For years, newcomers and visitors to the area have asked, "What's the difference between Aspen Mountain and Ajax Mountain?" The short answer: nothing. During the late 1800s, the town was producing one-sixth of the world's silver. In fact, the current-day ski area was once covered with mines. One of the larger mines was called "Ajax." Hence, in Aspen local language, Aspen Mountain took the nickname "Ajax Mountain."
Another common question from visitors is, "What time do the bells ring?" These bells don't ring. The "Maroon Bells" are two of Colorado's 54 peaks that tower over 14,000 feet above sea level. Maroon-colored rock, dusted in snow, contrasts against Colorado's blue sky and green forests. Maroon Lake, nestled in the valley below, offers hikers and campers a picturesque entrance to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area.
Ask any local where you can find the most "rad" and extreme skiing, and they will likely tell you in "The Bowl," Aspen slang for Highland Bowl. From the top of the Aspen Highlands ski area, powder hounds can take a snowcat, and then hike the remainder of the way to the 12,392-foot summit of Highland Bowl. The wide-open natural ski bowl is open only to expert skiers and is the ultimate inbounds backcountry rush. A couple of laps in The Bowl are liable to put a burn on even the most hard-core boarders and skiers.
Six Inch Powder Rule
Don't be surprised if the doors to your favorite shop, or the office where you were scheduled for a meeting, are closed and the sign on the door reads, "Six inch powder rule in effect." Instead, ask yourself why you aren't up the mountain skiing. This glitz and glamour ski town still honors its ski bum roots by declaring any day in which it snows more than six inches a "powder day" in Aspen local lingo. Who needs to shop on a powder day anyway?
Get off the beaten path on Aspen Mountain and you might be lucky to find one of the 30 or so secret shrines hidden here. For more than 25 years, locals have immortalized their favorite musicians and fallen friends through pictures, plaques, flags and memorabilia tucked in the glades between the runs. Elvis Presley, Jerry Garcia, Marilyn Monroe and Jimi Hendrix are among the most famous of the Aspen Mountain Shrines.
Face to Six to the Dumps
If you want to keep up with the local Aspen Mountain skiers, you had better know the Aspen local lingo. Aspen Mountain is relatively small, but the power of the mountain lies in knowing how to link the runs in order to maximize the vertical. For instance, "Face," means to ski the front side of Bell Mountain. "Six," means take lift number six, otherwise known as the F.I.S. Lift. "The Dumps" means to ski the steep east-facing runs, the old mine dumps, off the top of Lift Six. With these slang terms, Aspen Mountain skiers will think you've been here for years, and you'll be one step ahead of the average gaper.
Rocky Mountain High
Medical marijuana might be legal in Colorado, but this Aspen slang term refers to a different kind of Rocky Mountain High. John Denver was a longtime local in Aspen. After Denver's untimely death on October 12, 1997, the Aspen Skiing Company honored his life by naming the highest run at the top of Snowmass Ski Area after his famous song, "Rocky Mountain High." The ski run offers breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains and is the nation's highest lift-served ski run.
"Grottos" and "Devil's Punchbowl
No, this Aspen slang isn't a new cuisine or favorite bar drink. It's actually a favorite summertime hangout in the mountain among locals and visitors alike. The "Grottos" and the nearby "Devil's Punchbowl" are about ten miles east of Aspen on the trip up Independence Pass. Thousands of years of rushing water from the Roaring Fork River have shaped and smoothed the river rock into beautiful and mysterious formations. Hikers enjoy hiking around the contorted rock and exploring the ice caves. The bravest of swimmers enjoy jumping off cliffs into the icy, cold water below the Devil's Punchbowl.
Aspen is nestled in a tight valley bottom. There is only one main road, and only one winter-time entrance/exit to the town. Visitors to the Aspen area will need to be familiar with the Roundabout as it is Aspen slang for a main transportation landmark. "Go a mile past the roundabout," or "Take the roundabout to Highlands," or "The hospital is out past the Roundabout." Late night bus riders have even been known to start chanting, "round-a-bout, round-a-bout," in an attempt to get their bus driver to do multiple laps around the Roundabout. What could be more fun at 2AM after a day of skiing and a night out on the town?
The Ultimate Taxi
Perhaps more fun than bus laps around the Roundabout would be a ride in the Ultimate Taxi. Leave it to Aspen to have an Ultimate Taxi to take you home at the end of a rocking night out on the town. This 1978 Checker cab is adorned with a multimedia show for the senses. Lasers, lights, video, synthesizer, keyboard and surround sound entertain passengers. Your friends won't believe it. No worries. Just have them log into the Ultimate Taxi's "Taxi Cam," where they can take an online sneak peak of your ultimate ride. Ultimate Taxi rides cost $175 for a group and can be booked by calling 970-927-9239.