In 1946, Aspen Mountain officially opened with the debut of Lift-1—the world’s longest chairlift at the time. Chicago businessman Walter Paepcke, his wife Elizabeth, and Austrian skier Friedl Pfeifer had a vision and led the charge in establishing a ski mountain in an area previously carved out by the 10th Mountain Division—as well as local skiers who’d previously used a mine-hoist with a boat engine as a tow rope to get them up the mountain.
With that same innovative spirit, in its first year Aspen Skiing Company established a chairlift, ski patrol, ski school, and multiple races. In 1950, Aspen hosted the United States’ first world skiing competition, which attracted more than 1,500 people and gave Aspen Mountain worldwide visibility. From that day forward, skiing in the Valley would take on a whole new meaning.
Since opening day, we’ve had many proud moments, like partnering with the first official and longest running Gay Ski Week in America (which will celebrate its 45th year this season—don't miss the fun), installing the first solar array in the ski industry, transitioning to powering all four of our mountains via a methane conversion plant, and hosting the Winter X Games for nearly 22 consecutive years, to name a few. And seventy-five years later, Aspen Skiing Company still serves the Roaring Fork Valley, bridging outdoor recreation with culture and community, and helping to create more possibilities both within and beyond the ski industry along the way.
“Today, we honor not just 75 years of skiing, but 75 years of community,” writes President and CEO Mike Kaplan in the 2021-2022 trail map message. “As you journey across these mountains and explore the Roaring Fork Valley, I invite you to reflect on those who came before us and what it will take to make sure those who follow can enjoy what we have today.”
We’re proud to celebrate 75 years of industry innovation, snow sport excellence, and legendary après. Join us this season as we celebrate across all four of our mountains—paying homage to our past, reveling in the present, and carving a cold, bright future. Here’s to the next 75 years.