Melting Ice caps and gondolas

written by Robert Allen Reedy

Aspen Snowmass resort turn up the heat on global warming

Salvador Dalí painted melting clocks, but time is ticking on getting the message out about the growing negative effects of global warming to a global audience. Thinking global and acting local, the Aspen Snowmass resort has created a semi-melted plastic ski gondola. It’s located at 12,212 above sea level, on the sundeck exit of the Silver Queen Gondola, in full view of all visitor on skis, boards or otherwise to the peak. Clearly, with global temperatures rising, the incidence and weight of snowfall is already beginning to see a marked decrease. With a 3-degree rise in temperature over the past 75 years, the upward trend is accelerating. We’re having hotter summers, marked by wildfires and flash floods, and in the winter, we’re increasingly having less snow, meaning shorter ski seasons and the occurrence of significant snow at lower levels is less each year.

For a resort like ours here in Aspen Snowmass, this climatic direction of travel is a major concern, not only for the visitors who will, if the situation is left unchecked, be left with much less snow to ski and enjoy, maybe, worst case - none at all in years to come. We don’t think this statement is an overreaction or hype but a scientifically supported fact. With that said, we have a duty to ensure that our visitors understand the situation and take this news seriously – because, as a whole and individually, their actions make a difference to the outcome. 

This is where the idea for the gondola came from. Clearly, nobody expects to see a melted gondola, just like nobody expects to get up here and find zero snow – so this was a fun but thought-provoking way to set up that conversation. Both with each other, as we all independently figure out how we manage our own personal effect on the environment, as well as a wider local, regional, national and ultimately global solution. 

The melted gondola was created by Chris Erikson and was inspired by the Australian meting ice-cream van sculpture by James Dive and the Glue Society again to highlight the negative effects of global warming on the already hot Australian public. 

“As a ski resort, we’re very aware of our own impact on the environment but are probably the most active in our industry when it comes to making changes,” Mark Carolan, creative director for Aspen Skiing Company, told Adweek.

Visitors to the resort are encouraged to take their own pictures and selfies with the gondola and to hashtag them on social media with #PowerToPOW through its partnership with Protect Our Winters (POW), a community of professionals who promote non-partisan climate policies and to donate or become members.

“We need a movement to create large-scale policy change on climate. POW is that movement, mobilizing the outdoor industry as a political force,” added Auden Schendler, SVP of Sustainability for parent company Aspen Skiing Company.

Guests are encouraged to visit the Melted Gondola throughout the season and to post pictures of the installation utilizing the hashtag #PowerToPOW.