As any avid skier knows, ski gear is not cheap. Non-skiers might balk at the boots you got for $450 – a steal, really – but any avid skier also knows that there are always deals on gear to be found. One of the most iconic ways to get those deals in Aspen is at a ski swap, especially this weekend’s big one.
The 64th annual Aspen Ski Swap is this Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Aspen Middle School from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The event started in 1964 as a true “swap” with no money exchanged and has since grown into an event where locals and vendors alike can bring used and past-season gear to give the items new life and help raise money for Aspen School District outdoor programs.
“It’s one of those timeless community events,” said Will Herndon, the unofficial lead volunteer and chairman of the ski swap. “It has evolved a lot over the decades.”
The swap is completely volunteer-run, and Herndon said that some of the volunteers have been coming back since the early days of the event. According to the swap’s website, it is “truly a grassroots organization” run by a committee of local community members. The event is attended by over 2,000 people each year and is completely free and open to the public.
Anyone can sell their gear at the swap, and the event accepts used skis, boots, poles, bindings, snowboards and helmets as well as other used winter gear. Anything overly worn cannot be accepted, and the general rule is nothing older than five years. Soft gear such as hats, socks and long underwear are also not accepted.
Anyone looking to sell gear can pick up a price tag from several Alpine Bank locations as well as the Aspen schools. The tag needs to be completely filled out, and then the item can be dropped off at Aspen Middle School from 4-6 p.m. Friday. Payment and equipment can then be picked up after the swap on Saturday, but anything not retrieved will be treated as a donation.
Local and national vendors are also present at the swap and have deals on last season’s gear. Herndon said that these days the swap is around 35 percent donated goods and 65 percent vendor goods, but no matter who is present, sales are still high and money gets raised for the school district.
“It’s the number one way to support these outdoor programs,” said Herndon. He explained that the fundraising the event does for the Aspen School District is one of his favorite parts of the event.
The money goes toward the school district’s outdoor education programs, which allow students to learn more and more about the outdoors as they move up through grades, culminating in a six-day backpacking and camping trip from Aspen to Marble. High-schoolers can then pick from 30 or so experiential ed courses that range from rafting and mountaineering to service trips in Harlem and ski instructor certifications.
There are plenty of ways to score good deals on ski gear before the season kicks off, but few offer the history and community aspect of the Aspen Ski Swap. Herndon said that he knows people who see each other at the swap each year and have formed friendships out of it. He also stresses how thankful he is for the other volunteers and urges anyone interested in volunteering to learn more at aspenskiswap.com.
So stop by Aspen Middle School on Saturday, get some new (to you) gear, see some Aspen history and maybe make a friend along the way.