Aspen Skiing Company

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The Aspen Skiing Company, known locally as Ski Co, is a commercial enterprise based in Aspen, Colorado. The Aspen Skiing Company operates the Aspen/Snowmass resort complex, comprising four ski areas: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass.



The company was founded in 1946 by Friedl Pfeifer, an Austrian ski instructor and racing champion, Walter Paepcke, a successful Chicago industrialist, Judge William E. Doyle, James J. Johnston, and H. F. Klock. Paepcke also founded cultural institutions in the city, such as the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Music Festival. [1] The Aspen Skiing Company established the Aspen Mountain ski resort on Aspen Mountain above the town of Aspen, Colorado. The first chair lift, Lift-1, opened on December 14, 1946, and was the world's longest chairlift at the time. In 1950, the company hosted the FIS World Alpine Championships, the first international skiing competition in the United States. In the following decades, the company opened Buttermilk in 1958 and the Snowmass (originally the Snowmass-at-Aspen Ski Area) in 1967. In 1993 the company assumed ownership and operation of Aspen Highlands, which was founded in 1958 by Colorado Ski Hall of Famer: Whip Jones. Previously, Jones successfully sued Aspen Skiing before the Supreme Court for antitrust violations in Aspen Skiing Co. v. Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp.

The company didn't pay dividends until it was bought by Twentieth Century Fox in 1977, which is when the ticket prices began to increase. In the 1970s, ticket prices were just over 10 dollars a day; now they are more reflective of industry averages. [2]

In 2012, the Aspen Skiing Company built a 3-megawatt methane-to-electricity plant in Somerset, Colorado, at Oxbow Carbon's Elk Creek Mine. [3]

In addition to managing and operating four ski areas, the company operates and owns hotels including The Little Nell and The Limelight, both in Aspen, and The Limelight in Ketchum, Idaho, and Snowmass, Colorado. The company also operates on-mountain and off-mountain restaurants and operates a skiing and snowboard school, The Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen Snowmass. The school provides group and private lessons at all four mountains and teaches all levels of students from beginner to expert. The managing director of the ski school is Jonathan Ballou who was appointed in spring 2017, succeeding Katie Ertl who was appointed to Senior Vice President of Mountain Operations. The ski season typically runs from Thanksgiving Day to mid-April, depending on weather and snow conditions.

The Aspen Skiing Company is currently owned by the Crown family of Chicago. The Crowns also own significant holdings in General Dynamics and Wall Street's JP Morgan Chase. The President and CEO of the company is Mike Kaplan, who succeeded Pat O'Donnell.

Aspen Skiing Co. announced in March 2022 a $23M 'makeover' plan at Buttermilk, which should be completed in time for the 2022-2023 ski season. [4]


The Aspen Skiing Company supported the Water Rights Protection Act. The bill would prevent federal agencies from requiring certain entities to relinquish their water rights to the United States in order to use public lands. [5] In 2012, a court ruled "in favor of the ski companies... that seizing the privately held water rights usurped state water law." [6] However, the United States Forest Service decided to pursue a "new regulation to demand that water rights be transferred to the federal government as a condition for obtaining permits needed to operate 121 ski resorts that cross over federal lands." [6] The Colorado ski industry supported the Water Rights Protection Act because it believed the legislation was "needed to block a water extortion scheme by the Forest Service to withhold government permits unless the companies relinquish their valuable water rights." [6] Vice President of the Aspen Skiing Company David Corbin testified to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power that the company would go out of business without the water. [6]

See also

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Aspen, Colorado City in Colorado, United States

The City of Aspen is the home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 7,004 at the 2020 United States Census. Aspen is in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains' Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains, along the Roaring Fork River at an elevation just below 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level on the Western Slope, 11 miles (18 km) west of the Continental Divide. Aspen is now a part of the Glenwood Springs, CO Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Snowmass Village, Colorado Town in Colorado, United States

Snowmass Village is a home rule municipality in Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. The population was 2,826 at the 2010 census. A popular winter resort location for skiing and snowboarding, the town is well known as the location of the Snowmass ski area, the largest of the four nearby ski areas operated collectively as Aspen/Snowmass. In 2010, the accidental discovery by a bulldozer operator of fossilized elements of a Pleistocene ecosystem in the ice age lake bed at the Ziegler Reservoir put Snowmass Village prominently on the paleontological map of North America.

Aspen/Snowmass Winter resort complex

Aspen Snowmass is a winter resort complex located in Pitkin County in western Colorado in the United States. Owned and operated by the Aspen Skiing Company it comprises four skiing/snowboarding areas on four adjacent mountains in the vicinity of the towns of Aspen and Snowmass Village. The four areas collectively form one of the most famous winter resorts in the world and are annually the destination for visitors from all over the world.

Aspen Mountain (Colorado) Mountain in Colorado, United States

Aspen Mountain is a mountain summit in the Elk Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 10,705-foot (3,263 m) peak is located in White River National Forest, 1.4 miles (2.2 km) south-southeast of downtown Aspen in Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. The north face of the mountain is the location of the Aspen Mountain ski area, one of four adjacent ski areas operated collectively as Aspen/Snowmass.

Aspen Mountain (ski area) American ski area

Aspen Mountain is a ski area in the western United States, located in Pitkin County, Colorado, just outside and above the city of Aspen. It is situated on the north flank of Aspen Mountain at an elevation of 11,212 ft (3,417 m). Aspen Mountain forms the end of Richmond Ridge, a long ridge that extends 10 miles south at approximately 11,000 ft (3,400 m) to join the main spine of the Elk Mountains.

Aspen Highlands American ski area

Aspen Highlands is a skiing mountain in Aspen, Colorado. It is famous for the Highland Bowl, which provides what some people consider some of the most intense, wild, and fun skiing in the state. The Aspen Skiing Company operates Aspen Highlands.

Buttermilk (ski area) American ski area

Buttermilk Ski Area refers to a ski hill and an unincorporated community surrounding it in Pitkin County, Colorado. It is frequently considered the easiest skiing mountain in the Aspen area. Buttermilk has also been the host to the ESPN Winter X Games multiple times. It contains three ski areas: Tiehack (difficult), Main Buttermilk (regular), and West Buttermilk (easy). Art Pfister developed Buttermilk Mountain ski area in 1958. It was part of the original Aspen trio of 1960s: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Aspen Buttermilk.

Beaver Creek, Colorado Unincorporated community in State of Colorado, USA

Beaver Creek is an unincorporated community in Eagle County, Colorado, United States. Beaver Creek is located immediately south of the town of Avon and encompasses the Beaver Creek Resort and adjacent business, lodging, and residential areas. The U.S. Post Office at Avon serves Beaver Creek postal addresses.

June Mountain ski area

June Mountain ski area is a winter resort in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, located near June Lake, southeast of Yosemite National Park.

The High Rockies, or high country, is a term for a region of the U.S. state of Colorado. It commonly includes Larimer County, Jackson County, Routt County, Grand County, Summit County, Eagle County, Lake County, and Pitkin County. Some notable towns there include Estes Park, Walden, Steamboat Springs, Grand Lake, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Dillon, Vail, Leadville, and Aspen. The geography of the High Rockies has some of the most rugged parts of the Rocky Mountains and consists of the Front Range and mountainous topography to the west, much of which is on or near the Continental Divide. Known for pine forests and winding roads, the former mining towns there have been reinvented by wilderness tourism such as hiking, cycling, fishing, and most especially both cross-country and alpine skiing. Notable ski resorts include Copper Mountain, Keystone Resort, Steamboat Ski Resort, Beaver Creek Resort, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Aspen Mountain. The High Rockies are also the location of Rocky Mountain National Park and Arapaho National Forest.

Snow Summit

Snow Summit is a ski resort that was established in 1952 and is in the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. It is located by Big Bear Lake along with its sister resort Bear Mountain; these two resorts which operate under the same management are collectively known as Big Bear Mountain Resorts (BBMR).

Whip Jones

Whipple Van Ness "Whip" Jones was a ski industry pioneer, founder, developer and the original operator for 35 years, of the Aspen Highlands ski area in Aspen, Colorado. Whip Jones and the company he founded, Aspen Highlands, won a US Supreme Court case against his rival, the Aspen Skiing Company. Jones was also a philanthropist, and was inducted into The Colorado Ski Hall of Fame and The Aspen Hall of Fame for his work with Aspen Highlands.

Maroon Creek Bridge

The original Maroon Creek Bridge is a steel trestle along State Highway 82 at the western boundary of Aspen, Colorado, United States. It was designed by George S. Morison in 1888 for the Colorado Midland Railroad, one of the last viaducts in Colorado built for a standard gauge mountain railroad in the 19th century. Of the five steel bridges the Midland built, it is the only one still extant. Due to the later removal of most track and the rail depots, the bridge is the most visible remnant of rail service to Aspen. In 1985 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with other highway bridges in the state, including the Sheely Bridge, also in Aspen.

Colorado offers many world-class ski resorts. The following table compares their various sizes, runs, lifts, and snowfall:

Aspen Skiing Co. v. Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp., 472 U.S. 585 (1985), was a United States Supreme Court case that decided whether a dominant firm's unilateral refusal to deal with a competitor could establish a monopolization claim under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The unanimous Supreme Court agreed with the 10th Circuit that terminating a pro-consumer joint venture without a legitimate business justification could constitute illegal monopolization. However, its decision created an exception to the general rule that firms can decide with whom to do business absent collusion, sparking significant controversy about the appropriate scope of this exception. In a subsequent case, Verizon Communications Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, stated that Aspen Skiing is "at or near the outer boundary of § 2 liability." Although its holding has been narrowed, this case's relevance remains contested, especially in the context of refusals to license intellectual property.

Elizabeth Paepcke was a philanthropist and promoter of Aspen, Colorado. She was born near Baltimore, Maryland.

Alterra Mountain Company is an American hospitality company established in 2018 with headquarters in Denver, Colorado. It is privately owned by KSL Capital Partners and Henry Crown and Company, the owners of Aspen/Snowmass. It is a conglomerate of several ski resorts that offers a combined season pass.


  1. "Aspen Skiing Company | Aspen Snowmass | About Us". Retrieved 2022-03-15.
  2. "Passes | 2016/2017 Season Pass Info & Pricing | Aspen Snowmass". Aspen Snowmass. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  3. Ward, Bob (November 21, 2014). "How Aspen Skiing Co. became a power company". Aspen Times . Archived from the original on 2017-07-08. Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  4. Times, Scott Condon | The Aspen (2022-03-01). "Aspen Skiing Co. has big plans for $23 million makeover at Buttermilk". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2022-03-15.
  5. "H.R. 3189 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Hudson, Audrey (11 October 2013). "Tipton Bill Seeks to Stop Feds from Trampling Water Rights". The Colorado Observer. Retrieved 12 March 2014.