The Edge

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

He likes those big, rolling groomers, like Simba, Safari and Avanti. "Wide open, smooth," he notes. "I especially like Simba, because I can cruise it all the way to the bottom and come back on the trail that leads to Cascade. And since that's on Chair 26 [Pride Express Lift], it's the fastest access to the top of mountain, so you can get five or six runs in easily in an hour." He also offers this tip: "That whole area up until noon is usually empty, because everyone's trying to get to the back bowls."

On that back side is where one of Trombetta's favorite tree runs sits: Sun Down Bowl. He likes Game Creek Bowl, too, especially Woods Glade and Wild Card. "Oh, and then over in China Bowl, there's Shangri-La Glade," he adds. "Most of the time, all of those I mentioned have some stashes." China Bowl is also where he thinks the best view at Vail can be had. "You can see the whole range there, at the top of Chair 21 [Orient Express Lift]," he says.

One of his all-time favorites, though, is Northwoods. "It's a blue, but you can go into some black, steeper stuff in North Star," he adds. For a smooth move to expert terrain from intermediate, Trombetta offers Riva Ridge and Prima, both of which he describes as "mild bumps to hard bumps, and sometimes it's even groomed," he says. To move up from green skiing to blue at Vail, Trombetta sends beginners to Game Creek Bowl, either Lost Boy to Dealer's Choice or Baccarat.

True skill is required, however, for Hairbag Alley, a locals' area off Chair 11 [Northwoods Express Lift]. "If you hook up with a local, ask them to take you through there," he says. "It's trees, but it's weird the way the bumps form: Picture like a cone-shape, with the bumps sticking out from the side. The people who ski it regularly help form these great bumps." Another possibility for experts is the out-of-bounds Minturn Mile, which he suggests should be done with a local, if possible. "It's off Chair 7," he explains. "And what happens is, you end up at the town of Minturn, go get a drink at the Minturn Saloon, and then take the bus back to Vail."

Or, for those staying in Vail, Trombetta urges apres-ski seekers to try the decks at either Vendetta's (291 Bridge St.) or Los Amigos (400 Bridge St.), and also Garfinkle's (536 E. Lionshead Cir.) or Trail's End (at Lionshead). But the best happy hour, as far as he's concerned, is at Fiesta's (Edwards Plaza). "You can get six tacos for $2, and they have $1.50 drafts," he says.

That's also the location Trombetta likes for breakfast the next day: DJ's Classic Diner (616 W. Lionshead), which he says is famous for its omelettes, crepe and waffles. "Or you could try Pazzo's Pizza [122 E. Meadow Dr. in Vail Village]," he says. "They do the $3.99 eggs and bacon, sort of like your Pete's on Colfax in Denver, but without that wonderful setting." And on Sundays, Trombetta enjoys the buffet brunch at Cafe Alberg (in the lodge).

Lunch is likely to be good at the Red Lion (304 Bridge St.), which Trombetta adds is also good for apres-ski, and Pazzo's. "They do both thick and thin, but I like thin," he says. And for a quick burrito on the mountain, he pops into Los Amigos.

Cheap dinner in Vail? Well, Trombetta thinks it might be Hubcap Brewery (143 E. Meadow Dr.). "There are at least three new brewpubs coming into Avon and Edwards, so I think that's where you're going to find your more reasonable eats," he adds. If money is no object, though, his favorites are Sweet Basil (193 E. Gore Creek Dr.) and Terra Bistro (352 E. Meadow Dr.).

After dinner, the locals have been going to Zeno's (River Center Building in Edwards). "It has a great wine bar," Trombetta says. "Everyone hits it on the way home, because everyone lives down-valley now." Another place people hit on the way out of Vail is Nick's (228 Bridge St.) for dancing. "Before you leave town, you always stop at Nick's," he says.

General Information: 1-970-476-5601.
Snow Report: 1-970-476-4888.
Location: 100 miles west of Denver via I-70.
Opening and Closing Dates: November 7 to May 3.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Terrain: 28% beginner, 32% intermediate, 40% advanced. 4,644 developed acres with a 3,330' vertical drop. Base: 8,120'; top: 11,450'; longest run: 4.5 miles.

Lifts: 1 gondola, 10 high-speed quads, 1 fixed grip quad, 3 triple chairs, 5 double chairs, 9 surface lifts.

Lift Rates: Adult full-day $54-56; child full-day $35; senior $45; child under 4 and senior over 70 free. Also includes Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge.

Rentals: Call 1-800-525-2257 for information.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call Cross-Country Ski Center at Golden Peak at 1-970-845-5313 for information.

Special Events: President Ford TreeLighting Ceremony, Dec. 12; Hot Winter Nights and Ski Torchlight Parade, Dec. 31; Jimmie Huega's Toyota Ski Express, Feb. date TBA; UnVailed Snowboard festival, March date TBA; Warren Miller's Mad Mountain Marathon, April 4.

Winter Park Resort
"I'm one of those dreaded former Californians," says Wendy Boyer. "After I got out of school, I figured I could work for $5 anywhere, so I might as well be somewhere cool."

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