ASPEN - If you have an extra $25,000 laying around, the Aspen Skiing Co. has a ski pass for you. It is, in fact, dubbed "The Ultimate Ski Pass."
The exclusive pass provides rare benefits to the holders. They get to meet members of the U.S. Women's Ski Team when they race in Aspen on Thanksgiving weekend and receive two VIP passes to the food and booze hospitality tent during Aspen Winternational World Cup. The pass also buys them breakfast with Aspen native Bill Marolt, president of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
Ultimate Pass holders also get unlimited first tracks on the slopes before chairlifts open to the public. They can bring up to three friends. They also can take a private tour of the four ski areas of Aspen-Snowmass with a member of Skico's management team. They can ride on a snowcat on a grooming mission and take a "behind the scenes tour" with the ski patrol.
The pass is transferable and valid at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk.
Skico has offered the pass, at least this version, to its more well-heeled customers for the prior two ski seasons.
"We made 18 passes available for 2011-12," said Matt Hamilton, Skico director of sustainability. "We have sold one and sales efforts are under way. We've typically sold two or three [per season] so we don't have an expectation that we will sell them all."
The Ultimate Pass morphed out of the Foundation Mountain Pass, which raised funds for the Aspen Community Fund and a foundation connected to the Crown family, owners of Skico. In that program, a pass good for four seasons was sold for $135,000.
Sales of the newer pass still benefit the community.
"Philanthropy with Rewards is the idea behind the Ultimate Ski Pass, which strengthens Aspen's unique community while offering owners unlimited transferable skiing, a tax deduction and VIP privileges at events," states a Skico promotional piece for the pass.
Proceeds from sales of the Ultimate Pass will be split between supporting education in public schools in the Roaring Fork Valley and helping present events tied to World Cup ski racing in Aspen.
"Education has been one of the pillars of successful societies, but it's under assault in our valley," states Skico's promotional piece for the pass.
Skico also touts World Cup ski racing in its piece, noting that "skiing is part of Aspen's DNA." The promotional pitch tries to fire up prospective Ultimate Pass buyers by saying their purchase will help the resort keep the World Cup racing tradition alive after first hosting the World Championships in 1950.
Buyers are urged to contact Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan directly.