Summit County ski season under way
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — There was a time when I wanted to start each season with the latest and greatest ski gear, but these days, I’m just happy that I can still bend down easily to lace up the liners of my 15-year-old Scarpas before joining my son in the lift line for opening day at Arapahoe Basin. Not even Halloween yet, and we’ve barely seen any frost on the pumpkin, but thanks to a spate of cold nights, perfect for snowmaking, and a little eight-inch assist from Mother Nature, it really is time to ski again.
I took Dylan out of school for the morning to let him experience the vibe. He’s grown up skiing at the Basin. This is his tenth season (he’s 13) but it’s the first time he’s been there to watch the lifts roll for the first time. He jumped right out of bed, too, without the usual school-morning routine, which involves moaning and pulling the covers over his head a few times.
So in the cool blue shadows of early morning, we line up in the maze, just a few spots back from the front of the line, eat donuts, listen to rock-and-roll and wait for the countdown. I also wanted him to be there for the memorial for A-Basin founders Marnie Jump and Max Dercum who both passed away this summer.
A-Basin chief Alan Henceroth keeps it short, sweet and real, acknowledging their contributions to the sport and the community before sending a pair of chairs bedecked with yellow ribbons toward the summit. We load just as the sun crests over Black Mountain. And then, before we know it, we’re poling, gliding and skating away from the lift, feeling the tug of gravity increase as the slope steepens, and carving satisfying arcs in the firm snow.
We ski a couple of runs together, then Dylan slides into the singles line while I stop to grab a cup of coffee, take some photos and let the dog out of the car for a few minutes. Coaxing Comet into the back of the truck, I look up, amazed at the spidery clouds trailing low and fast over Loveland Pass.
I think about my Dad, who also died this year, knowing that he would have appreciated this blue-sky opening day as much as anyone, and would have appreciated the fact that I let Dylan cut a few classes to enjoy it. He often took me and my brothers out of school for an extended weekend ski trip, knowing the value of getting outside in the fresh mountain air.
It’s bittersweet. This will be the first ski season ever for me that I won’t be able to share the daily ski report with my dad, or tell him about a new backcountry exploit. On the other hand, judging by Dylan’s enthusiasm, I’ve passed that love of skiing on down to the next generation. And I think my Dad, along with Max and Marnie, were watching as we raced down High Noon on the final run of the day.
Here’s what a top-to-bottom run looked like: