Editor’s Note: Liftopia travel bloggers Michael Ames and Michael Sesko have just embarked on the road trip of a lifetime. In a mere two weeks, they’ll be hitting up all four Mountain Collective resorts: Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Alta and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. They’ll be documenting their journey right here on the Liftopia blog in a series called The Mountain Collective Chronicles; from early mornings to late nights, from snowy slopes to ski towns, from meetings with Mother Nature to close encounters of the local kind, follow along each week as bits and pieces of Ames and Sesko’s story are revealed. Want to play a hand in shaping their adventure? Keep an eye on the Liftopia blog, Facebook page & Twitter handle — we’ll be asking YOU to suggest the gnarliest trails, the best places to grab chili cheese fries, and the coolest après bars near each of these four legendary ski areas. Now, without further ado… The Mountain Collective Chronicles!
This is a story, told in many parts, about two old friends, an old red Subaru, and the Liftopia Mountain Collective Ski Pass.
Chapter 1: The Call
It was just before Christmas in Brooklyn when I got the phone call.
“Road trip,” I heard a familiar voice say. It was my old friend, Sesko, the entrepreneur who collects exotic cooking salts and drives around with jars of spices in his glove compartment. Brother Sesko, I call him. He’s not technically my sibling, or any kind of blood relation that I know of. But he always radiated fraternal warmth and enthusiasm, and therefore he is my brother.
Brother Sesko talked in jagged streaks that day about the mountains, not these icy knobs back in the East, he said, but serious mountains. We can drive there, I heard him say as I stood on a sidewalk in south Brooklyn. I kicked an empty soda can and looked up at the barbed wire fences around me. The true epic winter road trip, he said. He seemed possessed.
Ah yes, I thought, that old Dream. The one where we all go live in ski towns and get jobs and dogs and have kids who grow up to become Bode Miller. The dream I gave up two years ago to pursue Real Life in New York.
“Been there, done that,” I spat back at him, clutching the memory of that morning’s New York Times story about how climate change is going to end skiing as we know it. The ski town dream? It won’t last as long as Social Security, I told him. What’s the point? The only dream left will be surfing, for the surf bums, and those people are all grifters and brutes.
But Brother Sesko didn’t give up so easily. He told me about this company called Liftopia and a new ski pass they were hawking on the Internet. An ambulance screamed past me and half a dozen shredded plastic bags stuck on a leafless tree whipped in the city wind. Across the road, a bulldozer tore through a towering heap of scrap metal, and in between its crashes and clangs and the ambulance’s receding wail, I heard my friend whisper the romance of better places.
“Aspen,” he cooed. “Squaw. Alta … Jackson Hole.” Blood rushed to my brain and I froze in place.
“What’s the catch?” I asked.
“You have to drive with me,” Brother Sesko said. “You have to help me stay awake.” He is moving to San Francisco, driving from the East Coast in his old red Subaru for the long haul. He told me that Liftopia’s Mountain Collective Pass could get us two days at each resort, along with deals on lodging and a bunch of other perks along the way. He had made a spread sheet with timetables and expenses.
“You can’t pass this up,” he said.
I took a deep breath.
“When do we leave?”
About the Travelers:
About Michael Ames: Michael Ames is a reformed Idaho ski bum. But thanks to Liftopia and the Mountain Collective pass, he recently fell off that wagon. To see his non-ski-related work, visit www.michael-ames.com.
About Mike Sesko: Mike is a sustainable agriculture entrepreneur with a penchant for discount lift tickets. He grew up skiing the icy peaks of southern New England but often hopped on planes, trains and automobiles to get his Western fix. Sesko often dreamed of making these bigger and steeper mountains his home but could not leave his roots behind. After 32 years of New England clam chowder, he is ditching the double agent lifestyle and moving to the Bay Area in search of more fertile ski fields.