The shrines scattered across the four Aspen mountains are secrets hidden in plain sight. There have been dozens of these makeshift memorials built to honor celebrities, friends, longtime locals and those who are some blend of the former. Typically, visitors learn about the shrines from cryptic hints from locals or a ski instructor who weaves them into the lesson, but guests at the historic Hotel Jerome will have a unique opportunity this winter to get a crash course in shrines from a dedicated tour. Shine expert Susie Lee will be leading the "Find the Shrines Tour" for Hotel Jerome, and she was nice enough to answer a few questions for Curbed Ski.
Is this your first time leading a shrine tour or do you know of any other organized shrine tours?
Hotel Jerome's "Find the Shrines Tour" is new this winter. I don't know of any other organized tours, but I'm sure there are many private ski instructors at [Aspen Skiing Co.] who would be capable of leading one.
What was the first shrine you found, personally? Did you run into it on accident or did someone guide you or give you a hint?
The first one I visited was the Jerry Garcia Shrine. I was taken there by my friend, Tim, who skis Aspen Mountain everyday. It is very easy to find and on an intermediate hill. Pretty much all of the shrines I know of, I've found with friends.
How did you acquire all your shrine knowledge?
I acquired all of my shrine knowledge from "Uncle" Tim. I've skied with him so much over the years that we actually asked him to be our son's godfather.
Are most shrines fairly accessible or are there some that you need to be a pretty good skier to get to?
I'd say the majority of the shrines are on advanced runs. Some runs are steep and technical, but there are plenty of easy ones. The Ed Bradley shrine, for example, is a bench at Bonnie's restaurant on Aspen Mountain.
Have you or someone you know built a shine?
For the most part the identity of the people who have created the shrines is not known. I have contributed to some of them, though.
What are some of the most unique items you've seen incorporated into a shrine?
The Golf Shrine actually has a bucket of range balls from Aspen Golf Club hanging from a tree. Annie Denver donated wind chimes from her home which ski patrollers hung high in the trees.
Do you plan on giving guests any words of caution about altering the shrines or what types of hints to drop to others who want to find shrines?
Only add items to the shrines. Please do not take anything. You never know, something could be very sentimental to someone. I have spread some of my good friend's ashes at the Jimmy Buffett Shrine. He and I used to go to every Buffett show we could together.
Anything you hope guests take away from the tour about Aspen or the town's ski culture?
Aspen is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Everyone who has been here has fond memories of the place. I personally love the Ski Museum Shrine on Aspen Mountain honoring all the people who made skiing and Aspen what they are today.
The above is lightly edited for clarity and syntax.
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