The Edge

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

In the morning, Davenport often skips breakfast. "I'd just as soon not fill up before I go up on the mountain," he explains. But when he does decide to fill up, he loves the Weinerstube (633 E. Hyman Ave.) and Poppycocks (609 E. Cooper Ave.) in Aspen, or sometimes he just gets a bagel and coffee at the Aspen Cafe Ink (520 E. Durant Ave.) or at the location in Snowmass. "Sometimes it's not a good idea to ski empty," he says.

General Information: 1-970-925-1220 or 1-800-525-6200.
Snow Report: 1-970-925-1221 or 1-970-923-1221.
Location: 209 miles west of Denver via I-70 and Colo. Hwy. 82.
Opening and Closing Dates: November 22 to April 19.
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Terrain: 10% beginner, 52% intermediate, 18% advanced, 20% expert. 2,655 developed acres with a 4,260' vertical drop. Base: 8,104'; top: 12,310'; longest run: 4.16 miles.

Lifts: 7 high-speed quads, 1 triple chair, 7 double chairs, 2 platter pulls.
Lift Rates: Adult full-day $59; child full-day $35; child under 6 and senior over 70 free.

Rentals: Available at base of mountain.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call 1-970-923-3148 for information.

Special Events: Christmas Eve Torchlight parade with Santa on Fanny Hill, Dec. 24; Snowmass Day Winterskol, Jan. 15; Snowmass Mardi Gras, Feb. 24; Snowmass Banana Season, March 27-April 4-5.

When Cathy Hillman was in high school and she came to Steamboat Springs to ski, she always lied to people she met on the lifts. "I always told strangers that I lived here," she remembers. "I had been coming to Steamboat to ski almost every other weekend since 1986, and I loved it there so much that I guess I just wanted it to be true."

And now it's true. Hillman, 27, who teaches third grade, moved to Steamboat for good in 1994. "I just like the small-town atmosphere," she explains. "You get to know everybody, and as far as skiing goes, the powder here is incredible, with a lot of great bump runs."

So, not surprisingly, bumps runs are the ones the skier and telemarker is most well-versed in. "When I'm on my alpines, I like what the locals call the 'Bumper Migration Trail'--the BMT," she says. "You start from the top of Hurricane, which is a fun run, then cut over to White Out, then cut over to Surprise, which is a total ego run--not too steep, but bumpy." She adds that some Steamboat folks say the BMT starts at Tornado and that Surprise is one of the gentlest bump runs on the mountain. "I've had three ACLs, so Surprise is one I hit when I'm feeling weak," she says. "It's also one I always have to do, along with Center Field, on Storm Peak Face, which is mainly bumps, too. They groom part of it, too, so when my parents come, my dad and I do the bumps while my mom does the groomer."

And the Priest Creek lift line has become one of her favorites as well, along with Sideburn. "Wait, that might be a local name," she says. "Let's see, it's Storm Peak Face, off to the left near the trees. Those are the greatest bumps, and you can shoot into the trees. Not many people know about it, so you can often catch the freshies."

When it's not groomed, Vertigo is Hillman's top pick for a cruiser. "Rainbow is fun, too," she says. "If you start from the gondola, there are actually a bunch that connect." She adds that although Heavenly Daze is the fast cruiser everybody knows about, what they might not know is that it's worth checking out at the end of the day, when the ski patrol is doing sweep. "Then you can just cruise down it," she says. "Fast."

For easy trees, Hillman urges beginners and intermediates to go off Tomahawk. "There's lots of trees there that you can just dive into, and you can make your own runs between runs there," she adds. "And by One O'Clock and Two O'Clock, too, you can jump right in there." Tougher, but with "incredible trees" are Shadows and the Closet, in the Christmas Tree Bowl. "That's kind of off the beaten path, so not many people go there," she says. "There are gorgeous views there, too."

While Hillman insists she still loves alpine skiing, she also makes time for "telemark Sundays," when she and a group of friends telemark Steamboat. On those days, Gate D is one of her top picks. "I love going out there," she enthuses. "You kind of have to do a little hiking to get there--the lift gets you halfway--but it's worth it, and it's great exercise." She also likes to tele the trees on Shadows, where it's "aspens, more open," and the Closet, where "it's a little tighter." She adds, "There's usually great powder there, and on powder days I have to tele those."

Once the group is done for the day, the first place they head is Slopeside (at the mountain). "We go there on tele Sundays right away," she says. "And sometimes afterward we go to Dos Amigos (1910 Mt. Warner Rd.) for margaritas and great chips and salsa, and maybe a quesadilla."

La Montagna (2500 Village Dr.), though, is her preference for Mexican, and the sushi at Yama-Chans (635 Lincoln) is another favorite. "This one guy does it all himself, so sometimes there might be a wait," she adds. "But it's worth it." And next door, she likes Mocha Molly's (two locations) for "coffee and couches." She throws in Off the Beaten Path (56 Seventh), too, as "a nice coffeehouse with a cool bookstore."

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