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Highlands Ski Patrol Director Mac Smith Gave Decades Of ‘Blood, Sweat And Tears’ On The Mountain

Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol Director Mac Smith passed the baton on Jan. 31 after 42 seasons on the job. Though, he will remain on the patrol during the winters and help as needed throughout the next several years. 

He first stepped foot on Highlands when he was only 8-years-old, and got his start on the mountain washing dishes at the Merry-Go-Round restaurant after graduating from Basalt High School in 1971. 

“I fell in love with the mountain in my teenage years,” Smith said. “It’s got more of my blood, sweat and tears into that place than anything else in my life.”


Smith helped pioneer the snow safety research that led to opening much of Aspen’s more extreme terrain including the reopening of Highland Bowl to the public more than a decade after a massive avalanche killed three of his patrollers in 1984.


Longtime Highlands ski patroller and assistant director, Lori Spence was recently appointed as the interim director of the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol. Spence is the first woman to serve in this role.


Mac Smith recently caught up with Aspen Public Radio Morning Edition host Eleanor Bennett.


Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and "Morning Edition" anchor. She has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, creative efforts to solve the valley's affordable housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.