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Arapaho Basin Opens Tomorrow 12 October 2011

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You heard that right. Arapahoe Basin opens tomorrow, Oct. 13. A-Basin doesn’t really seem like the sort of operation that would issue a press release—more like the kind that would call a reporter and say, “Um, we’re opening. How cool is that?”—but hey, here it is. You should check out their blog, too.

ARAPAHOE BASIN OPENS FOR THE SKI SEASON THURSDAY,

OCTOBER 13, 2011

Arapahoe Basin, Colorado – October 12, 2011 – After a great week of snowmaking and several fresh inches of snow, Arapahoe Basin ski area officials announce that opening day for the 2011-2012 ski season will be Thursday, October 13, 2011.  The ski area has only been closed 100 days since last season ended on July 4, 2011.

Black Mountain Express will open to the public at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.  Skiers and riders can look forward to an 18-inch base on the intermediate High Noon run along with several features in the High Divide Terrain Park.  There will be no beginner skiing at this time.

A tribute to Arapahoe Basin founders Marnie Jump and Max Dercum who passed away this year will take place before the lifts open to the public.

Opening day adult lift tickets will be available for $59, youth tickets age 15 – 18 will be $49 and child tickets age 6-14 will be $30.  The ski and snowboard rental shop, tune shop, food and beverage service, the 6th Alley bar and retail shop will be open to the public.  Snowsports lessons will be available on a limited basis.

Local radio station, KYSL will be doing a live morning show and giving away lift tickets on-air.  KSMT will also be on site in the base area with a live remote, playing music and handing out give-aways.

A-Basin’s Bonus Passes are available while supplies last for $389.  The Bonus pass holder receives unlimited skiing or riding at A-Basin for the 2011-2012 ski season and five non-transferable ski days at Keystone or Breckenridge.  One of those days can be used at Vail or Beaver Creek (some restrictions apply).  A-Basin only passes are also available at great prices.  To purchase your pass or check snow conditions go to www.arapahoebasin.com.

Arapahoe Basin would like to invite any interested media to attend the opening day celebration.  Please contact Leigh Hierholzer to coordinate lift tickets and any other logistics.

The Five Best Things About Spring Skiing 5 April 2011

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You’ve probably picked up the golf clubs already. I went on my first road ride two weeks ago.

But up in the mountains, the snow keeps falling, or sun keeps shining, and either way, the conditions are as good as they’ll be all season. So let’s take a moment to put summer on hold and explore the five best things about spring skiing (here in Colorado).

1. Arapahoe Basin

Nothing says spring like a day on the beach. Sure A-Basin’s charging for the prime spots, now, but with a couple cases of PBR, a few lawn chairs, and as many scantily-clad snow bunnies as you can find, you can pick any place and forget you were worried. And that’s the thing about A-Basin—nobody’s worried. It’s spring. The tourists are elsewhere. The beer is flowing. And there’s still enough snow on the East Wall to go get gnarly if you feel like it. But you probably won’t. Summer’s on its way, and it begins with the best tailgate in Colorado.

2. Gaper Day

So I’m a little late on this one, but it’ll come around again next year. It’s the rare person that deserves the term “asshat,” but the gaper is a rare person indeed, one so devoid of self-awareness that his greatest concern is whether he’ll meet someone with a rival team’s starter jacket. The only thing that brings more joy than calling out gapers on the mountain is proving that imitation isn’t always the sincerest form of flattery. Bring your neon. Bring your onesie. And please, oh please, bring your Carhartts.

3. Goggle Tans

By this point in the season, two kinds of skiers have emerged: those who spend 40 miserable hours in a cubicle between weekends, and those who have goggle tans. It’s possible to attempt both, though the strategy generally results in the gaper goggle burn and deep feelings of shame on Monday morning. On the other hand, the real skiers have carefully crafted their tans over the last five months, baking their chins to a deep umber, or maybe burnt sienna. Do not challenge these skiers, for they are your elders, great sages to be revered in the bar and on the slopes. Even the 17 year-olds will drink you under the table, then crush your sorry, hungover self on the mountain.

4. Pond Skimming


As a general rule, skiers avoid water on the mountain because, like sugar and promises, they melt in the rain. In the spring, though, they flock to vast pools on the slopes to prove to their lady- and man-friends that doing a yard sale into nearly freezing water sucks about as much as you’d expect. Of course, some of these brave souls make it across the pond, winning admiration and beer, but most end their days as a soggy, yet deliriously happy, mess.

5. Closing Days

Skiing is kind of a party in the first place: you get a bunch of friends together, go wild and crazy for several hours, then end up in a bar wondering why everything hurts so much. But since closing day is a party on top of what’s already a party, both skiers and post-modernists can agree that it must be a meta-party, the best kind of all. Take everything above, add a concert, costumes and lax enforcement from ski patrol, and you’ve got closing day, a celebration of the entire year and a time of mourning for the several sunny a ski-free months ahead. This year Vail’s hosting Shpongle (I just linked to MySpace), and somebody else Stephen Marley for its closing weekend (April 23-24). You might not believe me, but that’s a sure sign of a good time. Do your Easter thing, then hit the slopes. You won’t be disappointed.

G.N.A.R. (The Movie) 25 March 2011

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That’s Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness. Because naming it after Shane McConkey (M.N.A.R.?) didn’t really make sense.

It’s a movie you should see. In fact, like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, it’s a movie you should watch twice a year—first, to get your season started, and then again to remind you what all that excitement was about.

Here’s what you need to know:

Because it the gnarly lines it offers off the KT-22 chair, Squaw Valley USA is a Mecca for awesome skiers, like, not that guy who rips at your local hill, but some ridiculously sweet dude who does 50′ airs off cliff bands then shotguns a beer and kisses your girlfriend. Few of those guys exist, but those who do flock to Squaw. Over the years, that’s given the place a sort of snobby reputation (although locals say it’s undeserved). More than one ski movie has reinforced the perception that guys at Squaw hang out looking to one-up each other on Palisades lines, so knowing the reality, the late McConkey decided to make a joke of the whole thing. Along with the Gaffney brothers, he created G.N.A.R. to make the mountain a game. Sure, it only showed up as an addendum, more or less, to Robb Gaffney’s book Squallywood, but it soon took on a life of its own, and following McConkey’s death, the Gaffneys made it into a film.

But what is “it”? G.N.A.R is primarily a game of skiing steep, scary lines at Squaw, but the movie mostly plays up its other aspects, like the additional points you’ll get for skiing butt-naked, or for yelling, “I’m going to rip the shit out of this line!” before dropping in, and if you hear anyone telling you “I’m the best skier on this mountain,” you can trace that back to G.N.A.R., too. Oh, and bonus points for calling your mom in the middle of the run.

We’re figuring out a way to make this work for A-Basin, so if you have any suggestions on the best/gnarliest lines there, drop me a line (My e-mail’s in the “About” section.)

In the meantime, you can watch the whole movie free. How cool is that?

Here’s the link: http://unofficialnetworks.com/gnar/

And if you see a guy beating the bejeepers out of a cornice at Monarch or Crested Butte this weekend, that’s me. Feel free to say hi.

Skiing Eldora 22 December 2010

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Nothing brings Christmas cheer like sunny skies in Denver and feet upon feet of snow in the mountains. Actually, no. I’d take some snow here, too, but at any rate, the soft flakes continue to fall in the high country—even as we speak, dear readers!—again meaning that I assembled my crack team of product testers and headed west, this time to sample the slopes of Eldora.

Please forgive me for thinking it sounds like something out of a Tolkien novel, but really… Eldora? As in, “There, beyond the last gates of the city Nederland lies the elven enclave of Eldora, a place steeped in legend and mystery.” But I’ll come off it. In reality, Eldora’s not the stuff of legends, or even day dreams for most folks. If anything, it’s convenient.

After fighting against I-70 traffic every weekend, trying a hassle-free drive instead holds some merit. And at only 21 miles from Boulder and 45 miles from Denver, Eldora offers that. You won’t get any gray hairs from that commute, and you won’t grow much older either. In fact, it almost feels like a Utah ski morning: the drive up the canyon; the sunny skies giving way to clouds; the snow piling up with elevation.

But at the end of the road, you’ll find Eldora, not Alta or Brighton. Bummer, dude.

If you liked East Coast skiing, you’ll feel at home here. Quirky, slow lifts are the norm, and the terrain never rises above treeline. If you squint, the town of Ned kinda sorta looks like Brattleboro, but not really. At any rate, seeing all this in Colorado will bring about fond or perhaps painful memories for anyone who grew up skiing the Ice Coast.

Our test day, a Sunday, fell on the second or third day of what has become a storm of epic proportions. On Monday, NOAA actually called the thing “epic,” citing “phenomenal” snow totals in an inspiring display of vocabulary. Some areas of Colorado will see eight feet when it’s all said and done—and the residents of Crested Butte and Silverton have been told to stock up on perishables. A very white Christmas indeed.

But Eldora had reported 7″ overnight, for a total of 11″ in the past 72 hours. Not bad given that the snow continued throughout the day. It felt like less than that, but whatever. New snow is new snow. We rolled up at noon and still experienced quite a bit of it. And that’s the thing to like about Eldora, I think. Or maybe the other thing, since it’s convenient, too. Hardly anyone’s skiing there, and those that do confine themselves to a few blue slopes. Even with the trees closed, we managed to find trails where we were the only ones in sight, despite the fact that this place, when fully open, comprises just 680 acres.

Eldora is a place nearly as big as the biggest, baddest resort in the East, Killington. It lies within a couples hours’ drive for a good portion of the Front Range’s four million residents, yet it lacks lift lines. Altogether, it sounds like a winning combination, and in Maine or New Hamphire, it probably would be. But here it ranks only as mediocre.

>Nearly everywhere else in Colorado receives more snow. Nearly everyone else has steeper terrain. Nearly everyone offers better lifts and more services at the base area. I can ski better trees at Keystone, better steeps at A-Basin, better snow at Vail, and I don’t have to pay that much to do it. Sure, if you ski Eldora, check out the Corona and Indian Peaks lifts. When Corona Bowl’s open, I’m sure it can be a fun little powder field, but overall it’s too small a place to keep experts entertained for too long. The lack of lift lines only creates more opportunities to lap the same terrain. Eldora isn’t a place to explore.

But at the same time, H said she got good vibes from it. Lots of positive energy there and none of the frantic powder mania at the I-70 resorts, even on a solid powder day. We found freshies at three when patrol dropped some ropes. We found more in the trees. And for that, I can appreciate Eldora, but I simply can’t appreciate it enough to choose it over A-Basin.

How much of Keystone is open by… 11 November 2010

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When does X terrain open at Keystone, Breck, Vail, etc? It’s a common enough question that I’ve decided to provide a little info for Keystone (which is celebrating a 40th birthday this year) since I know it best. More to follow when I get the time.

I absolutely, postively must ski the white ribbon of death on Keystone’s opening weekend. When should I book my flight?

- Keystone’s elevation and snowmaking capacity allow it to get started just behind Colorado leaders Loveland and A-Basin, and due to its proximity to Denver, Keystone can make a profit from day (rather than destination) skiers early on . Shoot for the first weekend in November. Keystone will be open, rocks, downed trees and all.

I hate hosting family at my place. How much of Keystone will be open by Thanksgiving?

- Typically snowmaking along with natural snowfall will make most of Dercum Mountain and North Peak skiable in time to make skiing more attractive than watching the Lions. Coverage will still be thin and North Peak’s main bump runs, Powder Cap and Ambush, will probably be closed. The groomers usually leave part of Last Alamo alone at this time of year, so if you like scary, crusty bumps head there. Otherwise go back to Dercum andlook for some short, less challenging ones just under the gondola on Flying Dutchman. For park rats, Area 51 will probably be open as well depending on temperature and where the snowmaking money is going. If you enjoy the novelty of skiing on bad snow under lights, night skiing is also an option at this point.

I cherish what little vacation time I have but place no value on an enjoyable ski experience. How much of Keystone will be open in the week between Christmas and New Year’s?

- Most of it. Snowmaking has stopped by this point, so you’ll be relying on nature to provide coverage. The Outback, with all its tree and bump runs will be open, although coverage can still be spotty since this area is left more “natural” than the other parts of the resort. You’re more likely to run into rocks and downed trees this early in the season, so proceed carefully.

For what it’s worth, though, I skied knee deep back there on Christmas Eve last year. In a good snow year, the bumps will almost all be open, except perhaps some to skiers left on North Peak. You’ll see the saplings poking through them riding the Santiago Lift. The hike-to terrain may be open, too, but ask patrol first before taking too much time on foot. Wind scours the bowls, so don’t expect to find face shots this early–or ever, in all likelihood.

I like powder. When should I bring my snorkle to Keystone?

- You have picked the wrong mountain. Get thee to Wolf Creek.

I plan on celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s contributions to our country by participating in a sport enjoyed exclusively by rich white people. What will terrain be like on MLK weekend?

- Coverage will be firming up most everywhere. The trees may still be thin, but you can explore most of the mountain with confidence. The

Your keg won't care if you don't find those hot coeds you were seeking.

tight trees in the Windows between Dercum and North Peak are at a southern exposure, so probably best to avoid them if they’re open.

I’m planning to score some hot biddies over spring break. Will there still be enough snow at Keystone for me to show off my mad skillz in March? Also, “Frat! Frat! Frat!”

- Yes. March is Keystone’s snowiest month on average. This is probably the best time to be skiing here. You will not, however, find women at Keystone, so don’t plan on presenting all the bros at the Frateau with a gaggle of snow bunnies. Only your keg will provide reliable entertainment after hours.

I am addicted to skiing Keystone. I want more! When does Keystone close?

- The second weekend in April, generally. This season, Keystone’s closing day is April 10, 2011, which  also coincides with the mountain’s deepest base of the year. Vail Resorts will tell you it has something to do with an elk migration or calving or something, and Texans will say it’s because snow can’t possibly exist into April. Vail comes closer to the truth–elk don’t appreciate spinning lifts too much–but in actuality Keystone closes because skiers lose interest. Since it’s a business, not the government, when the cashflow turns negative, they turn out the lights and everyone goes home until summer.

There’s always A-Basin, though.

7 Things to Love About Skiing 25 October 2010

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Loveland’s lifts started spinning on Sunday. A-Basin opened this morning… in the middle of a blizzard. And this coming weekend, most Denverites will make their first pilgrimage to these white ribbons of death, careening and crashing and generally pleasing Ullr with their displays of dedication. No doubt I will find myself among them. I hope you will, too. To prepare, let’s take a moment together to review what makes skiing great.

1. Ski Movies. Every sport has its movies—women’s baseball even got A League of Their Own—but only in the ski industry is the start of movie season a cultural event. When the first chill arrives in the air and the first snow dusts the peaks, TGR, Matchstick and Warren Miller start rolling out footage featuring the best skiers our generation. The stoke starts building–and for that matter, people start using the word stoke again. And gnar, and all of that. These movies remind us all of what’s ahead, what’s possible.

2. New Skis. Okay, so it’s practically never a good idea to buy new skis at the start of a ski season, but who can deny the pleasure? So many varieties exist, each one an expression of ambition and personality–who we are. We broadcast so much when we we step into our bindings, and although we may tell ourselves otherwise, form matters almost as much as function. No one’s arguing that top sheet graphics are high art, but I’d still like to think my Dynastar Huge Troubles constitute my greatest contribution to the apartment’s aesthetic value.

3. The Gaper. No matter how poorly you ski, someone is always worse. And that someone is a gaper, a singular point of ridicule on the mountain. The gaper makes wedge turns in blue jeans, if he turns at all. He wears a BMX helmet to the bunny slope. On the lift, he wonders aloud why Vail hasn’t groomed away the powder yet. His Real Tree (TM) hunting outfit makes him a roving dealer of disaster in the glades he accidentally entered. The gaper is everywhere, and we can always laugh at his expense, so long as we remain well clear of his destructive path.

4. A-Basin. Arapahoe Basin is skiing. Better mountains exist, with more terrain, steeper steeps and faster lifts. None of them, however, so concentrates the spirit of the sport. And to tell you the truth, I don’t know why that is. Colorado’s true skiers chose A-Basin, the Pallavicini Face, the East Wall and the Beach. And they made them their own. The dogs and the beer run freely while the vacationers stay down the hill at Keystone or bypass Summit entirely, heading for the more well-heeled resorts of Eagle County. Well-heeled in a sense, I guess. I’ve seen scuffles at Vail, lift-line jockeying on a powder day–the kinds of behavior that never appear at A-Basin. No glamour. No glitz. Just skiing.

5. The Ski Bum. He’s young, white and operating your ski lift. Or—wait for it—he’s selling your ski vacation, driving your bus, tuning your skis, serving your dinner, ensuring the effortlessness of your visit. The ski bum is an American icon, plying the boundaries of socially acceptable irresponsibility. Ski bums run ski resorts, many of them sacrificing rewarding careers and sex lives for the opportunity to chase the 100-day season. Honor these idealistic young men. Skiing is their religion, and for it they give up sex. They give up money.  So little of either exists for men in the mountains. Honor the women, too, for putting up with money-starved, sex-crazed men.

6. Apres-ski. Without skiing, apres-ski wouldn’t exist. We’d just have to call it drinking. The apres scene unfolds differently, though, in front of a roaring fire with Irish coffees all around and stories of the day’s successes and disasters. Yard sale in front of a bunch of kids? Re-live it. Huck a 15′ cliff? Remind your friends. The fire crackles and the mugs are re-filled. Another round of stories: the first time you all skied powder, the terrible falls taken under the lift, the near-miss at speed in the trees. Every moment is one of snow falling and lights twinkling and the epic powder days still waiting on the horizon.

7. POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS POWDER DAYS

Winter Park Impressions 5 April 2010

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More than a week ago, I posted photos from Winter Park on Facebook, and it’s obvious they never made it to the blog. Typically I try to do the opposite in the hopes that when you stop by for photos, you’ll browse the writing as well. Perhaps this is optimistic–but the stats say otherwise, you browsers, you. So quit looking at Facebook and drop by here instead.

To most folks in the Front Range, Winter Park sits alongside Keystone, Copper and Breck as a mountain worth a weekend visit. Vail and Beaver Creek are just too far (and too pricey), and no one stays the night to ski Loveland, A-Basin, or Ski Cooper–despite Leadville’s desperate marketing, which essentially pleads, “We were important… once. Try us again?” So for the Friday/Saturday night stay crowd, those four ski resorts round out the options, and although I haven’t skied Copper yet, I’d guess that it, too, will supersede Keystone in my growing rankings of resorts. Nearly everything has so far.

Winter Park falls somewhere in the middle: excellent terrain if snow has fallen recently. Otherwise, not much of a mountain. Of course, the same holds true for Keystone, which would benefit from additional snowfall, too–another 100″ a year might make its trees more palatable–but where Winter Park needs powder, it gets it, clocking in as one of the state’s snowiest resorts. I’ll hike thirty minutes for knee-deep steeps, and I’ll begrudge a new, slow triple chair to ski dappled glades. Winter Park makes that possible.

Divided into two or maybe three mountains, Mary Jane, Winter Park, and Vasquez Cirque, the resort more or less prevents beginners and intermediates from spending any time with experts, meaning few possibilities for the kids to ski blues while Mom and Dad ski the bumps. For anyone used to the dread of approaching one of Vail’s ten bajillion cat-tracks at mach speed, that division offers a relief.

But maybe you like ski with yours kids. Tough luck. And maybe you don’t like bumps. Again, tough luck. Winter Park’s 1975 Mary Jane expansion gave it a national reputation for moguls, so much so that finding anything else at first comes a pleasant surprise. “No pain, no Jane” go the bumper stickers around here. Of course, given the resort’s more than three thousand acres, Mary Jane isn’t the be all and end all of the Winter Park experience.

In fact, it’s rather a nice distraction from the more entertaining hike-to steeps off Vasquez Cirque (which isn’t at all a cirque, but hey). It’s impossible to avoid comparisons to Keystone, so I won’t try. The difference between the hike-to terrain at both resorts might best be summed as, “whether it’s worthwhile.” And Keystone’s typically isn’t. Hiking offers its own rewards, but the opportunity to ski a benign pitch on wind-effected crust isn’t one of them. Winter Park serves up the steep and deep on anything off the top of the Cirque. Granted, backcountry enthusiasts won’t much care for the caravan-style trek, but for everyone else, a doable hike to the steep stuff makes up for most of the money spent on the lift ticket.

The takeaway:

- Lots of snow and excellent hike-to terrain make Winter Park a good bet for the weekend crowd.

- Avoid Mary Jane unless you like bumps or trees.

- Boring groomers, so probably not much fun after five days without snow.

- Not the place to take your cousin who’s just learning to ski if you’re both looking for challenge and want to meet at the same lift each run.

Gaper Day 3 April 2010

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Don't be this guy.

When you ski, you are probably a gaper. That you don’t know the term also demonstrates the the truth of it. But since everyone enjoys a bit of self-assessment, let’s try some right now. Assess away, gaper hordes: ten questions to vaunted gaperdom.

When you ski:

1. Do you wear jeans/your favorite team’s hoodie/anything with a Florida gator on it?

2. Do you refer to our sport as “snow skiing” to, I guess, differentiate it from all the water skiing that goes on at 13000′?

3. Did you you leave your rental SUV flipped in a ditch on your way to the mountain?

4. Do you call our spiffy skier-toting, flying sky-box thing as the gon-DO-la?

5. Does the wind whistling between your goggles and helmet bother you?

6. Do you and your skiing buddies/gaggle flock to the center of the run above any vaguely steep pitch? Or, alternatively, do you flee to the edge of every run without glancing uphill?

7. Do you wear make-up that’s not left over from the night before?

8. Does the name Carhartt appear anywhere on your person?

9. Look down. Are you on blades?

10. Are you from Texas?

Don’t worry about the answers. You are probably a gaper. I was too. But there is hope for you yet: Ski. A whole bunch–and then head to A-Basin on April 1st for Gaper Day, next year I guess since 2010′s has already come and gone. May the best neon onesy win.

Skiing the Bell Curve 29 March 2010

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I haven’t written anything in a week, I don’t think, and although I’m tempted to blame that on something in life that intervened, it won’t work. Yes, topics came to mind, and I even put down 300 words on one of them, but every effort struck me as uninspired so I carried on in the belief that if I couldn’t write something worth reading, then I wouldn’t write anything at all. It’s been too long, though. Perhaps I need a change of scenery, some sights other than these same townhouses and pines that continue to sit outside my window at work… although if the Forest Service is right, the beetle larvae will kill the trees in a couple years anyway. I guess that’s progress.

It’s not that I’m anti-townhome necessarily, but rather that The Seasons, West Keystone’s option for more discerning and spendy travelers, represents the evidently inevitable progression and dilution of skiing into just one of the many activities offered at a full-service mega-resort. Like putt-putt golf on a cruise ship. Well, no, that shortchanges the product I sell, yet it hints at the direction the sport is moving. Open the pages of Ski Magazine (Skiing’s well-healed sister publication) and you’ll notice nearly as many articles and advertisements for Land Rovers and fine dining as you’ll see for mountains and techniques. Page 42 of February’s edition highlights the ice wines of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, and although dessert drinks hold a special place in my heart, I can’t remember the last time I gave much thought to a glass of riesling while on the slopes.

In all, it is the depiction of skiing as one facet of a lifestyle complete only once accompanied by golf-filled summers and a home on a cul-de-sac, not as an individual pursuit. Notice the language involved: “I am a skier,” not “I ski,” or “I enjoy skiing.” When we talk about skiing, then, we illustrate that it defines who we are, not what we do. That a sport can figure so largely as part of an identity ensures its durability, certainly, but perhaps at the expense of progress. And while I understand that the demographic figures indicate that the Land Rover-driving, town-home-vacationing types account for nearly all the money spent around here, I will not bow to the idea that these five-day visitors in any way advance or even sustain the sport. Money cannot replace vision, and the opportunity cost of every new condo is the terrain that could have been.

Or, as is the case of Crested Butte Mountain Resort near Gunnison, the Forest Service’s decision to kill a proposed expansion will probably work in the opposite direction, forestalling construction on any new condos. CBMR’s Snodgrass Expansion would have opened hundreds of acres of intermediate terrain rounding out a resort known almost exclusively as an experts-only, so-steep-I-just-wet-myself-a-little Shangri-La.The resort’s owners had argued that CBMR would survive if the new area opened–the dearth of blue runs had pushed skiiers to tamer mountains and visits had continued to fall. Otherwise, who knew how CBMR would fare. I can guess, however. Without miles of cruisers, without Breckenridge’s benign, well-groomed reliability, CBMR will not attract the crowd that reads Ski Magazine. And it won’t attract their dollars either.

At the same, time I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the progress: fat skis and hike-to terrain, the trickle-down from the experts, backcountry explorers and young skiers unsatisfied with carving. Innovation lies at the margins, even if the money doesn’t. When the Baby boomers retire, can we place our hope there? 

I know it shouldn’t bother me that a resort might die for lack of unchallenging terrain–after all, the bell curve applies just as well to skiing as it does to everything else–but it does. The cash has settled at the top of the curve, not at the tail with the ski bums, and so long as that remains the case (that is, indefinitely), the mega-mountains will cater to the median.

Stand strong, A-Basin. Stand strong.

Loveland Pass 22 March 2010

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Nothing much to write as of late and no new snow either, so I’ve instead taken to wandering around in the mountains. Living in the high country affords opportunities to walk outside a bit after work, just another reason I doubt I’ll return to the Midwest. As I’ve pointed out ad nauseum, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy living near St. Louis, but rather that St. Louis lies much too far from most every recreational activity I enjoy.

Click any image for a larger version. It’s worth it–usually.

Not much snow in March. Boo to Ullr.

Two guys who passed me, unfazed by the receding daylight.

Two Fourteeners: Torreys in front. Grays in the back. Real tall.

A-Basin: it's all open... finally.

You've seen a similar shot before.

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