Rocky Mountain High

Old West mining village, countercultural hot spot, super-glamorous ski destination: the author returns to Aspen, the resort town of his youth, and finds an intoxicating, high-altitude mix of serious arts and music, audacious wealth, chic restaurants, and dangerously good skiing.

  1. It’s around lunchtime in Aspen’s roaring Fork Valley, and I’d like nothing more than to tell you where I’m spending the afternoon. Only I can’t, because—as I myself have just accepted—I don’t know. I spent the past 40 minutes riding in the back of a Sno-Cat (fine) and then hiking (skis strapped to my back, but also fine) up the spine of a 12,392-foot peak. The so-called plan, known only to me, was to ski down the legendary Highland Bowl and then celebrate my accomplishment in, at minimum, a bar-serviced hot tub. This notion, however, appears to have been predicated on my live arrival at the summit, and as the panoramic Rocky Mountain-top view I had been enjoying disappears into a dark snow cloud, I soberly recall that my expedition began at the suggestion of an Aspen Times sex columnist whose dog, I knew damned well, was on the antidepressant Lexapro.

    The wind whooshes and I steady myself with my poles, trying to enjoy the bitter cold. The thin ridge I’m ascending falls off so precipitously on either side that a few minutes ago, I couldn’t bear to look down. Now I have no choice. All I can see is my own lumbering ski-boot tracks. One unfortunate tilt to the left or right and the phrase early retirement takes on a whole new meaning.

    Life-threatening was not what I had in mind when I planned my trip to Aspen. Then again, I was, upon my departure, between apartments and living out of a Manhattan Mini Storage unit. Aspen, I thought, promised something safe and familiar, a res...

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