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A-Basin: A family ode to opening day

The 2014-2015 Colorado ski season starts Friday, Oct. 17 at Arapahoe Basin

Dylan Berwyn charges down West Montezuma Bowl, January 2012.

Dylan Berwyn charges down West Montezuma Bowl, January 2012. bberwyn photo

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Snaky, hissing lines under Pali Chair.

By Bob Berwyn

My history with A-Basin goes way back to the early 1980s.  I remember a memorable July 4 snow storm during that era, and lots of other assorted mayhem.

OK, mayhem may be stretching it a bit, but there was the time when I was hurrying to get to the slopes and accidentally slammed my friend’s thumb in the sliding side-panel door of that old lime-green ’75 Ford Econoline.

The mishap required a quick trip down to the Snake River emergency clinic at Keystone, but we were back on the mountain by lunchtime. And despite a new hand and forearm splint, to which we promptly taped a ski pole, at the end of the day, my friend led me on my first ride through Montezuma Bowl.

Twenty years later, I was teaching my toddler to ski at A-Basin. Sure, we’d go to Keystone with Opa now and then, or trek over to Breck on a fine spring day, but we lived in Summit Cove at the time and A-Basin was always our home mountain — the “Hausberg,” as the alpine villagers of Europe call it.

It’s where you take turns sharing childcare duties with your friends, watching their kids they make a few laps, and vice-versa. The place where several generations of family have skied. Maybe you’ve even scattered the ashes of a loved one from the summit. It’s where you feel the global mountain vibe that ties all high country dwellers together regardless of national borders.

It’s where you ski with Opa and Omi.

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A local middle-schooler airs it out in the Fourth Alley.

Over the years, you get to know every crinkle of terrain. Just by watching the direction of the snow plume blowing off Pali or PHQ, you know exactly where the best blown-in powder will be, and you recognize individual trees and their sprawling branches as snow-depth indicators.

Exploring leisurely through the steep, shady spruce glades or charging down an avalanche gully on the East Wall, you build an intimate relationship with nature, which breeds respect and leads, hopefully, to a stewardship ethic.

Another decade down the road (I’m almost afraid to count up the total number of years) and my teenager mostly skis with his peers. But tomorrow, on opening day at A-Basin, we’ll head up together to celebrate the start of another ski season. It couldn’t happen in a better place!

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Op-ed: Ski industry bullies USFS on water rights

Proposed new water rule in the works for western ski areas

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Oh, oh, the water … bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After being bullied by the ski industry in court and legislative arenas, the U.S. Forest Service has decided to shift its approach to administering valuable water rights associated with ski area operations in western states.

Instead of requiring resorts to transfer water rights, the Forest Service now proposes adding language to ski area permits that would ensure that enough water remains linked to ensure future operations. The water rights could not be sold separately from other resort assets like chairlifts and lodges.

That would address the main concern the Forest Service voiced when it first proposed changes to the administration of water rights a few years ago, but doesn’t address the bigger issue of resorts trying to establish total control over public resources. Continue reading

Can Squaw Valley slow the development juggernaut?

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Legendary Squaw Valley, California.

Resort residents want to form town to exert more control over land use

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The never-ending ski town battle between local residents and corporate interests has morphed into a new form at historic Squaw Valley. Residents are on a quest to incorporate a new town, to be called Olympic Valley, and they’re crowdsourcing for financial support on indiegogo.com.

Using web-based social networks may be a new twist, but many of the issues are the same that affect many other mountain communities, as real estate exploitation and environmental degradation threaten the very values that made those towns so appealing to begin with. Continue reading

Morning photo: Colorado skiing

Got snow?

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Highlands Bowl is a Colorado hike-to classic.

FRISCO — There’s great skiing all over the world and it’s hard to single out any one spot as the best. But when the snow is good in Colorado, it’s about as good as it gets.

Continue reading

Global warming: Winter at risk?

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Global warming means fewer powder days and shorter ski seasons. bberwyn photo.

Snow sports enthusiasts want limits on power plant greenhouse gas emissions

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Watching the snow in the Caucasus Mountains around Sochi melt away at an alarming rate during the middle of the Winter Olympics was a sobering reminder of what global warming could mean for the future of winter sports.

Already, winters in some parts of the world are several weeks shorter, with much higher average temperatures, than just a few decades ago. some ski areas in the lower elevations of the European Alps have already shut down, and in Scandinavia, where skiing is not just recreation but part of the cultural fabric, winters have warmed significantly.

“When it comes to the future of winter sports, global warming has us skating on thin ice,” said Anneli Berube, a field organizer with Environment Colorado, which teamed up with Snowriders International to release a summary of how climate change will affect winter, including increased rate of snow melt, shorter winters, drought, and a shrinking map of reliable sites for future winter Olympics. Continue reading

Colorado appeals court says ski areas not liable for inbounds avalanches

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Flags mark the spot where Christopher Norris died in an inbounds avalanche on open terrain at Winter Park Ski Area on January 22, 2012. Photo courtesy CAIC.

Ruling broadens ski industry immunity
 to lawsuits

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Skiers and snowboarders in Colorado may want to start carrying their avalanche gear at developed resorts, after an appeals court ruled last week that avalanches are one of the many inherent risks of skiing on lift-served terrain.

The Colorado Court of Appeals decision (announced Feb. 13) stems from a deadly January 22, 2012 avalanche at Winter Park resort, when Christopher Norris died while skiing an open, inbounds run at Winter Park known as Trestle Trees. As it stands, the ruling broadens the almost unprecedented immunity that ski resorts have from being held liable for accidents, including inbounds avalanches. Continue reading

Are you ready for Zuma Bowl?

More terrain opening at A-Basin

'Zuma powder. bberwyn photo.

‘Zuma powder. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado powder seekers will line up for the rope drop at A-Basin’s Montezuma Bowl today, with steady early season snowfall ensuring plenty of freshies on the resort’s backside.

This season’s opening comes a month earlier than last year, and the resort announced that several intermediate runs will be open and groomed from top to bottom, including Columbine and Larkspur. Some of the favored tree-skiing stashes will also open, including Miner’s Glade.

More trail openings will be announced on the Arapahoe Basin Facebook page as well as Al’s Blog as they occur.

 

 

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