National Geographic : 1959 Feb
The National Geographic Magazine and lead ore; Aspen's population had sky rocketed to 11,000; two railroads had pushed tracks into the valley, and 10 passenger trains a day roared into the booming town. Next year, with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, came disaster. Mines closed; banks failed; miners and their camp followers departed in droves. In 1930 only 500 people lived in Aspen. But by then skiers were prowling the moun tains in search of suitable slopes. Swiss expert Andre Roch came to survey the region, and fathered the Roch Run on Aspen Mountain. During World War II, mountain troops from Camp Hale, 30 miles away, crossed the Con tinental Divide on maneuvers and lingered for sunny skiing weekends in the town. Eventually Aspen became a unique year-round resort where musicians, writers, and artists gather in summer and skiers in winter. As I soared aloft on the Aspen Mountain chair lift, I was wrapped in solitude. Below stretched wide slopes separated by stands of spruce. At times my skis dangled dizzily 40 feet above the snow; again they seemed to brush the treetops. Only the harsh caws of Rocky Mountain jays and the distant halloo of an early skier disturbed the stillness. When I stepped out on the Sundeck at the summit, the breath caught in my throat. From my perch the mountain tumbled for miles to Castle Creek. Across the valley snow peaks of the Elk Mountains reared in a jagged crest (page 239). Aspen offers slopes to challenge the most skilled skiers, but it also has wide, gentle runs ideal for the novice. I tried slopes re quiring varying degrees of skill-some calling for more than I possessed. Nine miles from Aspen, on Castle Creek, lies the ghost town of Ashcroft. Now and again distant howls shatter the silence that has lain on it since the last miner pulled up stakes. For near by stands the Toklat Kennel of Stuart and Isabel Mace. One sparkling morning I waxed my skis and set out for the Maces' retreat. From there, instead of a chair lift, my tow was a team of huskies on the six-mile trek to Montezuma Basin. Stuart Mace handed me a towbar attached by rope to the sled. "Just take it easy," he said. "Lean back slightly and bend your knees to take the shock of the start." At his command, the dogs leaped forward (page 240). They soon settled into a smooth trot. But when we stopped to take a picture, I came to grief. As the sled lurched forward, 1A 234 cCI i.