The Edge

Westword's guide to the 1997-98 ski and snowboard season

General Information: 1-800-258-9553.
Snow Report: 1-800-248-0732.
Location: 90 miles west of Denver via I-70 to exit 205 at Dillon, 6 miles east on Hwy. 6 to Keystone.

Opening and Closing Dates: October 21 to early May.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Night skiing beginning November 18 until 9 p.m.
Terrain: 13% beginner, 36% intermediate, 51% advanced. 1,749 skiable acres with a 2,900' vertical drop. Base: 9,300'; top: 12,200'; longest run: 3 miles.

Lifts: 2 high-speed gondolas, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad chair, 3 triple chairs, 6 double chairs, 5 surface lifts.

Lift Rates: Adult full-day $30-49; child full-day $15-17; senior $30; child under 4 and senior over 70 free. Also includes Breckenridge.

Rentals: TBA.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call Keystone Nordic Center at 1-970-238-9553 or 1-800-238-9553 for information.

Special Events: Holiday events, Dec. 19-25.

Loveland Ski Area
When he was eighteen, Terry Wehnes left Santa Monica looking for a ski job. "I had interviews scheduled all over the place," Wehnes recalls. "It just worked out that there was a job here, and that's how I wound up in the Georgetown area," the 35-year-old Evergreen paramedic says. "And now I've been here for seventeen years."

Wehnes, who now lives in Silver Plume, works part-time on the ski patrol at Loveland, his mountain of choice. "Loveland's got a good, long season--six, seven months--and there's quality snow all year round," he explains. "And it just doesn't get the high-volume traffic and the wear and tear on the runs like the bigger resorts do. Its got 180 degrees of snow the way the bowl comes around, and with all those exposures, you can always find powder in there somewhere."

He's down to 120 days of skiing and snowboarding from the 180 he managed when he worked on the mountain full-time, but he says he likes that better because he can go where he wants to instead of having to go where people are stuck. "I avoid the bumps since I ski so much," Wehnes says. "I'd rather get on a good cruiser." So he heads to the top of Lift No. 1 for Spillway and Richard's Run, or Lift No. 8 to get to Zip Basin Street. "Those are intermediates, pretty wide open," he says. And for a real steep ride that's bump-free, he goes Over the Rainbow and in the newly opened area to the east, off Lift No. 1. "It's north-facing, so it's always got good snow," he adds.

Cordial bumps pop up over off of Lift No. 4, according to Wehnes, especially on Scrub, the tail end of Perfect Bowl. "That's an intermediate, kind of a showboat because it's always in the sun," he says. "You can get off at midway, which is a good tip, because that'll keep you out of Loveland's infamous wind." He adds, "This is a mountain where we dress for function, not fashion." Which is why he points out that although Splashdown, off Lift No. 4, is one of his all-around favorites, that's only on a powder day. "It's an intermediate run unless you get the wind, which at Loveland can always put a nasty crust on everything and makes all the runs go up a notch in toughness," he explains. "But when there's powder, Splashdown's got a really nice fall line all the way down."

Also good on a powder day, Wehnes says, is the ridge up off Lift No. 1. "That's going to be the new hot spot," he adds. "Bump-free powder skiing. The sky's the limit up there." Also off Lift No. 4 is what Wehnes considers to be Loveland's top tree skiing, Fail Safe Trees. "They've got some chutes cut in 'em, and they're not too tight," he says. "If they do want the tight trees, West Ropes is a good one." And Lift No. 4 is 'boarder haven, too, because of runs such as Creek Trail, which Wehnes describes as "big jumps that go through the valley. You can roller coaster back and forth all day." He laughs. "I know that's where the 'boarders go, because that's where the ski patrol picks them up every day."

Wehnes picks up where he left off with the other locals at The Plume Saloon & Restaurant (776 Main St.) in Silver Plume. "That's your eating and drinking spot--quaint, with the local feel," he says, adding that it's perfect for happy hour or to get a burger. "If you're looking for the more family, sports-oriented place, that would be the Red Ram Restaurant & Saloon [606 Sixth St.] in Georgetown."

But fine dining is farther away, at The Peck House (83 Sunny Ave.) in Empire. "That's where you go for your fancy, expensive, special-occasion meal," he says. "Now, I also go to El Rancho [29260 U.S. Hwy. 40], in Evergreen, where they have a real good prime rib night."

A cheap lunch is available at Pizza Crossing (1200 Argentine) in Georgetown--"They're real reasonable, and they have good subs," Wehnes says--and he likes the pizza at The Buffalo Bar (1617 Miner) and Beau Jo's Pizza (1517 Miner) in Idaho Springs. "Oh, and also in Idaho Springs, Java Mountain Roasters (1506 Miner) is probably the best to-go cup of coffee going," he adds. "It's right there next to exit 240, a real gorp-head kind of place, but you can pop in there and out on your way."

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