As soon as the leaves start to turn, you’ll see it. Locals who can usually be spotted running or riding their bikes around town bust out the roller skis. I don’t mean to make it sound like everyone does this as a way of prepping for ski season. It’s just something I noticed a couple of weeks ago while I was out riding my bike. A woman I frequently see cycling on the Rio Grande Trail blew past me on her roller skis, obviously inspired by the recent dusting of snow in Aspen.
If you’re wondering how Aspenites get into shape for snow sports, there’s no one, ubiquitous way. The entire town doesn’t start taking conditioning classes at the Rec Center or gym, although that’s certainly a popular option. Everyone has their own methodology, part of which boils down to whether or not they actually ski (trust me, not every local does). No matter what your idea of winter recreation entails, however, winter requires prep, even if it’s just of the mental variety. Imagine, if you will, living in a small, isolated town, and then having its population swell to two or three times its size every winter, simply because there’s white stuff on the ground. That alone takes some emotional preparation, especially if you work in the service or ski industries. As a local writer and contributor to ski publiciations, even I need to steel for the season, because the work comes fast and furious.
With that in mind, here are some popular ways residents of the Roaring Fork Valley prepare for ski season. Snow waits for no man, and when the first big dump hits, it’s all hands on deck. See you on the mountain.
Milk the nice weather for all it’s worth
No matter how much you love the slopes, it’s hard to say goodbye to Indian summer days, fall foliage, hiking, and long bike rides. For my part, I hang on to this with a death grip, and hit the trail every chance I get. I love snow, but (shhh) I love sun and warmth more.
Work those quads and glutes
Whether it’s in the aforementioned conditioning classes, at yoga, or just by climbing the Ute Trail (the local’s free answer to getting in ski shape), you’ve got to build muscle and stamina.
Take advantage of local’s discounts
From restaurants, bars, and hotels to special events and outdoor activities, there are plenty of deals to be found. This is the time of year when many locals can actually afford to do things they otherwise couldn’t. Want to attend a beer pairing dinner, paraglide, or spend a night at a cushy hotel (like, say, the Limelight?) Now’s your chance. Element 47, sister hotel The Little Nell’s fine dining restaurant, is offering amazing lunch and dinner deals through November 25th, including a 2 for $20 tortilla soup and Cobb salad or Emma Farms Wagyu burger and fries, and a dinner special of 4 for $47 (that’s appetizer, entrée, dessert, and a glass of wine). Who says Aspen isn’t affordable?
Take a trip
Locals get out of dodge during shoulder season, but that doesn’t mean they’re just lying on a beach (although that’s not often the case). Active holidays- usually to Hawaii or points south like Mexico or Costa Rica are the most popular, and keep you in shape. True snow fanatics head for South America or New Zealand to chase pow.
Get that ski pass
Whether you’re saving your cash, or getting it by working for “SkiCo,” now is the time. Aspen Snowmass is hiring for all positions, from lift op to maintenance. This is how you ski for free.
Hit the ski swap
One of the biggest events of the year is the annual Four Mountain Sports ski swap, held at Bumps Restaurant in Buttermilk. At 40 to 70-percent off new and used gear, get there early, and expect to see everyone in town.