A Local 8-Year-Old's Guide
By Duke Fitzsimmons (8 years old)

Dear Off Piste Readers,

Our Mountain Guide series has been a hit with Obermeyer fans. A local’s guide to skiing each of Aspen’s four mountains—Ajax, Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass—continues to garner attention on Off Piste year after year. So, we decided to keep the snowball rolling downhill; however, this one is going to be a little different…

For 17 years, I’ve called the Roaring Fork Valley home due in large part to my love affair with Ajax. I’ve built my life around skiing. So, when my wife and I learned that our family was growing—first with Duke in 2015 and then with Boone in 2018—I was thrilled to share this spectacular place with my boys.

So far, they say “yes” every time I ask if they want to go skiing with me. It’s a dream! Early on, our time skiing was mostly rock’n’roll in the truck, Skittles in the gondi, looking for snow fairies from the chairlift, and frequent hot chocolate stops at the Sundeck, MGR, Cliffhouse, or Elk Camp. Now, though, my wife and I fall asleep sore and tired after chasing Duke and Boone around the mountains during winter. Jump lines through trees, “Mikaela turns” on groomers, smears and smacks on terrain, and bumps—LOTS OF BUMPS—are our boys go-to on Aspen’s mountains. But there is one thing that planted a seed in our sons love of skiing: tree trails!

I decided to tap into my 8-year-old’s burgeoning passion venn diagram that includes storytelling, skiing, and photography. Thanks for reading Duke’s first “published” story. We hope it offers some value, points you in the right direction, and stokes the fire for your family’s ski adventures.

I digress…

This is Duke’s story; so, without further ado, check out my young son’s Mountain Guide piece!


Greg Fitzsimmons, Off Piste Editor

A young skier wearing Obermeyer

Our family loves to ski together. Skiing is one of my favorite things in life. Here’s my top ten favs, in order:

  1. Family
  2. Skiing
  3. Razz, our puppy
  4. Reading
  5. Football
  6. My friends
  7. Music
  8. Traveling
  9. Riding Bikes
  10. Writing and Illustrating Stories

My dad tells us about his memories of skiing as a kid. He writes a lot about ski trips, and he always shares stories with us when he gets home from traveling. Last summer he went to Chile with Obermeyer to ski during our summer. He said, “swapping flip flops for ski boots is the best.” I cannot wait to go to Portillo with him soon. The hot tub looks awesome!

Dad’s parents taught him to ski. His grandparents taught his mom and dad how to ski. Dad says skiing is passed down from generation to generation in our family. When I was little, we’d listen to music in the truck while eating donuts on the way to the West Buttermilk parking lot.

Today, we still always listen to music in the truck, but we ski at Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands most of the time. My ski team skis at Highlands this year, but our family skis at Ajax.

I’ve had a lot of fun showing my younger brother around our mountains. He is stoked on the tree trails that mom, dad, and I skied when I was his age. Every AspenSnowmass mountain has sweet tree trails for kids to explore. Stay tuned for my tips on tree trails at Aspen, Highlands, and Snowmass. Here are my favorites at Buttermilk. 

two brothers skiing in Obermeyer Outerwear

These are my five favorite tree trails at Buttermilk for skiing with kids:

  1. Atcher’s Alley — This one is full of jumps and rolls, and it’s easy to get to from every chairlift at Buttermilk. It’s easy for beginners and when you’re older it is still really fun.
  2. Calvin & Hobbs Tree Trail — Down on Tiehack, this one isn’t as easy to get to as Atcher’s Alley. This one is more for older kids. The main reason I like it is because of the drop in the middle of the trail. My two tips for making the drop are to scope it out first and have fun!
  3. Mister Bill — Located on West Buttermilk a little above the midway chairlift loading station. I like how this one is really twisty and turny, I like all of the jumps in it, and I really like the gulley after the trees. There’s also one fun air at the end of the trail.
  4. Monster Trail — This is a super fun tree trail. I like it because of the bumps and turns. Going through Monster Trail there is a cool tunnel that you can air out of. At the end there’s another drop/roll onto the cat track. Beware of the monsters on the trees. They’re not scary, though!
  5. Sunshine Trail — We usually ski this one after a West Buttermilk Park lap. Sunshine Trail is fun because it similar to Monster and Mr. Bill just a little shorter. Once you get of the top part if you want to you’re able to go right off the groomer for more tree trail action. It feels like a roller coaster.



What are your favorite tree trails at your home mountain? Let me know if I forgot any of your favorites on Buttermilk.

For years I’ve been writing stories but not publishing them. I’m glad that you get to read the first four articles that I’ve published.

– Duke Fitzsimmons

A young ripper's ski pass


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