Skier visits rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in ‘21-22 season

Skico saw more season passholders, less destination visitors on the slopes

A long line forms around midday at the Silver Queen Gondola on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, a sunny, bluebird day on Aspen Mountain. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

If it felt like there were more skiers and snowboarders on the mountain this season, that’s because there were.

Aspen Skiing Co. recorded 1.42 million skier visits for the 2021-22 season, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.

The count is up about 23% from the pandemic-riddled 2020-21 season and “on par” with skier-visit numbers from the winter of 2018-19, “which was a really strong season,” Hanle said in a phone call Thursday.

“We had a good year,” Hanle said. “All in all, it was a great rebound.”

One skier visit equals one day that one person scans their pass or ticket at any of Skico’s four mountains. A single skier with a 100-day pin this season would account for 100 skier visits in the count; likewise for 100 skiers who each skied just one day this year.

A bigger portion of those scans were season passholders this year, to the tune of a 12% increase in season passholder skier visits compared with 2018-19 numbers, according to Hanle. And with more people making the Roaring Fork Valley their full-time home these days, “we’re selling more passes than we ever have,” Hanle said.

Destination skier visits were down, indicating fewer people were on the slopes scanning day tickets rather than a season pass, Hanle noted. The usual January boom of international visitors that Skico was “hoping for and used to” hasn’t totally bounced back yet.

That means those busiest days on the mountain and those occasional long powder day lift lines are busy and long — not necessarily because there’s more visitors but because more season passholders are out there getting after it, too, he said.

Ski resorts across the state also fared well this season, according to skier-visit numbers the trade group Colorado Ski Country USA released Thursday afternoon in conjunction with its annual meeting.

The group announced in the release that the 2021-22 season is poised for a “statewide skier visitation record, edging out the previous record of 13.8 million visits in 2018-19 by a few hundred thousand.” The count for the 2020-21 season was 12 million visits, according to the release.

Tim Sullivan, the media contact for the trade group, wrote in an email Thursday afternoon that he didn’t have a “more concrete” count of statewide skier visits at the time.

The group includes 22 member resorts, among them the four mountains that make up Aspen Snowmass — that’s Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass.

The total skier visit count for those group members this year was up 14% from the previous season, the release states.

And nationally, skier visits were up 3.5% from the previous year to total 61 million for the 2021-22 season, according to the National Ski Areas Association trade group. The Rocky Mountain region fared particularly well with a record high of 25.2 million visits.

Skico officials have their eyes on the numbers to see if local skier headcount trends continue, and to see how they can maintain the experience at the same time. In the 2022-23 season, Ikon and Mountain Collective passholders who get some days at Aspen Snowmass will have to make reservations to hit the slopes, Hanle confirmed.

“We are going to continue to watch the peaks and valleys to manage those and keep the experience at the place we want it to be,” Hanle said.


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