Aspen opens a soup kitchen for workers |

Aspen opens a soup kitchen for workers

Scott Condon
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” The Aspen Skiing Co. has set up a soup kitchen to feed employees who haven’t had a chance to go to work yet because of the dry conditions.

The company started offering a free dinner Sunday night at Bump’s restaurant at the base of Buttermilk, spokesman Jeff Hanle said. About 40 people took up the company’s offer. They feasted on pork chops, vegetables and salad.

The dinners will be offered at least through Friday, the next payday.

“That’s for employees who haven’t received a paycheck yet,” Hanle said of the complimentary meal.

It is intended to help seasonal workers who moved here for the season or even from other countries and are having a tough time scrapping by while waiting to go to work. Several chairlift operators and ski instructors haven’t gotten the call yet.

The soup kitchen isn’t meant to provide a free meal to part-time instructors who make their primary living by selling real estate.

The soup kitchen has a precedent. Bob Maynard, a former company president, offered the meals to workers in the early 1990s when there was a slow start to ski season.

The lack of natural snow and cold temperatures to make snow have limited the terrain on Aspen Mountain and Snowmass this season. About100 acres, primarily on three trails at the top of Aspen Mountain, have opened. There are 45 acres open on Fanny Hill at Snowmass.

Snowmaking continues and the company hopes to open more terrain Wednesday. Snow showers forecast later this week could also help. Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk weren’t scheduled to open until Dec. 8.

Thanksgiving typically is a crapshoot for getting significant amounts of terrain open. Last season’s opening week had plenty of snow. Because conditions vary from year to year, no set number of seasonal workers are typically on the payroll by now. The conditions dictate how many lift operators, patrollers and instructors are called in.

Hanle said last week that he couldn’t estimate how many employees were affected by the limited openings at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass.

Colorado’s entire ski industry is coping with dry conditions. Most resorts have only a small fraction of their terrain open. Two major resorts, Telluride and Steamboat, abandoned efforts to open at Thanksgiving. They are targeting Friday.

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