The new Buttermilk Ski Area base ‘took a whole community’ to get done

Kristen Mohammadi
Aspen Times
Paula Crown, left, wife to Jim Crown, right, and part of the Crown family that owns Aspen Skiing Co., cuts the ribbon on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, during the official ribbon cutting for Buttermilk Ski Area's all-new base area.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

PITKIN COUNTY — Aspen Skiing Co. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday to celebrate the newly finished $23 million renovation of the Buttermilk Ski Area base. The community gathered at Buttermilk on a bluebird day to hear from Skico executives and celebrate the expansion of the area.

The base now features new amenities, including an upgraded restaurant and a guest-services building, designed and built using more sustainable materials and powered by renewable energy.

The restaurant, The Buttermilk Mountain Lodge, replaces what was formerly Bumps. The renovations of the lodge include an expanded bar and a new outdoor-patio space called The Backyard. The patio space is 40% larger than before and overlooks the halfpipe. It’s a space to enjoy an après snack and beverage while watching the action on the mountain.

The guest-services building opened in January the week before X Games. This building is meant to be a one-stop shop for visitors who need tickets, ski-school services, rentals, and day lockers.

“All of that stands here to represent our introduction to skiing for so many people, so many young kids and their families,” said managing partner Jim Crown, whose family owns Aspen Skiing Co. “The fact that we have finally got the entrance right, the facilities right, the food right, and — for those who are just hanging out with a beer — The Backyard right, we can now rest and declare some victory for the way Buttermilk facilities look.”

Aside from the construction of The Hideout, a kids’ center — along with some improvements to vehicle circulation, pedestrian walkways, and landscaping — there hasn’t been any redevelopment of the base for nearly three decades.

Bumps was built in 1993, and the green building where the new guest-services area is now located was built in the mid-1960s.

The renovations were scheduled to be finished earlier this season, but due to supply chain and staffing issues, the date of the opening was pushed back.

“This building is really exciting and rewarding to see after so much hard work, which culminated over this last 12 months or so,” said Mike Kaplan, president and CEO of Skico. “COVID is hopefully behind us, but the ongoing impacts and disruptions from COVID are still being felt. I think we’re all dealing with the hangover of the supply chain disruptions and those types of things.

“So this building was not easy to get done, and it literally took a whole community to get it done,” he said.

Sustainability initiatives

According to Skico officials, sustainability was at the forefront of their conceptualization and execution of these new buildings. They partnered with Aspen CORE, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to leading the Roaring Fork Valley to a carbon-free, net-zero energy future by 2030.

CORE helped advise the design of both projects at the base, offering Skico $100,000 in grants for sustainability initiatives.

The buildings are run on 100% electric energy, which produces a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to natural gas, according to Ryland French, senior director of regional climate strategy for CORE.

“Since Holy Cross has committed to 100% renewable energy by 2030, it will be net zero in 2030. That’s a big deal, and all of all of our new buildings have been electric in the last few years,” said Auden Schendler, senior vice president of sustainability for Skico.

According to him, 75% of the construction waste was recycled, re-used, or in other ways diverted from going to landfill.

The buildings were designed with hefty insulation, advanced control systems, and architecture made to capture free heat from the sun to help reduce heating loads.

“We feel just great about Buttermilk once again, bringing people to the sport, bringing people to this mountain, and helping us all enjoy and love Aspen,” Crown said.

The inside of the new guest services building Friday at Buttermilk Ski Area.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

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