by Catherine Lutz

What makes a ski town unique? Its skiers, of course. Aspen’s ski community, naturally, is full of interesting characters, of all generations and backgrounds — and no one better defines the local ethos than Mikey Wechsler.

Wechsler appears to have a typical Aspen story. A longtime local ski bum originally from Somewhere Else, he skis by day and works nights, waiting tables at the venerable Red Onion. He has an equal passion for both, he says (although clearly the career choice was driven by the recreational one).

But Wechsler is also one of just a handful of locals who use their season pass to the fullest — he skis all 140-plus days of the Aspen Snowmass season, and before and after at places like Loveland and Arapahoe Basin. He’s a member of the Dogs of Bell, one of Aspen’s oldest ski gangs, and can be seen every morning, first in line at the gondola, greeting almost everyone who arrives by name.

With his big toothy smile and relaxed deep voice, Wechsler has become somewhat of a jovial frontman for the old-time ski bum community, which can easily lean churlish at times. And given all of Aspen’s changes over the years, there’s something reassuring about seeing someone like Mikey, day after day and year after year, shredding Aspen Mountain with his friends, talking to acquaintances about that day’s conditions, and clearly enjoying every minute.

But there’s more to Mikey Wechsler than a happy-go-lucky ski bum. In this video, he explains how skiing changed his life after a steep downward spiral, why for him it’s like “mental floss,” and above all, how the Aspen community sustains him.

“One of the amazing things about Aspen is people always have your back,” he says. “That’s what makes this place so special. That’s why I’m still here.”

And Aspen wouldn’t be Aspen without people like Mikey.

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