Marolt: Most revolting gondola ride ever — by far |

Marolt: Most revolting gondola ride ever — by far

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

I know this time of year you are inundated throughout the media with lists for the best and worst of everything for the past year. While not breaking that tradition here, I am going to shorten the list to one item and broaden it to cover the time span covering the history of the world. As this is the first day of the new year, I hope you are not feeling queasy. If so, please consider approaching this column when you feel better. If you enjoy reading about this as much as I like writing about it, you will shortly have a stomachache.

My top-one list for the vilest display of human ickiness ever associated with Snowmass Village occurred in Aspen. It was Pat Smith, the head developer with Related Westpac, renting a car on the Silver Queen Gondola on Aspen Mountain for an hour, as in like a cheap motel, which entire time he used up after pulling the curtains that were specially installed for the occasion, after he and a female companion boarded. They rode the thing up and down the mountain four complete round trips before the stunt came to its merciful conclusion.

I don’t remember the year because I have tried so hard to bleach that cerebral mole from my memory and pluck the single thick, long hair from its center, but you know it had to be during the days when things were going really well for the developers of Snowmass Base Village, because who would do this type of thing if they didn’t honestly believe they could do anything? If pressed, I would say it was 2007, the peak of foolishness this century — hopefully.

I do know it was Valentine’s Day. This I am sure of. What other day of the year is so bloated with asses looking for boobs and parading out any stupid stunt under the guise of romanticism to hopefully create opportunities? This, unfortunately, happens during times of excess and scarcity, so it can’t be used to peg a point on the economic cycle. Still, I think it was 2007.

At any rate, it was gross. You know what went on in that curtained bubble suspended above our hallowed ski slopes. That takes no imagination whatsoever. If it were all about the views, why request the curtains and keep them drawn tight the entire ride? If it were all about the food, why not serve it hot in a fine dining room? If it were all about privacy and good old-fashioned quiet time alone, why alert the press and make a front-page photo op about it, replete with predictable quotes and silly photos of before-entering and after-exiting grins?

Aside from thinking about this whole episode without noting one redeeming or endearing thing about it, the contents of my stomach curdle when I cannot convince myself otherwise than that the gondola car used for that revolting ride must still be in service today. He rented it; he didn’t buy it. If the truth be known, it was probably the first red one wired for music. You and I probably both have sat in that thing, catching our breaths after hard skiing on a cold day with the vents buttoned tight. Maybe on a warm day we’ve sat with our eyes closed and the sun beating down on us and meditated in it — in through the nose, out through the mouth. Yuuuuuuuuck!

We are left only with the timeless, one-word question unanswered: Why? Why did Smith think this was a good idea? Why did Aspen Skiing Co. go along with it? How much did it cost?

Those were funny times around here — and everywhere else, for that matter. Money was easy, getting a mortgage for more money than you needed was easier, and purporting to do your job and fitting just about any cockamamie activity into its description was the easiest of all. Most picked golf.

It was one of those perfectly awful times in history when everything made sense simply because nothing at all made sense. It was a cool fruity cocktail of moral, spiritual, physical and economic relativism.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this is the lasting, visceral memory it has created. Smith may be long gone from the Snowmass Base Village scene, but his smirking mug peeping out of the cracked gondola car doors on the front page of the paper will always be the face of Related to me. It gets more bizarre with age.

Roger Marolt recalls the good, bad and ugly ole days. Contact him at

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