Monday, October 31, 2005

By the way...

A Basin and Loveland got four inches today. Both have an 18-inch base.

A snow-free Halloween?

On the right is a current picture of Monument. This protrait of misery is relevant farther down. Keep reading.

Growing up in Colorado Springs, one always had to have a back-up cold weather Halloween costume: an Eskimo, a yeti, Sir. Edmund Hillary -- something that could survive the inevitable snow and gale force winds that seem to haunt every trick or treat night on the Front Range. After all, it's no fun to go as a pixie or a surfer and spend the night with your costume covered by a coat.
My mom tells stories about dressing my sister up when she was a tot as a bag of catfood -- just wrapping her up in a blanket and sticking her in the bag.
Those were the days when that sort of stuff was allowed.
I once went as a 10th mtn. ski trooper and actually was able to ski to a few houses.
But not today. Unless you are one of those "don't know any better" new arrivals who moved to Monument where it's always cold and either snowing or hailing, than this is shaping up to be a gorgeous, crisp, blue fall day.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A little do-it-yourself project

I admit, I'm a sucker for outdoor-related Christmas ornaments. The little s'more guys wearing goofy ranger hats and toting fishing poles? Got 'em. The tiny smiling Santas stuffed into kayaks? Love 'em. But a replica of a rusted, bent roll of duct tape? That costs more than a roll of real duct tape? We spotted it at REI. What would the Duct Tape Guys think? (
- Deb

Speaking of Mary Burger

Here's a funny story about the Ring the Peak Trail she has been working for years to complete. Last year volunteers put out hundreds of plastic trail makers with the RPT insignia on them. But people kept knocking them down. So on the replacement markers, volunteers stuck little American flags, thinking the buffoons who knock over a trail marker might have a bit of a patriotic slant.
It didn't work. The markers are still disappearing, flag or no flag.

The award goes to...

We've been lauding the efforts of Mary Burger for years and followed her (panting) on trails that weave through the forest on Pikes Peak. Now, her work is officially noted. Mary, the driving force behind Friends of the Peak, was presented with a Colorado Land Stewardship Award by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado Thursday night in Denver. The award is given each year to a person or group "who have demonstrated continued inspirational leadership, vision, or personal engagement in the hands-on preservation and enhancement of the mountains, plains and rivers that make Colorado an unparalleled place to live and play."
Here's all we have to say: Way to go, Mary.
- Deb

In today's Out There

We have the story of two well-heeled pro kayakers trying to heal Colorado's suburban woes. Their idea is to make mountain towns look like the towns they love again, places like Salida or downtown Aspen.
Which begs the question, what are the great Colorado Mountain towns, based only on layout and feel of the town.
I'm voting for Telluride. Lake City might be a close second.
What do you think?
- Dave

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Everyone has their story about the wolf...

And almost all of them have to do with skiing through dog-choking loads of powder.
So just because I'm jonesing to ski, let me tell you mine.
The first time I went to Wolf Creek I stayed down in the San Luis Valley, hoping for fresh snow. When I woke up the next morning, there was about a pinky nail's worth of snow dust on my car and none on the road. Damn.
Well, I thought, maybe there will be an inch or two up the pass. So my wife and I jumped in the car and cruised up, and the snow kept getting deeper, and deeper, and deeper.
And whoa, at the top there were 14 inches of fresh. And it kept snowing all day long.
My wife and I hiked one of the many choice ridges above the waterfalls area. At one point, we came to an untouched bowl leading down into some trees and both hit it on our snowboards full speed.
Now, there are a lot of people who say words like "face shot" and "bottomless" when they mean knee deep. I am not one of those people. I think if I had stepped out of my bindings, I would have sunk in to my cowlick.
But I have no idea, because near the bottom, instead of going in feet first, I overloaded the front of my board and went in head first. After a few seconds of wallowing in the dark, I righted myself.
There was my lovely bride, making turns down to me.
"Man, this is deep-ass snow," she said.
"Yeah, I know" I said.
"No, I mean this snow is so deep it literally comes up to my ass!" she said.
That's a good Wolf Creek day.
- Dave

Wolf Creek wait

Hold on just a little longer. Wolf Creek has delayed its planned opening date. It was set for Nov. 4, but warm temps and sunny skies have gotten in the way.
Check on conditions and a new opening date at
- Deb

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Birds of paradise

Hikers who stop at Barr Camp might think they are in a Disney movie - you know, the kind where the birds and the animals gather 'round? Neal and Teresa Taylor, the new caretakers, moved in this summer, and for the first time in years, there are no dogs at the camp. Word got out quickly among the forest creatures that this was a canine-free zone. If you sit on the porch, expect to have a chickadee on your head and a chipmunk tugging at your pant leg. - Deb

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Friday in Out There

Check out Friday's Gazette where we have the lowdown on one of the coolest housing developments in Colorado. I never thought "coolest" and "development" would every be in the same sentence I typed, but this isn't your typical hatchet job. A brother and sister pair of pro kayakers put together a new section of Buena Vista that looks like the old section, but better because it's built on one of the world's longest kayak parks. Traditional neighborhood. Gnarly play holes.

That's all you are going to get from me today, because I am off to the far weird reaches of north western Colorado on a story tracing the success of the Black Footed Ferret. It went from seven remaining breeding ferrets in 1987 to something close to 1,000 today. Wow.

I'll try to post about seeing the little fur slinkies in action Thursday night. - Dave

Wild life in the city

We aren't afraid to mix our nightlife and our wildlife in Colorado Springs. First it was a coyote, slinking along Cascade Avenue just as the musical "Chicago" let out last month at the Pikes Peak Center. Then, last week, just as people emerged from the B.B. King concert in the same location, a red fox sauntered along the dark street behind the hall. We can't wait to see who shows up for the Pink Floyd tribute show. - Deb

Will this help me look stupid on the slopes too?

The Denver Post did their annual "get fit for ski season" story. No big surprise. They do them. We do them. Everybody does them, but I have to say, the only conditioning I do before the ski season is usually on my hair, and I've never noticed I wasn't ready.
Thank god, because if I had to get cozy with a big blue ball and a sweaty mat in order to hit the slopes, I think I would take up ice fishing.
OK, If you're a schlumpy couch surfer, you might want to hit the ball, but anyone who is relatively active, I say, just keep doing what you are doing.
This weekend I hit the mtn. bike Saturday and went for a long, disastrous hike Sunday.
Good for the legs and the abs, good for the spirit, and I didn't even have to get a gym membership. - Dave

Monday, October 24, 2005

The pitter patter of little leaves

A-Basin had a surprise opening Sunday after deciding they didn't have the snow to open Friday.
It may feel like winter up there, but it's the peak of fall here.
Walking into the new sroom this morning on a perfect, clear, still day, I hear the regular rustle of leaves tapping the pavement. I don't know if it is the cold air after yesterday's clouds, but these guys were falling so fast it sounded like rain. At this rate, they'll all be gone by noon.

Instead of skiing, I tried to get in one last epic "no snow" hike Sunday. On the way up to the Victor area, I stopped at the Donut Mill. It was full of people in ski pants heading up to the Basin.

As for my hike: no good. I wanted to do a 13-mile trail-less bushwack that basically goes from Victor to Penrose. But yesterday, the mountains were so socked in that I couldn't see more than 50 yards. After four miles, I realized (or actually, my wife realized) if we kept going we would finish well after dark. We turned back, vowing to return in June or July. - Dave

Friday, October 21, 2005

What the?

The Colorado Ski Hall of Fame this year inducts five people.
All five are men.
Only two of them are in it for skiing. That's Lou Dawson and Ed Lucks.
The other guys are being recognized for "the business side of snow sports."
Like building lodges.
Couldn't we have a Colorado Ski Industry Hall of Fame so these guys can have an awards dinner without diluting the meaning of the award?
And couldn't we get some girls involved here. I could nominate at least a dozen who can ski my ass off the mountain. - Dave

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Gem of a solution

Twin Owls Trailhead allows access to some of the more picturesque routes in Rocky Mountain National Park, including Gem Lake (at left). But it was a bear getting to the trailhead and actually finding a parking place. That will soon change - the U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to adjust the park boundaries to create a better access road and parking area, while still protecting adjacent private property. The act was passed by the Senate in July and will go to President Bush for his signature. For more information, go to - Deb

Plan B for A-Basin

If you were planning on skipping work Friday because you were skiing, I mean sick, it's time to come up with an alternative plan. A-Basin was supposed to open then, but warm temps in the last week caused management to change plans. The area will announce a new opening date when the conditions are right - maybe even this weekend. For up to date information on the opening date, call A-Basin’s snow phone at 1-888-ARAPAHOE (272-7246) or check the ski area’s home page at

The 411 for ditching work to ski Friday

With all this bad weather yesterday, Loveland got 2 new inches of snow, on top of what the guns have been shooting. So skiing could possibly be not all that bad. How's that for a clear, confident statement?
The smart money for Friday is on A-Basin. They probably got the same two inches, it's hard to say since they haven't updated their snow report since May 30, but no one has skied the basin this year. Tomorrow is opening day. So it is untouched. All those snow scrapers known, in the parlance of our time, as gapers haven't shaved the man-made base down to its rocky nubs.
For more info on A-Basin call 1-970-468-0718

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

what does it take?

O.K. Still wondering if you can jump off the top of Gateway Rock and open your 'chute before the final SPLAT?
According to Wikipedia's page "One way to make a parachute open very quickly is to use a static line or direct bag. These devices form an attachment between the parachute and the jump platform, which stretches out the parachute and suspension lines as the jumper falls, before separating and allowing the parachute to inflate. This method enables the very lowest jumps (below 200ft) to be made, although most BASE jumpers are more motivated to make higher jumps involving free fall."
Since the Gazette reported the height the unfortunate BASE jumper was planning to plummet was 280 feet, he must know what he's doing.
Well, maybe that's going a bit too far.

D'oh and double d'oh!

So this guy from Cali who was going to B.A.S.E. jump off Gateway Rock Tuesday would have leaped 280 feet if he hadn't fallen and broken several bones.
But what would have happened if he had jumped.? I'm guessing more broken bones.
So, am I wrong? Someone tell me how much vert you need for the 'chute to open.

By the way, you can't read about B.A.S.E. jumping without finding some really funny stories
Here are two from El Capitan, the sheer cliff in Yosemite that has become a Mecca for jumpers, even though National Park rules forbid jumping.
One was by Frank Gamboli. After his jump down El Cap, he saw park rangers closing in on him. He tried to escape by swimming across a river and drowned.
The 'chute of a woman, who was jumping to protest the Park Services rules, failed to open and she plunged to her death.


Above the clouds

On dreary days like this, I always like to check out the Pikes Peak Summit cam to see how high the clouds go. Today: not so high.
The peak is sitting in sunshine.
Folks taking the highway up this morning will probably have the whole mountain to themselves.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Backcountry finally getting some cred from the man

Lou Dawson, the ski mountaineer best known for shooshing down all of Colorado's 14ers and writing a two volume guide about it will be inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame this Saturday.
He's the first back country skier to be so honored.
He's also one tough mother. He's been buried in two avalanches. One, if I remember right, broke both his femurs.
He escaped dicey situations so often that friends around his home town of Aspen started calling him "the fox."
Well, the fox didn't escape his long overdue accolades.

File under "D'oh!"

Did you read about this nut bag who tried to B.A.S.E. jump off the top of Garden of the Gods? I don't know a whole lot about base jumping, but it doesn't seem like there'd be enough room for the chute to open. He may be the first guy in the history of the park to save his life by falling.

Monday, October 17, 2005

say hello to my leetle white friend

As if Apple's iPod wasn't too cool to keep up with already, some resorts, such as Grand Targhee in Wyoming are starting to post daily podcasts. Just download while you're putting on your boots, and on the way up the lift, listen to the morning snow and grooming reports, plus tips on where to find the best powder stashes.
I think I'll stick to my old never fail trick of tagging along with a local -- call it the analogue dude-cast.
But if you do stick with the iPod, try slipping it into Spyder's new iPod jacket (msrp $3,000) and never worry that you aren't being a conspicuous enough consumer again.

Clash of the seasons

This is the payoff view on this week's Happy Trails hike, on a multi-use trail southwest of Woodland Park.

So many miles, so much time

Today, Ken and Marcia Powers are probably... not walking. On Sunday, this California couple completed their 4,888-mile coast-to-coast backpacking trip on the American Discovery Trail. The Powerses treked through the Pikes Peak region in late July, reached the canyonlands of Utah in the shimmering heat of late-summer, and just kept going west, averaging about 20 miles a day.
Check them out in a story that ran Aug. 5 in the Gazette's Out There section, or in their trail journals at

got $50 million?

That kind of coin will buy you Sunlight Mountain Resort, a little, 1960s-style mountain 11 miles southwest of Glenwood Springs.
I was up in Summit County this weekend. The place had a ton of snow, but it was also sunny and about 70 degrees Saturday and Sunday, so the snow's retreating fast.
They may get more white stuff this week. We'll see.

Friday, October 14, 2005

That's one, for me.

One day, that is.
I got out my snowboard for the first time this season and headed up to Loveland with a couple thousand other people.
The first guys on the lift had slept in a van for a couple days in the parking lot. I think I saw them do one run, then spend the rest of the morning drinking PBR and talking to the TV cameras. Not a bad way to kick off the season.
I think they know what they're doing because after a few laps of the one run open, Loveland had turned into an icy bowling alley. Better to do just one for bragging rights, then have a cold beer and enjoy the sunshine.

Big news for the anti-condo crowd

Wolf Creek has been fighting with Texas billionaire Red McCombs over developing the base area of this most pristine ski mountain. A Colorado court ruled yesterday that the development did not have sufficient year-round access. So at least, for now, things are on hold.
Here's Red on the right. In the 1960s he got an award for selling more Edsels in Texas than anyone else. I don't know if people are buying what he has to sell this time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A new resort for the first time since 1981? No, try two

I was in the neighborhood yesterday, so I stopped by Echo Mountain Park, the new hipster, pants draggin', broken collar bone terrain park going in west of Evergreen. And something's actually happening! Not like the snowless terrain park that was supposed to be built in 2004 in Castle Rock. These guys have showed up with cash and say they'll be ready to go by January.
Welp, we'll see.
My editor poses a good question: Since Echo is built on a dead ski area called Squaw Mountain, what does this mean for Colorado Springs' dead resorts? Could we soon be catching air on a slope less than a full tank of gas away?
Down south in the Sangre de Cristos, Silver Cliff, a.k.a. Conquistador, is also showing signs of life. We'll get to that in the Gazette's Out There section once it really starts snowing.

Snow manners

Here's an outdoor etiquette tip: If you call 911 to be rescued, but then find you don't need help after all, call back and cancel!
On Monday, volunteers with El Paso County Search & Rescue spent hours responding to motorists stranded in the blizzard that roared over the eastern part of the county. But some of those who called for help on their cell phones left before the Snowcats made it to them, sometimes on more than a 30-mile trek.

Snow retreating fast

OK, it's not like I have five foot drifts in my driveway or anything, but I was expecting at least slush when one of the Out There field research team went to the incline yesterday afternoon.
Instead, the thing was dry except for the last few steps. It did keep the crowds away though. Only saw ten people yesterday.
Meanwhile, the flowers in my yard are kickin' ass. Still blooms everywhere.
Guess it's not winter yet.
Like they say here (and every other place in the country) if you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Loveland confirms...sorta

Loveland spokesfolks say they are "90 percent sure" they'll open this Friday. After getting 18 inches of pow yesterday, they'll have one run with 1,000 feet of vert open.
Expect a line.

Loveland opens this Friday!

As Matt Drudge would say, this story is "developing" but rumor has it that the lifts at Loveland will fire up Friday, Oct. 14 at 9 a.m.
Their mountain cams sure do show they got their share of snow.

Shameless promotion... worked on me

A press release from Vail Resorts this morning said: "Keystone received 17 inches on 2,870 acres, enough snow to fill at least 4.8 million venti cups of Starbucks coffee."
The following are tentative opening dates for the resorts:
Nov. 11 - Keystone and Breckenridge
Nov. 18 - Vail
Nov. 23 - Beaver Creek

Snow early but not equal

Is the image on the right this Black Forest or Antarctica?
How is it possible that some parts of El Paso County got dumped on and in my downtown yard I didn't get an inch of snow? Woodland Park Got about a foot.
Breckenridge got so much white stuff the town's power was out for a lot of yesterday.

A friend living in Frisco reported enough snow on the deck to entirely cover both his dog and his beer, both of which he tends to let stay out on the porch.

Has anyone been to Cheyenne Canyon? The Crags? Waldo? How much is there?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fall leaves, winter arrives

Don't beat yourself up if you never made it to the high country to see the turning of the aspens last week.
Just pretend that you prefer the golden leaves submerged in a foot of snow (better contrast.)

People skiing at Silverton!

The guys at Silverton Mountain got enough snow to lay down turns Owner and all around mtn. stud Aaron Brill said Sunday "With a solid winter storm today, the first tracks on the mountain were laid down today. It was steep, tight, deep and surprisingly good. In some places there is still 5 feet or more of leftover snow from last winter(540" snow total from last winter), making for a great base layer for the fresh snow."

Who's getting rocked?!

Wow, the first snow roars in! Let's hope this fore shadows a burly winter! Unless you have to drive monument hill every day.

There are eight inches in Florrisant this morning.

About four at Wolf Creek.

The Pikes Peak Summit cam is completely blotted out with snow.

Summit county got rocked

Closer to home, check out the woodland park cams

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Rocky Mountain Higher

Another reason we're glad we live here: At Fun Valley, an Iowa ski resort that lies 60 miles east of Des Moines, the vertical rise is 240 feet. Compare that to the VR at Arapahoe Basin, a nosebleed-inducing 2,270 feet.

Beauty is knee deep

This is some of the finest skiing in West Virgina
They ski in the rain.
I just want you to know how lucky you are.


And smash it on the cyber prow
'cause this BLOG has just been christened!