Ski News #8 - Published 11 April 1994
Subject: THE COLORADO SKIER - SKI NEWS 8
Greetings from THE COLORADO SKIER
This is part of a series on Ski Area News. It is posted separately
from our companion series on "THE LOST SKI AREAS OF COLORADO (et al)",
"THE COLORADO SKIER - TRIVIA", and "TCS LISTS". Check 'em out.
THE COLORADO SKIER - SKI NEWS 8 (11 April)
A. With this issue we are embarking on a new system of distribution.
Besides the usual "Posts" we are also "E-Mailing" the newsletter
to selected folks. You will automatically receive an E-Mail
version if you have E-mailed to TCS more than twice in the last
six months. We will add to (and delete from) the "mailing" list
as interest dictates.
B. Howdy to folks on the 'MOOSE' network in Vermont. Welcome aboard!
If you are new to TCS, Section 4 will provide a little history.
1. SKI AREA NEWS - CURRENT
a. Keystone Resorts announced that the BRECKENRIDGE and KEYSTONE ski
areas will be open thru 8 May this year. That would be the latest
closing for either area. A-BASIN will stay open as long into June
as is feasible. They set their late closing record of 4 July last
b. Someone posted quite some time ago that GRAND TARGHEE had
announced an 8 May closing date.
c. In case you have forgotten, last season was the best ever for late
closers in the West. The following areas made it to 5 July (or
late June): SNOWBIRD (6/20), ALPINE MEADOWS (6/27), MAMMOTH,
SQUAW VALLEY, MT. BACHELOR, and, of course, TIMBERLINE, which was
open into September, as always. If you are thinking of some late
season boarding, remember that "Alpine Meadows is a traditional
ski area - no snowboards, please". [no comment.]
2. SKI AREA NEWS - FUTURE
a. VAIL - Vail has now officially applied to the Forest Service for
permission to expand into PETE'S BOWL and SUPER BOWL across Two
Elk Creek from China Bowl. This is the so called "Category III"
expansion which has already passed the back country environmental
wickets but has the town panicked about parking. Vail claims that
no new skiers will be added, the expansion will just spread skiers
around. Yeah, right.
For the few of you who might not know: The existing back bowls at
VAIL (Sundown, Sunup, Teacup, China, Siberia, et al) face South.
This means a later start in the Fall (sometimes not until January)
and poorer snow conditions all season. The NEW bowls, however,
face North. The slopes are high intermediate to expert - about
the same, on average, as the existing bowls. Vertical Drop will
be 1900 feet. Should be some good skiing.
When will the new bowls open? VAIL is now saying 1995, i.e., the
season after next. Last time we reported that No tree cutting was
required. Not so. They will be cutting 300 acres of trees plus
building a new restaurant and ski patrol shelter. Then Vail just
has to shell out $12 mill for four new lifts.
One of the new chairs will actually be an access chair, rising
from Two Elk Creek up to the ridge between China Bowl and Sunup
Bowl. The access will be in both directions. Check this out.
What it will mostly be used for is DOWNLOADING skiers from the top
of the ridge to the bottom of Pete's Bowl when the existing, south
facing, "back bowls" aren't open!
Consider this scenario: You drive up from Denver in heavy
traffic, maneuver thru the confusion at the four way stop, find a
spot in the Pay parking garage, walk 2 blocks to the ski slopes,
stand in line to buy a ticket ($50+), ride the Vista Bahn Express
to Mid-Vail, ride the Mountaintop Express to the mountain top,
skate down the ridge towards Far East, board the new quad and ride
DOWN to the creek bed, cross the creek, and then ride up another
new lift to the top of Pete's Bowl. Four chair rides and you are
finally ready to make your first run! Except, it is now time for
lunch! Sound like fun? We can't wait!
b. SNOWMASS - Every year or so we announce that Snowmass has received
Forest Service permission to expand on to Burnt Mountain, located
between SNOWMASS and TIEHACK. But nothing ever happens. This
year it was announced again. Permission to build a new base lodge
with parking, a gondola, and several chairs was granted. However
permission to connect to Tiehack was denied. So, what will
SNOWMASS decide to do? [BTW, we received another NO vote (BILL,
CO) on the planned LAKE CATAMOUNT ski area near Steamboat. As we
recall, "Senator Bill" was also against the Burnt Mtn. expansion.]
c. ASPEN HIGHLANDS - Now owned by Aspen Ski Corp, the Highlands will
build two high speed quad chairs running from the base to the top
of Loges Peak. The top chair will be located on the side of the
ridge rather than on the top. Too bad; the old Loges Peak double
chair was the most spectacular and scary chair ride in Colorado.
You could look down EITHER SIDE at a 4000 foot drop!
d. LOON MOUNTAIN - Will replace the North Peak triple chair with a
quad, move the triple to where the East Basin double is now, and
open several new runs (no lift announced) on the west side of the
e. STOWE - New base lodge and parking, expanded snowmaking on Spruce
Peak, and a connector chair running from Spruce to Mt. Mansfield.
We don't think much of connector chairs. The one connecting
LOVELAND VALLEY and LOVELAND BASIN is seldom used.
f. BEAVER CREEK - As you probably know, Vail Associates has bought
the ARROWHEAD ski area which sits just north and west of "The
Beav". An area called "Bachelor Gulch" lies between McCoy Park
(BEAVER CREEK) and the backside of ARROWHEAD. Vail has announced
plans to open the Bachelor Gulch area to skiing next season and
add a quad chair to the top of ARROWHEAD. The two ski areas will
thus be connected and Vail will be able to brag that BEAVER CREEK
has the second largest Vertical Drop (4040 feet) in the U.S.
We don't believe that this configuration should qualify as a
"legitimate" vertical drop. We (TCS) have two criteria for
measuring maximum vertical drop at a specific ski area:
1) The entire vertical must be lift served by fixed location
lifts (no hiking, no snowcats);
2) You must be able to ski continuously from the top to the
bottom without riding another lift (or bus, or walking).
In order to ski from the top of BEAVER CREEK to the bottom of
ARROWHEAD, one must ride the aforementioned quad from Bachelor
Gulch to the top of ARROWHEAD. Sorry, that doesn't qualify.
g. CRESTED BUTTE - Last year C.B. had planned to replace the Paradise
chair with a quad but decided to spend the money on a new hotel
(in the middle of the main parking lot) instead. Maybe this year
we will see the quad.
h. COPPER MOUNTAIN - Plans to add two triple-chair lifts to serve a
new "back bowl" called Copper Bowl, located behind Union Bowl.
i. CUCHARA VALLEY - Had a poor snow season and closed relatively
early on 21 March. They could be doubtful for next season.
k. TELLURIDE - Will build a quad for "town to slope" access. The
long awaited town to slope gondola which was originally scheduled
for completion in Fall 93, then pushed back to Summer 94, is now
targeted for 1995. Don't know what the problem is now - the
original delay was due to environmental problems.
j. MOOSE DROPPINGS - A note to TCS readers on the Moose network. We
are not subscribed (due to the high volume). Therefore we would
appreciate you sending us (via E-Mail to Mark) any news on ski
area expansions, re-openings, closings, area sales, etc.
3. FOLLOW-UP AND RAW, RANDOM TRIVIA
a. KEYSTONE - A while back we said that the new village planned for
the gondola base area at KEYSTONE would cost 50 million dollars.
That should have read 500 million (!), for planning, hotels,
condos, shops, restaurants, sidewalks, landscaping, etc.
b. SUN VALLEY - In the tradition of "Gretchen's Gold" and "Christin's
Silver", a ski run at SUN VALLEY will be renamed for 1994 Olympic
medal winner PICABO STREET. Also, at the Sun Valley hospital, the
Intensive Care Unit is now called the "Picabo ICU"!
c. JACKSON HOLE - Speaking of names, many years ago this resort ran a
contest to provide a slogan for the gigantic ski area. According
to insiders, the most popular submission was "Ski The Big Mutha"!
The announced winner, however, was: "Ski The Gentle Giant".
d. LOST SKI AREAS - In response to LOST 14 we received two inquiries
about lost ski areas in New Jersey and about the SHIRLEY MEADOWS
area in California. There was also two comments about the planned
"COLLEGE MOUNTAIN" area in MD. Answers and updates will appear in
"LOST 15", in early May. Thanks for your interest.
e. LIFT TICKETS - A while back we were giving some history of lift
tickets. To continue: Now computers are involved. Some areas
(e.g., BRECK) use a "bar code" on a normal stick-on ticket. The
tickets are read by hand-held scanners in the lift lines.
Somewhat labor intensive, and consequently the scanners are used
only at the bottom lifts. We have read about ten per cent "read
failure" rates during bad weather (due to wet tickets).
Another approach is a magnetic striped card which is inserted in a
"reader" at each lift. The reader then opens a turnstile. Mark
encountered this approach at BIG SKY. The card was the size of a
playing card and had a small (unreadable) trail map printed on it.
NED (Bowie, MD) also saw this system in use at Garmisch/Zugspitze.
There are higher up front costs but less labor is involved and
getting usage data from each lift must be invaluable to area
managers. [Does Killington do this? They are very much into area
management by computer and even sell their programs and techniques
to other ski areas (according to a "Forbes" article).]
Some areas (Mt Bachelor?) program the magnetic stripe with the
number of "runs" paid for. For example, you could buy 25 runs and
then use 15 runs on a Saturday and 10 runs on Sunday. This
concept doesn't work well for single days or if you have runs left
over and don't ever plan to ski that area again. BTW this concept
is almost identical to the system used by the DC Metro subway.
f. "AND THEN THERE WERE NONE." - The application to build a ski area
called "Seven Utes", on State Forest land near Walden, CO, has
been rejected by the State of Colorado. Now we can say: "And
Then There Were None"! This line comes from a children's rhyme,
usually entitled "Ten Little Indians". It sorta goes like this:
"Ten little Boarders, riding just fine; one lost his lift pass and
then there were nine.
Nine little Boarders shredding just great; one bonked a snow cat
and then there were eight.
Eight little shredders trying to get to heaven; one jumped a cliff
and then there were seven.
Two grungy teens having some fun; one did a face plant and then
there was one.
One lonely snowboarder always on the run; caught by an avalanche
and then there were none."
Agathie Christie wrote a murder mystery called "And Then There
Were None". TEN people are invited to a mysterious house on a
lonely island by a stranger. The stranger never appears and one
by one the visitors are murdered. The killer? Naw, read the book
or see the movie! There have been three movie versions: The
first was a classic, (1945) with Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston,
Roland Young, and Judith Anderson. The second (1965) was a
stinker with Hugh O'Brian and Fabian (!). Forget the 3rd. This
plot was used on our favorite TV show: "Brisco County, Jr." (Fox,
Fridays). "Ten bounty hunters are invited to a lonely island by a
mysterious stranger. One by one they are killed off...."
SNEAKY TRIVIA: On a recent "Brisco County", the beautiful female
spy was named "Emma Steed". Who can figure out where that name
4. WE HIT THE BIG "FIVE OH" - "LOST 14" was our 50th TCS Newsletter.
#1 appeared in July 1992. Some folks on the net were playing "who
remembers these areas?" in regard to Arapahoe East, Squaw Pass,
Geneva basin, Meadow Mountain, etc. Since we were then compiling
data on all the "lost" ski areas in Colorado, we decided to post a
list of applicable areas, with locations, dates, and lift data,
and "The Lost Ski Areas of Colorado" newsletter was born.
We define a "lost" ski area, roughly, as any area which doesn't
appear in the current issue of "The White Book of Ski Areas".
Thus, besides the obviously well known CLOSED areas, our list
includes SMALL areas (e.g., Hesperus), OBSCURE areas (La Veta),
EXPANSION areas (Burnt Mountain), NAME changes (Buttermilk ==>
Tiehack), and PLANNED areas (Adam's Rib). For Colorado, our list
includes 150 entries with about 80 being bona fide closed areas.
The study of lost ski areas uncovers a lot of trivia, so
eventually "TCS TRIVIA" became a separate newsletter entry, then
"SKI NEWS" (which you are reading) was added, and "TCS LISTS"
(which is easier to read then describe) is the most recent entry.
The average number of E-Mail responses to each post is 11.
"Trivia" leads the way in average number of responses, since
answering the questions requires a response. However, from your
comments, you seem to like "Lost" best, and apparently everyone
wants to see their name in genuine print in "Lists".
We have received a total of 548 E-Mails (and applicable posts)
from 223 different folks. We've heard from skiers in 29 states,
Ontario & Quebec, and England, Austria, Switzerland, Germany,
Australia, New Zealand, and So. Africa. Several regular readers
have responded over ten times apiece with Tom Moore leading the
way at 15 (even tho he spends half of each year travelling). We
expect that many more of you out there just read and don't
Thru it all our hobby is still "lost ski areas" and right now we
are researching the lost ski areas of NEW HAMPSHIRE. We will
continue to cover whatever areas you (and we) are curious about.
BTW, we also collect ski area Trail Maps (current count is 600
cataloged maps for 170 different areas - probably 300 more
uncataloged). We will pay postage if you have trail maps to
donate. We also have some duplicates to trade. Speak to us.
5. PLEASE BE GENTLE WITH US
Besides trivia and lost ski area questions we also receive lots of
inquiries about skiing, lodging, and dining in Colorado. Well,
Mark and I are flattered, but really folks - we are no experts.
Consider this. Both of us live on the front range of Colorado
(i.e., somewhere near Denver). We DAY SKI! We can easily day ski
at: Cuchara Valley, Monarch, Ski Cooper, Vail, Copper, Breck,
Keystone, A-Basin, Loveland, and Winter Park. We almost never
stay overnight at any of these resorts. [Twice Snavely stayed at
Vail at places which have since been torn down.] We have stayed
at grungy motels in Idaho Springs in order to ski Winter Park.
As for dining: On a day trip we breakfast at home, take a sack
lunch, and return home for dinner. So fine dining in ski country
is an enigma to us.
What happens when we ski the rest of the state? Well, Steamboat
Springs is a summer tourist town, lots of small motels there. For
Aspen, we stay in Glenwood Springs. For Crested Butte, stay in
Gunnison. The easiest of all is Purgatory, not far from the huge
tourist town of Durango (home of the Silverton narrow gauge steam
train). That's about all we know. Condos and Marriotts are not
As to where to ski, we ski where the snow is best. Most of you
want to know where to ski near Denver, after your business trip.
Skip A-Basin and Loveland and either do WINTER PARK or the Summit
County areas of BRECK, COPPER, and KEYSTONE. If you have ONE day,
stay in Denver. If you have TWO, stay in Summit County. Where?
We don't know. Call your travel agent or one of the resort
association 800 numbers. That's about it. We've already said
more than we know!
BTW, Mark does "try" to answer your inquiries and he appreciates
an occasional thank you.
a. We respectfully and sincerely request that when you E-Mail to The
Colorado Skier, that you include your CITY name. No good reason.
We just like to know where y'all are from.
Cheers from THE COLORADO SKIER
"Why doesn't Connie Chung call me any more?" Tonya Harding