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Westword's Guide to teh '96-'97 ski and snowboard season

Because the group has faithfully skied every week for more than a decade--"Even on lousy days we motivated each other to get out there"--Garzoli thinks she's seen just about everything the mountain has to offer. "My overall favorite, the run with the biggest rush, would have to be Snyder's Ridge in Steeplechase," she says. "When it's got enough snow, it's exhilarating." Steeplechase is also the place for a lot of good trees. "It's half open, half trees," she adds. "It's a huge area, too, so you can usually get pretty alone." Garzoli claims that the most intense trees, however, can be found in P-Chutes. "That is the most extreme tree skiing I've ever done, except maybe in Crested Butte," she says. "For P-Chutes to work, though, they need a lot of snow."

Garzoli also notes that of all the Aspen mountains, "Highlands has more crud," adding that skiers looking for bumps should head to Aspen Mountain, but for the intermediates she does point out that Scarlett's Run can get some steep bumps on it. For cruisers she lists Golden Horn and Thunderbowl as the best. "The bottom of the mountain is always groomed, so there's usually some good stuff there," Garzoli says. She thinks, though, that the finest line can usually be had at the very bottom of Glade Chute.

To save time between skiing and working, Garzoli says she often grabs a bite to eat on the mountain. "If I'm going to eat anywhere before or after skiing, it's at the Merry-Go-Round, midway on the mountain," she says. But off the mountain she heads to Milan's (304 East Hopkins Avenue), which has "great deals and great elk, and it's a real deal--fifteen bucks apiece nets you an appetizer, an entree and dessert." For apres-ski--"Hey, when you live here, you call it 'apres-work,'" she says--residents head to The Cantina (411 East Main) or the Flying Dog Brewpub (424 East Cooper Avenue). "The Flying Dog is a ritual," Garzoli says. For a good burger, she sends everyone to either Little Annie's Eating House (517 East Hyman Avenue) or the Silver City Grill (308 South Hunter), and for pizza, nothing but New York Pizza (409 East Hyman Avenue) will do. "It's great there because you can get it by the slice after you've been skiing and just want something to take the edge off," she says. "And you can do the take-and-bake, too, when you've really got the munchies." But her secret vice is the rich eggs Sardou dish for breakfast at the Aspen Grove Cafe (525 East Cooper Avenue). "I wish they had good coffee," she says. "But the eggs will knock you off your feet."

General information: 1-970-925-1220
Snow report: 1-970-925-1221
Location: 219 miles west of Denver via I-70 and Colo. Hwy. 82.
Opening and closing dates: December 14 to April 6.
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Terrain: 20% beginner, 33% intermediate, 17% advanced, 30% expert. 619 developed acres with a 3,635' vertical drop. Base: 8,040'; top: 11,675'; longest run: 3.5 miles.

Lifts: 2 high-speed quads, 5 double chairs,
1 Poma lift.
Lift rates: Adult full-day $56; child under 18
full-day $33; age 18-27 $39; senior (65-69)
full-day $45. Early-season prices available.
Lessons: Ski or snowboard. Group lessons: Half-day $49, full-day $57.
Rentals: Rental center at base of mountain.
Snowboarding: Welcome. Lessons available.

Cross-country: 80 km of groomed trails available nearby. Call 1-970-923-2145 for rentals and information.

Special events: See Aspen Mountain for information.

Aspen Mountain
"I'm 76," says Klaus Obermeyer, one of Aspen's best-known residents, "but I feel like I'm 25."

It must be his lifestyle. Obermeyer, founder of the skiwear company that bears his name, skis, plays tennis, mountain bikes, windsurfs and practices aikido, sometimes all in the same day. "You have to keep using your body or you lose it," says Obermeyer, who came to the United States from Bavaria in 1947.

He kept losing students when he was teaching at the ski school in Sun Valley, New York--they would nearly freeze to death on the ski lifts. "There was no nylon yet," he says. "And people had to be very determined to keep skiing in the freezing cold." One day he got the idea to cut up a quilted blanket he had brought from Bavaria. "I looked like the Michelin man," he says, laughing. "Some guy offered me $250 for it, and this was when $1,200 bought you a Chevy. And that's how I started Sport Obermeyer."

This year the skiwear emporium and Aspen Mountain share a fiftieth birthday. "I am delighted," says Obermeyer. "There are many reasons why I love Aspen. The ski conditions and climate are phenomenal, plus you have the most intelligent and interesting people here. The cumulative energy in this town is a rare thing." The cumulative energy in Obermeyer is a rare thing, too--he skis every day there's snow on the ground, every year. And while he does visit a few other mountains, he spends 90 percent of his ski time on Aspen Mountain.

And when he's there, he tends to gravitate toward the bump runs. "I like Silver Queen," he says. "And Elevator Shaft, that's very steep and beautiful." He believes that bump runs aren't what do your knees in, but concrete. "Your knees are like a bank account," he says. "You can spend them by running on hard surfaces or you can bike more and save. But the bump runs aren't going to deplete them." So he adds Ridge of Bell to his list of bump selections. He also thinks The Glades are "fantastic," and he recommends Ruthie's in the morning. "There's nobody there and great light," he says, adding that in the evening, if you ski down Ruthie's again, "you'll miss the busy Spar Gulch bottleneck." And he has some advice for skiers tired of the crowds at Aspen: "Most people go up the gondola," he says. "The runs off there are always busiest. Get away from the gondola." He also endorses 1A Lift. "No line, great lift," he says. "Take Aztec; it's a fabulous run, very steep and beautiful. Hook up with Point of No Return or end up in Corkscrew. It's a favorite."

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