Paul E. Anna: High Points
September 17, 2009
They call it a dusting.
It wasn’t even much more than a thick layer of frost. And the “snow level” likely didn’t dip below 12,000 feet. But it was enough to start you thinking about getting on the mountain.
We are still 69 days away from the official Nov. 26 opening of Aspen and Snowmass, but I’ll bet there were people in this valley who saw snow on the peaks this week and headed for their ski closets to pull out their winter clothes, slip into their boots and dream about making turns. It is good to get an early drop on winter. The sales will be humongous and the ski swaps are yet to come, so knowing what you need now is the best way to be prepared then.
It is also good to start thinking about the skiing side of the equation instead of the economics of skiing. Finally.
When the Aspen Skiing Co. released its season pass prices in August, the negativity it generated, though expected, was especially harsh. You would think that we all were unionized workers, toiling for an evil mining company that was telling us to shut up and get back to work in dangerous tunnels.
Now, change is hard and there clearly were some changes in local pass options, but the vitriol, the anger, the rage, exhibited in the letters and e-mails was a little over the top. Actually, a lot over the top.
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It’s skiing, people.
We all knew when we came here that skiing in Aspen was expensive. The Skico is not a nonprofit set up to maintain cheap and affordable family skiing for the community. They are a business who, if you ask me, has largely gone the extra mile to participate as a responsible and positive force in this valley.
Cynics declare the Skico is made up of greedheads who plunder public land, overcharge for beer and take away our beloved two-day-a-week passes and Highlands/Buttermilk passes as a way to make an extra buck, but I look at the alternative. Consider what corporate ownership of Vail hath wrought. Cheap tickets, overflow parking, beers that still cost too much and crowds that, well … Put it this way: When was the last time you considered that life in Breck or the Vail Valley might be worth the savings on the price of your ski ticket?
The best deal, if you belong to the Chamber and can swing a grand and change is to get out by Sept. 18 – that’s today, folks – and buy the unrestricted premier pass for $1,099. With 137 days of skiing that works out to eight bucks a day. “Yeah, but who wants to go out every day?” you say. Well, that’s your option. Skico is giving you an opportunity to ride or ski seven hours a day, every day, for less than a ten-spot. Take it or leave it.
For those who bought the two-dayer, I feel your pain. If you want to ski as much this year as last you’ll likely have to fork out more and that can be hard. But I don’t think that the extra cash on those few people who will upgrade their tickets will be the profit boon to Skico that the critics are claiming. The company is making an attempt to streamline the system and some people are going to get hurt.
Life is not always fair.
Now that I have digressed from the joys of skiing to crass talk of cash, feel free to send your comments to … oh, never mind.