Snow Time

The nephew of Coors Brewing CEO Pete Coors has gained approval from Clear Creek County to reopen a long-dormant ski area near St. Mary's Glacier under the name Eclipse. Last night 25-year-old Michael Coors got the 2-1 go-ahead from county commissioners, ending an application process that began more than a year ago when Coors and his father, CoorsTek CEO John Coors, purchased the former Silver Lake ski area for $1.25 million.

At that time, the recent Colorado School of Mines grad envisioned an all-mountain terrain park on the 300-acre property, not unlike the nearby Echo Mountain terrain park, which opened last year with all manner of rails, pipes and table-tops, as described in this story.

But even though both ski areas hope to cater to the younger demographic with their relatively close proximity to Denver and cheaper ticket prices, Echo Mountain has the advantage on the total terrain park model. First, the layout of Echo Mountain — located west of Evergreen on Highway 103 — consists of wide runs with a pitch comparable to a blue. Eclipse, however, twists up the side of Anchor Gulch with a few steep valleys and ravines, making it difficult to construct the enormous jumps now required at top terrain parks. Plus, the base of Eclipse is a mere 200 yards from the tiny mountain community of Alice. Residents were vocal with concerns during the re-zoning process, and could provide more headaches for Coors when the crowds begin arriving on their doorsteps.

But Eclipse also has a lot of snow. Last March it was so deep that the snowcats kept getting stuck, a sign that hefty amounts of the white stuff will likely linger at the resort well into the late spring, when other mountains are bone-dry. Maybe that's why Coors has been shying away from the extreme snow-bro terrain park he originally envisioned, and shifting more toward a Loveland or Arapahoe Basin-style image. This means a mix of powdery glades, chutes and cliffs, along with some jumps and boxes. It's a careful niche, but in a region dominated by mega-resorts like Vail and Breckenridge, any niche is a good one. Let's hope metro-area skiers and snowboarders agree. —Jared Jacang Maher