When my family moved to Aspen in the 1960s, I had visions of tearing around famous Aspen Mountain and discovering every face shot at the new Snowmass resort. I didn't realize that by joining the Aspen ski team, I'd end up spending most of my time training at little Buttermilk-and loving it.
Today, locals enjoy Buttermilk because they can drive (or ride the shuttle) to within feet of the lifts, make laps at any pace on empty terrain of any type-groomers, bumps, glades, terrain park, uphill-then resume their normal routines, thoroughly refreshed and rebooted. Visitors love it for the same easy access, terrain that suits any mood or mode, and the mountain's natural ability to keep kids both thoroughly exhausted and thoroughly content.
This winter Buttermilk has added a new high-speed quad, replacing the interminable West Buttermilk double and completely reviving that side of the mountain.
But the "X" that now marks Buttermilk on the national ski map is ESPN's Winter X Games. Host of the Games through 2007, Buttermilk and its new jacked-up terrain park (one of the biggest in the nation) is now the epicenter of cool for a new generation of skiers and riders. Go figure.