Aspen Skiing Co.’s numbers were solid but not record-breaking over holidays
Pass use soared as locals found time to indulge in powder
Omicron and weather-related travel woes kept some tourists from hitting the slopes of Aspen and Snowmass Village over the holidays, but powder brought out local passholders.
“Overall, it was a good holiday given all the factors and all the things we were dealing with,” Jeff Hanle, Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of communications, said Monday. “We got historic snowfall, which is fantastic, but with our holiday visitors the busiest days are often bluebird days. I don’t know if we saw the sun at all.”
Skico logged between 18,000 and 18,500 skiers and riders on the slopes for three consecutive days between Christmas and New Year’s Day, according to Hanle. The daily peak on “traditional” holiday periods — with at least some bluebird days — is in excess of 20,000 visitors per day.
Hanle said season passholders were willing to brave the crowds due to the incredible powder. It started snowing on Dec. 23 and didn’t let up until Jan. 2. Skiers were greeted with big dumps for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
“Our pass use was extremely strong,” Hanle said. “Typically ,as those destination visits start to climb, some of our passholders back off because they don’t want to deal with the crowds. But with powder every single day, pass use was strong right through the holiday period.”
Lodging properties in the upper valley saw some cancellations due to the surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide and because so many flights were canceled over the holidays at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport due to snow, wind and reduced visibility.
Skiers and riders on The Aspen Times staff didn’t witness any major snafus on the slopes due to overwhelming crowds or Skico employee shortages. A grooming snowcat was parked on Ruthie’s Run for a few days because of a mechanical issue.
Hanle said the guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Dec. 27 to reduce isolation to five from 10 days for people who were asymptomatic after testing positive for COVID-19 was a huge benefit to Skico. Numerous workers were able to return to duty while wearing masks. The company also requires vaccinations.
Nevertheless, staffing was a challenge. It required shifting workers among the four ski areas and recruiting desk jockeys at Skico to take up frontline duties.
“It was literally all-hands-on-deck for a long time,” Hanle said.
Long before you could buy your Patagonia apparel and gear at the Snowmass Village Mall, company founder Yvon Chouinard was an avid rock climber and mountain man living in California.
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