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Aspen Mountain wraps up an extended season with classic closing party

End of season party at Aspen Mountain Sundeck
Kaya Williams
Aspen Public Radio
Partygoers celebrate the end of the lift-served ski season on closing day at the top of Aspen Mountain on April 23. Ajax opened five days early and closed a week later than expected for an extended season of skiing on the slopes.

“One for the record books.” “All time.” “More fun than we’re allowed to have.”

Just about everyone celebrating closing day at Aspen Mountain on Sunday agreed: The winter of 2022-23 was an especially good one, and not just because of the above-average snowfall and abundance of powder days that blessed the slopes.

Mark Hesselschwerdt, a self-proclaimed “original ski bum” who’s been skiing Ajax for 52 years, explained why.

“This season has been spectacular, one, because I’m still in one piece, and two, we had a lot of snow, and the sun came out on occasion, and the friends — it’s just the community that makes this place so special,” Hesselschwerdt said while chatting with friends at the Sundeck.

Aspenites closed out the season in classic fashion with plenty of costumes, denim, partying and warm-weather skiing. A late-season storm dropped nearly 10 inches of new snow in the 48 hours before closing; what was light, fluffy and soft on Saturday morning had turned to a sticky slush fitting for spring skiing by Sunday afternoon.

Aspen Mayor Torre was up by the Sundeck for the celebration.

“It feels like Aspen energy and community are back, alive on the mountains,” Torre said.

This winter’s closing celebrations were indicative of that after the previous few winters of unusual COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Torre observed.

“The fog is lifting if you will,” Torre said. “People are getting a little bit more comfortable again, and it’s showing. I mean, this is an amazing closing day party up at the top of the mountain.”

Buttermilk Mountain, Snowmass Ski Area and Aspen Highlands celebrated the end of the season with their own parties earlier in April.

Now, skiers and snowboarders will have to schlep up the mountain using their own power if they want to enjoy some extra turns in the snow on the slopes.

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.