One of the biggest expansions coming during the 2023-24 season is at one of the United States’ oldest ski resorts. Aspen Mountain is expanding off the summit of Ajax, increasing its skiable terrain by 20%, with 150 additional acres to explore. The terrain pod, which was originally known as Pandora’s, will have a 1,220 vertical foot drop and will be serviced by a new high-speed quad chairlift. The east-facing terrain pod also protects against warmer winters, with all of the terrain being above 10,000 feet.
Yesterday, Aspen announced that the new terrain pod, along with the new chairlift, will be referred to as Hero’s.
The name is after “all of the people who brought this project to life, most impactfully Jim Crown, whose vision and leadership helped bring this ambitious expansion to reality.”
The new Rad Smith-designed trail map, pictured below, shows off the new runs. In total, they’re adding 26 new pistes: 19 chutes, four sculpted trails, and three glades. Most of these new pistes will be double black diamonds, with a sprinkling of blue and black routes. My personal favorite new run name is E=MSki2 Glade.
The new names are dedicated to the people who are tied to these new runs. This includes 10th Mountain Solider Percy Rideout, Aspen’s first ski instructor Elli Iselin, and Tim Howe (who coined the Pandora’s Box phrase), among many others. Multiple runs, including the lift line trails, have also been dedicated to former Aspen Ski Co. owner Jim Crown, who passed away this summer.
“With Jim’s unexpected passing, we took some time to reflect on the family’s and our company’s enormous loss and the naming of this historic expansion,” says Geoff Buchheister, who’s the new CEO of the Aspen Skiing Company. “Jim’s legacy and broad impact in Aspen stretched over 35 years, alongside many others we are also choosing to honor. We felt it was meaningful and appropriate to recognize all of the heroes who are tied to this terrain as we unveil this new project.”
To be honest, while I dig the new trail names, I liked Pandora’s more as the name for the area. Part of my reasoning is that the old name had more mystique to it. In addition, the inner grammar police in my head keeps saying that it should be Heroes, not Hero’s. Even Grammarly is telling me to change it every time I write it out (on the other hand, Grammarly has led me to make some embarrassing errors). A snippet from an Aspen Public Radio article about the expansion explains the reasoning for why it’s worded like this:
“’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.”
Take that Grammarly! Despite this possible grammar snafu, this is going to be a dream terrain pod for advanced and expert skiers and will continue to grow the legend of Ajax. Hero’s is on track to open during the 2023-24 season.