Westword's Guide to teh '96-'97 ski and snowboard season

When she really wants to knock herself out, though, she heads to the Upper Enchanted Forest. "Steep, steep, steep," she says. "A little bit of everything--trees, a couple of rocks if you want to head down Looking Glass and dump into Coppertone, which I recommend, because Coppertone's a green, and you'll need it. The Forest will take your breath away." To catch her breath again, she heads to the top of Union Peak and admires the view for a while. "I never get sick of that," Martin says. "There's just no excuse for not checking that out." Particularly, she says, because then you can swing over to Iron Mask, with its short-but-sweet steep on top and wide-open section. "Iron Mask and Lalla Rookn, which is just a little farther over from Mask, get so few skiers because they're treks from the lift," she adds. "Most people drop in much sooner, 'cause they get so excited about the steeps, especially when they have to take that twelve-minute hike off "S" Lift."

Since Martin stays in such good shape, she tries to be careful about what she eats. "I guess you could say I'm kind of a health nut," she says. "But I'm not a vegetarian or anything like that." To prove it, she offers that her very favorite place to eat is at the Moose Jaw (208 Main Street) in Frisco. "God, the burgers there are too good," she says. "Really juicy, and their buns are good, too, which is important." She adds that the Moose is also where she and her friends usually hang out. "Seth's parents, they go to Frisco's Bar and Grill [720 Granite Street] all the time." She says his parents also like Kokomos, at the base of the mountain, for apres-ski, but she thinks that "even with the drink specials, it's too expensive." Instead, she heads to Ge-Jo's (409 Main Street) to get a beer and some free food during happy hour.

Earlier in the day, Martin says she'll most likely have stopped at the Butterhorn Bakery (408 North Main Street) for one of their "killer cheese pastries" and an "energizingly good" cup of coffee. For lunch when she's not on the mountain all day, she heads back to Ge-Jo's for pizza or to the Log Cabin (121 Main Street). And on the mountain, Martin claims the B Lift Pub has "hefty" sandwiches and that it's a haven for the locals. "No question," she says. "It's thick with ski bums, so I fit right in. Although I think of myself as more of a ski bum without the 'bum' part."

General information: 1-970-968-2882 or 1-800-458-8386
Snow report: 1-970-968-2100 or 1-800-789-7609
Location: 75 miles west of Denver via I-70 at exit 195.
Opening and closing dates: Mid-November to late April.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Terrain: 20% beginner, 24% intermediate, 32% advanced, 24% expert. 2,433 skiable acres with a 2,601' vertical drop. Base: 9,712'; top: 12,313'; longest run: 2.8 miles.

Lifts: 3 high-speed quads, 6 triple chairs, 8 double chairs, 4 surface lifts.

Lift rates: Adult full-day $45; child (6-14) full-day $19; senior (60-69) full-day $28; 5 and under/70 and over ski free.

Lessons: Group lessons $41/person. Half-day private lessons $155/person.
Rentals: Novice complete recreational package: Adult $18; child $15. High-performance skis and snowboard equipment available for $29.

Snowboarding: Welcome. Lessons and rentals available.
Cross-country: 25 km of groomed trails. Trail fee $10. Call 1-970-968-2882 for information. Lessons and rentals available.

Special events: Racing clinics, snowboard camps, telemark clinics, skating and classical Nordic instruction, backcountry hut trips, ice skating, Dining in the Woods, sleigh rides, NASTAR races daily; Snowboard Series, Dec. 21, Jan. 4, 18, Feb. 1, 8, 22; Christmas Eve Torchlight parade/fireworks, Dec. 24; New Year's Eve Fireworks/Party/Dance, Dec. 31; two-day Telemark Race Camp and women's skiing seminar, Jan. 11-12; Eat, Ski, and Be Merry, Feb. 15; International Masters Criterium, Feb. 22-25; one-day telemark clinic, Mar. 1; Colorado Special Olympics, Mar. 2-4; ; John Elway Celebrity Ski Race, Apr. 4-6.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Right after Janet Antram tried snowboarding for the first time, she gave away all of her ski equipment. "I'd been skiing since I was eight," the 22-year-old Antram says. "But then, during the 1987-88 season, I got on a snowboard and never looked back--and I knew I wanted to put in some heavy time on one." To make it happen, the South Burlington, Vermont, native looked at one major criterion when she went to pick a college: its proximity to a ski area. "Basically, I just took a list of colleges and a map and located the schools that were close to a mountain," she says. And that's how she wound up in Gunnison, attending Western College thirty miles south of Crested Butte. "Officially, I'm majoring in European history and environmental science," says Antram, who works as a promoter for Aggression Snowboards. "But you and I both know I'm on that mountain every chance I get."

And when that happens, one of the runs she rarely misses is Head Wall. "It's a great black diamond, really steep and in the trees, but you can hit it from one of the lower lifts." She explains that when there's a blizzard on Crested Butte, the upper areas are inaccessible. "So it helps to know what the good lower parts are," she says. In good weather, Antram thinks International speaks her language, but only when it's groomed. "They groom it for races, so those are the days to drop in there," she says. "Right before and after the races. It's a smooth cruiser, but when it's not groomed, it can sometimes get bumpy." Another run worth stepping into: Staircase. "There's a certain part on Staircase where it gets all steep and you're sort of in a gully with rocks on each side. But be aware--it's the only way down once you're in it." To get in it, she says, "take the North Face Lift up and hike to Spellbound. Then ski Spellbound or High Life, and then traverse skier's left from Spellbound and get up on the next ridge. Go down through the trees from there--it's really fun." She adds that when you're standing at the top of Spellbound, you can see a bunch of bowls you can get trapped into. "It's real pretty, too," she says. "Actually, the view from there is pretty insane. Enjoy the moment of relaxation before you drop in, because from then on, it gets pretty hairball."

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