Terrain expansion at Aspen Mountain will be named 'Hero’s,' not 'Pandora’s,' when it opens this winter
A new terrain expansion on the eastern flank of Aspen Mountain will be named “Hero’s,” not “Pandora’s,” when it opens for inbounds, lift-served skiing this winter.
The change is an effort to honor people who have shaped Aspen as a mountain community and a skiing destination, according to Aspen Skiing Co. officials. “Hero’s” will refer to both the general 153-acre terrain area and a new chairlift, with many individual trail names serving as tributes to figures who inspired the change.
Aspen Skiing Co. CEO Geoff Buchheister announced the change Tuesday, while acknowledging the impact of the company’s late managing partner Jim Crown.
“He's taken us on a hero's journey, including struggle, redemption and transformation, a journey to 'return transformed,'” Buchheister said during an annual “Afternoon Blend” season preview event at Buttermilk Mountain Lodge. “But when I think about heroes, it's more than that. This town is filled with heroes, people who have gone above and beyond the normal scope to contribute, to lead, to make these mountains what they are — people who are the fabric of what Aspen is.”
“Hero’s” is spelled as a possessive, with an apostrophe “s,” rather than the plural “Heroes” — giving a sense that this new swath of lift-served terrain belongs to those it honors.
A trail map of the new terrain shows a run directly under the lift line called “Jim’s,” commemorating Crown’s legacy. Other runs, named by his family members, allude to Crown’s “life, loves and amusements,” according to a press release. (Crown, whose family owns SkiCo, died in a vehicle accident in June, spurring heartfelt statements from companies, community members and multiple U.S. presidents.)
Another run, called “Mike Drop,” honors SkiCo’s recently-retired CEO Mike Kaplan, while several others commemorate historical figures like 10th Mountain Division soldier Percy Rideout and Aspen’s first female ski instructor, Elli Iselin. Some chutes are named for late ski patrollers, like Eric Edward Kinsman (“E.E.K.!”) and Cory Brettman (“Cory Bob”), while one, called “Here’s To,” encourages people to honor whomever they wish.
And among the trees just east of the lift, “El Avalanchero Glade” pays homage to late Aspen Mountain ski patroller and avalanche control supervisor Tim Howe — who originally named the terrain east of the ski area boundary “Pandora’s Box” decades ago.
“A hero was a mortal who had done something so far beyond the normal scope of human experience, that when he left an immortal memory,” Buchheister said during Afternoon Blend.
“Because of these people, and Jim, and all that's transpired over the last few months in his passing, we find ourselves in a new unique moment in time, a moment where we can honor our heroes — the heroes who are forever part of these mountains, and will forever be part of these mountains,” Buchheister added.
The “Hero’s” terrain and a new quad chairlift are slated to open for the 2023-24 ski season, marking the first significant addition to Aspen Mountain since the Silver Queen Gondola opened in 1985.
The expansion sparked a heated debate among skiers and Pitkin County Commissioners when SkiCo sought approval for the project in 2021. Some wanted to leave the terrain as-is, accessible only by backcountry routes, while others wanted more inbounds acreage on the north-facing, high-elevation slopes that tend to hold snow longer in the season.
The now-inbounds terrain will still retain some historic trail names like “Powerline” and “Harris’s Wall” that have long been used by backcountry skiers.