month after New Year’s Eve, so that X Games preparation can take place. 

If you’re not (yet) ready for advanced park features, beginner terrain park features can be found in the Ski and Snowboard School Park on the West Buttermilk side of the mountain.

#3 — Kid-Friendly Fun: The Hideout & Fort Frog

Locals and visitors alike consider Buttermilk one of the best mountains for learning to ski and snowboard; Buttermilk also provides features for kids (and kids at heart) to enjoy.  

The innovative 7,500-square-foot Hideout Children’s Center (reserved exclusively for Ski & Snowboard School program attendees) is a favorite for families with young children; the facility teaches snowsports to young children from 2.5 to 4 years old by providing a gentle kiddie slope, a magic carpet lift, four indoor play-based learning break rooms, and lunch. 

Originally built in 1991 and rebuilt in 2016, the Old West-style Fort Frog sits in the trees along the No Problem run at Buttermilk. Named for 80’s and 90’s ski school supervisor Greg “Frog” Fortin, Fort Frog invites kids and their parents to take a break from the slopes and explore its three tall lookout towers, false-front wooden buildings, and classic log fence. Adventurous children will also discover a spiral slide, swinging rope bridge, net hammocks, and the ski school warming hut.

#4 — Regular Uphilling Events

Whether you’re a dedicated uphiller, want a serious workout, or enjoy more social activities, Buttermilk Mountain generally offers two regular uphill events, both involving a skin or hike up Tiehack to the Cliffhouse Restaurant. 

Friday Morning Uphill Breakfast Club

On Friday mornings (county restrictions excepting), eager uphillers meet at the Tiehack lift to skin or hike to the Cliffhouse restaurant for coffee, cocoa, and an affordable buffet/hot breakfast (from 8:45-10am) while enjoying spectacular morning views. The tradition was founded and has been supported by Aspen Alpine Guides and the Ute Mountaineer.

Full Moon Dinners at the Cliffhouse 

Although the Full Moon Dinners are currently on hold for the 2020-2021 winter season, this nighttime “dinner under a full moon” series is another beloved tradition. Each night of the full moon from December to March, motivated locals and visitors meet at the bottom of the Tiehack lift for a nighttime ascent to the Cliffhouse restaurant. You’ll find free swag and hot chocolate around a bonfire from 5–6pm until you’re ready to purchase other snacks, dinner and/or drinks. Ring the gong to celebrate your successful climb, then head down the mountain (headlamps recommended) along your favorite Tiehack run.

#5 — Dining On and Off-Mountain

Buttermilk’s dining options are both delicious and convenient, whether you’re at the base or the summit.

The Cliffhouse at the Top of Buttermilk

Enjoy the best view of Aspen’s famed Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak from the Cliffhouse at 9,900′ feet while enjoying delicious dishes in the warmth of a comfortable cabin environment. 

Bumps at Buttermilk’s Base

You’ll find Bumps Restaurant at the base of Buttermilk Mountain, where you can stop by for superpipe views while enjoying a snack, a full lunch, or après. Choose your favorites a la carte from the bakery, the pasta station, or the grill. 

Home Team BBQ at the Inn at Aspen

Located right behind the Summit Express lift (through the lobby of the Inn at Aspen), Home Team BBQ offers a delicious off-mountain option. Home Team prides itself on quality, elevated BBQ comfort food in a warm and welcoming environment.

#6 — Annual X Games Viewing (& Live Concerts)

While in-person viewing has been discouraged during January 2021, extreme sports fans and music lovers traditionally descend on Buttermilk Mountain to attend the annual X Games and its five-concert series. It’s a great way for visitors to experience the talent and skill of world class extreme athletes while hearing live music from top-notch acts. Most of Buttermilk’s lower mountain terrain gets built up with big terrain features like jumps, a super pipe, a snowmobile venue, and a slopestyle course (which are closed to the public right before and after the event). For those not able to attend in-person, ESPN televises the X Games competitions at the end of January. 

Extra Assistance 

Our Alpine Property concierge is happy to assist our guests with Buttermilk transportation, lift passes, ski school reservations, and more. For non-Alpine Property guests, get more information or make reservations by calling Aspen Snowmass directly: 1-877-AT-ASPEN (877-282-7736). 

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