By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Pappas says it's hard for him to accept that the majority of 'boarders in Boulder have never been to Eldora. "There's just the wrong impression of this place," he says. "Anyone I've ever gotten up here has been hooked."
General Information: 1-303-440-8700.
Snow Report: 1-303-440-8700.
Location: 45 miles northwest of Denver via I-25, Colo. Hwy. 36 west and Colo. Hwy. 119, 2 miles west of Boulder.
Opening and Closing Dates: November 14 to mid-April.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Terrain: 20% beginner, 55% intermediate, 25% advanced. 495 skiable acres with a 1,400' vertical drop. Base: 9,200'; top: 10,600'; longest run: 2 miles.
Lifts: 1 triple chair, 5 double chairs, 3 surface lifts.
Lift Rates: TBA.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call 1-303-440-8700 for information.
Pro skier Bruce Ruff thinks Keystone has it all.
"Three mountains, the front side mellow, mostly groomed, and then North Peak has everything plus some steep bump runs, and then there's my favorite, the Outback," he says. "Trees, bumps, powder. It's a good mountain, and it's not crowded. To top it all off, they have night skiing. It's a real kick in the butt to go over and cruise in the dark."
Ruff, 41, has been skiing Keystone for twenty years, ever since he moved from upstate New York to Frisco. "I came out to ski on the Pro Mogul Tour," Ruff says. "I've retired from the tour, but I still ski professionally." Ruff also works as a pro ski model, writes a column for the Summit Daily News and has a local ski show called Better Skiing With Bruce Ruff. So he knows his skiing.
And he's convinced that Keystone has something unique that makes it one of the best. "By grooming a blue run down the center of each mountain, a good skier can ski with beginners," he explains. "It's kind of neat that they keep half of a run totally groomed, so someone who doesn't enjoy steep bumps can take it easier."
He likes the Outback the most because of its more difficult terrain, but he also points out a mellow blue bump run that's great for training: Big Horn, which Ruff says is "about as fun as I've ever been on. It's just endless and gives the opportunity to dig down deep and practice. They're not huge bumps. I go over and just have fun on it."
He especially likes skiing the north side of the Outback for its trees and bumps. Bushwacker, Timberwolf and Badger are all runs that he says get little traffic. "It's still softer there," he adds. "It holds the snow really well, because it's not susceptible to wind and sun. The snow conditions there are excellent after a storm. They're actual cut trails, sort of cut/gladed, with all kinds of nooks and crannies, lines through sections of trees. And because it's gladed, there are places where it's fairly tight."
For a fast cruising run, Ruff points out that Star Fire is where the U.S. Ski Team trains early in the day. "They get that thing smooth as a baby butt, and it's got such a consistent pitch to it," he says. And on the front side, there's "run after run of corduroy, just groomed out." He adds that you can "rip some big arcs on that side, like on Wild Irishman and Frenchman."
For all his love of Keystone, though, Ruff doesn't always stick around there to eat. For instance, in Breckenridge he's found a "neat little place that's so reasonable, called Rasta Pasta. It's kind of like a Cajun or spicy-Southwestern pasta place, and the prices are so reasonable."
In Frisco, Ruff likes Barclay's Basement Cafe (620 Main) for Mexican and prime rib, along with its half-price appetizers during happy hour. "The place rocks," he adds. "There are bands, and all locals all the time. Plus reasonable prices. I frequent Barclay's more than any other restaurant." Also in Frisco is Matteo's (106 Third Ave.), a "real small restaurant" that Ruff hits for "slices, calzones, and their killer, awesome Philly cheesesteaks," along with Claimjumper (805 N. Summit Blvd.), which Ruff likes for its breakfast specials. "Claimjumper's a hidden treasure for dinner, too," he adds. "Prime rib for $8 or $9, kind of like a blue-plate special. It's a family restaurant; the prices certainly are conducive to taking a family. Go there if you don't want a hassle or to spend a lot of money."
When he does want to stick close to the base, Ruff is fond of the Snake River Saloon (23074 U.S. Hwy. 6). "It's been there for twenty years," he says. "You wouldn't know that it's an excellent restaurant because it's so divey-looking, but they've got nice crystal and awesome steaks, excellent service, the works. It's pretty well-known for its nightlife, but not everyone knows about the food. It's also a big locals bar."
Ruff also thinks most of the locals go to Precision Ski, either the location right at the base of the mountain or the one in Frisco (817 Summit Blvd.). "They do the most awesome tuneup," he says. "The guy who owns it, he's like the guru of ski tuning, I swear."