Aspen SkiCo welcomes uphillers, checkbooks, Vail seeks to deter
During the surge of a global pandemic, resort ski touring has certainly become the hottest thing since sliced quarantine sourdough. Savvy resorts from all over Colorado have rushed in to take advantage and the search to calculate the capitalist supply and demand threshold is hot. The two biggest names in skiing east and west of the divide, Vail and Aspen have stayed notably quiet… until now.
The negotiations were heightened early this winter when a survey went out to local uphillers in the Roaring Fork Valley with one of the questions being “What would you pay for an uphill pass at Aspen’s Four Mountains?” This obvious trap was avoided by most, but one unwitting survey participant must have given the answer $300 per day, or $3000 for the season, because that is exactly the price that is now listed on A$$penSnowma$$.com website.
Interestingly enough, Vail has failed to respond with their usual price increase to outdo the notoriously expensive Skico resort, instead opting for a more sinister determinant. Reports one Vail area skinner, “After the Aspen announcement, we were expecting to see daily uphill passes in the $500 range at least. Instead we were blown away during our after work skin to see literally hundreds of winch cats trolling the mountain.”
It seems clear that Vail is to spare no expense in order to deter the loathed resort uphiller from taking to the slope, but at what risk to personal safety and impending lawsuits? When we reached out to a Vail representative, he explained “99% of the winch cats are actually holographic projections, the brilliance of the plan is that you never know which one is real.”
Winch cats use cables attached to points high above where the cat is operating and have long been the terror of the evening skin. These cables are oftentimes buried under the snow and can spring up when the cable is loaded at the right angle. Although this exists as a serious threat to the ski tourer, the equal threat of losing skinning privilege and then being trolled on social media also exists.
“All holographic winch cats are equipped with proximity sensors. If a skinner comes within 400 meters of one, all uphill traffic will be shut down for three weeks,” our Vail source announced. “Not only will this help to regulate these pests from going uphill, but we also hope the social media deterrent of calling each other ‘tourists’ and ‘noobs’ will act as a form of self regulation.”
Back in Aspen, we approached one yoga-pant-clad skinny-ski skier ascending a groomed slope and asked about the exorbitantly high uphill prices.
“Well, it’s still cheaper than a season pass AND a gym membership” he said, “plus the heated gondola cabs give me time to rest, drink champagne and change a layer on the download before my next lap.”
When asked if the market could really bear this kind of price increase from what has long been free, one SkiCo executive was quoted saying with a shrug, “It’s Aspen…someone will pay for it.”
Although at time of publication there is no official news, there are rumors of a KITS (Kick In The Shins) Pass, that will reportedly make uphilling in Colorado more affordable. The hope is a collective pass will soon be offered that brings dozens of ski areas under one roof for an uphill ticket that reduces the price to the $2000 range. In case you thought you were far away from waiting in line for your chance to go uphill, the future might be closer than you think.
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.