Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. AnnaThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

We’re pretty proud of ourselves here with our “Power of Four” mountains that are among the best in the world. And we should be. After all, this place, even in a “competitive environment” as Mike Kaplan described the ski landscape to the city powers that be, is a global resort Goliath. But it is nice to see a comparative David doing something creative and affordable to help keep the soul in snowsports. This week, while on a Fall Color Gawk in Salida, Colo. – “insanely great,” by the way, to use a phrase made famous by the late great Steve Jobs, R.I.P. – I came across a new ski pass called the “One Planet One Pass” that is being sold by Monarch Mountain. It offers skiers the opportunity to follow their folly and ski 26 separate ski resorts in the U.S., Germany and Austria during the 2011-12 ski season. And get this, the pass sells for $339. That’s right, $339 will get you a season pass to Monarch Mountain and up to three days of free riding or skiing at 25 other resorts as well. Sure, these are some of the smaller resorts in the States, and we’re not talking Garmish or Innsbruck across the pond. But the 26 resorts that are participating provide spectacular snow, uncrowded conditions and plenty of pistes that are as perfect as you’ll find on our fair hills. All for a bargain price.Start with Colorado. You can use the pass for up to three days each (some resorts have restrictions so check with the Monarch folks to clarify details before you plunk down the plastic) at Sunlight, Ski Cooper and Powderhorn, all within three hours drive of here. Head north and you can try out Sol Vista and Loveland. Head south and you can ski Telluride, bounce over to Silverton and then drive on to Durango. While you’re on the road you might as well continue south to New Mexico where your pass will get you some time at Taos, Angel Fire, Red River, Pajarito, Sipapu and Ski Apache. In Utah, Alta offers half-price tickets to “One Planet One Pass” holders and Wyoming’s Grand Targhee (a powder haven) and Revelstoke in British Columbia comp you with free skiing. The Arizona Snowbowl, China Peak and Indianhead in Michigan also get a shoutout. Each would be a kick to check out if you happen to be in the area and feel like making some turns.Then there is the European connection. A group of Bavarian resorts called the 5 Berge & Co. has become the first non-North American partner. There are four ski hills in Germany and a fifth in Austria that will honor the card and I’m sure you’ll be greeted with a brew if you make the trip. There are other resorts that are in discussions with Monarch and this effort represents a great initiative that can only help provide needed exposure to many resorts that keep snowsports alive and affordable. It would be a lesser world if skiing took place just in Aspen and Vail and Whistler. There is a place for the little guy.But perhaps the best part of being a “One Planet One Pass” holder is that it sparks wanderlust. The minute I heard about it I thought about how cool it would be to hit the road for a ski tour and collect pins from all 26 resorts. We can get a little stale here in our “Power of Four” Valley. Maybe a “Power of Twenty-Six” road trip is in the offing. You can learn more about the One Planet One Pass at http://www.skimonarch.com or by calling (719) 530-5105.

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