Buttermilk was a smooth, mellow, sunny playground, ideal for beginners and a new haven for local kids, according to two of its earliest skiers.
Local ski legend Klaus Obermeyer — who at 99 years old still runs his eponymous ski clothing company, Sport Obermeyer — recalls standing on the outskirts of Aspen one January afternoon with friend Friedl Pfeifer. Looking up from Pfeifer’s land near the highway, they marveled at the amount of daylight on the smooth, meadowed slopes, largely devoid of rocks so they wouldn’t need much snow to form a skiable surface. Meanwhile, much of Aspen Mountain remained shaded on winter afternoons and had little terrain suited for beginning skiers.
Pfeifer, who had been instrumental in starting Aspen Mountain as well as Aspen’s first ski school, went on to develop Buttermilk as a ski area with neighboring landowner Art Pfister.
“Naturally, I was one of the first ones up,” says Obermeyer, who’s preferred place to ski to this day is Tiehack, on Buttermilk’s east side. “It was an ideal beginners’ area, not so steep that people got scared. Intermediates had a lot of fun there. And then the Tiehack side added some steep, beautiful terrain. In two hours, you can get many, many downhill miles.”