Socially distanced: skiing in Aspen, 6 feet apart
“This [ski] year is going to look different,” says Katie Ertl, senior vice president of mountain operations at Aspen Skiing Company. “It will offer a sense of community and of connection. There will still be the fresh mountain air, the awe-inspiring scenery and time outdoors with one another. Our teams are on-hand to offer the best possible experience we can.”
Aspen Skiing Company has worked tirelessly over the summer, this fall and will continue throughout the winter to make sure all of its guests are safe, happy and healthy while out enjoying some of the best activities the winter season has to offer.
New safety protocols as well as advanced digital procedures are in place to help reduce the number of guests inside buildings and within close proximity to others. Plus, the newly designed season pass options—Premier, Valley Weekday and Valley 7-Pack—are also projected to aid in the numbers on-mountain at any given time, especially on peak days.
We are lucky here in Aspen as our ski terrain spans across four mountains and there are over 10 entry points, already allowing for distanced skiing.
While some see skiing as an activity with friends or family, others enjoy cruising the mountain on their own. However, there is always a confluence of riders and skiers at lift lines, locker rooms and other base mountain areas.
To ease these pain points, Aspen Snowmass will continue to use its successful gondola and ski lift loading procedures it implemented this past summer. Guests will be required to wear face masks in all lines, stand 6 feet apart and ride up with only those in their immediate party.
Returning guests may already be familiar with some of the favorite features of the Aspen Snowmass app, like tracking skier days and bowl laps, snow reports and parking lot status. However, this year, the app will be even more vital to each skier or boarder with its updated capabilities.
Users can now purchase lessons and rentals, order food from select on-mountain restaurants, sign digital waivers, find and reload Aspen Card QR codes (for lift tickets) and access app rewards and passholder benefits from the Aspen Snowmass app or Aspen Snowmass account portal. These capabilities not only give guests an easy way to skip lines and spend more time on the mountain, but it also reduces points of contact.
Snow and ski season comes with chilly winter weather, making it tough to always spend the whole day out on the slopes without venturing indoors to thaw out your nose, toes and fingers.
With social distancing as a top priority this season, Aspen Snowmass has made adjustments to the on-mountain restaurants, warming huts and break spots so guests can still enjoy a quick bite and/or warm themselves up for their next few runs.
All on-mountain dining experiences, including Snowmass’ new High Alpine and Alpin Room restaurants, will be open. Previously known as Gwyn’s, High Alpine will offer two restaurant concepts: a market-style food option with stations and a sit-down French/Swiss/Austrian Alp-style cuisine. In addition to the deck seating, select on-mountain restaurants, like Sundeck, will also feature a large, heated tent for guests to rest, warm up and eat in. Skico has also increased grab-and-go lunch items and the number of picnic tables on the mountains, allowing skiers to eat and rest in a variety of new, spaced-out destinations. And, surprisingly, the Ruthies lodge on Aspen Mountain will also be opened as a warming hut (no food will be served) for those who need a place to recover from the cold.
It’s time to get back to the core of skiing—active days on piste. And Skico has come up with these new protocols and procedures to keep us all healthy and safe so we can continue to connect with nature, something that is greatly needed for all.
You couldn’t have worded it any better than when Aspen Skiing Company President and CEO Mike Kaplan said, “Ski season will be more of an old-school experience [this year], but that could also translate to less noise, fewer distractions and, hopefully, more meaning.”
Photography by: Lindsy Fortier for Ski Co.