The Edge

Westword's guide to the 1997-98 ski and snowboard season

Rash says that on powder days, snowboarders also head to the Steeplechase and Olympic bowls, but he cautions that they need to be truly experienced to navigate there. "In Steeplechase, the cliffs at the top of Kessler's Bowl are real popular with the snowboard crowd, but there has to be a lot of snow for it to be safe," Rash cautions.

For 'boarders into carving, Rash lists Wine Ridge, Heather Bedlam and the aforementioned Golden Horn. "And then any of the runs in what's known as mid-mountain are very good for snowboarding," he adds. "Those are beginner runs, but even the expert carvers like to use them." He also puts Riverside Drive, Red Onion and Prospector as phat choices.

On the easier end, Rash sends beginners looking to move up to blues to Heather Bedlam, a cruiser that's kept groomed. "It'll give green skiers a little bit of a feeling of exposure, and it has a good, consistent pitch," he says. And for solid intermediates looking to challenge themselves, Hayden, traversing through the trees to Boomerang, offers an easier-going blue-to-single-black transition, he adds.

It's even easier to find a good burger in Aspen, Rash says. "Boogie's Diner [534 E. Cooper Ave.], by far, has the best one in town. I can get a great turkey burger there, too." He goes to New York Pizza (409 E. Hyman Ave.) "because it's cheap," but his favorite pizza is at Farfalla Trattoria (405 E. Main St.). "It's a small Italian restaurant," he explains. "It's very good, but a little pricier."

Rash points out that "you're not going to find McDonald's prices anywhere in Aspen," but that Explore Booksellers (221 E. Main St.) offers "wonderful bistro fare, excellent vegetarian dishes and pasta for moderate prices." For fine dining, Rash says he and his wife are "kind of stuck on Mirabella Restaurant [216 S. Monarch St.] for sort of American-Middle Eastern food." He says the lamb dishes are their favorite, along with "anything wrapped in grape leaves." He adds that there are two other places they go to for higher-end meals: Pinons (105 S. Mill) and The Restaurant at the Little Nell (675 E. Durant St.).

Rash says many locals lament the fact that the popular Hotel Jerome (330 E. Main St.) stopped its Friday Afternoon Club, but he says the bar at a new restaurant, Bang Cafe & Bar (325 E. Main St.), that sits right across from the Hotel Jerome, has become the hot place to go. "It's also trying to fill the niche of Chinese," he adds. "Not that they're a Chinese restaurant, but they do have some dishes, and they're pretty good." Rash says The Cantina (411 E. Main St.) is a popular local bar, too, "but I don't recommend it for dining," and he says that Cooper Street (508 E. Cooper Ave.), Little Annie's Eating House (517 E. Hyman Ave.), the Red Onion (420 E. Cooper Ave.), and Bentley's at the Wheeler (328 E. Hyman Ave.) are the top bars, even if some of them are more like "frat bars."

Rash doesn't think Aspen has any good Mexican eateries, but he thinks it's a hotbed of excellent Japanese. His two favorites: Takah Sushi (420 E. Hyman Ave.) and Kenichi (533 E. Hopkins Ave.). "It's amazing that we can get such fresh seafood here," he says. "And I think the food at those two spots is pretty much equal in quality." And two other longtime Aspen eateries offer good, relatively inexpensive steaks: Skiers Chalet Steak House (710 S. Aspen) and the Steak Pit (305 E. Hopkins Ave.).

In the mornings, Rash says he likes to go to the Main Street Bakery & Cafe (201 E. Main St.) for breakfast. "They have baked goods and a regular breakfast menu," he explains. "My favorite thing to get there is the huevos, because they use real black beans. They don't use those brown beans with lard between them. It would be kind of hard to get on the slopes after that kind of meal."

General Information: 1-970-925-1220.
Snow Report: 1-888-277-3676.
Location: 219 miles west of Denver via I-70 and Colo. Hwy. 82.
Opening and Closing Dates: December 12 to April 5.
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Terrain: 20% beginner; 33% intermediate; 17% advanced; 30% expert. 619 skiable 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 $59; child 7-12 full-day $35; child under 6 and senior over 70 free.

Rentals: Rental center at base of mountain.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call 1-970-923-2145 for information.

Special Events: Aspen Highlands Day Wintersksl, Jan. 16; KSPN 28th Annual Blitzenbanger, Feb. 28. See also Aspen Mountain.

Aspen Mountain
Sunni Simpson came to Aspen intending to stay for a year. It's now been five. "I love living here," Simpson, who grew up in Denver, says. "I think it's so nice here, because there are so many mountains to choose from, and there's something for every kind of skier."

As to what kind of skier Simpson is, the 26-year-old says, "Crazy should be a category. I'll ski anything." And mostly what she skis is located on Aspen Mountain. "It's a lot of bumps and steeps, and there's so much you can get your legs burning on," she explains.

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