“Bash for Cash”


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The pictured event, The Bash for Cash, occurred in early 1965 at Aspen Highlands, one of the four ski areas in Aspen. At that time, Aspen Highlands was operated by Whip Jones, who leased the land from the National Forest Service (NFS). Mr. Jones, in an effort to drum up publicity for his ski area, came up with an idea of a ski race that started at the top of Aspen Highlands and finished at the bottom. The vertical distance was more than 3,000 feet.

Uniquely, all the racers started together at the same time and raced against each other, mano-a-mano. No clocks. It was skiing’s answer to a LeMans start in auto racing. It had never been done before. And it has never been done again.

As is obvious from the photos, all the participants, nine of them, entered what was virtually a semi-suicide race. The winner—there would only be one—would receive $500 and a free season pass to Aspen Highlands for the remainder of the season. For most of the participants, the race lasted but seconds. If memory serves, one or two racers got through the huge pile up in panel three. Out of the racers who were rendered hors de combat, there were a couple of broken legs, a broken collarbone, a broken arm and assorted leg and knee injuries. To add outrageous panache to the bash, one of the racers, racing with a cast, broke his other leg. Back then, the use of helmets for racing and recreational skiing was in its infancy.

The event, because of the iconic photos taken by a local photographer, now deceased (he died when his tent filled up with carbon monoxide from a heater he had along on a winter shoot), caused a big stir in Aspen. It also rattled a few cages at the National Forest Service, which has an office in Aspen. The short version went something like, “Pull another stunt like that on NFS leased land and your lease will be terminated the next day.” Mr. Jones got the message. There never was another Bash for Cash.

These photos are the only ones we know of.


16 x 20″ mounted, ready to hang       $205.00  (complete)

8 x 10″   mounted, ready to hang       $150.00   (complete)