Why Gorsuch Haus? For me this is a personal story that starts with a family history. The vision for the revitalization of that side of Aspen Mountain was born from my memories of the legend and magnitude of the place we always just called Lift 1.
My family’s connection to this foundation of American skiing begins in 1941, when my father, Dave Gorsuch, arrived here in the backpack of my grandfather, Jack. They came to watch my aunt and uncle race in the U.S. Nationals on Roch Run and Corkscrew.
Nine years later, in 1950, my father returned to watch the FIS World Championships, a spectacular event that inspired him, a miner’s son, to train for the US Ski Team. He competed in the 1958 FIS, the precursor to the World Cup races of today, and two years later my parents, Renie and David, both qualified at the US Ski Team training camp in Aspen for the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics.
My point in sharing this history is to underscore incredible significance that Aspen and its original base area played in the story of our family. My parents were coached by the legendary Gale Spence, an Aspen hometown hero, and were best friends with Max Marolt, who was also a member of the 1960 Olympic Team. Lift 1 was the place where their dreams came alive.
Lift 1 in those days was vibrant, the center of Ajax. The place was filled with action. Aspen Mountain inspired the world then, and has been a springboard for generations of skiers ever since.
When my parents began their careers in the ski business with a shop in Crested Butte, their coach Gale Spence and his partner John Oaks shared their knowledge and offered guidance. John and Gale owned Aspen Sports—the finest ski shop in America for more than 50 years. Another mentor for my parents was Elli Iselin, the namesake for the once-famous specialty skiwear shop “Elli of Aspen.” After Fred Iselin died in 1971, our family along with Gale and John bought Elli of Aspen from Elli. It was the Gorsuch family’s first foray into the retail business in Aspen.
Elli was a legendary skier in her own right, and a member of the Austrian Ski Team. When she opened Elli’s of Aspen, it was Aspen’s and perhaps America’s first ski boutique selling lines from Europe like Bogner and Pucci. In addition to being a mentor to my parents, she was like a grandmother to my brothers and me.
The story of these extraordinary people and their connection to my family is the reason I have teamed up with my friend and fellow skier Bryan Peterson to build Gorsuch Haus. We are trying to lead in the same tradition as the early ski pioneers who made Aspen the best ski town in the world. This community’s connection to their vision inspired us to reach out with a bold vision for Gorsuch Haus,
Bryan and I want to honor those legendary figures and the original base around Lift 1. We deserve a great hotel on Aspen Street, not just memories of its former glory. Please join us in reimagining the heart and soul of Aspen Mountain with Gorsuch Haus, which will turn back on the lights that have gone out with the closure of places like the Holland House and the Skiers Chalet.
My fondest memories as a ski racer live in Aspen. I became the skier I am today on these four mountains, especially on the legendary trails below Lift 1A, plus runs like Aztec. My first big downhill, at 13, was on Aspen Highlands. I raced down Racers Edge on Buttermilk against kids who are still my friends today. It was at Snowmass at an early December downhill camp where I qualified for the 1983-84 men’s Europa Cup Downhill team.
Aspen is the finest ski town in the world, but we need to have the vision and courage to carry the legend forward, and welcome new generations with the same sprit of those early ski pioneers who built Aspen.
Bryan and I am among those who revere Aspen for its historic significance, but we must embrace the future in order to make the mountain come alive with true vibrancy and newness. This is what Gorsuch Haus is about—a vibrant hotel at Aspen Mountain’s original base area. It’s about a new lift and public areas and a restaurant. We will build a new lift plaza and provide public transportation up the hill. All of those things will reconnect all of us to the magic of this place.
I am respectful to the community that is Aspen, and all those who call this great town home. I believe there is a trust and a respect that this is place evokes, and even commands. With the vision for this project, we are responsible for honoring this trust. To listen, to act and to bring a project to life that carries the Aspen Idea forward.
- By Jeff Gorsuch
Jeff Gorsuch co-owns Gorsuch at the base of Little Nell with his parents and brothers. He and his family have lived in Aspen for more than two decades.