National Geographic : 1969 Aug
petite East German blonde, Gabriele Seyfert, won the women's title; a Detroit youth, Tim Wood, the men's. Outside, far into the night, skiers schussed down the floodlit swath of Ski Broadmoor on machine-made snow. As usual, the Western Slope was getting most of the moisture. Next morning I headed my car for Aspen-the heart of Colorado's ski country. Plaster Casts Abound in Aspen Nowhere in the United States can you find more ski lifts (30), more miles of slope and trail (200), or more plaster casts than in the mountains around Aspen. Dr. Robert L. Swearingen, young orthope dic surgeon whose office is conveniently lo cated at the foot of Aspen Mountain, gave me the previous season's casualty figures: 1,757 skiing patients treated at Aspen Valley Hos pital; 545 casts applied-473 of them to frac tures of the tibia or fibula, the long bones between knee and foot. "This year will be even bigger," he said cheerily. I wondered why skiers I'd seen limping around Aspen seemed to take it so lightly. "I think there's a certain camaraderie in volved," the doctor replied. "Then, too, in addition to, some of the finest orthopedic fa cilities in the country, our hospital has some of the prettiest nurses. We get 15 applicants for every nursing vacancy, and we choose them carefully." He went on to a more serious point. "I suppose I could be practicing in a plush paneled office somewhere. But here in Aspen there's an air of... of freedom that I enjoy. Many other people do, too." Perhaps that air survives from the rip roaring 1890's, when a mine at Aspen yielded a silver nugget weighing more than a ton. While you can still find the architecture of that period, much of it now houses fine res taurants, ski shops, and boutiques, flanked by modern apartments and lodges. Similar modernity pervades the area's newest, sleekest resort, nearby Snowmass-at Aspen. This self-contained village, with 50 miles of ski trails and lifts capable of serving 8,500 skiers per hour, opened in late 1967. Its planners envision it a dozen years from now as the Nation's largest ski resort, with five Ramparts of red sandstone thrust heavenward in the Garden of the Gods, a 949-acre city park west of Colorado Springs. "The weirdest of places ... rocks of every conceivable and inconceiv able shape and size," wrote Colorado author Helen Hunt Jackson in 1878, "... all motionless and silent, with a strange look of having been just stopped and held back in the very climax of some supernatural catastrophe." Climbers on the Garden's Gateway Rocks (left) scale a sheer face.