Another blow to the place we once called Highlands |

Another blow to the place we once called Highlands

It’s good that the Aspen Skiing Co. is willing to admit that the new electronic pass scanning system at Aspen Highlands isn’t working as well as planned.

Except for the lucky people who happen to arrive when crowds aren’t a factor, the backups caused by people trying to force their passes and tickets into the little scanning doohickey are cause for much consternation. And it was especially frustrating last weekend as people rushed to dive headlong into the deepest powder in recent memory.

Skico personnel, however, aren’t admitting defeat. They say they’ve been in contact with the manufacturer and hope to make changes to improve the system’s efficiency.

That’s not exactly the answer we were hoping for. You see, there’s more to this problem than just the fact that the new system causes backups. Crowds of people trying to get on the lift on a powder day are nothing new. It’s just part of the deal, one of the reasons folks will show up an hour before the lifts open just to make sure they beat the crowds.

The problem is that it is just one more effort to “dehumanize” Aspen Highlands. Once the rebel mountain, the locals’ hill, the place that boasted a ramshackle bar with graffiti-covered walls as its base jewel, it is now home to million-dollar mansions, an upscale lodge and mall, and a Ritz-Carlton. And now we can’t even enjoy interacting with the “lifties” before heading up the hill.

Whether or not the scanning system eventually becomes more efficient is irrelevant. The chance for a brief exchange with the usually upbeat folks who scan our passes is what’s important. We will miss their smiles as they watch all of us anxious powder hounds jockey for position to get on the lift as soon as possible.

Saying hello and thanks to the pass scanners is simply part of the enjoyable experience that is skiing ” on any of our mountains. We find it sad that the Skico is willing to trade that in for some fancy new machine, and would encourage the company to file it under “failed experiments” and bring back the old system.