Ski trail renamed in Klaus Obermeyer’s honor at Buttermilk-Tiehack
Klaus Obermeyer reached iconic status in Aspen years ago. On Saturday, a piece of his legacy fell into place.
Obermeyer, who turned 100 on Dec. 2, had a ski trail named in his honor at Buttermilk-Tiehack, Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan announced at a party at Bumps restaurant.
“This mountain will forever be touched by you,” Kaplan said. “We don’t (rename trails) often. I don’t think I’ve ever done it. This mountain needs to bear your name forever more.
“So we’re going to take what was formally known as Tiehack Parkway and we’re renaming it to Klaus’ Way,” Kaplan continued. “It’s a black diamond, too. Think of this run, it’s really the gateway to that area you love and cherish and make us all appreciate more than anybody could.”
The sharp-witted Obermeyer responded with a “thank you” and one of those one-liners which he is famous for.
“That just means now I will never get lost,” he said, spurring a laugh from a 150 or so people in the audience.
Kaplan said a trail sign for “Klaus’ Way” would be erected soon beneath the Tiehack Parkway sign. Next season, the run will be exclusively named after Klaus. The trail is at the top of the Tiehack lift to the skier’s right and runs atop the ridge looking into the Maroon Creek Valley.
Kaplan noted that Skico presented Klaus with a lifetime ski pass at his 90th birthday. The accountants never figured he would get so much use out it, Kaplan joked.
Klaus said that will be his go-to trail on the hill. “Only that run,” he said.
Skico also presented Obermeyer with a special 100-year pin, similar to the pins awarded when customers reach 100 days of skiing or riding in a season and the more rare 1,000-day pin.
Obermeyer had another one-liner for the pin: “That is so nice, I think I need to do another 100 years.”
“That lifetime pass has a cap on it at 125 years,” Kaplan countered with a laugh.
Buttermilk has always been special for Obermeyer because it’s so close to his skiwear company’s longtime headquarters at the Airport Business Center. He would frequently slip out and get in a few runs during the day. Ski partners said it was nearly impossible to keep up with him.
Kaplan recounted a story that Obermeyer told him about seven years ago when the new Tiehack lift was installed.
“You told the story about standing at the bottom of Tiehack probably in the mid-’50s, before Buttermilk opened,” Kaplan said. “You were there with Friedl (Pfeifer, an Aspen ski pioneer) and you looked up and you guys said, ‘Oh, wouldn’t that be a beautiful place for a ski lift? Look at the terrain, look at those trees, look at the light.”
Obermeyer confirmed the story and said, “Even at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in January it’s still good light. It’s terrific.”
Kaplan also credited Obermeyer with his positive attitude, which many people say has played a role in his longevity.
“Klaus just brings it every day. He brings that mountain attitude, that Aspen attitude every single day,” Kaplan said. “I’ve used this many times with our 4,000 employees — ‘Let’s just keep it simple. Show up everyday and be like Klaus and you’re going to win, the company’s going to win and we’re all going to live long, happy, healthy lives.’”
The ceremony at Bumps put a cherry on the top of six days of celebrations for Klaus’ 100th birthday. About 500 people attended a party at the Hotel Jerome on Dec. 2. At both the Jerome and Bumps parties, women lined up to give Klaus kissed and hugs.
“If you wait long enough, you get it maybe,” he quipped.
And Klaus gladly posed for hundreds of pictures with people at both parties.
After the Bumps party, Obermeyer told The Aspen Times it has been a special week.
“It’s like a homecoming,” he said. “I saw so many people who normally I only see once a year. Having 500 people at the Jerome was a big thing.”