Local Spotlight: Mary Lou Farrell shares the magic of Snowmass as ambassador
Longtime local considers herself a ’community ambassador’ in on-mountain role
Mary Lou Farrell was 21 and heading west with a friend when she landed in Snowmass Village in the fall of 1973 and found home.
Now 68 years old, Farrell has spent most of her life in this valley: she met her husband here, raised her children here and runs a business, Sunrise Carpet Cleaning, with her husband here.
She doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.
“I just so enjoy it here that I haven’t had the desire to go somewhere else,” she said. “It’s a magical place, it’s just home to me. This is home to me, and everything that it provides fits into my lifestyle.”
Farrell is the kind of longtime local who could be considered a representative of sorts for the Snowmass community. In fact, that’s exactly what she is: every Tuesday morning from November to April, Farrell dons an Aspen Skiing Co. uniform and heads to the base of the mountain to begin her shift as a Snowmass ambassador.
The position is focused on guest services at the mountain: leading tours, giving directions, providing information to visitors. But the job extends beyond the scope of the slopes, Farrell said.
She said the role is more akin to that of a “community ambassador” — she and her cohort share knowledge not only of lifts and trails but of restaurants and experiences that happen off-mountain too.
“I love being out there with the guests, and I’ve kept in touch with some of them,” she said. “It’s just great to help them and let them know about the community.”
With 13 years of ambassador experience under her belt, Farrell notes plenty of memorable moments that have defined her tenure in the role.
There was the day she took a group skiing in whiteout conditions: “I said, ‘Just follow me — don’t look anywhere else. Follow me.’ And a few days later, I saw them again, (when) the weather had cleared up. … They said, ‘The day that we skied with you was our best day,'” Farrell recalled.
There were the awe-struck skiers she took to the top of the Cirque, to “places they never thought they would go,” she said.
And then there was the man who celebrated his 75th birthday with a powder run off Sam’s Knob. “That was really just a joyous day too, to help this gentleman — and we had a great day.”
Skiing skills are a requisite component of the role, but so too is patience and listening, Farrell said. She meets people on their level of comfort while offering opportunities to try something new or unexpected in a safe environment.
“It’s mainly about helping them have the best time and want to come back,” she said. After all, she noted, “I can ski any other day of the week, as fast as I want, wherever I want.”
Are there ever times that Farrell wakes up and wishes she could stay in bed on those brisk Tuesday mornings?
“I’m sure that I’ve thought, ‘Oh, boy is it cold out there, this is going to be tough,”‘ she said. “But I signed up for it, and I do my job. And I go, ‘Well, there we go.’ And it always turns out to be a great day.”
Plus, she said, that magic of Snowmass never gets old. Farrell still feels lucky to live in Snowmass full-time, even after more than four decades in the area.
“If anybody ever says, ‘You must just get so used to looking at all this,’ I say, ‘Never,'” she said. “I am in awe every time I get up. … I never take it for granted. I love it.”
Snowmass Village will host a fundraiser Dec. 14 to support longtime resident Jason Neilson, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.