Meet the Families That Are Putting Aspen on the Global Map

By Kelly J. Hayes | November 19, 2015 | People

The Aspen that we know today did not just happen. It was forged. Men who were pioneers created businesses, developed ski resorts, and built homes, schools, and entertainment hubs, all to support the dream of a place that could nurse the mind, body, and spirit. Many have passed on those lessons learned to a new generation that is taking the best of the past and creating a new future. Meet the families that are putting Aspen on the global map.



ON ANDREW: Coat, Lone Pine ($3,385). Pitkin County Dry Goods, 520 E. Cooper Ave., 970-925-1681. Shirt, pants, and shoes, Andrew’s own. ON DANNY: Morvek L jacket, Theory ($995). 204 S. Galena St., 970-544-0079. Shirt and pants, Danny’s own. ON DAVID: Cashmere jacket, Hastego ($3,500). Mark Richards Fine Outerwear, 427 E. Cooper Ave., 970-544-6780. Shirt, pants, and shoes, David’s own. ON MICHAEL: All clothing, his own

“We really grew up in this place,” says Danny Goldberg, the middle son of the three Goldberg boys, all of whom work with their dad, Michael Goldberg, overseeing one of the nation’s best small music venues, Belly Up Aspen.

In the 10 years since 66-year-old Michael—a former defensive tackle for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers who later built a successful career in the aviation-leasing industry—opened Belly Up Aspen, it has become a must-stop for the elite of the music world, as well as a significant part of Aspen’s musical heritage. “Music was here before I came, but I hope we have made a consistent and varied contribution to the Aspen music scene,” Michael says.

Perhaps the biggest change in the recent history of Belly Up has been that sons David, 27, Danny, 25, and Andrew, 24—all raised in Aspen before matriculating at the University of Colorado—have returned to help manage the club and foster its future. “Belly Up has become a part of this town,” says David, “and we all believe that anyone who has ever been inside, bought a ticket, or played here as an artist has an ownership stake in Belly Up.”

The Goldbergs are also moving into band management. “We love working with artists,” says Danny, who has stints at the William Morris Agency and concert promoters C3 Presents on his résumé. Their first act, the Canadian-via-Austin duo Black Pistol Fire, has become a much-sought-after band on the festival circuit.

And the future? “We’re committed to Aspen,” enthuses Andrew. “Aspen would be Aspen without the Belly Up, but we all think it is much better with it.”



Cashmere jacket, Doriani ($1,495). Pitkin County Dry Goods, 520 E. Cooper Ave., 970-925-1681. Shirt, sweater, pants, socks, and shoes, McBride’s own

“He’s a pretty good wingman,” Pete McBride says with pride of his father, John (PICTURED), a pilot. The McBrides, both avid conservationists, have spent many hours together surveying the changing West in a slow-flying, twin-seat, single-engine Piper Super Cub, as Pete takes photos to chronicle both the beauty of the area and the ravages that have been inflicted on it.

John, 77, came to the valley in 1966 to be a part of the development of the Snowmass Ski area. In 1969, sensing a community need for a place to foster business, he developed the Aspen Business Center (ABC), which gives many entrepreneurs and innovators comparatively affordable places to thrive in a town long devoid of affordability.

He followed the ABC with the creation of the North Forty, a place where locals could buy and build a piece of the Aspen dream in a community designed for families. All the while he and his wife, Laurie, raised their own family, kids John, Katie, and Pete, on a ranch in the Capital Creek Valley.

Influenced by the efforts of local conservationists, John took a seat on the board of the Wildlife Conservation Trust. Along with daughter Katie, he also created the Sopris Foundation. John passed the conservationist gene along to all of his children, but it is Pete, 44, who has made a life of following the fate of the world’s greatest rivers. Using both still photography and film, he documents the growing trauma faced by the great global arteries, including the Ganges, the Nile, and our own Colorado River.

On countless trips, he has seen the slow death of rivers caused by drought and misuse of water. He tells his tales in books and publications like National Geographic, and during personal appearances. Over a 20-year career Pete has become a de facto “Paul Revere of the Rivers,” heralding a call for action. “We are watching a locomotive, a drought train, coming our way,” he says with conviction, “and nobody is getting off the tracks.”

As for John, Pete has nothing but respect. “I wish I could do half the things that he has done for this community,” he says. “As both a developer and a conservationist, he has unique balance.”



All clothing, Stapleton’s own

The first Stapletons came into this valley over Taylor Pass in 1881 and homesteaded land on what is now the airport. David Stapleton, 81, a member of the family’s fifth generation, and his wife, Sigrid, were instrumental in making Aspen what it is today. “Our story is simple,” he says with a hearty laugh, “If there was a job to be done, we did it. That’s all there is to it.”

In addition to raising five children and running a successful insurance business, David wore many hats—city councilman, firefighter, president of the hospital board, president of the Hall of Fame, president of the ski club, 17 years on Mountain Rescue, technical delegate for the Women’s Downhill at the 1980 Olympics. “Do you want me to go on?” he asked in response to a question about some of his accomplishments. “We always tried to pass the message to our kids to get involved.”

His eldest son, Dave (PICTURED), 57, heeded the advice. As a kid, he was perhaps the fastest skier this valley has ever seen. “I was racing World Cup at 17. I traveled the world nine months a year skiing,” he recalls wistfully. After his time on the Pro Ski Tour ended, he returned to Aspen, where he opened the ski shop Stapleton Sports.

Both Stapletons cut their teeth as members of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, and when Dave saw that the club needed a worthy training facility, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work. The $15 million capital campaign he spearheaded has given the AVSC one of the premier ski-racing facilities in the world.

The Stapleton Training Center, as it has been designated, not only helps local skiers get ready for high-level competitions, but it also plays hosts to the fastest men and women on skis. “This year we’ll have the Austrian, the Swiss, and the Norwegian national teams training here before the World Cup races,” Dave says. “Our kids get to shadow the very best skiers in the world.”

For more than a century, the Stapletons have left their marks in Aspen. And Dave, continuing his family’s long legacy in the Roaring Fork Valley, wants to make sure that dreams do come true: “The goal today is to make ski-racing available to every kid who wants to race.”



ON ANDREW: Chevron jacket, Burton ($95). Radio Boardshop, 400 E. Hopkins Ave., 970-925-9373. Flannel shirt, Inis Meáin ($685). Pitkin County Dry Goods, 520 E. Cooper Ave., 970-925-1681. Haydin pants, Theory ($195). 204 S. Galena St., 970-544-0079. Alberto shoes, Vince ($395). Nordstrom, Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Denver, 720-746-2424. ON JIM: Jack shirt, Rag & Bone ($350). 433 E. Hyman Ave., 970-925-2816. Jeans, Simon Miller ($345). Pitkin County Dry Goods, see above. Jacket and belt, Jim’s own

In fall 1977, when Snowmass Village had just been incorporated as a community, a pair of young developers from the Carolinas saw opportunity. “There was a 3,000-acre parcel that became available in Snowmass, and we thought we could do something with it,” 72-year-old Jim Light recalls about his first major project in the Valley.

That timing was crucial for what now exists in Snowmass and downvalley at the Roaring Fork Club. It could be argued that the projects, and the stewardship of the common community land in both ventures created by Light and his partner, Jim Chaffin (together Chaffin Light), set the standard for responsible development in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“We both learned from Charles Fraser [the developer of Hilton Head in South Carolina, where both Jims worked] that you had to be careful about creating integrated communities,” Light says. “As a developer we wanted to have diversity.”

Chaffin Light provided land and resources to support the Snowmass Chapel and Community Center and the Snowmass Conference Center, and donated buildings to the Anderson Ranch Arts Center. In addition, the company provided Snowmass Village with significant attainable housing opportunities. “We built more affordable housing than had been built in the valley in the previous 10 years,” Light says.

Jim’s eldest son, Andrew, 42, watched and learned as a boy growing up in Snowmass. He left for private school at 14, then went on to Duke University and Stanford Business School before a career in real estate finance in San Francisco. But the valley beckoned.

Now as one of the four directors of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty (a company formed in February 2012 by the merger of Morris & Fyrwald and Chaffin Light real estate) and the owner of Two Creeks Investments, Andrew is well positioned to make a difference in the community he calls home.

“It’s such a wonderful place to raise a family,” he says, “and I don’t think people recognize what a great network there is of 30- to 40-year-old young professionals who choose to live here.”



ON DAVE: Vest ($1,125) and shirt ($575), Gorsuch Exclusives. 611 E. Durant Ave., 970-920- 9388. ON JEFF: Vest ($1,650) and shirt ($270), Gorsuch Exclusives. SEE ABOVE

“The roots of this community lie in the magic of the mountains,” says Jeff Gorsuch, 51, the second generation of the ski-racing family that created the iconic Gorsuch ski shops in Aspen and Vail. “Our stores are an authentic reflection of that.”

The family patriarch, Dave Gorsuch, 77, spent much of his youth at ski races in Aspen, even winning the Roch Cup Downhill in 1956. “In 1941, when I was 4 years old, [my dad] brought me to Aspen in a rucksack for the Winter Nationals, and it has been a part of my life ever since,” the elder Gorsuch explains.

Dave met the woman who would eventually become his wife when they were just 14 years old at the Junior National Ski Championships in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and he and Renie later became members of the 1960 US Olympic ski team together. Following the Games, they began opening ski shops, and now their son Jeff runs the Aspen shops and works within the community to promote the best of skiing. “When my parents first started the shops, there was a lot of energy in this town,” Jeff says.

Giving back for Jeff means working with organizations like the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, the Aspen Education Foundation, and Aspen Community School. He is most proud of the kids program Gorsuch operates that provides up to 300 pairs of skis a year to people who can’t afford them. “I feel like we are a part of the fabric of this place,” he says. “To be able to raise my kids here and work in this community is an honor and a privilege.”



Eloy jacket ($2,045) and sweater ($335), Moncler. 432 E. Hyman Ave., 970-544-5558. Standard Issue denim jeans, Rag & Bone ($175). 433 E. Hyman Ave., 970-925-2816. Shoes, Salvatore Ferragamo ($1,600). Nordstrom, Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Denver, 720-746-2424

“I can only imagine what this land would look like today if my father had been shortsighted and sold it to developers,” says Travis Moore, son of patriarch Tom Moore (PICTURED), referring to the Moore Open Space, the Aspen Nordic Center, and the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club clubhouse. All are a direct result of the Moore family’s commitment to the community through Tom’s donation of acres of land for the above facilities, as well as a home for the Aspen schools and the Aspen Recreation Center.

Indeed, it took both vision and courage for Tom Moore, 73, to preserve and maintain a hold on the land that he had inherited after the passing of his father in 1991. Additionally, Moore’s development of the Five Trees neighborhood included 31 affordable single-family homes that are a vital part of the community. “We wanted to make sure that people who worked for the city, the hospitals, and the schools had a place where they could live,” Tom says with a sense of pride.

Travis, 49, has since become an integral part of two of the major developments on the very land that was a part of his family heritage. Today he is a beloved teacher of earth and space sciences at Aspen High School and has coached skiers in the Nordic program for 27 years. He also lives on the land that his grandfather first bought in the late 1950s, when Aspen Highlands was just being developed.

For his part, the senior Moore could not be happier with the course of history. The son of a barber who ran a shop in the Hotel Jerome, Tom has left a legacy for the ages. And his son is a key cog in that tradition. “I am as proud as a person can be of Travis,” Tom says with more than a hint of emotion. “He is great with those kids. Hundreds of them have learned about science and how to ski because of him. I guess it all worked out good.”

Photography by: photography by SHANE MCCAULEY. Styling by Faye Power. Grooming by Marcy DiSalvo and Jordan Brodersen at M Salon. Shot on location in Aspen at Doug Paley’s Pioneer Springs estate (price on request). Shane Aspen Real Estate, 970-925-6063