Uphillers

Uphillers begin their trek up Buttermilk Mountain in January 2018. The city of Aspen is planning a three-day symposium beginning March 31 on how uphilling activity can further enhance the outdoor recreation economy.

The city of Aspen will host a symposium later this month on ways to strengthen Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy by emphasizing uphill activities.

The three-day event, called “Aspen Ascent,” runs from March 31 to April 2 and will be based at the St. Regis Aspen Resort. Activities also are being planned for the Tiehack section of Buttermilk Mountain.

A lodging package that includes three nights at the St. Regis and admission to all events is $500. For those who don’t need lodging, the admission price to all events is $75. The fees cover the cost of networking sessions, panel discussions, lunches, dinners, cocktail parties and uphill and downhill on-snow activities, according to the event’s official website, aspenascent.com.

Featured speakers will include representatives from The North Face, La Sportiva, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the U.S. Forest Service, Aspen Skiing Co. and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, a news release states.

The event will bring together state leaders, industry professionals and local governments, “with the goal of leveraging Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry to enhance economic growth statewide and for the benefit of national and international companies,” the release says. Data, trends, research and government partnerships designed to bolster economies and workforces across the state will be explored.

Growing the uphill economy throughout the region has been a longtime goal of Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, who leaves office in June after six years as the city’s top elected official.

“Since the very beginning of setting this uphill economy goal for the City of Aspen, I have been focused on how mountain towns, such as ours, can diversify and grow its economy while also paying homage to the ski roots that built such Colorado destinations,” Skadron said in a prepared statement.

According to Skadron, symposiums such as the Aspen Ascent, which gathers key players into the same room, “move Colorado forward with the goal of creating new public-private partnerships and identifying tangible next steps in building our economy and strengthening the relationship between governments and our business partners.”

The symposium kicks off March 31 with a dinner and panel discussion focusing on Aspen’s “Uphill Initiative,” a program initiated by Skadron with the goal of diversifying the city’s economic base through ascent-oriented recreation and fitness.

By tapping into the trend of uphill skiing, opportunities for research and development, product testing, manufacturing, guiding and infrastructure development naturally follow, the release says. The panel discussion will explore how Aspen is creating a model of economic growth that relies on public-private partnerships.

“Uphill ski activities have extended beyond the trailhead to become an emerging attraction at lift-serviced resorts,” said Nathan Fey, deputy director of the state’s outdoor recreation office. “Uphill participants are motivated by the health benefits of earning their turns and the history of the sport.”

Uphill ski/snowboard travel “is the latest way outdoor recreation is engaging participants of all ages,” Fey added.

The symposium will include a discussion of market research on who spends time and money pursuing uphill fitness, how much money they spend and where they seek their recreational opportunities, the release states.

In addition, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade will offer statistics and information on future initiatives in the outdoor industry, including insights on seasonality, workforce development, infrastructure supports, public-private partnerships and regional integration.

Other panels will feature women and the outdoor industry, market research takeaways, how community development can leverage the outdoor recreation industry, and community partnerships.

There are still openings at the event for more industry representation, the release adds.

On April 1 and April 2, group uphill ski events at Tiehack will be led by local guides and industry stakeholders. The Tiehack activity is open to the community, according to the release.

For more information or to register, visit aspenascent.com.