D.R.: Another joke from Aspen | VailDaily.com
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D.R.: Another joke from Aspen

Don Rogers

Here’s a truth: Aspen fixates on Vail. Vail doesn’t think of Aspen at all, unless Aspenites inadvertently become the butt of another joke on themselves. They are good at it.

My favorite of the moment is their great concern over global warming, energy waste and air pollution ” taking care to let us all know that this is a matter of terrible civic concern for the world. And by golly they are at the head of the line saying something must be done.

Only thing is they are also just about the worst offenders, considering their use of energy in their second and third mansions, their jet-setting ways, their polluted air. A little less talk and some tangible action would go a long way toward anyone taking these folks at all seriously.

Maybe the most expensive ski town in the world can preach us up some more lessons about affordable housing. We’re all ears. These folks are the Haggards of environmental morality.

An Aspen Times columnist is the latest to pretend he lives in (or near) a “real” town ” where everyone’s a billionaire; sure that’s “real” ” while blathering about cruise ships or something in Vail. Um, riiiiiiiiiiigghhht. Then he talks about plans for an alipine slide in Beaver Creek, as if he thought the Beav were Lionshead or something. Or as if the slide ” for a demographic Aspen doesn’t see much of: real-life kids ” at a resort were a Ferris wheel. Well, let’s see, what do folks do at ski resorts? Oh yeah, slide. What a concept.

Meantime some grubs in boots have to stamp snow in a bowl for weeks to get a season pass at Aspen because their “real” town ski company has no merchant pass program. All righty then. Great example of all that higher thinking in Aspen. Lots of room to look down on Vail, you bet. You can also bet that none of the stompers actually lives in Aspen.

Back at the cruise ship, that awful “conglomerate” has made it easy for locals to get on the hill. No stomping snow for weeks or some other dreadful obsolete labor. They know everyone works pretty hard as it is, and they’ve discovered that things like snowcats exist for such tasks.

Ol’ fart Paul, whose column runs below, ought not be so angry at Vail. Why, a little less hot, redolent air and Aspen might actually do something about global warming besides pass resolutions against it. Or run gas bag columns about Vail, which actually has a little more sophisticated means of getting locals on the hill than some luddite dance and pretending it’s something enlightened.

Competition? Dude’s dreaming. There’s been no comparison for a long, long time. Aspen is a punch line, not a rival.

But stomp on, brother. We can use the laugh whenever we start taking ourselves too seriously. Aspen a “real” town. Now that’s a good one.

Aspen vs. Vail circa 2006

By Paul E. Anna

October 20, 2006

Shortly after the Vail ski resort was founded in the early 1960s by ex-10th Mountain Division visionary Pete Seibert, a competition began in the minds of many about which resort, Aspen or Vail, was a better representative of Colorado skiing and lifestyle.

Today, obviously there is no contest. Aspen is a real ski town with real skiers on family-owned mountains. Vail, on the other hand, is part of a publicly traded corporate conglomerate that panders to the cruise-ship crowd and has sold the remaining semblance of its soul to the gods of greed, aka Wall Street.

“There’s no comparison,” reads the tag line of Vail’s promotional and marketing materials. They sure got that right. Consider that Vail was named after Charles Vail, an engineer with the Colorado Highway Department who cut the original Highway 6 over what is now Vail Pass. That would be like naming Aspen Trapani Mountain after the guy who was in charge of the Highway 82 redo. No, we’re named after a tree.

The difference between the two towns was highlighted this week in two separate articles that ran in the Aspen Daily News. The first, written by Curtis Wackerle, was about the boot packers who do their ski conditioning climbing up and down Highland Bowl. These men and women embody the spirit of the mountains as they work to pack the Bowl for themselves and the rest of us.

It’s hard to imagine, but these people are asked to climb up and down the Bowl in their ski or snowboard boots from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a half-hour lunch break for up to 15 days. Just writing that last sentence was exhausting. And get this: If they work all 15 days, they get a season pass. Fewer days worked qualify for vouchers for $100 a day. A tad over $22 an hour. Maybe a little better than the wages paid a freelance writer but certainly a lot more work.

In contrast, the second story detailed the “Broomfield, Colorado-based Vail Resorts” (I love that description, a ski resort company headquartered in a Denver suburb says it all) attempts to install “an alpine slide” in Beaver Creek, which would allow summertime visitors to zoom down the ski slopes on roller-mounted sleds. Whee.

If that doesn’t sound like an idea born and bred in Broomfield, I don’t know what does. Vail likes to point out that it already operates an alpine slide in Breckenridge. Like that’s a surprise.

Yes, we do have things to complain about here (unfortunately far too many to list here) but in the competition with our brethren just across the hills, the simplest thing we can agree on is that they are right. There is, in fact, no comparison.

Yes, we do have things to complain about here (unfortunately far too many to list here) but in the competition with our brethren just across the hills, the simplest thing we can agree on is that they are right. There is, in fact, no comparison.


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