Paul Andersen: Fair Game
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Snowmass has a new attraction and, surprisingly, the Skico had nothing to do with it. The 10,000-year-old mammoth remains dug up last week could become a mammoth tourist boom for the beleaguered resort. Add an alpine slide delivering customers into a rubberized peat bog, and you’ve got a new sensation. Make no bones about it, Base Village may rise again.
This marketing hey-day emerges from an ancient bog, for peat’s sake! The Resort Association should celebrate with a press release: “Massive mammoth mandible morphs into marketing mojo!” Whoever thought the bones of a hairy elephant could trump two-fers at the Viceroy? Scratch the surface of the Earth and you’ve got a prehistoric gold mine.
All ages are built on past ages, and the bones of the mammoth reveal a bygone era culminating with the end of the last ice age. Strange coincidence that the bones should appear just as global warming hits its stride.
When that mammoth stumbled into the bog 10,000 years ago, the ice sheaths of the Wisconsin Ice Age had begun to ebb like the tide of a rigid, crushing ocean. The glaciers had done their work carving aretes, cirques and jagged escarpments that today we call scenery.
All powder hounds should look to the glacial epoch as a high point. That’s when incredibly huge dumps of pow-pow compacted into landlocked icebergs that gravity pulled down with tremendous, earth-shattering force. We don’t know for powder! Not the way that mammoth did while rooting for edibles a little too close to a peaty trap.
Perhaps this monolithic mammoth was in flight from Early Man, who had crossed the Bering Strait at about that time, lured by archaic promotions for the warm Yucatan beaches and associated real estate deals. Mammoths were hunted to extinction by these feisty foragers, so there may have been a tremendous battle waged near the Snowmass peat bog.
This leads to the concept of a Pleistocene Playground (my trademark) where children are equipped with spears, bows, and atlatls and given free reign to attack a life-size facsimile mammoth. Mom and dad could snap memorable pictures as little Johnny hurls his spear with sadistic glee into the anal cavity of “Marty the Mammoth,” the fuzzy new mascot of Snowmass.
It would behoove historians and marketers to pay more heed to the deep history that surrounds us rather than dating everything to the recent silver mining days. Tours of the Grotto’s Ice Cave – Early Man’s walk-in cooler – could become part of the tourist offerings, where families could sample mammoth malts, bison burgers, and giant sloth slushies.
Revisiting the Pleistocene could lure the whole family. While Bobby and Sally get tummy aches from gorging on yummy Mammoth Mud Pies, Mom and Dad can sip martinis shaken with Pleistocene ice chipped from the exposed foot of the Pyramid Peak rock glacier. The tourist economy could boom, with the Snowmass mammoth as a cash cow, prime for milking.
Souvenir hawkers could sell foam rubber souvenir knockoffs of mammoth femurs, inviting children to club one another with authentic caveman weaponry. Fossilized ammonite pendants could be worn by all discriminating Snowmass patrons as part of the “Step Back in Time” marketing campaign, and a stunning line of faux fur clothing would dress up little Betty-Jo in the same regalia that made Raquel Welch a household name in the unforgettable film, “Ten Thousand Years BC.”
The mammoth bones of Snowmass, revealed to the sunlight for the first time in ten thousand years, are manna from heaven. A traveling mammoth display, including the 8,000-year-old mummified remains of “Timberline Man,” discovered in 1989 in a cave in the White River National Forest, could promote Snowmass to a whole new audience.
“Snowmass is No Dinosaur” would announce the Washington Post as the display reaches the Smithsonian, attracting waiting lines stretching around the perimeter of the building. “Tusk-Tusk” would quip the New York Times as the mammoth exhibit arrives at the Museum of Natural History.
Accompanying the exhibit would be action videos of “Pleistocene Park,” the newest terrain feature at Snowmass, featuring the “Trunk Jump,” the “Bog Pipe,” and the “Mandible Masher.” This theme would be highlighted at the X Games, which could encourage Stone Age antics with Flintstones costumes and characters. What fun to go retro to the thump-thump drum beat of primitive hip-hop!
Further anthropological excavations are warranted at Snowmass to see what else the earth might yield. With any luck, our local La Brea tar pit will give Snowmass top billing as the resort whose future lies in its past.
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Columnist Roger Marolt is learning to hold his breath longer during these hot, dry summers, he writes.