Powder day! Ski season’s swan song offers some of the best runs yet at Sunlight resort
Post Independent reporter Ike Fredregill contributed to this story.
Coming across someone casually brushing his teeth bright and early inside a Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort men’s room is a telltale sign fresh powder awaits.
At least, that’s what I figured when I saw him Thursday morning.
“Sometimes, you’re just on the run,” he told me.
“You must be on a quest for fresh pow,” I responded.
He smiled, his teeth sparkling clean.
From there on, Thursday unarguably turned out to be the best fresh powder day I’ve had since exchanging my life savings last year for new boots, bindings and a board.
Over the past week, in fact, Garfield County’s ski resort has picked up about 25 inches of snow, Sunlight Mountain Sales and Marketing Director Troy Hawks said.
“We’ve got remarkable conditions for spring,” he said. “Tree skiing is great right now, and we’ve got a snow base of about 50 inches.”
Traffic on the mountain is keeping a steady pace as spring break season is in full swing, which Hawks said he expects will taper off around March 20. As of Friday, Sunlight will be open for 23 more days before officially ending its winter season.
Final lift is April 3.
This is one reason why Post Independent editor Peter Baumann was gracious enough to pay me to wake up at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, drink an entire pot of coffee and get to Sunlight Mountain just in time for 9 a.m. first run.
Man, was it g — lor — i — ous.
Parkings spots near the entrance were still available. Waits in the lift line were practically non-existent. Pristine fresh-powder runs teased everyone eagerly waiting to deboard the lift.
At the top? Just you and the mountain.
With a Nikon D3500 camera and a telephoto lens hanging from my neck, I didn’t want to chance breaking the thing. So, I hit the most dangerous run Sunlight has to offer.
In reality, I cruised down Grizzly Trail, a relaxing green run that parallels a stunning view of Mount Sopris toward the south. At that moment, low-lying clouds surrounded its peak like genies.
Trying my best not to fall as I snapped away at passing skiers and boarders, all I could hear was, “This snow is the best,” and, “It’s so good.”
Underneath my board, the snow felt like a gliding across a larger-than-life cream puff. Meanwhile, parts of the trail, primped and primed to perfection, were like corduroy pants on the first day of school.
Then there’s the fresh powder itself, an element seemingly becoming more rare than dinosaur fossils now that the finite season’s waning and everyone’s thinking about Moab.
You don’t even have to hit some kicker or jump. Simply carve through that sweet, fluffy stuff and snow goes flying.
Grizzly was loaded with large patches of this untouched powder. Some speed demons, however, rejoice when new snow falls, packs down solid and replenishes their favorite runs.
Slowly but surely but very quickly, I’m starting to think the steep hips of Sun King are simply a blast to hit when there’s fresh powder. Partly groomed, partly not, the conditions launch you almost weightlessly down the center of the mountain.
It feels like you’re snowboarding a cloud.
With just minutes to spare before the newsroom sent a search party, I put the camera back in its pouch, stretched my goggles over my eyes and made it a mission to hit Sun King last.
Bliss has never been so sweet.
Yet all things must end. By 11:45 a.m., I was back in the office, wondering just how long it will take before I’m the one brushing my teeth in a Colorado ski resort bathroom.
BLUEBIRD WEEKEND AHEAD
Outdoor enthusiasts heading for the mountains this weekend can look forward to a round of bluebird days, with temperatures warming up to nearly 50 degrees by Sunday, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported.
“There’s not a whole lot of weather on the horizon for this weekend,” NWS Meteorologist Mark Miller said. “Lots of sunshine, and overall pretty dry. A system could bring some light snow Sunday evening, but not likely until after dark.”
Friday’s high temperature could be about 32 degrees with a low of 5 degrees in the wee morning hours. On Saturday, the high temperature could be about 44 degrees, with a late night low of 5 degrees. And the warming trend is forecasted to continue Sunday, with a high of about 48 degrees, and a low of about 15 degrees. Some snow could dust Glenwood Springs Sunday evening and Monday morning, Miller said.
All about that kit
Various suppliers around Garfield County offer day trippers and weekenders a variety of winter gear rental options.
Summit Canyon Mountaineering
205 Sixth St., Glenwood Springs
Downhill rentals are booked for the weekend, but staff said they still have some touring rentals available for enjoying the backcountry.
Sunlight Ski and Bike
309 Ninth St., Glenwood Springs
Both ski and snowboarding rentals are available in town and at Sunlight Mountain Resort’s in-house rental shop.
For an early start, renters can pick up their gear from 3-6 p.m. the day prior without being charged for an additional day.
Sunlight Mountain Resort
10901 County Road 117, Glenwood Springs
Ski and snowboarding rentals available at the on-site rental shop.
Ragged Mountain Sports
810 Colorado Highway 133, Carbondale
While Ragged Mountain does not offer rentals, they do provide winter gear consignment with a wide selection of skiing and snowboarding equipment for the thrifty enthusiast to fill out their kit.
723 Cooper Ave., Glenwood Springs
Ski rentals. Walk-ins are welcome.
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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