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And she’s laughing now. As if she knows exactly what I’m thinking. I scramble to come up with something clever to ask. “Is Aspen still a ski town?” I blurt.
She pauses for a moment before answering. “You know, this is what makes this place unique,” she says. “Aspen is still a ski town. One of the greatest. But it’s so much more than that too. Remember that our cultural roots here go as deep as our skiing roots. While Friedl Pfeifer was busy building lifts on Ajax Mountain in the late 1940s, Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke and his wife Elizabeth were just as busy establishing Aspen’s intellectual and cultural credentials.” She goes on to explain how these two forces have combined to create the kind of vibrant mountain community that, she feels, every other mountain resort in North America has tried to emulate over the years.
“Aspen has its warts and spots just like any other community,” she says in conclusion. “And like many other 21 st century mountain towns, it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of vision to keep its spirit strong. I believe Aspen has an amazing and inspiring story that spans more than 125 years. But I also believe it is important to realize just how fragile mountain communities are today. If Aspen — or Whistler or Jackson or Squaw — are to remain healthy and inspiring places for another 125 years, then we have to make sure that their inhabitants remain free-spirited, creative, fun-loving, and in touch with their souls!”