What do you do when you realize that the social sport you love isn’t so social?
It was about five minutes into a 12-minute lift ride when I recognized the strangeness of the situation. Second from the left on a quad, I was listening to music piped wirelessly from my phone to my helmet speakers, while three strangers—all seated within inches of me and one another—each listened to his own virtual concert, wrapped in an audio cocoon. None of us had spoken a word. We faced forward, isolated by goggles and helmets and digital silos. Two of my chairmates gently bobbed their heads in uncoordinated rhythm to inaudible beats.
Once the first chairlift started spinning in 1972, Telluride became the ultimate ski town. And that’s one reason we love it.
Back in the day, Telluride produced over $60 million of gold, silver, zinc, copper, and lead. Though the last gold was extracted decades ago, it seems wherever you go in Telluride, mining still gets in your face. Riding the gondola, one can scan east to west from the ginormous, treacherously toxic tailings pile to the pickax-stuffed museum in town. Me, I’m over the mining heritage. In the end, it’s just a bunch of rusted metal.
Ski bums of all ages may be working three jobs to pay their way in this pricey resort town, but on a powder morning, you’ll find them in the Aspen gondola line.
Aspen. It’s one of the most riffed-on ski towns out there. From Aspen Extreme to Dumb and Dumber, Us Weekly to The New York Times, the widespread image of Aspen is a glitzy celebrity playground, where the billionaires pushed out the millionaires and where no regular Joe could possibly afford to live.