Skico cuts cups at Ajax | AspenTimes.com

Skico cuts cups at Ajax

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

The Aspen Skiing Co.’s cups runneth over no more – at least not in the garbage cans at the top of Aspen Mountain.The company has been nagged over the years by guests and its own employees about the waste generated by offering paper cups of water at a table at the guest service’s mountaintop shack. Skiers and riders getting off the Silver Queen Gondola as well as the Gent’s Ridge and Ajax Express chairlifts would often glide by, grab a drink and toss cups in the garbage. Hundreds of cups per day were discarded.

“You get a ton of them,” said Aspen Mountain manager Steve Sewell. He said he would receive a call per week from customers angry about the waste.As a green leader in the ski industry, the Skico sought alternatives. Sewell and Peter Hoffman, Skico director of property services, found the solution. They attached a heated drinking fountain to the guest services shack. After some trial and error during this unusually cold early winter – when the temperature has plunged as low as 20 below in town – they believe they’ve got it dialed in.

On Wednesday, when the high temperature climbed to only 19 degrees at the mountain’s base and was stuck in the single digits when the ski area first opened, the drinking fountain performed admirably. The water stays warm for a few seconds before cooling down.”It’s damn cold up there,” Sewell said from the warmth of his office that day. “If it’s working today, we’re smiling.”

The dreaded paper cups haven’t been entirely eliminated. Hot cider is still offered the old-fashioned way – with a cup. No cider fountain exists quite yet.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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