Buttermilk has traditionally served as the beginners’ enclave for nearby Aspen Mountain that does not have a single green trail. In 2002, Buttermilk made a big jump in street cred by hosting ESPN’s Winter X Games for the first time. In January, ESPN and Aspen Skiing Company announced that the Winter X Games will stay at Buttermilk at least through 2019.
When the world’s best freestyle skiers and snowboarders are not competing, the Colorado ski area remains a draw for beginner skiers and families. The 470-acre ski area has 74 percent of its terrain rated green or blue. Some steeper trails on the far eastern portion of the resort run under the Tiehack Express lift. Given the area’s tame reputation and resulting novice clientele, advanced skiers can often find fresh powder long after a storm on any challenging terrain.
The Tiehack Express, Summit Express and West Buttermilk Express high-speed quads provide the framework of lift access for the mountain with an overall vertical drop of 2,030 feet. Coming out of the main base area, the Summit Express reaches primarily intermediate terrain on the front of the mountain. West Buttermilk Express serves mostly long, gentle beginner runs.
An interchangeable lift ticket may be used for the four local ski areas owned by Aspen Skiing Company: Buttermilk, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass. Although Aspen Highlands may be plainly seen from the Buttermilk summit, a short drive is required to go between any of the four ski areas.
- For beginners: Green runs such as Westward Ho and Larkspur off the West Buttermilk Express give plenty of room to practice.
- For intermediates: Buckskin is a good blue run going down to the Tiehack Express lift. To end up at the main base area, cut off halfway down onto Sterner Catwalk.
- For experts: Buttermilk does not have any steeps to the extreme level of Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands or Hanging Valley at Snowmass. Laps on the Tiehack Express lift, however, can be an almost-secret stash for advanced skiers on powder days.
Disclaimer: Lift tickets were provided during visit to Buttermilk.