Aspen skiers believe the hype |

Aspen skiers believe the hype

Customers wait in line at the ticket office below Silver Queen Gondola around 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Being in a ski town filled with fresh snow before the mountain opens is like being in a classroom filled with kindergartners who heard Santa may come early this year.

The level of energy, excitement and anticipation within the community is something that can only happen once a year, and usually does happen every year, according to Aspen Skiing Company spokesman Jeff Hanle.

Since the snow started falling last week, Aspen has buzzed with talk of the local mountains opening early for the season.

This year’s stream of gossip even prompted Skico to create a video, “Rumor Has It,” featuring Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan and other Skico employees, as well as an Aspen police officer and other members of the community, posing the age-old question, “Are the mountains opening early this season?”

Rumor Has It from Aspen Snowmass on Vimeo.

As seen in Skico’s clip, the phones at Skico have been ringing off the hook since Tuesday, Hanle said.

“The rumors are almost always a given,” Hanle said. “But it isn’t always that we get to deliver the good news.”

The last time Aspen Mountain opened early for the season was in 2013, Hanle said.

“People run home, dig up their old ski boots, make sure they still fit, walk around their living room, look for their socks. That’s what happens in a ski town,” Hanle said.

The ticket office below the Silver Queen Gondola said they experienced a consistent stream of customers retrieving their ski passes and inquiring the mountains’ early opening until about 2 p.m. Wednesday, according to manager Chris Palasz, who works in the ticket office.

Once rumors really ramped up, less than an hour before Skico made its announcement official, ski thirsty locals began pouring into the ticket office around 2 p.m., Palasz said.

“People have been asking if the mountain is going to open early, and we just told them that we didn’t have confirmation on that information, but that it was certainly a possibility,” he said.

Customers at the ticket office interviewed by The Aspen Times said they would not have waited in line had it not been for all the rumors swirling around town.

“I was on my couch just before here and wasn’t going to get my pass this early,” said local resident Alex Lyle.

“But hearing of the mountain’s early opening gave me that fire,” Lyle said with a smile.

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