Mountain News: Aspen prices reflect ‘qualitative experience’ 

ASPEN, Colo. – With Vail Resorts ratcheting down its five-mountain ski pass to $579 for this year, there was some curiosity about whether Aspen Skiing Co. would lower the season pass price for its four ski hills.

Not so. Instead, Aspen increased the price, and will ask $1,299 for its top-of-the-line pass. The company’s spin is that Aspen is worth more than Vail.

“It’s a different experience,” company spokesman Jeff Hanle told The Aspen Times. “That’s what it boils down to. They’re going for a quantitative experience. We’re going for a qualitative experience.”

Individual day prices — sometimes called the marquee figure — have not been set. Last year, Vail and Beaver Creek set the nation’s benchmark with $92. It was $87 at Aspen and Snowmass, with Deer Valley in the same area of nosebleed.


It’s the perpendicular pull

EDINBURGH, Scotland – It’s the sort of stuff that only a snow nerd could care about. But then, mountain towns are full of snow nerds.

The issue is how slab avalanches are precipitated. The conventional thinking has been that gravity mattered a great deal. In other words, the angle of the slope was all important.

But in a report published in Science Magazine in July, a team of researchers say that the initial crack in the snow depends more on the perpendicular pull.

“This research is really an entirely new paradigm for how the fractures that result in snow avalanches work,” said Karl Birkeland of Montana State University. The study was summarized in Science News.


Vail Resorts acquitted

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. – A jury has found Vail Resorts innocent of a claim that it was negligent in the hiring of a ski instructor. The ski instructor had sex with a 17-year-old girl whom he had been teaching.

The instructor had been previously accused by local prosecutors of raping the girl at his condominium in Beaver Creek in 2006. However, jurors last winter acquitted him of that charge, although finding him guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, notes the Vail Daily.

In a civil case, the girl and her mother sued the company, saying that Vail Resorts should have known better than to hire him. The company had employed him for 17 years, and could find no evidence of doing a background check on him until 2004, less than two years before the sexual act occurred. That check only found two charges of driving while under the influence. However, in fact, he had a much longer string of brushes with the law, including several other arrests for DUI.


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