Buckhorn Cabin approved for Skico events this winter | AspenTimes.com

Buckhorn Cabin approved for Skico events this winter

Skico has installed a temporary deck at Buckhorn Cabin this winter in preparation for a handful of private events the company is planning for the site. (Courtesy photo)

The Aspen Skiing Co. received permission Wednesday to hold small, invitation-only events with food and drink service this winter at Buckhorn Cabin on Aspen Mountain.

Skico’s use of the picturesque space, which will include at least one after-hours party and possibly night events, will have a “minimal“ impact on the public’s ability to rent the cabin for private parties during the winter, said David Clark, Skico vice president.

“We’re talking about a handful of events,” Clark told Pitkin County commissioners during their bi-monthly regular meeting Wednesday. “(And) we’d like to beta test some night events for stargazing.”

Commissioners were mainly concerned with inebriated skiers trying to make their way down the mountain after such events, though Clark said snowcats would transport event attendees down the mountain after the late event and be on hand for those who drink too much. Other COVID-19-related concerns about sanitary stations also were assuaged.

“I feel real comfortable granting this to the Ski Company,” Commissioner Steve Child said. “I trust they will handle it professionally and I wouldn’t expect any problems.”

Skico was able to ask permission to use Buckhorn under an optional extension of the Sundeck food and liquor license, said Jeanette Jones, the county board’s clerk. A similar use for a champagne cart was approved a few years ago.

This season, Skico has installed a temporary deck on the site in front of the 160-square-foot cabin, and plans to host events at the site with no more than 22 people, Clark said. The company will haul a food service trailer to the cabin to provide a sanitary hand-washing station for guests, and also place two portable toilets in the area behind the cabin, he said.

Skico also has installed new windows in the tiny cabin, which has room for only seven people at a time.

One of the Skico events at Buckhorn this winter will occur at an après hour, meaning the ski mountain would be closed at the time, said Mak Keeling, a Skico project manager. Guests who have been drinking will be transported down the mountain, he said.

Any stargazing events at Buckhorn would have to be separately approved under a special event permit by Pitkin County’s Community Development Department because nighttime events are not allowed under the Aspen Mountain Master Plan, said Suzanne Wolff, the department’s assistant director.

Keeling said Skico still plans to rebuild Buckhorn in the next couple years, calling the events this season “an interim step for programming up there.”

Plans outlined in the 2019 master plan called for renovating or tearing down the current Buckhorn Cabin and building a larger structure that would provide daily food and beverage service and special events. A site plan included then showed a much larger cabin with a sizeable deck facing Aspen Highlands that showed off the incredible views that come with the site. Permanent restrooms and kitchen facilities also were envisioned.

Commissioner Greg Poschman called Buckhorn Cabin “dingy,” “utilitarian” and “like a closet” and heartily endorsed a new version of it.

“I’d love to see you replace the cabin,” he said.

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