The Panty Trees (All four mountains)

According to an article in the February 5, 2005 Aspen Times newspaper ("What's in that Tree?  Tradition turns unmentionables into conversation piece" by Catherine Lutz, http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20050205/MOUNTAIN02/50204025) the very first panty tree ever on a ski mountain was created at Aspen Mountain, underneath the Bell Mountain lift, in the early 1980's.  See that article for more information and several photos.  The article is reproduced in full below.  According to another site (http://skiingheritage.org/forums/showthread.php?t=240) the Aspen Mountain panty tree was created much earlier, sometime in the 1950's; a quote from this site:  "This is all apocryphal, but it would appear that the first Panty Tree bloomed beneath the Bell Mountain lift on Aspen Mountain, perhaps in the late 1950s. The big cultural shift we now call the Sexual Revolution is generally thought to have begun in California during the 1960s, but it's pretty clear that Aspen provided an early test case for the shift, harboring a potent blend of vacationing debutantes and European ski instructors. One explanation for the tree is that it was the place to hang trophies from the previous night's hunting."

"According to veteran Aspen Mountain ski patroller, Tim Cooney, Aspen Colorado panty tree first came into being [in the early 1980's] when someone threw a rather large bra onto the branch of an aspen tree under Lift 5 (the Bell Mountain chair). On the item in question, a scribble could be found – the name of a controversial Aspen Skiing Co. vice president. No one could remember the point of the statement now, but somehow the spirit of jest and humor continued to live on and spread like wildfire."  (This quote is taken from the article reproduced in full below, "Aspen Colorado in Tree.")   

Now the other three mountains at Aspen/Snowmass also have panty trees.  The one at Highlands is under the Deep Temerity lift , the one at Buttermilk is under the Summit Express lift, and Snowmass has two:  One is under the Alpine Springs lift and the other under the Village Express 6-Pack lift.

If you have any information to share concerning this matter for use on this page, please send to the author at AspenShrines@aol.com.

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Click on image to enlarge.

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What’s in that tree?
Aspen tradition turns unmentionables into conversation piece
February, 4 2005
Catherine Lutz, Aspen Times
It appears that a cherished Aspen tradition — copied first by Vail and then by a slew of other resorts — has been commercialized and sold.

Grand Marnier, the sweet French orange liqueur, is using the idea of the panty tree in its latest ad campaign about conversation starters. Its inspiration? Vail’s panty tree, located in Sun Down Bowl under Chair 5 (the High Noon lift), which apparently attracted the attention of a Grand Marnier veep and became the prime topic of conversation among his group during a recent ski trip to Vail.

But Vail wouldn’t even have its infamous panty tree, and the free publicity it’s generated, if it weren’t for Aspen.

The first known panty tree began to take shape in Aspen in the early 1980s, according to veteran Aspen Mountain ski patroller Tim Cooney, when someone threw a large bra onto the branch of an aspen tree under Lift 5 (the Bell Mountain chair). On it was scribbled the name of a controversial Aspen Skiing Co. vice president. No one can remember the point of the statement now, but somehow the humorous jest caught on like wildfire.

The heyday of the Bell chair panty tree lasted throughout the ’80s — about 40 to 50 panties, bras and other undergarments could be spied from the slow lift at any given time.

“People went out of their way to get exotic,” Cooney recalled, and it even became a symbol of rebellion — when the Skico tried to discourage locals from tossing down their skivvies, threatening to cut down the tree and pull the passes of underwear-throwing offenders, the branches only filled up faster.

In the late ’80s, Cooney said, some jokers started a “boxer rebellion” on the tree, and at one time there was a necktie tree.

The word spread, and first Vail and then other resorts adopted the idea.

“Once again, you have the case of Aspen setting the standard and Vail imitating,” Cooney said.

Unfortunately, Aspen’s panty tree withered sometime after the gondola went in and when the Bell chair stopped being run on a regular basis in the early ’90s. A half-hearted attempt to revive the idea on a tree under Lift 6 failed for good when the lift alignment was changed this past summer.

Meanwhile, Vail’s panty tree thrived. Started by locals, it’s practically become the tourist attraction of Vail’s back bowls. About 20 to 30 undergarments hang from the aspen’s branches at any given time, estimates one local — the highlight, he said, was last season when a large bra with the cups pointed downward filled with snow and leaked after every snowfall. Vail’s tree has even survived the wrath of a chain saw — one April Fool’s Day the tree was found cut down, but the very next day another nearby tree took up the cause.

“Vail’s is pretty spectacular compared to other ones I’ve seen,” said Vail local Kevin Spang, “and it’s a novelty for people. Nine out of 10 people who are not locals laugh at it, talk about it the whole way up the chair.”

And now, Vail’s panty tree is being used as the symbol of meaningful conversation over an after-dinner cocktail. Go figure.

Should Aspen revive the tradition to show Vail, and sippers of fancy drinks across the nation, how it’s done?

http://www.aspentimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050205/MOUNTAIN02/50204025&template=printart

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This article about the Aspen panty trees is at this link: http://www.t-squared.com/about/Aspen/Aspen_Colorado_in_Tree.html

Aspen Colorado in Tree

Aspen Colorado panty trees are a cherished tradition of the residents of the city of Aspen in Pitkin County, CO. But what started out as a tradition that warms the hearts of both locals and tourists, Aspen Colorado panty trees have become a commercialized and sold venture.

The commercial turn that Aspen Colorado panty trees are now taking was spurred first when Vail copied the tradition to attract more people into the place. Later, a slew of other resorts did the same and not long after, Aspen Colorado panty trees were sprouting everywhere, even going so much as to become the main topic of conversation for a group of visiting tourists.

Grand Marnier, the sweet French orange liqueur, is using the idea of the Aspen Colorado panty tree in its latest ad campaign about conversation starters. Its inspiration? Yes, you got it. Aspen Colorado panty tree as displayed by Vail in Sun Down Bowl under Chair 5 (the High Noon lift). Apparently, Vail’s Aspen Colorado panty tree attracted the attention of a Grand Marnier veep and became the prime topic of conversation among his group during a recent ski trip to Vail.

But Vail wouldn’t even have its Aspen Colorado panty tree and the free publicity it has generated if it were not for the original Aspen Colorado panty tree.

It was in the early 1980s when the first known Aspen Colorado panty tree began to take shape in the rocky mountains of this former mining camp. According to veteran Aspen Mountain ski patroller, Tim Cooney, Aspen Colorado panty tree first came into being when someone threw a rather large bra onto the branch of an aspen tree under Lift 5 (the Bell Mountain chair). On the item in question, a scribble could be found – the name of a controversial Aspen Skiing Co. vice president. No one could remember the point of the statement now, but somehow the spirit of jest and humor continued to live on and spread like wildfire.

Bell Chair’s Aspen Colorado panty tree had its heydays throughout the 80s. About 40 to 50 panties, bras, and other undergarments could be spied from the slow lift at any give time from the Aspen Colorado panty tree.

“People went out of their way to get exotic,” Cooney recalled. What’s more, the Aspen Colorado panty tree seemed to symbolize rebellion as evidenced by the time when Skico tried to discourage the locals from tossing down their skivvies. The company’s threat to cut down the tree and pull the passes of underwear-throwing offenders only led to branches filling up even faster.

 

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The photos below were taken in April 2017, showing a pair of blue men's boxer shorts in the tree on Aspen Mountain (click on images to enlarge).

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Sanctuaries in the Snow
The Shrines of Aspen/Snowmass
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