RUTHIES'S RUN, ASPEN
We take you now, by flashback, to an important but little-known moment in U.S. skiing history. It is the spring of 1946, the first year of Aspen, the old mining town, as Aspen, the new ski resort. And there in Spar Gulch—which is one of America's genuine gulches—stands Ruthie (Mrs. D.R.C.) Brown, the first of Aspen's intermediate skiers. "There ought to be," said Ruthie, sideslipping irritably, "an easier way to get off this mountain. I would give—no, I will give—$5,000 for just one trail that I can ski. A trail just for me." And she did. That, as every skier should know, is how Ruthie's Run was born.
Both Ruth and Darcy Brown were Aspen stockholders—stockholders were about the only people skiing Aspen in those days—and the rest of them chipped in another $5,000 to cut the new trail where she wanted it. The slope where Ruthie wanted the run was tougher than it looked. But Ruthie's skiing progressed while the run was being cut, and when it was ready she was ready to ski it. The result: one of the greatest ski runs in the country.
Ruthie's Run opened the winter of 1949. "It was," recalls Mrs. Brown, "a terrible day. A big crowd gathered around, and down we came, skiing through three feet of heavy powder. There was a Paramount newsreel camera, and I broke the ceremonial tape."
In the years since, Aspen has grown tremendously, Spar Gulch has been partially filled in to become less gulchy, but Ruthie's Run remains the local favorite.
And no wonder. Starting at 10,485 feet, the run does all these things in quick order: it snakes down through a corkscrew, 300 yards of tightly swinging, 22� slope; it chutes across a flat, into a funnel of trees to Zig-Zaugg (right), building tension and speed all the way; after another, 300-foot-wide, hollow, it dives smartly into Ruthie's Snow Bowl, then into Spring Pitch (where suddenly the world is tilted to 34�), swings sharply to a hard left turn onto a 250-foot catwalk and winds up barreling easily down Strawpile to happy exhaustion. There ought to be an Aspen law: Ruthie's should be skied twice at the minimum—once for skiing, all out, once just for looking, across all of Colorado, down at the town from the hillside.
On one of the days I skied Ruthie's last season, Mrs. Brown was waiting at the bottom. "Sadly, I don't have much time to ski the old run anymore," she said. "But always when I'm in Aspen I come by and look up at the skiers coming down it. It is quite a run." It is quite a run, indeed, Ruthie. Thank you.