The Edge

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

But even on weekends, Hartley says, there is untracked powder to be found. "When they groom on the backside of S Lift, that's a nice cruising area," she says. "It's kind of hard to get to, because you have to ride a couple of lifts, and people just don't know about it, so when it's groomed, it's wonderful and you're all alone." She adds that everyone, of course, knows about Andy's Encore but says "I have to mention it anyway. It's a really nice top-to-bottom run, and it's not right under the lift, so you don't have to deal with people watching your every move."

Another "slightly obscure" spot that Hartley likes is over at B-1 Lift. That's her warm-up run, which is often empty because of the two-man lift. "It's a great intermediate area, groomed, with all sorts of little hits to jump off of," she says. "I like to snowboard in there, especially, because there's lots of 'Cat tracks and natural terrain features. You can just take all these little hits of air."

Places to which skiers have to hike are often uncrowded, and Hartley says Copper is no exception. "You have to go to Union Peak," she insists. "It's a quick fifteen-minute hike, and Union isn't the hardest thing on the mountain, but it's pretty intense. You're above the tree line, and at the top you can just hang out and look around at this incredible view. You have a great view of Copper Bowl and the Ten-Mile Range, so you can take a breather and get ready for this short but pretty steep run. It's so smooth, and there's nothing but a couple of small rocks in your way." She adds that Union Peak is basically a bowl, and another nice thing about it is that you can plan to be there around 10 a.m. to catch the fresh stuff right after ski patrol is done blasting it on a powder day.

Copper Bowl is where Hartley sends intermediates looking for something more demanding that won't do them in. "They're all blacks back there, but they're pretty mellow," she says. "It's a huge bowl, so you can go back there with people of all different levels--I mean in the advanced-intermediate range, which is what I would call myself--and then everyone can choose their route down. And the scenery back there is amazing. I'm telling you, the sky is always bluer back there, and the sun shines brighter. And the snow gets nice and soft about mid-afternoon."

Since Hartley doesn't like bumps, she knows what to avoid: the A Lift area. "Oh, I've been there, and it's a bump skier's paradise. These are long, grueling bump runs, at least from my perspective. It's one of those ones where you're happy to be sitting on the chairlift when you get to the bottom." She does like trees, though, and names Enchanted Forest as her top choice. "That's a whole area, and there's some other trees that we call Timberline Trees under the Timberline Express lift, where you can kind of ski from the top all the way down. As you ski down, the trees get tighter, but it's such a great setup because you can jump out onto a run if you get into trouble. It's a good place to make smooth turns."

According to Hartley, a good place to get a refined meal off the mountain is Frisco's Uptown Bistro (304 Main St.), with its "seafood and sauces" and "great vegetarian meals. It's just such a nice place, really relaxing. I think it has the best food in the area."

More good vegetarian food and the "best margaritas ever" come from El Rio Cantina & Grille (450 W. Main St.), she says, adding that it's tops for happy hour and dinner. She also thinks the Mexican food at Barclay's Basement Cafe (620 Main St.) is "decent, but it's actually a sports bar and a great place to go for happy hour and to watch the games," she adds. And while she thinks the area is sorely lacking in good Italian, she does like the pizza at Matteo's (106 Third Ave.), which she describes as "kind of a small joint--more of a takeout--but you can sit in there and eat. It's ideal for a slice."

To get a quick, cheap dinner, Hartley pops into the Moose Jaw (208 Main St.), where a burger and fries and a pitcher of Bud for $5 makes for a well-rounded meal. "It's a dive," she says. "But it's got true local flavor, and it's the best for total bar food and cheap beer. You're not going to find a microbrew here." For a more upscale--and much more expensive--dinner, she suggests Pug Ryan's (104 Village Place), in Dillon. "That's where everyone goes for a good steak," she adds. "And it's a ton of food, so it's a reward for a brutal day on the slopes."

Before skiing, she prefers to get a bagel and coffee at Rocky Mountain Coffee Roasters (285 Main St.). "They roast their own beans, and while they don't make the bagels, they get them from a good place," she says. If she has the time for a sit-down breakfast, though, she says it has to be Claimjumper (805 N. Summit Blvd.). "The huevos are the best," she says. "They do pancakes and skillets, and it's almost approaching a diner. It's sort of like Denny's, only the food is much, much better."

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