October 15, 2005
First trip of the season--Wolf Creek in two weeks
It is set. I am opening the season at Wolf Creek two weeks from today. I may sneak up earlier, but am stuck working in Seattle this week on a customer gig. In preparation for Seattle, I have stopped shaving the last week, thrown out my Right Guard, and grown a man-Ponytail--all perfect to compliment my ski bum look. =) That makes the assumption that they will be open by then, but I think I am fairly safe. It appears that there are a couple of storms coming in the next week. Their current ski report states:
Wolf Creek received 14 inches of snow from this past storm leaving a 10 inch base at the summit and a 4 inch base midway. We are hoping for another big storm so we can keep you updated on conditions and opening day.
Speaking of Wolf Creek, now is as good of time as any to explain why I am in love with the place. First, and most important, is the snow. I would ski a cow pasture with a small hill if the snow was good. I took a sick fall and busted my head up night skiing on an ice day three years ago, so I love the fact that Wolf Creek usually has lots of the soft stuff to protect me from myself. Plus my new atomic fats love the powder. Last year I got absolutely spoiled with powder in the Southwest, while most of Summit had to use their rock skis.
Second, it is not a "destination". Despite the development plans announced a couple of years ago to build condos (and with the help of the anti-development groups hell bent on keeping the place the way it is), Wolf Creek has no slopeside condos, shopping, village, etc. You go there to ski and stay in Pagosa. There is nothing fancy or high end about the place. One of the boarders in the slopeside Boarder Dome was talking about the fight over "The Village at Wolf Creek" condo project and said he moved from Aspen just because he hated the way it was taken over by rich folks who were more focused on how they looked than on the skiing. I am mixed on the development aspects because there is so much more terrain that could be opened but probably won't if the resort doesn't expand. It is a business, let us not forget, not a charity for pot head snowboarders that live in VW buses. =)
Third, the hotel I stay in costs around $55 a night for two double beds. It is a 20 minute drive up the mountain, but come on... $55? Get real. And right next door to the hotel are a couple of ski shops and an awesome Chinese restaurant. Grab some sweet and sour whatever and some rice to get the carbs back in the legs.
Fourth, if you have kids, the Wolf Pups program is probably the best value of any youth program I have seen. $50 for an entire day and that includes lift tickets and lunch for kids under 8. You see the kids skiing from the lift with their instructors and they howl like wolves. My son Jake is 8 and spent two days in Wolf Pups last year despite being a solid blue-black skier and they helped him work on his parallel turns. The program lets out at 2:45 PM so there is another hour or so to ski together after that.
Fifth, Alberta and the Waterfall Area. The Alberta lift is fairly remote and there are very few cut runs on the far left side of the resort. It is almost all glade skiing, leaving tons of untracked powder. Before the Superbowl last year we skied almost a week after a big snowstorm and were still in mostly powder. Not the crap they call powder or packed powder that in reality is neither of the above, but rather snow that was untouched through the trees.
Finally, proximity. Wolf Creek is only 9 hours from Phoenix. An impromptu trip last year started at 8 PM on a Thursday night and we were asleep in the Avalanche by 5 AM in the parking lot after a pretty solid debate of politics, money and religion and what came close to a fistfight over politics and religion. =) It sure made the trip go faster though.
Posted by Justin at October 15, 2005 11:43 AM
Have a good time. Watch out for the trees, yeep!
Posted by: Joni at October 15, 2005 08:06 PM
It isn't the trees that worry me, but the weight that I gain from spending 6 straight months eating Chinese food every time I go skiing. I am going to die John Candy style far before going Sonny Bono.
Posted by: Justin at October 16, 2005 02:59 AM