Hope this finds all of you doing well. The conversation about skiing this season is certainly heating up over the last few weeks. Once the community and schools decided one way or another how to get things going, all attention turned to how to wrap our minds around the winter season and what role the ski industry plays in the decision process for operations. We, of course, have been thinking about this since March 15th. I will be joining Commissioner Felt’s task force and sharing our plan with all the community stake holders, as well as share what the industry as a whole is up to. Look for results of that in the next post.
Needless to say, we are positioned differently than other counties when it comes to how many guests we are attracting at any given time. Summit County, for example, host 4 large ski areas (Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper, and A Basin). Collectively they will see in the neighborhood of 4 million visitors to the county where they operate in one winter season. The concern, of course, is that this number of visitors is problematic for the local community; the restaurants, hotels, hospitals, etc… Chaffee County, on the other hand, only has one little ski area and a pretty nice one at that … on many levels. We shouldn’t let one county’s particular reality cloud the reality of other counties though. On a good year, our little gem attracts only 4.5% of what Summit County attracts. The overall concern for the local health authorities In Summit County is that the community systems do not become overloaded. With that in mind we (Chaffee County) should be in good shape since during the winter traffic, hotel occupancy rates, and tourism as a whole is roughly half of what transpires in the summer. Those of us who live here know this and appreciate the quietude.
Vail has let their plan be known and will be implementing a reservation system to get on their mountains. This is because of the massive number of Epic Pass holders there are world wide. Even the pass-holders will have to reserve a place in line. We have no intention of doing so. Our mission is to enable all pass-holders and those who have purchased ahead of time access to the mountain any day all season. Those waiting until the “day of” to purchase, especially during peak days, may not be able to do so. Hint, ski the week days, then you won’t have any issues. Those of us in this business all prefer to work on weekends and ski during the week because we know the overall experience is less crowded and we can be, well, more selfish.
On Powder days all of us have a favorite run to ski. It’s that run that has the perfect pitch for our skill level. Same is true for our groomers. I am, most definitely, a groomed black diamond guy like JR’s or Shagnasty and (don’t tell anyone) Short & Sweet is the best on Powder days. So, Monarch Mountain and Chaffee County are that perfect pitch for the condition we are currently experiencing. Distant from a town, whose attraction to outsiders decreases, whose main event is playing outdoors, and whose guests are primarily folks who already know each other. Afterall, we don’t call ourselves “Your Hometown Mountain” for nothing. As long as we all participate in staying safe, we are going to have a fabulous season.
See you on the slopes … Weekdays are the best days.