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.
October 14, 2005
2005-06 Season Opens at Loveland
Loveland, CO again starts 2005-06 off by being the first resort in the nation to open. Last year, I skied Loveland twice during the first week of November and they had maybe 10 runs open. All were either blues or greens. I was working for a customer in Denver and instead of flying, I drove from Phoenix and brought my skis. I hit Wolf Creek on the way home. Early season skiing is like eating bone-in buffalo wings. It is kinda messy and it is tough to get completely filled up on it. They make great appetizers, but the full course is so much better. Take the rock skis, not the $1000 pair that you just bought and are aching to try out. (not that I have ever had a $1000 pair of skis)
From the Rocky Mountain News:
Loveland Ski Area expects to win the race to kick off the state's coming ski season, saying there is a "90 percent" likelihood lifts and trails will open Friday morning.
Without the 18 inches of snowfall Loveland has received in the past few days, an opening likely would not have happened until a week later, a ski area official said.
Here is some info on the rest of Summit County from the same article:
A storm that began over the weekend dumped snow on many of Colorado's ski slopes. Here's a rundown on how much snow areas had received by midday Monday, along with tentative opening days:
*Opening day information not available from these resorts
- Arapahoe Basin 12 inches Oct. 21
- Beaver Creek 16 inches Nov. 23
- Breckenridge 30 inches Nov. 11
- Keystone 17 inches Nov. 11
- Loveland 18 inches Friday
- Monarch 10 inches Nov. 23
- Powderhorn* 6 inches
- Telluride* 8 inches
- Vail 13 inches Nov. 18
- Winter Park 12 inches Nov. 16
October 04, 2005
I thought that I would share this picture of Brian Head Resort in full fall color bloom (hat tip Brian Head Resort). The leaves are changing and a snow storm is expected this weekend. Probably only a dusting, but I'll take what we get at this point.
October 01, 2005
A Friendly Reminder about Fall and Spring Skiing
I did it again... A little different circumstances but same result. Last spring, I had a conference in Boston, MA, to attend that started on a Wednesday morning. I planned to fly all Tuesday and my boss thought I was in the conference "all week". A day when I am completely unaccounted for and assumed to be working. Where do you think I would be?
So it is low 40's and young Jake and I head up to Sunrise. The only problem with impromptu trips is that you tend to forget things on your checklist.
- Boots, Poles--check
Mid 40's combined with bright blue skies combined with 6 hours of direct sunlight plus the reflection combined with ski goggles... I sported and interesting pigment pattern for my conference where I happened to be presenting. Thankfully like OJ, I overcame conviction for my crime, but for the educated and ski knowledgible folks in my class, they knew what I was guilty of. If the ski goggles fit or something like that.
My son Jake on the other hand had played hookey from school to go skiing. Perfect attendance August through November 1st and from April until the end of school. I usually blame doctors appointments or illness for the days he misses in between. We were so busted.
Well, I have another trip to the East Coast tomorrow and instead of skiing, I engaged in my other favorite past-time. Since I did not have to skip work, I made it known to the office and the folks I work with that I was unavailable from noon until 7 or 8 PM today because I was going to the ASU vs. USC game. 100 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and not a drop of sunscreen. 5 hours straight and nice metal bleachers to get the reflection really going. At least I wore a hat.
I have two marks that I get to carry with me this week on my business trip to Pennsylvania. The mark of shame that is shaped like a boot on my ass from the whipping that USC gave us in the second half and the dark crimson pigmentation from just below my eyes (thanks to the hat) gradually forming a V on my jersey neck.
When does it start snowing?