The new Hero’s terrain on Aspen Mountain will add 153 acres of skiing and riding, accessed by a high-speed quad for the 2023-2024 season.
New Terrain On Aspen Mountain
What’s better than skiing on Aspen Mountain? More skiing on Aspen Mountain. Debuting in the 2023–2024 winter season, the new ’s terrain Hero's pod and high-speed quad will add 153 acres of cold-snow goodness to the upper, eastern aspects of Aspen Mountain. This will be the mountain’s first significant addition since the opening of the Silver Queen Gondola in December of 1985.
Hero’s will increase Aspen Mountain’s lift-served terrain by more than 20 percent. The mix includes nineteen chutes, three infinitely explorable gladed areas, and four cut trails. The project also extends some of our favorite existing runs, including Walsh’s and Kristi, lengthening vertical drop to 1,220 feet and eliminating the hike out at the bottom. And while expert skiers have the most to celebrate, the project also adds nice helping of intermediate glades and groomed runs.
The setting is as idyllic as it gets. Views travel up Independence Pass and down to the valley floor, where the Roaring Fork River carves a meandering line through the snow-blanketed North Star Nature Preserve. It’s a gorgeous section of the mountain, peaceful, and serene.
Part of a Bigger Plan
Aspen Snowmass updates each of our four mountains’ master plans at least once a decade. These collaborative processes involve federal agencies and community stakeholders, and the resulting plans guide our product and infrastructure development. The Hero’s proposal was originally included in the 2017 Aspen Mountain Master Plan, but because of a technical zoning concern was separated out for additional consideration. The rest of the 2017 plan went on to win approval by the Forest Service, then Pitkin County Planning and Zoning, and finally the Pitkin County Commissioners in the fall of 2019. Pandora’s was greenlighted about a year later.
It’s important to see Hero’s as a complementary piece to the 2017 Master Plan. Bringing it to life is key to ensuring the bigger plan’s full potential, which includes improving skier circulation on the upper mountain by taking pressure off the Ajax Express chair. Simply put, it’s going to make the ski area better.
Today and Tomorrow
Aspen is a ski town, and climate change threatens our very way of life. Aspen Snowmass has aggressively fought climate change for decades. We installed a micro-hydro plant on Snowmass, one of many renewable energy projects on our mountains. We consistently lobby for smart state and national climate policies. And we built a one-of-a-kind power plant that converts methane leaking from a closed coal mine into electricity (featured in the Washington Post).
While our climate advocacy work will continue and expand going forward, we also need to adapt to the changes we’re already seeing. That’s why we installed snowmaking at the summit of Aspen Mountain: it helps ensure good skiing when Mother Nature has other plans. Beyond its great pitch, Hero’s terrain is north-facing and at high elevation. At this aspect, natural snowfall—our very favorite kind—holds up longer. Increasing the public’s access to the Hero’s terrain should be viewed as a logical hedge against future climate-challenged ski seasons.
In terms of energy use, the construction of the lift and removal of trees will bring vehicle trips. That’s unavoidable. But once the lift is running, it will be powered by Holy Cross Energy. Aspen Snowmass has worked hard to help Holy Cross move toward renewable energy sources for its power. And it’s working: By 2030, Holy Cross—and all of our Aspen Mountain lifts—will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.