An Uphill Climb

For years, industrious snowboarders have built makeshift terrain parks at St. Mary's Glacier. But if 24-year-old Michael Coors has his way, riders won't have to make their own fun on that rock-filled ice flow in order to catch a little air. In December, Coors announced plans to reopen an old ski resort down the road from the glacier as an all-mountain terrain park named Eclipse. It's an ambitious project, but Coors, a recent graduate of the Colorado School of Mines with a degree in mechanical engineering, is from an ambitious family -- yes, he's one of the Coors Brewing clan.

Little more than a T-bar with some outhouses when it opened as Silver Lake in the 1930s, the ski area later changed its name to Silver Mountain, then shut down in 1984. When a potential investor spotted the property on the market in the fall of 2005 for $1.25 million, she approached Michael and his father, John Coors, about buying it and creating some kind of resort destination. While Michael didn't think that would fly, he did think the 300 acres would work well as a terrain park, and he took on the project with high hopes of opening by the end of the season.

Five months after purchasing the land, Michael has had to put at least that goal on hold, since he's still in the early stages of gaining zoning-change approval from Clear Creek County. After that, he'll move on to a development review, where he'll have to discuss where he intends to get water for his snowmaking system. Originally, he thought about having the water trucked up in huge plastic drums, but he's since ditched that scheme and is eyeing other options. He acknowledges that the Coors company owns water rights in the county, but says that any deal is a "sensitive subject" he'd rather not discuss until it is finalized.

While the Eclipse scenario sounds similar to that of Echo Mountain Park just twenty miles away, there will be some differences between the two. "I think because our mountain's layout isn't as wide open, our park will be a bit more sporadic," Michael says. "We'll have everything dialed in, where you'll come through the trees and it'll open up and there'll be a few features there. And we'll have different regions on the mountain for different skill levels, so I think it'll have a fun feel."

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Jared Jacang Maher