Spring tips

While skiing the hill earlier this week it seemed that the spring temperatures we experienced in January were being made up for by actual winter temperatures in early March. My fingers were cold on the chairlift and that never happens. Weird.

On Tuesday, I received an email from Colorado Ski Country USA, titled “Tips for Spring Skiing in Colorado.” That brought me back to the reality that it really is spring break time and we should see warmer temps and more people. I wouldn’t necessarily bet on either—airline seats in March are down and the weather forecast is variable—but that’s the theory anyway.

Looking over the email I thought it wise to share some of those spring skiing tips and throw in a few extra.

Tip #1: Don’t forget the sunscreen. That’s always a good tip but as the sun stays higher and gets more intense, the chances of looking like a match with a bright red face and pale white body as you hit the beach after Crested Butte Mountain Resort closes on April 8 increase dramatically. I guess the alternative is to ski without a shirt—and I am sure we will witness more than one frat boy doing just that between PBR chugging contests in the next few weeks.

Tip #2: Don’t be silly when you are trying to be serious. This one was not on the spring skiing list but it is a free tip to the Brush Creek development team. When the guy or gal hired to prepare a “rendering” of the buildings on the property at the corner of Highway 135 and Brush Creek Road feels it is best to “render” giant trees that basically hide the buildings, that should tell you something. Despite commissioner Messner’s appreciation for graphics, it doesn’t do a lot to bolster the case for a development with little impact when you have to plant a 150-year-old forest as part of the infographic. Don’t use silly slides when trying to make a serious case for the project. Just sayin’.

Tip # 3: Prepare for variable weather conditions. Spring skiing or riding is known for being unpredictable—blue-bird days can be interrupted by significant snow totals. Be prepared for anything. We have all dropped into Teo Bowl beneath sunny skies only to walk out to a blizzard pounding the North Face Lift (that is now open!). I love that, actually.

Tip #4: Political season is starting, so be prepared. Early indications on the local political front are that we will have an uncontested race for county commissioner with Roland Mason taking an easy glide into Phil Chamberland’s seat and a possible robust race for sheriff between Democrat John Gallowich and Republican Mark Mykol. Those two get to duke it out over a sheriff’s office with north valley issues concerning its contract with Mt. Crested Butte and what appears to be a fair amount of turnover. It is rare for a commissioner seat to have just one candidate so let’s see if that remains the case into the spring.

Tip # 5: Follow the spring skiing schedule. As spring progresses, the freeze-thaw cycle means the softest turns are often in the middle of the day. Depending on the weather, the sun will warm the snow enough for soft turns between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., leaving plenty of time for after-skiing activities. Refer back to Tip # 1.

Tip # 6: Good luck trying to keep track of any schedule in this valley these days. There are so many issues swirling at the moment it is impossible to keep track of them all. An actual murder that occurred in the county that is worthy of a movie; Brush Creek; Irwin helicopters; ADU lawsuits; lawsuits over property you can’t do anything with; jail lawsuits; potential science campuses; horse parks; the effort to attract more businesses and tourists to the valley; the growing need to manage more tourists in the valley; annexation proposals in both towns; ski area expansion reviews; a roundabout controversy; paid parking ideas; Red Lady mine issues over public versus private property to facilitate quicker conclusions; climate change impacts; trail easement issues; one valley love relationship therapy issues; possible multi-million dollar park expansions; affordable housing initiatives; DDA boundary issues in Mt. Crested Butte; Crested Butte South business parks; and on and on. And on. This isn’t a sleepy mountain town anymore.

Tip # 7: Take advantage of spring skiing deals and events. Spring is the time to enjoy a thriving après ski scene, skiers and riders in hilarious costumes on the slopes, family-friendly spring events. In Crested Butte that means the Al Johnson, Soul Train night, BBQs after the lifts stop spinning, and impromptu fun everywhere.

Tip # 8: Don’t talk politics on the chairlift. Lord knows the majority of locals have “issues” with the current president. Many of the tourists don’t. The visitors probably loved that recent tax cut that helped pay for their vacation and the dismantling of Obamacare that they don’t know they’ll need yet. Most locals are focused on the environmental pullbacks that could help speed global weirding and eventually decimate a ski area that needs snow. Locals don’t seem thrilled with the rudeness of the bragging orange duffer in the White House either. Bottom line is we all got what we got for right now (crazy!) so instead of debating the merits or flaws on the 12-minute Silver Queen ride, take 12 minutes in November and vote when you have the chance.

The Colorado Ski Country USA email rightfully states that “first-time spring snow enthusiasts might need a little advice, while long-time spring snowsport veterans may also need a refresher on how to have a successful spring season.” All of us can sometimes use a little advice and refresher. There is nothing wrong with a success during any season.

Enjoy what should be, according to my phone’s weather app, warming temperatures as the season wears on. Spring is here. Go get some. And don’t forget your sunscreen.

—Mark Reaman

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