Marolt: Out of Aspen’s shooting range |

Marolt: Out of Aspen’s shooting range

Roger Marolt

We got snubbed. Or, maybe it was snobbed. The deed was done by Aspen, so the latter was just as likely their intention. Either way, they singled us out to be excluded. We are officially their Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

It’s all about their stupid annual photo contest. They have officially, in writing, made it perfectly clear that Snowmass Village can have no part in being the subject of it, so, yes, I am allowed to call the contest “stupid.”

I don’t care what their justification is except, of course, if they are planning a special surprise contest later in the summer in our exclusive honor and that is the reason for the current slap in the face, but I’m betting that my face will remain red because of this slap rather than out of any embarrassment for misjudging this situation.

Just Google “crappy Aspen photography contest” and the advertisement is one of the first hits. You don’t actually have to type “crappy” in your search subject line, but you will feel better if you do after the contest ad pops up and you read through it.

It’s right there in the Aspen Chamber promo ad, right below the section where all the buttons are ready to be clicked to instantly book your Aspen vacation. No good contest, much less a crappy one, can be staged without a profit motive behind it.

At any rate, the last rule for the contest clearly states: “The boundaries are the same for the public as competiting (sic) photographers — anywhere in the Roaring Fork Valley excluding Snowmass Village.”

Of course, my first thought was that we should challenge Aspen Chamber to a spelling bee. I soon realized, however, what a hollow, if not easy, victory that would be.

The Roaring Fork Valley is a big place, and competititing photografers are allowed to submit shots from Woody Creek, Basalt, Carbondale, Marble, Lenado, El Jebel and even the Willits Industrial Center, for that matter, so they can’t justify this poor treatment of us by claiming the contest is designed to promote only Aspen, which would be understandable.

Being a positive person, I tried to look at the bright side. The designers of the contest don’t believe that any of those other places in the Roaring Fork Valley have anything even remotely photo-worthy about them, so why bother mentioning them as if anybody would waste time driving down there to have a look for possible subject matter, much less a single pixel on the memory chip to store it.

My mood brightened considerably. Heck, the folks in Aspen probably didn’t even realize that all those other places are part of the Roaring Fork Valley! That alone is enough to consider hosting our own biggest snob contest and excluding everybody else except Aspen from entering!

I suppose we could take it as a compliment, too. Snowmass Village and the surrounding area are so bountiful with beauty that including us in a photo contest wouldn’t be fair.

After all, it would be difficult for the promoters of Aspen to keep the cliche alive without at least half the entries being some angle or another of the Maroon Bells reflecting across Maroon Lake at the peak of fall colors at dawn’s first light after an overnight dusting of snow or some skier doing a butt drop into six inches of powder on Bear Paw to make it look chest-deep.

I guess what is bothering me most is that I can’t imagine Aspen is now viewing us as a competitor rather than a neighbor.

Have they forgotten that not so very long ago we were actually called Snowmass at Aspen? Do they not realize that these two neighboring towns have a great synergy in that thousands of people enjoy the duathalon of skiing out here during the days and partying there at night during their vacations? Is the Power of Four on the verge of becoming some polynomial variable equation that results in numbers with decimal places to account for each of our mountains’ share of skier visits?

I feel like inviting someone from the Aspen Chamber out here to share the excitement of our rodeos or one of our free summer concerts. A hike to the top of Elk Camp, the Big Burn, or Sam’s Knob might open their eyes to incredible views that we villagers almost take for granted. My guess is that they have no idea about our plethora of trails to hike and bike on.

Then again, maybe I’ll just send them a picture.

Roger Marolt thinks a good, healthy rivalry might be good for both Snowmass Village and Aspen. Email at

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