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Chasing Icons: Popping Champagne With the Aspen Locals

Story by Teton Gravity Research

There's many attributes that makes Aspen ... Aspen. Maybe it's the robust community—robust nightlife, cosmopolitan food, an arts and culture scene—that contributes to a contagious ski culture. Or maybe it's the passionate locals—like the "freaks"—who find the perfect balance of party and play.

Here in Aspen we don’t always drink our champagne, there’s a better use for it at Cloud 9. The restaurant which is perched atop the mountain with sweeping panoramic views, has a special room for spraying your very own bottle of champagne. So grab your poncho, your favorite bottle of bubbly, and prepared to dance your weary ski legs under a rainfall Dom Perignon. 

Here in Aspen, the thing to do is hitch a gondi ride up, and cruise down Bell Mountain.  TGR Photo

Bottles of champagne aside, Aspen is unique in the fact that, it never originally was a ski town. Surprising right, especially for an area with four world-class resorts? 

Sam Coffey, Baker Boyd, and Victor Major of the "Freaks", Aspen's fastest ski gang. TGR Photo.

Before the chairlifts opened in 1946, the valley was shaped by the Ute Indians, silver miners, and ranchers who called this place home. 

"It was fun to follow Sam and Baker around and see the mountain through the eyes of some people who grew up on it" - Engerbretson

As a result, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill ski area. Meaning, even without the local ski culture it’s a thriving town with a robust community. And that community contributes to a sterling nightlife, cosmopolitan culinary scene, and an artistic vibe that only adds to the amazing skiing.

Major raced with Boyd and Coffey as a kid. Thanks to their convincing—which didn't take much—he calls Aspen home. TGR Photo.

“My opinion? Aspen is one of the only places in the world you can get high levels of skiing, arts, culture, and, of course, partying,” Sam Coffey tells us.

A local, Coffey’s childhood was spent ski racing the area’s four resorts. Despite going away for college, Coffey couldn’t shake the allure of the area. He now permanently calls Aspen home, and is focusing his energy on hitting big mountain terrain.

It's effortless to dig in an edge in and rip down the fresh groomers here. TGR Photo

“I love Aspen, I love coming back. I have a strong crew here, and it's really nice to be with your friends that you grew up with,” Coffey told us.

One crew that is particularly special for him is the Freaks: Aspen’s fastest ski gang. 

Shredding to their creed, “Ski or Die” the crew dates back to their middle school days, when the rowdy group was always getting heckled for their breakneck exploits. Refusing to slow down, the Freaks pay homage to the area’s ingrained “ski gang” culture.

No trip to Aspen is complete without a hike to Highland Peak, which tops to 12,392ft. TGR Photo

Not taking life too seriously, they just want to ski fast and have fun. We linked up with not only Coffey but two of his fellow Freaks: Baker Boyd and Victor Major. 

It's well worth the hike, Ligare drops in one of our many laps out at the highlands bowl. -TGR Photo

Boyd moved to Aspen when he was 12, and became addicted to area’s skiing. It’s because of Boyd and Coffey’s love for the inbounds riding that Major made the move out here as well. We followed them to their favorite lines, which constituted a gondola ride to ski Bell Mountain down, perfect if you’re wanting to catch a view of town. Still nothing beat the Aspen Highlands, which is where we lapped Deep Temerity Lift.

As Engerbretson shows us, Apres out here means grabbing your favorite bottle of bubbly. TGR

And yes, it does taste that much better at 10,900 ft. TGR Photo

As for things to do off of slopes there’s no shortage of fun to be had without being on skis. The most recognized is the X Games—you know the world’s most iconic winter action sports event—but there’s so much going on here that there’s a little bit of something for everybody. Bacon Appreciation Day, at Buttermilk, Bud Light HiFi, the Spring Jam Concert Series, honestly we can’t list them all. It be better to just come out here to scope them out for yourself.