Sticklers for punctuation and historical accuracy have noticed that the proposal to build a new lift into what is now sidecountry east of Walsh’s on Aspen Mountain is referred to in official documents as the Pandora expansion.
That is notable because, historically, the area has been known as Pandora’s, as in Pandora’s box.
Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of communications Jeff Hanle on Tuesday said that dropping the apostrophe in the company’s application to the U.S. Forest Service was not intentional and that going forward, SkiCo plans to stick with historical precedent in the naming of the terrain and potential new lift. Use of the apostrophe-less phrasing has been repeated in all SkiCo and Forest Service documents concerning the project, which is in the final stages of review, for the last year.
“There is no intent to rename,” Hanle said.
Company officials were caught off guard when a reporter pointed out the discrepancy, which had escaped their notice.
“We are not planning to change the historical name of anything,” Hanle said.
The naming of the terrain outside the current ski area boundary on the east-facing slope off of Richmond Ridge originates with the late Aspen ski patroller Tim Howe, an icon of the squad who was also in charge of avalanche control efforts in the late 1970s, according to an account written by Tim Cooney, published in Sunday’s Aspen Daily News.
The steep, wooded chutes at the time were secret stashes accessed mostly by ski patrollers and their friends. Howe wanted the terrain to stay under the radar, due to a concern that if the general skiing public became aware, they would be overrun and it would be a “real Pandora’s box,” with skiers getting over their heads in dangerous, avalanche prone terrain that has no clear return to the ski area or safe passage to the valley floor.
Pandora’s box is a reference to Greek mythology, where Pandora, the first woman, was overrun by curiosity and opened a box containing plague, poverty, misery and death.
Over time the terrain has become more frequently used. The proposed expansion will incorporate into the ski area chutes including Powerline and Harris’ Wall.