Ticket to ride
the lowdown on the 2008-09 season

Doug Krause samples some early-season fresh at Silverton Mountain. The ski area has set a Nov. 29 opening date, snow permitting, for the unguided season./Photo by Jeremy Yanko

by Missy Votel

Ready or not, here it comes. The 2008-09 ski season is a mere freezing fortnight away. If you’re in mourning over the loss of your favorite singletrack to Daylight Savings, fear not. Below is the beta on local ski area offerings as well as some deals and news to whet your appetite. And who knows, before long, you’ll be hip-deep in powder saying, “Bike? What bike?”

Purgatory (aka, Durango Mountain Resort)

Season: Nov. 26 (Benefit Day) – April 5

Walk-Up Price: $62 ($67 peak)

The Deal: If you failed to get your season pass at the bargain basement early-bird price of $500 last May, there’s still hope with the Flex Pass – $129 gets you one free day of your choosing and a $5-$7 break on walk-up prices.

Big News: Purgatory Mountain enters a new era this season. New this year will be the first phase of the $100 million Purgatory Lodge, which will be home base for all things mountain related including rentals, lodging and the new Purgy’s Day Lodge (grand opening TBA.) A far cry from the gone but not forgotten Purgy’s, the new incarnation will feature cafeteria lunch and sit-down style dinner from a “state of the art kitchen and regional cuisine-based menu.” Look for the same slopeside easy access, as well as a heated outdoor seating area (!)

Other cool stuff: Three-pinners and backcountry types can find all they need and more at the new Pine Needle satellite office, to open in the day lodge. In addition to tele and AT rentals, Pine Needle north, in conjunction with Southwest Adventure Guides will offer kids tele rentals; avalanche classes; and on-mountain beacon training/refresher courses. Those looking to earn their turns can head out for guided half-day, full-day or multi-day trips in the Purg backcountry or Red Mountain areas.


Wolf Creek

Season: God willing - Aprilish

Walk-Up Price: $52

The Deal: Stay tuned for Locals Days and other special deals, usually midweek, where you can hike Alberta to you hearts’ content for merely a song

Big News: OK, maybe it’s not exactly “big news,” but a new building is in the works atop the Raven Lift (aka the old Dickey Lift) on the mountain’s west side, which will include a cafeteria, restrooms and other amenities. “We’re almost certain we can complete it before winter, but we’re still working on it,” said Wolf Creek spokeswoman Roseanne Haidorfer-Pitcher. Just for the record, the Raven Lift (a high-speed Doppelmayr quad) was new last year. Haidorfer-Pitcher also said Nordic skiing should make a return to the base area in some form this year. She said 4 the ski area is still awaiting permission from adjacent property owner Red McCombs to groom trails that cross his land.

Other cool stuff: Those looking to save gas money or have little company up the pass can hook up via Wolf Creek’s new “Ride Share,” a pilot program at the resort. To hitch a ride or fill your car, log onto www.wolfcreek.com and click on the ride share link.

Silverton Mountain

Season (projected): Unguided, Nov. 29 –Jan. 11, April 3- 19. Silverton Mountain is open mostly on weekends, with a few longer weeks in late Dec. – Jan.

Walk-Up Price: $49 (unguided); $99 (guided during “unguided” season); $119-$129 (guided season)

The newly installed Revelation Bowl lift towers at Telluride await chairs, cable and, of course, snow./Photo Telski

The Deal: For those short on cash but long on time, look for Silverton Mountain’s boot-packing days, which earn stompers free lift tickets. Also returning this year is the G Pass - $49 gets you $10 off regular tickets anytime as well as free tickets to A Basin and Monarch. there’s also a 10 Pack card for the unguided season for $350.

Big News: You’re kidding, right? The big news at Silverton Mountain typically is that there’s no news, and that’s the way they like it. “People keep asking about out capital improvement plan, and I tell them we got a new fridge,” jokes ski area owner Jen Ader-Brill. However, she points out that lift ticket prices remained the same this year. “Our prices are still the same as they were in ’05,” she said. “We wanted to take into consideration the economy and people’s concerns.” She also noted that while the bigger resorts are touting their “green” efforts, for the most part, Silverton Mountain has been a proud reduce/reuse/recycle philosophy since the beginning. “Pretty much everything up here, including the lift, is re-used or was headed to the landfill before we intercepted it.” Of course, any look around the eclectic, homey décor of the Quonset hut base lodge attests to this.

Other cool stuff: Look for Silverton Mountain and famous Mahre family offspring Andy Mahre in Warren Miller’s latest flick, “Children of Winter,” coming soon to a theater near you.


Season: Nov. 27 - April 5

Walk-Up Price: $92

The Deal: Be sure to hit up the Hesperus Ski Swap at the county fairgrounds on Sat., Nov. 1, no matter how hungover you are, as this is the last time to purchase the Free Day Card – $45 earns you your first day of skiing free plus 25 percent off full-day adult tickets all season (bringing it down to a slightly more sane $69), with no blackout days. Also, if you’re lucky enough to have a Telluride hook up, you may even look into the 6-day or 10-day pass, which cost $320 and $475, respectively.

Big News: Once again, Telluride is the big winner in the news department, with the 2008-09 opening of Revelation Bowl. A new high speed quad will deliver skiers to 50 acres of long lusted-after advanced and expert terrain atop Gold Hill. Revelation Bowl brings the total recent expansion of Telluride to nearly 400 acres, with last year’s opening of Black Iron Bowl, Palmyra Peak and Gold Hill Chutes 6-10. This terrain alone should be worth at least one price of admission.

Other cool stuff: Now there’s a reason to hang out in the Mountain Village, other than teaching small children or intermediate guests: The Hop Garden. Located at the base of the Village Express (Lift 4), the European style bar features breakfast, lunch and dinner either inside or out on the spacious beer garden/patio. If schwanky skiing is your thing, Telluride also introduces Alpino Vino, a “cozy European style hütte” near the top of Gold Hill offering renowned wines (read: $$$), fine cheeses and appetizers.

Kendall Mountain

Season: Nov. 28 – March 29, Fridays – Sundays and school holidays

Walk-Up Price: $15 adults; $10 kids 6-18; children under 5 free

The Deal: In our book, everything at Kendall is a deal, including the $2 Frito pies and hot dogs. However, families can get an entire season pass for four for the low, low price of $199. The family pass also nets you free sled and ice skate rentals and 10 percent off all ski/snowboard rentals all season long. But hurry – early bird prices end Nov. 5. Purchase online at http://skikendall.com/jioomla/ or call (970) 387-5228.

Other Cool Stuff: Those of us with kids happen to be big fans of Kendall Mountain’s ease of operation and parking lot proximity, making it a breeze to schlep multiple loads of gear and bodies to and fro. Bring the Nordic gear for an unforgettable trek up the Upper Animas River drainage. Ice skating and a Class V sledding hill round out the complete old timey winter experience. •



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