Smoke Shacks Under Fire at Snowmass

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SAM Magazine-Aspen mountain has long been known for hidden locals' shrines to folks as diverse as Bob Marley to John Denver. But while the resort has accommodated the funky tributes, hidden in the woods off of some of the ski resort's most popular trails, the story at the mountain's sister resort, Snowmass, is a bit different.

Unlike the shrines on Aspen Mountain, the "shrines" at Snowmass are, more accurately, "shacks." Hidden in the woods, they provide locals with a place to get out of the wind, hang out with friends and smoke a bit of weed.

According to the Aspen Times, the quality of these shacks varies. Some are the most rudimentary of structures, while others have "multiple levels and iPod speakers."

And it's not just an Aspen phenomenon. "It's becoming an issue all over the place," Jim Stark, winter sports administrator for the White River National Forest, told the Times. "I was just down at Sunlight, and they're having the same issue popping up. I told [Snowmass] they need to start getting rid of them."

Steve Sewell, the manager of Snowmass, acknowledges, "We're seeing stuff popping up all over the mountain, We don't really appreciate it at this point. One man's shrine gets to be another man's trash."

However, the future of the shacks at Snowmass and other resorts-Jackson Hole comes to mind-seems bright. Stark admits that the locals have time, weed, and numbers on their side, a combination which seems to spawn shacks like, well, weeds. And while Rich Burkley, Aspen's vice president of mountain operations, says that the ski company will follow U.S. Forest Service directives when it comes to demolishing the shacks, this a cat-and-mouse battle that the mice will probably win.