Marolt: Fierce independence could still save our butts |

Marolt: Fierce independence could still save our butts

Roger Marolt

Fierce independence could still save our butts.

I don’t think Snowmass Village and Aspen could be more different unless one of them suddenly became a beach resort. Aspen recently extended its moratorium on new commercial development that’s been out of control. Out here our million square-foot Base Village hasn’t had so much as a single screw tightened in it for more than a decade despite our coaxing to get going. Aspen has a tiny ski area with a huge amount of expert skiing while Snowmass is a huge mountain with a tiny amount of expert skiing. Aspen is inundated with movie stars and famous athletes surrounded by paparazzi. Snowmass is chock full of insurance salesmen and accounts with their families in tow. The center of Aspen is bustling most of the year. Snowmass doesn’t have a center of town.

I’m not saying one is better than the other. It’s all a matter of taste and what you are used to.

I like living in Snowmass Village. I like skiing in Aspen. My work is easier to conduct in Aspen. Snowmass Village has better mountain bike trails. Aspen has a larger variety of hiking. There is far less shopping in Snowmass Village, but it is far more affordable than Aspen. I suppose buying things online or in Glenwood Springs tops both in this regard. I almost forgot to mention that Aspen Mountain has far fewer rocks on its ski slopes than does Snowmass, and lots of times that’s what I care about most.

Although I have no explanation as to how two resorts so geographically close together could have ended up with such different personalities, I know better than to take this yin-yang set up for granted. I spend some time in Vail and I spend some time in Beaver Creek. Those “towns” are similarly situated to each other as are Snowmass Village and Aspen, but often times I forget which place I am in when I’m standing in one or the other faux Bavarian Villages connected by I-70, which they should redecorate as a faux Autobahn, if they are thinking at all.

What is really tiresome about both Vails is that each looks a lot like a great many other ski resorts from Whistler through northern California across Lake Tahoe and circling back to Copper Mountain right back here in Colorado. Apparently there is just one plan for winter resort facelifts.

It makes me think that Snowmass being different from Aspen is great as long as it doesn’t begin to look more like those other places. If finishing Base Village doesn’t turn out to be the answer to Snowmass’ future, I hope we go back to mimicking Aspen, rather than continue along the cookie cutter route familiar to the East-West Resort development team. Mastering homogeny isn’t an accident. It’s their formula for making money.

Many great minds recognized the wisdom in pursuing this Base Village project, but I haven’t seen the light. Ever since it started, I more and more strongly felt the allure of Aspen pulling on me. I am pretty certain that I will never be able to afford to sleep and cook my meals there, but when I look at where I conduct the other part of my life, it’s pretty much in that town nine miles to our southeast.

The kids go to school in Aspen. We worship there. We submit to jury duty there. We ski, we dine, and we buy groceries there. We endure their Fourth of July parade and Winterskol events. Is it any wonder we come across as backwater schizophrenics to people we meet with more secure identities they assume from the normal places they live?

I like the idea of us having our own governmental identity and living under the rules and decisions we make for ourselves, yet I can’t help wondering what our village would be like today if we were still Snowmass at Aspen, like in the good ‘ol days. You can’t say being on our own has resulted in perfection. Had we played by Aspen’s rules all along, I think it is unlikely that Base Village would have ever been approved, no matter how many pizza and beer voter registration parties Aspen Skiing Co. threw, and our post office could not have ended up in a strip mall that would never have made it off the drawing board.

But, it is what it is, as they say and I am sure I will get used to it, if I last another twenty-five years. Here’s to dysfunction becoming the new messy vitality instead of Beaver Creek West.

Roger Marolt definitely sees the possibility of a happy ending at the end of a series of unfortunate events. Email at

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