The dump came at Winter Park, but not the extra terrain |

The dump came at Winter Park, but not the extra terrain

Charles Agar / Grandstanding
Grand County, Colorado

When we left for a five-day Thanksgiving vacation in Texas, the Western Slope was pretty much dry and everyone was praying for snow.

But while away, I read weather reports about 18 to 20 inches of fluffy white goodness dumped on Grand County, and photos on the Sky-Hi Daily News Web site showed snowy scenes and happy skiers.

I kicked myself for leaving.

Snow in the mountains is always good news, though, and I was excited to get back and ski some new terrain I figured would open up after the big dump.

Driving over Berthoud Pass on our return from the airport in Denver on Tuesday night, we hit a blinding snow shower ” a good sign ” and to me those snowy peaks looked better than a Christmas tree loaded with presents.

While watching the snow fall in a driving slant outside our place in Fraser, I packed my skis and gear for what I thought would be fresh powder at Winter Park on Wednesday morning.

With visions of cold smoke face shots and soft turns in snow-loaded glades, I pulled into the resort parking lot to see the Zephyr Express lift running at about 9 a.m. on Wednesday. I jumped into my gear and hurried to the hill, but when I got to the base of the mountain I saw that the Zephyr had stopped (they were apparently running it for maintenance). Just the Gemini Express and Arrow were going ” the same two lifts and three short runs that were open when all we had was man-made snow last week.

Talk about lipstick on a pig, I thought. All this fresh snow and nothing more opened.

And what was even more frustrating was that half of the limited terrain was cordoned off for ski racing, not just the big Nor-Am event but also a separate practice hill for what I could see was only a handful of racer kids.

I cringed watching race crews sideslip the few inches of fresh snow off the course area. What a waste!

I commiserated with a few skiers I met who had come up from Denver and been disappointed. But I got a few runs in and found a little shin-high powder and made the most of it.

I know it takes a lot to get a ski area up to full speed and that the grooming crews are working hard, but at least they have something to work with now.

Until more slopes open (scheduled for tomorrow – see page 3 of today’s paper), I guess I’ll just make the most of what we got. Two runs are better than what they had for skiing in Texas.

” Contact Charles Agar at

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