Nordic Corner: Snow crust can take you anywhere
Grand Nordic President
In contrast to last year, the crust skiing this spring has been amazing. We keep talking about it because after the resorts close, the snow crust can take you anywhere and this is one of the longest crust seasons I’ve ever seen.
The crust is still available each morning when the temperature stays in the 20s overnight and you get moving before the thermometer hits 30 degrees. Each day the crust seems to break through earlier and earlier but get out in the valley by 9 a.m. and skate to your heart’s content where ever there is still a meadow or open space.
You might even be lucky enough to find a north-facing slope compacted enough that the surface softens to hold your telemarks or step turns easily and never really breaks through – it can be solid as a rock.
Many of the south-facing slopes are gone, a victim to the intense spring sun of April. But find a good protected slope at Snow Mountain Ranch or on Pole Creek Golf Course and you can ski for miles. The trails that have been packed all season are still quite solid in the mornings, and the crust allows me to turn in and out of the trees between the trails on the gentle slopes without the danger of avalanches.
Following a long tradition, Pole Creek offered a free rough trail most of the season around the cart paths lit with torches that you could ski with your dog. Bistro 28 in the clubhouse provides great food on long weekends during the winter. Many of the cart paths are plowed now but there are still great open stretches – just stay away from roped off greens and tees and beware of the ponds.
Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center is closed for the season but the trails and big open valleys will be decent Nordic skiing for days to come. County Road 83 reopened mid-April and goes through the YMCA up Blue Ridge to the top, and there are early and late season trails that will hold snow for at least another month.
The best part of a great season is seeing new people getting involved in Nordic skiing. Every organization needs new blood and we appreciate new thoughts and smiles. New people at Winter Park Competition Center have brought a whole new spirit of cooperation and competition to the valley. Bruce and Karen Manske and staff are to be congratulated for what they have accomplished in their short time at Winter Park Competition Center.
The Colorado Nordic Masters have shown that the Fraser Valley is a great place for the more elite skier to share and continue learning. Their crew of coaches and weekly events have greatly increased the depth of local Nordic talent. Parker Anderson and Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic staff, grooming staff, the incredible YMCA volunteers as well as MaryAnn and the staff at programs have changed the whole atmosphere.
Headwaters Trail Alliance staff with Meara, Maire, Sean and Erica have maintained the ever expanding free skiing trails both in town and connecting trails, working well with towns, federal agencies and educating the public. The wonderful Board of Grand Nordic has brought back programs and made them work again post pandemic.
With Grand Nordic concentrating on the youth, schools and introducing people to Nordic skiing on beginner and intermediate levels, the combination is working. Grand County now has something to offer everyone: top-rated Nordic centers, fabulous guest ranches, awesome backcountry as well as in town skiing, lodging, retail and more. To see just what I mean, check out SkiGrandNordic.org or join the club for the next season at GrandNordic.org.
Congratulations to all for a wonderful season full of opportunities and learning. Now mud season descends upon us but remember the flowers and beautiful trail rides coming. Have patience and treat muddy trails gently. If you leave a track, please turn back! And don’t forget the great water for the year ahead – time to get your raft or stand up padddleboard ready for action.
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