The Edge

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

On Sunday nights, Boyer says the place to be is The Pub, for disco. "They have a bloody Mary bar beforehand, where they give you a glass of vodka and then you can make the spiciest Mary you want. My mouth waters just thinking about it."

General Information: 1-970-726-5514 or 1-303-892-0961.
Snow Report: 1-303-572-SNOW.
Location: 67 miles northwest of Denver via I-70 west (exit 232) to U.S. Hwy. 40.

Opening and Closing Dates: November 8 to April 19.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends and holidays.
Terrain: 12% beginner, 30% intermediate, 17% percent advanced, 41% expert. 2,581 skiable acres with a 3,060' vertical drop. Base: 9,000'; top: 12,060'; longest run: 5.1 miles.

Lifts: 7 high-speed quads, 8 double chairs, 5 triple chairs.
Lift Rates: Adult full-day TBA; child full-day $15; senior $22; child under 6 and senior over 70 free.

Rentals: Available at base of mountain and in town.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call Devil's Thumb Ranch at 1-970-726-5632 for information.

Special Events: Colorado Ski Games, Nov. 28-30; Rocky Mountain Freestyle Series Opener, Dec. 6-7; Kids Winter Karnival, Dec. 14; Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade, Dec. 24; Rocky Mountain Trophy Series, Jan. 9-11; D.U. Invitational, Jan. 23-24; 23rd Annual Wells Fargo Bank Cup, Jan. 30-Feb. 1; National Women's Ski & Snowboard Festival, Feb. 5-8; Columbia Crest Cup, Feb. 27-March 1; Rocky Mountain Freestyle Series Divisionals.

Wolf Creek Resort
"I would like to aspire to be lord of the 'boards," says Jeff Greer, referring to the contest in California where participants ski, snowboard and telemark. And he's almost there. The Pagosa Springs resident, age 42, skis and snowboards, but he gave telemarking up because he thought "the knees would last longer sticking with alpine."

Greer was nineteen when he started skiing the molehills of Pennsylvania, and after he graduated from Penn State, he knew he wanted to be where the big skiing was. So he and a friend moved to Summit County in the winter of 1978-79, and soon after a friend introduced him to Pagosa Springs and Wolf Creek. And he's been there ever since.

To make a living, he and his wife started Summit Ski & Sports ten years ago, and they also started a family, which now numbers three kids, ages three to eight. "This is very much a family mountain," Greer says. "There's only one base area, so you can't lose the kids, and they have a great kids' program." But that's not to say there isn't a lot of what Greer calls "pow-pow-pow." He thinks the mountain averages 485 inches of snow a winter, and that gets divided up pretty evenly among the skill levels. "Wolf Creek is not a large area in terms of vertical drop, but the great variety of terrain is so appealing," Greer says. "And we probably average two or three days a week of new snow."

So on a powder day, Greer can be found on B-52 Jimmy's Chute, on the upper part above the tree line. "Take a short hike out to this ridge," Greer explains. "It's a steep run off the top of this little cornice that drops off to the lower part of the ski area." But if there hasn't been a storm, Alberta Face is the place. "It's a great bump run," he says, "when it does bump out. But then we get two or three feet of snow and it's gone, so you have to catch it at the right time."

An easier bumper is Gun Barrel, which Greer says is also more likely to retain the bumps. When no bumps are necessary, though, he recommends Thumper. "That's a pretty wide cruiser, with two or three or four rolls," he adds. "It has a steeper pitch, and then it flattens out, a steeper pitch, and then it flattens out. There's one big, sweeping turn on it."

Greer also speaks highly of Robert's Closet, the local name for a tree run between the Treasure and Bonanza lifts. "It's pretty tight, but our trees, because of our altitude, are big, soft, widely spaced pines, no aspens," Greer says. "It's wide open, and most of the trees have boughs that come down to the snow line, so it's a little less intimidating than the aspen trees at other places that are like a picket fence."

However, Greer says that the thing people really should try at Wolf Creek is The Waterfall Area. "What that is, you go out to the edge of the boundary rope toward the south part of the mountain, and then there's controlled access through the gates," he explains. "And it takes you into all kinds of natural snow, conditioned glade, steep rock jumps, ungroomed. You're actually skiing below the existing base area, and then when you get down at the base of the waterfall, a Sno-Cat picks you up and takes you back. And, hey, it's included in the lift ticket. That's a must-ski for intermediate and above."

And a must-do for visitors to the Pagosa Springs area, according to Greer, is a dip in the hot springs. "There's nothing like it after a day of skiing," he says. Afterward, head to one of the cool bars: The Hog's Breath (157 Navajo Trails Dr.) or The Sports Page (249 N. Navajo Trail). He recommends The Greenhouse (505 County Rd. 600) for dinner of the fine-dining kind. "They have a wide range of fresh fish, rack of lamb, steaks and a killer view," he says. "And the Chinese is pretty good at Hunan [180 E. Pagosa]," he adds.

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