Skico uphill pass program raised $25k for Mountain Rescue Aspen in ‘21-22 season |

Skico uphill pass program raised $25k for Mountain Rescue Aspen in ‘21-22 season

Donation will support local backcountry rescue and mountain safety organization

A split boarder skins up Tiehack on a warm spring morning in Aspen on Monday, March 28, 2022.
Kelsey Brunner/Aspen Times

An Aspen Skiing Co. uphill season pass program raised more than $25,000 for Mountain Rescue Aspen in the program’s inaugural season, according to a June 13 email newsletter from Katie Ertl, Skico’s senior vice president of mountain operations.

Skico debuted a paid uphill pass requirement in the 2021-22 season; in the past, uphilling was free. Individual passes cost $69, with $10 of that total going to Mountain Rescue Aspen, and the program will continue moving forward. People who have a Premier Pass, employee pass or employee dependent pass can opt into the uphill pass at no additional cost.

Skico sold more than 2,500 uphill passes in the 2021-22 season, hence the $25,000-plus donation to Mountain Rescue Aspen, Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle confirmed in an email.

Mountain Rescue Aspen is a “volunteer organization dedicated to saving lives through backcountry rescue and mountain safety education,” according to its website.

Its 50-member volunteer team donates thousands of hours this year and supports search and rescue services in Pitkin County, as well as mutual aid for other Colorado counties. They’re entirely funded by donations and grants from the community, according to the organization’s website.

As the uphill pass program continues, people will need to opt in every year to make sure they have “an arm strap, a current year sticker, and access to waivers, education, and uphill update communications,” according to the Skico newsletter.

Uphill hours of operation will remain the same next winter, according to the newsletter. Uphilling will be permitted from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Snowmass Ski Area, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands, and from 5-9 a.m. and 4:45-10:30 p.m. at Aspen Mountain.

Skico will “continue to communicate temporary closures due to weather, safety work, and operational needs” and will review and send out more information in the fall.

“Thank you all for playing so well with us, the community, and one another during the uphill season on our four mountains,” the newsletter states. “We appreciate the communication, and the willingness to move with change as they arose.”