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Ski Season 2016-17: Powder–Drought–Powder

Shadows: father and daughter.

Shadows: father and daughter.

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A tired, old professor recoups some sanity and mental energy for the semester’s homestretch on the slopes during Mary Jane’s surprise extended weekend…and reflects on the season with his daughter. Tragedy, business and pass info follows…

Skiers enjoy 6″ of fresh on the last weekend at Mary Jane ski area.

When I took my daughter skiing on Sunday, April 23rd, I thought it was our last day on the slopes at Winter Park, but then I learned on the chairlift (the lift being a hotspot for information exchange) that Mary Jane had announced intention of staying open an extra week, a full two weeks after sister mountain Copper’s closure.

Bare spots abound at the base of Winter Park, the last day it was open (Sunday April 23rd). Regardless, Mary Jane stayed open another full week, powder days the result.

The daughter and I had a beautiful day on the sunny, slushy slopes—and I finally got to ski in shorts. I lamented having to decide between attending the annual “Spring Splash” and hitting the slopes, but the girl wanted to ski and so our decision was made.

Savannah Trotter, 8, displays Girl Power.

You’d think the last couple weeks of the season would be crowded, but it’s been my experience those are always the least-crowded days—we virtually had the slopes to ourselves. Keep this in mind for next year, dear readers.

Savannah Trotter, 8, perches on the lip of Parsenn Bowl, her inaugural run down the famed bowl off of Panorama lift @ Mary Jane ski area.

Perhaps the biggest happy-surprise was that when I went back to the Jane the following weekend with my homeboy Galen: it was some of the best snow I’d skied all year, shin-deep powder ensconcing the mountain (officially six inches had fallen). There were even less people on the slopes than the previous weekend, the Panorama lift was open, and we didn’t ski a single run that had been tracked out (full disclosure—we spent a lot of the day in the trees). No shorts that day, though—the weather demanded full gear.

Panorama lift @ Mary Jane ski area is the highest lift on the mountain, clocking in at right around 12,000 feet.

The two last days at the Park/Jane were among the best, capping off a season that was extremely inconsistent. A near-record snowfall January submitted to what essentially amounted to a drought in February, March and April.

Look closely, and you’ll see fellow skier Galen Burgess hiding in the powder in the trees.

I (re)learned an important lesson—get it while the gettin’ is good. All those powder days in January, and I only took advantage of a couple. I was busy, traffic sucked, the NFL playoffs were on, etc. etc.

Early-morning snow storm @Mary Jane the last weekend.

As a buddy said, the ski season was good, but it had so much more potential. Like America. It starts with the children; take your kids skiing.

Skiing with your kids is (eventually) a lot of fun, and a time-honored Colorado tradition.

Two resorts are still open, and unless you’ve been under a rock, you know they are:
A-Basin  (trying to stay open until June 4th; $76 full day, $64 half) and
Loveland, (closes Sunday, May 7th;  $59 full day, $49 half)

On a sad but realistic note: Skiing/Boarding is thrilling but risky. Colorado recorded 14 skier deaths this year, many of them in Summit Country resorts. The Summit Daily News produced a powerful three-part investigative piece about the impact of this dark side of the sport, a must read, assuming you have tissues nearby, Whiteout: The Uphill Struggle to Uncover the Human Toll of Colorado’s Ski Industry.

In Business news, Aspen announced the acquisition of Winter Park/Mary Jane and Steamboat, and we’re left wondering what will happen to Copper (Intrawest). Those who have bought passes for next year seem secure in that the pass will be honored, and it’ll be interesting to see what is offered the year after that.

All Season Passes are now on sale, and the prices keep getting hiked every few weeks or so, so get yours soon!
Basically, there’s the Epic Pass (Keystone, A-Basin, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek) at $639 vs. the Rocky Mountain Super Pass (Winter Park, Copper, Eldora, Steamboat and Crested Butte), currently $599.

Me, I’m going to stick with the Rocky Mountain Super Pass because it hosts my favorite close-drive mountains, plus the bonus mountains of Steamboat and Crested Butte. The most excellent benefit for me is it comes with a free pass for the kiddo. It’s hard to beat that.

Here’s to the end of a great ski season! And let us all pray to the snow gods that next year is even better, global warming and climate change somehow be damned.

Peace out!

Author Jamey Trotter. Come on, vogue.

(During the summer months, look for me to report a little about camping with kids, gardening, and young-old man mountain biking.)

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The student news site of Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Parker and Castle Rock
Ski Season 2016-17: Powder–Drought–Powder