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Aspen is an intermediate skier’s dream. If you were to combine all of the intermediate terrain across the four mountains, you’d find that intermediate terrain compromises the vast majority of Aspen skiing. Aspen Mountain’s intermediate terrain accounts for 48 percent, while Aspen Highlands has 30 percent, Buttermilk has 39 percent and Snowmass 47 percent. With world-class grooming capabilities at all four mountains, you can bet that the Aspen intermediate groomers are bar none.
While Aspen Mountain, or as the locals call it, Ajax, is renowned for its steeps and endless moguls—which it has plenty of—it also has groomers that last for miles. The suggested route would be to stick to the looker’s right side of the mountain. From the top of Silver Queen Gondola, take any of the fun cruisers to Chair 3, Ajax Express. You can lap Chair 3 all day and get tons of skiing in, or opt to take up the smaller double chair, located below Chair 3, FIS or Chair 6, and head down Ruthie’s for one of Aspen’s best groomers. For longer, intermediate groomers you can ski Ajax’s 3,267 vertical feet from either Copper or Spar Gulch all the way back down to the Silver Queen Gondola. These are great sustained cruisers, but they do get a lot of skier traffic so be sure to stay aware of your surroundings.
If you venture to Aspen Highlands be sure to arch some big turns on the monstrously wide Thunderbowl. There’s also a ton of great blue square terrain off Loge Express and Cloud Nine Express. Not all of these trails are groomed every day, but the slope is relatively gentle and the trails are short, making for great mogul learning.
Buttermilk’s Tiehack is where intermediate skiers want to go. Buckskin is a perfect, sustained groomer, and a ride on Tiehack Express yields incredible views of Aspen Highlands and the famed Pyramid Peak. If you only have one day to ski at Snowmass, head straight to Elk Camp lift via the Elk Camp Gondola, there are tons of rolling intermediate runs off this lift and the views of the Maroon Bells from the top are stunning. Or, head straight to the Big Burn lift, where you’ll find a nice mix of glades, groomed and ungroomed intermediate terrain ideal for testing out new skills.
A complimentary Aspen Mountain tour is highly recommended, for a couple reasons. First, the simple geography of the mountain. Aspen Mountain is comprised of three ridges, in the middle you’ll find Bell, flanked by Gentlemen’s Ridge and The Dumps, at the base of these ridges are two gulches—Copper and Spar—which funnel skiers from the ridges down to the base area. Secondly, these are high traffic zones. While the majority of Aspen Mountain’s terrain is designated as “intermediate” the ski area is considered an expert skier’s stomping ground. You may find that despite slow signs a lot of the on-hill skiers are zooming by at jaw-dropping speeds, especially in these high traffic, funnel zones. A mountain tour will help identify these areas so you can avoid them or be adequately prepared.
As aforementioned Aspen Mountain has several faces to ski via the three ridges. If it’s not snowing in Colorado, it’s mild and very sunny, so it’s good to know where the sun hits certain parts of Aspen Mountain, so you can chase the best conditions all over the mountain throughout the day.