Snowmass $6.50 lift ticket sales shock Aspen Skiing Co.; offer scaled back |

Snowmass $6.50 lift ticket sales shock Aspen Skiing Co.; offer scaled back

Erica Robbie
Snowmass Sun
Skiers and snowboarders pack the Village Express chairlift at Snowmass Ski Area over the 2014-15 holiday season. Aspen Skiing Co. expects holiday-like crowds at Snowmass as early as Dec. 15 this year, as the ski resort celebrates its 50th anniversary. Ski has sold more than 12,000 lift tickets for Dec. 15 alone.
Aubree Dallas/Snowmass Sun file |

After selling more than 12,000 lift tickets for Snowmass’ 50th birthday party, Aspen Skiing Co. on Nov. 6 decided it will no longer offer its $6.50 ticket — a nod to the resort’s opening day price in 1967 — in advance or without a lodging package.

Skico officials are stunned by the demand for the Dec. 15 celebration and need to alleviate overcrowding at the ski area that day.

“It has taken us all by surprise,” Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said Monday. “Where are all these people are coming from?”

Snowmass Mountain Manager Steve Sewell said he is shocked by the number of tickets sold since Skico announced the promotion seven months ago.

“I thought it might be a few thousand,” he said.

What keeps him awake at night, Sewell said, is thinking about the amount of terrain that will be open for the anniversary weekend masses.

On average, about 40 percent of Snowmass Ski Area’s total 3,332 acres is accessible by mid-December, according to Hanle, but there are exceptions. In 2013, Snowmass boasted 2,500 acres of skiable terrain at that time.

“It’s going to be more about having fun than it is skiing miles and miles of laps,” Hanle said. “We’re de-emphasizing the $6.50 lift ticket and emphasizing the experience because we don’t want to be completely overrun where nobody has a good time.”

Hanle said if everyone who purchased tickets shows up Dec. 15, crowds on and off the slopes in Snowmass would be comparable to Christmas or New Year’s.

“We don’t know if everyone who bought a ticket is going to show up,” Hanle said, “so we’ve got to prepare for everyone to show up.”

Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello said they intend to treat Dec. 15 through 17 as a holiday.

“It’s Christmas coming early,” Abello said.

Snowmass town officials will enter “special-events mode” and look at transportation and parking options. With construction at the base and the temporary fire department at the rodeo grounds, Snowmass Village is down 160 parking spaces this winter.

The marketing group is talking to local restaurants, most of which also plan to participate in the anniversary weekend, and cautioning them to “be ready (and) be staffed” come mid-December, Abello said.

Skico’s throwback ticket price may be a first for a Colorado ski resort.

“It’s really unique,” Colorado Ski Country spokesman Chris Linsmayer said. “I don’t know of areas that have reverted back to (their) original lift ticket pricing. At least not in the past couple of years.”

Since Skico announced its $6.50 steal April 4, news outlets across the country — including the Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Ski Magazine and Gear Junkie — have publicized the promotion.

People will be able to purchase a lift ticket at Snowmass day-of for $6.50. The only option in advance of Dec. 15 is to buy a lift ticket coupled with lodging for at least one night, and those must be reserved at least one week prior to the anniversary weekend.

“I think that the whole weekend celebration will be one of those that everybody’s going to want to say, ‘I was there that day. It was a great party in Snowmass and I was there,’” Abello said.