A few months ago, I walked into your season pass office and filled out a form to get an Uphill Access Pass. You charged me $0 for it, didn’t require that I also purchase a season pass—just gave me a little red card to wear on my sleeve when I skied uphill.
This little thing, on the surface, probably didn’t promise to make you any money. Letting people ski uphill for free, during the hours lifts are running? Hell, the little cards probably cost you a dollar apiece to make, or more. Is that a bad business idea? Theoretically, I could have skinned up to the top and ridden the upper lifts, where no one scans lift tickets, for a half a day. (I never did, just for the record.)
I went years without skiing more than a couple days in Colorado, turned off by the traffic (both the cars on I-70 and people in lift lines) every weekend. This year, however, my girlfriend decided to learn to ski, so I bought us a couple 4-packs to Loveland Ski Area—a place I’d always driven past on my way up to Summit County. I figured four days would be enough for her to get proficient on skis, and maybe we’d buy a couple more single-day lift tickets if we decided we were having a lot of fun.
Then I found out about your uphill skiing policy: Sure, come on up, skin up one of two routes, ski down, do it all day if you want to, as long as you have the appropriate free pass for it. All winter, my girlfriend and I ticked off more than a dozen in-bounds uphill days, showing up an hour before the lifts opened, skinning up without having to turn on avalanche beacons, skiing down, checking our e-mail from the base lodge, and then driving back down to Denver to start our work day. We were spoiled with all those early-morning mountain views, legs and lungs burning at 11,000-something feet, and all we paid for it was a few calories burned. So thanks for that.
And then we found the breakfast burritos. Instead of skating away without giving you so much as a dollar every time we skinned up and skied down the groomers, I convinced my girlfriend that we should head inside and buy a couple breakfast burritos and a couple coffees. It’s the least we can do to thank Loveland for the free access, I would say, plus let me remind you that burritos are awesome. So I guess you did make a little money off us.
I had a good skiing year, probably the most fun I’ve had since I was 12 years old and learning to ski in Colorado, thanks to you deciding that there was no harm in letting a few people ski uphill at your resort.
Thank you for not expanding, thank you for not charging me $12 to park on some days and $15 to park on other days, thank you for posting very clear rules about skinning uphill on your website instead of some bullshit confusing language, thank you for putting skiing and fun first and profits second, something that is sorely missing from the ski industry in a lot of places. Thanks for recognizing that skiing should be about making turns, not about buying fur hats and eating fondue and building $3 million dollar houses nearby that sit vacant 50 weeks of the year.
Sorry it took me so long to see the light and come check out your place. I’ll be back next year, and I promise to keep buying those breakfast burritos if you keep letting me ski uphill.