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Full Spread

BY Tess Weaver Strokes | April 3, 2018 | Feature Features National

Local mountaineers Pete Gaston and Christy Mahon have perfected the art of the Alpine picnic.
Christy Mahon perches with an impromptu picnic on Peter's Peak.

A picnic in the mountains equals more than the sum of its parts. Fact: No matter how crusty the baguette, how buttery the cheese or how bittersweet the chocolate, each will taste better outside in the mountains.
Strafe Outerwear co-founder and avid ski mountaineer Pete Gaston knows a well-executed Alpine picnic can elevate a mountain adventure to something memorable. When he proposed to his wife, Jordan Agamie, in 2016, he surprised her on a trail run by pulling picnic supplies and a bottle of Champagne out of his running vest (Gaston says his Alpine picnic supplies, including a cutting board and food for two, only weighs 46 kilograms—minus the bubbly). Local ski mountaineer Christy Mahon takes picnicking seriously too. Mahon jokes she climbs peaks strictly for the “summit cookies.” Heed their advice on planning, packing and enjoying the winter picnic of your dreams—whether it’s on a ski tour, a cross-country ski loop or on one of Aspen’s four ski resorts.

Backcountry skiers should look for an obvious high point for the view and to avoid any avalanche hazards. Nordic skiers can often find civilized picnic tables within valley trail networks. On Aspen Mountain, Buckhorn Cabin offers outdoor picnic tables with views of Castle Creek valley. Rather than scarfing a quick energy bar at the top of Highland Bowl, why not whip out a picnic spread? Bonus points for scoring the two seats on the chairlift swing. On Snowmass Ski Area, ski to the bottom of the secluded campground lift for a quiet picnic looking out to the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. Buttermilk offers numerous warming huts to picnic near, or, with uphill equipment, hike beyond the West Buttermilk Warming Hut to the top of the ridge for one of the best views in the valley.

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