Writing Switch: Good ideas that Skico should use (but won’t) | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: Good ideas that Skico should use (but won’t)

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith
Writing Switch

Aspen Skiing Co. is keeping its cards close to the vest with its plans and price structures for passes this (hopefully) upcoming ski season. Blackout dates for chamber members? Reservation systems? Discounts because last winter abruptly ended, but also increases because CORONAVIRUS? Who knows, but one thing we can be sure of: gone are the days of some jerry rushing onto your bucket at the last second. We really don’t want to get stuck with somehow only buying a twice-per-week pass in November, so here are some longshot ideas benefiting everyone that we’re preeeeeeetty sure will work.


SB: This was going to be the local’s pass but I’m not going to get into what makes you a local because that designation is about to lose all meaning as people parry the pandemic by actually occupying their second homes full time. I’m calling it the APCHA pass because if you live and work in Aspen year-round, you should have unrestricted access to the slopes.

In what would be an unprecedentedly cool move by Skico, giving a nod to the people who make town run is, simply put, the right thing to do. Obviously, they won’t do this though because they don’t make money off of people who only ski a couple hours a day and would rather eat a ham and cheese sandwich at home than fork over $30 for a slice, salad and a beer.

We — and by we I mean locals who work in offices in town, not people Zooming to meetings in New York — are relatively low maintenance. Other than lift lines, you barely see locals because we’re off playing in the trees or pillaging our powder stashes. You know that chaos under the VX in Snowmass while you take your first and only ride up to access other lifts? Yeah, that’s not us.

The only difficult part would be verifying each local. However, they do that at APCHA already so the people living in subsidized housing would already be qualified. Locals don’t/can’t monopolize the slopes because we have jobs to go to. We just need two to three hours a day for our sanity. You want us to be happy, right? What’s your motto again, Skico? LOVE, COMPASSION, PEACE and UNITY — up until you mess with our profits.


BW: I can deal with paying chamber pass prices if I only have to make a reservation and not have blackout dates. Fine, I get it, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I’ll just immediately schedule a chairlift for every day at 10 a.m. and I’ll probably show up but some days I just won’t. Tourists aren’t even going to know what dates they’re coming out here yet. I’m also guessing most of them won’t know until they are standing there, rental skis in hand, seven abreast, that they needed a reservation three weeks ago, as some jerk in a technicolor dreamcoat saunters past and onto the gondola solo dolo.

But if all Aspenite 100-day pinchasers quietly employed this strategy, there’s still one wild card that we must address: powder days.

Even last season, I was waiting 35 minutes to board the Silver Queen after a storm, and I managed to set an alarm that morning. Wrapping a line with everyone 6 feet apart would end up like a giant game of Snake where it inevitably just runs back into itself. So what determines whom gets t*ts-deep powder shots? A skills challenge that visitors and locals can compete in together on a level playing field!

At 8 a.m. you’re randomly assigned a pod of competitors, gladiator style, to establish those most deserving of fresh tracks.

The best thing is you don’t even need to win your pod, just finish in the top 20%. You don’t need to be No. 1, just good enough not to lose. As other people get stuck and fall over on moguls, or wipe out hitting a baby jump, they’re eliminated because of their proven inablity to have as much fun as you, a huckster, in all this snow. Well, not “you” Sean, because the jump might be too scary, but “you” as in me.

Terrain park activities may be difficult when they’re buried a foot deep, so we can keep that part of the mountain in a bubble. And, like any good gulag, if you dare compete and fail, you must quarantine yourself for 14 days in shame.

Or we could just say if you have at least a certain number of centennial pins, you’re expedited. Let’s say that number is, hmm, four.


SB: People have made up their minds about the pandemic. Whether disregarding science or public safety, there are segments of the population that feel comfortable contracting a virus that’s still being studied or are trying their own unsolicited approach to create herd immunity.

Side note: I’m pretty sure people are pitching herd immunity without even knowing what it means, like when Michael Scott declared bankruptcy.

But our capitalist overloads must be satisfied. We can’t simply ban people because they’re a threat to public safety. We tried that with white supremacists. So let’s give the Rona deniers their own mountain.

The obvious pick would be Buttermilk. Having said that, I don’t think it’s a good idea — not weeding out pandemic deniers, that’s a great idea, but rather giving them their own ski area. A lifty is more or less an indentured servant already and they shouldn’t have to risk their livelihood working in close proximity to people who suck.

So instead, Skico should shuttle them out to the backcountry and let them figure out how to get home. They can huddle together for warmth at night, a lot like a herd of elk. And then they can get a head start on herd immunity since they’re so gung-ho about the whole idea.

I think that’s how it works; you toss a bunch of people together, let them get infected and leave it up to Darwinism. I mean if you look at the long history of science, it’s clear that the entire process is subjective. Type A, B, AB, O — in the end it’s all blood.


BW: Sorry Mariah, you don’t get to come to Highlands this year. No doubt you love it there, tucked away, with the Bowl and Tiehack bombers and how the Alehouse is much more your scene than Ajax Tavern or whatever is occupying the cursed building next door this time around.

I don’t absolutely need to snowboard all four resorts this year, especially if I’m saving hundreds of dollars and everyone else on the mountain is in a similar position. For like, $800, Skico should offer a Highlands-exclusive pass — no blackouts, no reservations, no mini X Game qualifiers on powder days. All other season passes would be admissable here, too, the only difference is that if you pay full price for a Premier Pass, you get the privilege of skiing Aspen and Snowmass as well. No walk-ups, no paper tickets: laminated cards only.

Hell, why even stop there? More options meets more people’s price points, so just offer so many that the customers become confused and ideally just buy whatever you upsell them. I also recommend a “I’m So Rich Just Let Me On The F***ing Gondola” lift ticket. Yeah it costs $2,000 to get the family on the slopes normally, but you’re a billionaire. Pay $50K and the bourgeois get VIP access, skipping lines all day, a bonus black diamond trail, and a valet who skis behind them with a GoPro, sandwiches and beer. The same profit is made off people who money means nothing to, while only a fraction of bodies are physically clogging up the runs. As an aside, I would make a good valet, and also offer groomsman stand-in services on request.

sbeckwith@aspentimes.com bwelch@aspentimes.com