Aspen Skiing Co. may be forced by public health officials to close access to uphilling at local ski resorts if participants do not eliminate all congregating in parking lots, on the trail or at the top.

The company does not want to have to do that and is asking for the community’s cooperation, Vice President for Communications Jeff Hanle said Tuesday. Compliance is relatively simple. If there is a crowd, or a busy parking lot at one access point, go to another or come back later. 

“If you pull up to Tieback and it’s busy, go to main Buttermilk and you’ll have it all to yourself,” Hanle said. There are so many access points across the four mountains, he noted, it shouldn’t be difficult to make a plan B, or come back at a different, less high-traffic time.

Hanle also noted that even if there are many cars in a parking lot, that doesn’t mean people aren’t staying plenty far away enough from each other.

Tiehack, which is probably the most popular of those access points for the local uphillers, did attract something of a crowd in the late morning and early afternoon hours Tuesday. 

At one point, a group had gathered in the parking lot around a car, hanging out and playing music, Hanle said, relaying information he heard from another company employee. Other skiers who were in the area implored them to disperse and they did — an example of the community policing itself, which is what needs to happen if we want to preserve ability to skin up the ski resort while there is a public health order in place limiting movement outside the home.

“We are relying on people to respect the rules and recommendations” put in place by public health officials “and be self governing on this,” Hanle said. If that fails to happen, access will be at risk for the duration of the latest public health order, currently in place until April 17.

The order, released Monday night by Pitkin County, includes the following language under listed “essential activities” for which people are allowed to leave their homes:

“To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing requirements as defined herein such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, or running.” 

Hiking uphill at a ski area with climbing skins attached to your skis could qualify, as long as participants behave in ways that comply with social distancing rules. That means staying six feet away from those who are not members of your immediate family.

“People need to do their best to live within restrictions in place so we can continue to let people to get out here and exercise and enjoy themselves,” Hanle said.

Limelight Aspen hotel to close for duration of stay at home order

SkiCo decided that it will close the Limelight Aspen hotel on Wednesday.

The downtown core lodge was the only hotel in its local portfolio SkiCo had kept open past last weekend. The company said it felt having some lodging option is a good thing for anyone who needs the space because of an isolating family member at home or someone who had to be in the community for an essential purpose and needed lodging.

But upon further consideration and consultation with county health officials and for the health and safety of staff and guests, the Limelight will also close, Hanle said.

The only guests as of Monday, he said, were eight people who work for the airlines.

He added that the only employees working at the lodge were managers.

Curtis Wackerle is the editor of Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at curtis@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @CurtisWackerle.