State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.

groomers

by Natalia

Try the groomers on North Peak the poster at the top of the Mozart trail cajoles challenging my grasp of the English language. Thankfully a photo of a skier turning on a perfectly crisp corduroy provides the necessary clue as to what a groomer is. A bit disappointing since I've already got my hopes up for a ride in one of those vehicles that groom trails.

Try the groomers on North Peak if you want to compete for space with beginners who have fallen for this marketing ploy on one hand, and ambitious skiers who jump out of trees and take no prisoners on the other. Contrary to what the poster leads you to believe, North Peak is an advanced terrain chock-full of black trails with a few blues thrown in. There are no greens there, not even one. If groomers are your thing try Frenchman or Bachelor on the front side of the mountain where grooming is performed twice a day and there is ample opportunity to bail out if you find yourself on a run above your skill level.

Try the groomers on North Peak. I have a better idea. Try the moguls, try the trees, try the bowls on North Peak. This is a perfect place to hone your skills and challenge yourself to a more variable terrain. The trails that are not obsessively groomed attract very few skiers or even fewer boarders and the trees are positively deserted. Even after a week of no new snow you can find untouched swaths of powder there. And even on a crowded weekend you can find empty slopes.

Technological advances like releasable bindings, shaped skis, flexible snowboards lowered barrier to enjoy sliding down a snowy slope. It's becoming easier and safer to ski or ride. But it is not as easy as marketing will lead you to believe. And colliding full speed with an obstacle - a tree on the side of the trail, or another skier misled by false promises made by advertisements - can be deadly.

Running a ski resort is an expensive proposition. The difference between profit and loss depends on attracting enough paying customers. And the pool of potential newbies is vastly bigger than the group of people inclined to ski more than they already do. Hence, the subtly skewed message promising effortless enjoyment of going down prepared trail instead of hard-won satisfaction of conquering a difficult terrain. At least it is not as bad as billboards advertising smoking with smiling sexy people on the beach inhaling eternal happiness with every drag.

I didn't write about Keystone Resort earlier because I was too dumbfounded by the whole snowboarding on the west coast experience. Everything is perfect here. Or it was until marketing felt the need to advertise. But I still take silly posters and few clearly lost beginners over icy bumps of the east coast.

worry

I am a cautious person. Too cautious according to people who know me well. Not as skilled at inventing failing scenarios as my mom, but perfectly capable of spoiling a good adventure by warning all involved about the possibility of road closures, beer shortage, inclement weather and 997 other minor cataclysms that can (and will) happen. When we were driving to Colorado I was - silently - mortified about the possible problems we may encounter. First of all, snow was persistently missing. It was sort of expected since we took a southern route with an explicit purpose of avoiding winter weather. But 2 days before arriving in Keystone we were still in Texas, hiking in balmy 60 degrees and I started to panic. The perspective of moving all the way to Colorado only to be left at the mercy of man made substitute was beyond ironic.

This is not going to be about venture capitalists or media tycoons. My topic for the day are irritating obstacles created by skiers with explicit purpose of making snowboarders look ridiculous. Not that they have to try very hard. Avoiding bumpy slopes, while possible and in many cases even recommended, is not the way to enjoy snowboarding. Here in Keystone, giving up on bumps and trees means forgoing half of the terrain. The better half.