Guest editorial: This past ski season was uninspiring, at best
Glenn Holley, a long time champion of this community and our local culture moved on tragically last month. He will be sorely missed but not soon forgotten. He was a good friend, a great guy and was loved by many. So, at the risk of being too winey or a hopeless curmudgeon, let us review this past ski season before we commit to new one. Glenn couldn’t ski last year but this is a conversation he would want to have. Live and learn.
Last season had its challenges with below average snow, supply chain difficulties, and employment issues not to mention Covid, a weird economy, local traffic and the return of tourism. The results were the lack of open terrain and closed lift access, reduced grooming and snow making efforts and overcrowding caused by the limited terrain as much as the increased skier days. Restaurants were restricted if not closed and the on-site amenities were anemic. Consequentially I would rate this past season uninspiring, at best.
But maybe it’s me. After two years of Covid weirdness my heart was not in it. After going up a few times after New Year’s, I could not be bothered. By March I had moved on to springtime pursuits and forgot about the icy bumps on the mountain. Obviously, skiing has changed over the years, getting locally more popular and crowded, feeling like a bad Visa commercial. There are times now when I fear for my life skiing shoulder-to shoulder with wild men schussing from the back seat with their hands down and their coats open. Yahoo. There is no courtesy or civility, but it feels like dog-eat-dog out there. People are getting hit in-bounds while ropes are being cut and people are skiing on top of each other in the backcountry.
The climate has also changed, and the season is shorter and warmer on both ends. It rains in January, up to 10,000 feet. We get a few 1-2 foot powder days these days but not the 3-4 foot ones from days gone by. Even if you get up there at 8, you don’t get on the mountain until 10-11 and it is mysteriously skied out already by people with Fast Trax or Trophy Homes. Lift lines are Coloradoan in scale. Traffic now clogs the resort entrances with grid lock on 248 and 224 on big days. The line to get off the freeway backs up to Jeremy Ranch and the side roads are packed or policed. Parking is gone by 10 AM. The answer to not enough parking is paid parking, forcing us to park somewhere else, anywhere else. They paved paradise and put up paid-parking lots.
Skiing is becoming a quantitative commodity where ‘more is better’, rather than the qualitive cultural experience we had been accustomed to in the past. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. The current crisis is quantitively calculating the new Comfortable Carrying Capacity of the mountains. There seems to be some push back from the City and concerned citizens, looking for consideration of the qualitative Comfortable Carrying Capacity of our community, town and infrastructure. How do we measure that and what is the responsibility of the resorts in maintaining that or mitigating the large affects of their growing business?
Is it too much to want to maintain control of our towns name, reputation and quality of life? Should we continue the good fight or should we just find something better to do or somewhere else to go, counting our blessings for the great years we have had here and wishing good luck to those that remain and love it for what it has become. All good things must pass.
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