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Posts Tagged ‘skiing’

Skiing Red Rocks Amphitheater

Posted by Richard on March 25, 2016

We had snow in Denver Wednesday. More accurately, we had a blizzard with 30-50+ mph winds for about 12 hours. It dumped 12-18″ in Denver and 20-30″ or more in the foothills. The airport closed, highways closed in every direction, the National Guard was called out to rescue stranded motorists, and it made the national news.

But the good news is it gaveΒ Nick Gianoutsos a chance to check something off on his bucket list: skiing Red Rocks. 7NEWS Denver has the video. Check it out:

They also have a charming video of how a cat named Boots enjoyed the snowstorm. Boots’ owners opened the sliding glass door with snow piled up against it, and … well, just watch:


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Ski season is here

Posted by Richard on October 8, 2011

Wolf Creek Ski Area is opening Saturday, after getting three feet of snow earlier this week. They may have another eight inches or so by the time they open, with more snow falling throughout Saturday. This will be their earliest opening ever — by 19 days!

Here in Denver, it's going to drop to the low 30s tonight, along with rain mixed with snow, and the foothills west of town (down to about 6000 ft.) will get accumulating snow. 

I'm sure this is another sign of global warming. Somebody call Al Gore. πŸ™‚ 

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Fresh snow for summer

Posted by Richard on June 20, 2011

On Friday, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced that they'll be open through July 4. They still have a 50" base. By Monday evening, there may be 8" of fresh snow on top of that. Most of the Colorado mountains are under a winter weather advisory from tonight through tomorrow. Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park is already closed.

It makes stories like these seem kind of silly, doesn't it? 

Oh, wait … I forgot … unusual cold and snow are also signs of global warming. Along with heat, drought, floods, tornados, hurricanes, the absence of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, … Everything is a sign of global warming. πŸ™‚

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Memorial Day skiing

Posted by Richard on May 27, 2011

If you're a skier or snowboarder, forget the backyard barbecue, camping trip, or beach vacation. Head for Aspen this Memorial Day weekend! They've got so much new snow, they're reopening Aspen Mountain for this weekend and for weekends in June for as long as conditions permit. I believe it's been at least 15 years since they've been open this late.

You know all those cold fronts that brought the terrible storms and tornadoes to the Midwest and Southeast over the last few weeks? Before heading east, each of them dumped up to a foot of snow on the Colorado mountains. The average snowpack level is at 247% of normal. 

Is Aspen too far for you? There are a bunch of other ski resorts open this weekend. Closer to Denver, Arapahoe Basin remains open daily (as is generally the case) through early June and maybe for weekends after that.

Remember all those stories a few years ago about how global warming was going to cripple the ski industry and dramatically shorten skiing seasons? πŸ™‚  

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Epic snowfall in the Colorado mountains

Posted by Richard on December 22, 2010

Last week, I mentioned that this year's La Niña was bringing lots of snow to the mountains, while leaving Denver and the eastern plains mild and dry. Since then, it's been doing that in spades. The weather reports have switched from forecasting snow totals in inches to feet.

Colorado's ski resorts have received 1-3 feet or more of new snow since the weekend. And it's just getting started. The jet-stream pattern they call the "Pineapple Express" continues to funnel Pacific moisture into the Colorado mountains at a prodigious rate.

The southwestern part of the state, which had been neglected by earlier storms, has been especially favored by this one. Silverton Mountain (a.k.a. Purgatory) got almost 3 feet in a 24-hour period. In one week, the region went from a snowpack of less than 50% of normal to well over 100%.

By Christmas Eve, many locations above 9,000 ft. will have gotten 7-8 feet of new snow. Everyone's using the phrase "epic snowfall" to describe what's happening.

I don't mean to sound like the Colorado Tourism Office, but if you're a skier or boarder, you need to get your ass up there. πŸ™‚

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Colorado weather update

Posted by Richard on December 16, 2010

For the benefit (?) of those of you back east suffering under some of the worst winter weather in ages, the low in Denver on Tuesday morning was 35°. That's 2° above Atlanta's high for the day. We reached a record high of 70°. Lest you blame my SUV, the previous record of 69° was set in the 1920s before there were SUVs.

Denver has had an extremely mild and dry winter so far, with lots of days in the 60s recently. Atlanta has had more snow so far this December than Denver. The reason isn't global warming, it's a strong La Niña. But before you Easterners get too jealous, we're about to get a change. A cold front moving in Wednesday afternoon should bring 3-6" of snow to the Denver area by Thursday morning, along with highs in the 30s.

If news of our mild weather is causing you to reconsider that ski trip, don't. The La Niña pattern, as usual, has been sending Pacific storms out of the northwest into the Rockies every few days for many weeks, and the mountain snowfalls have been epic. Steamboat had a record November, with over 90" of snow. Most of the other big destination resorts aren't far behind. The northern and central mountain resorts have been getting about a foot or so of new snow every 3 or 4 days for weeks now. 

It's the best of both worlds — awesome snow in the mountains and golfing or biking weather down here in the city. The only problem for skiers has been getting to the mountains. They have to time their drive in between I-70 closures. πŸ™‚

UPDATE (12/16): The winter storm for Denver fizzled. No snow, just cold — so I think Atlanta's still ahead of us in December snowfall. πŸ™‚ But the mountains got a decent dumping, and I-70 was closed for several hours. 

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The greatest 2 minutes in Winter Olympics history

Posted by Richard on February 15, 2010

Day 3 of the Winter Olympiad is done, and still no alpine skiing, so I thought I'd take a trip down memory lane. In 1976, the games were held in Innsbruck, where I was born. Americans were rarely competitive in alpine skiing back in those days, so I was cheering on the Austrians. And the one I was cheering on the most (along with all his countrymen) was Franz Klammer, the greatest downhill racer of all time.

It didn't look good for Klammer. He was the last of the 15 competitors to ski. This was his "home mountain," but Switzerland's Bernhard Russi led with a time almost 2 seconds faster than Klammer's best ever on the course. He and everyone watching knew that it would take an amazing run to win. 

And amazing it was. I don't remember where in Knoxville I was living at the time. I don't remember who was there watching with me. But I remember vividly how I felt for that 1:45 run. Every muscle in my body was tensed from beginning to end, and I could barely breathe. It's by far the most intense 2 minutes of television I've ever seen. Some people call it the most exciting 2 minutes in sports history. I certainly wouldn't argue. Klammer was on the edge of disaster throughout the run, going all-out, balls-to-the-wall from beginning to end. 

I found some videos on YouTube. This first one isn't the best video quality, but it shows the entire run from top to bottom, with the original broadcast commentary by Frank Gifford and Bob Beattie. Even in a small window, with poor video quality, and knowing the outcome, it's still compelling, riveting, and intense. Imagine seeing it live (well, tape-delayed "live") on your TV, not knowing what was going to happen next.

[YouTube link]

The second one is from Austrian TV and is much higher video quality, but doesn't show the entire run. OTOH, you can see better how insanely Klammer was skiing. And you get to hear the Austrian broadcaster shouting "Jawohl!" ("Yes!") at the finish and see how Austrians reacted. 

[YouTube link ]

That, my friends, is the Thrill of Victory!

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Ski season is here

Posted by Richard on October 7, 2009

On the last day of summer, amidst unusually cold weather and an early natural snowfall, Loveland Ski Area fired up its snowmaking machinery. Tomorrow morning, it opens for the season:

"We took advantage of the cold temperatures and got an early start making snow this year. Those extra days paid off and we are opening a week earlier than last season," Snowmaking and Trail Maintenance Manager Eric Johnstone said in a prepared statement. "Now we can move some equipment to other trails and try to open more terrain as quickly as possible."

Loveland will open with an 18-inch base on the opening day run, which includes three trails totaling over a mile in length.

Arapahoe Basin, which usually competes with Loveland to open first, said snowmaking is going well there and will open on Friday at 9 a.m.

It's the earliest opening in 40 years, and it follows one of the coolest summers on record (both in Colorado and nationally), with numerous low temperature records and mountain snows in late July. But that won't stop the global warming zealots from continuing to predict that Colorado's ski industry is doomed.

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Christmas was white, and it’s getting whiter

Posted by Richard on December 28, 2007

Why, yes, we did have a White Christmas in Denver. Not only did it snow Christmas Day (which only happens about once every nine years), it was the biggest Christmas Day snow in over a century — about 8". But Old Man Winter was just warming up (a figure of speech bearing no relationship to literal truth). We're getting another 8" or so today. I'm glad I don't have to go to work this week. I'm just going to hole up and work my way through a bunch of the Christmas goodies I got. 

BTW, remember the stories a couple of months ago about how global warming was destroying Colorado's ski industry? If you're a skier or boarder from the Midwest, South, or East, I hope that nonsense didn't discourage you from planning a Colorado ski vacation this winter — you're missing some phenomenal snow. So far in December, most of the resorts have gotten 7 or 8 feet of snowfall, and the perennial big-snow mountains, Monarch and Wolf Creek, have topped 10 feet.

UPDATE: I only got another 4-5", so there's about a foot out there. At 11 pm, the sky's starting to clear, so soon you'll be able to count the number of degrees on one hand.  


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10th Mountain Division

Posted by Richard on August 2, 2007

They came together at Camp Hale, high in the Colorado Rockies near Leadville, to participate in the largest ski school ever. Many had never seen snow. They became one of the most storied and gloried military units of all time, one that played a critical role in defeating the Axis in Europe:

Following two years of rigorous training, the Tenth Mountain Division was ordered to Italy in 1945 to spearhead an advance of the U.S. Army. In a series of actions that included Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere, the Tenth Mountain Division breached the supposedly impregnable Gothic Line in the Apennines and secured the Po River Valley to play a vital role in the liberation of northern Italy. By the time the Germans surrendered in May 1945, 992 ski troopers had lost their lives and 4,000 were wounded. This was the highest casualty rate of any U.S. division in the Mediterranean. 

Actually, I believe it was the highest casualty rate of any U.S. division, period — more than 30 percent. The 10th also earned more medals than any other division. 

After the war, members of the 10th Mountain Division created the U.S. ski industry. Among their numbers were Monty Atwater (Alta, Utah), Friedl Pfeifer (Aspen Mountain), and Pete Seibert (Vail). And a fellow named Bob Dole, who'd been badly injured and thus had an excuse for pursuing the law and politics instead of a more honorable winter sports career.

Several hundred of the remaining WWII veterans of the 10th are gathering together one last time in Denver today through Sunday:

The final reunion for the first division in the country to specialize in mountain warfare begins Thursday at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. But Tripp and Kentz already had their final meeting in the spring.

Kentz's 84-year-old heart gave out in May. The nearly 88-year-old Tripp drove up to Tennessee Pass near Leadville to place a wreath for his friend at a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division. The last thing he hopes to do for him is to make the long climb to the top of Mount Sopris this summer with Kentz's family to scatter his ashes.

"We are dropping like flies," Tripp says of a division that once numbered nearly 16,000 but has dwindled to 1,500. The surviving mountain soldiers range in age from 81 to more than 100.

They're dying at the rate of one a day. The National Association of the 10th Mountain Division put it this way:

 … This will be the last official National Reunion organized by the WW II Veterans. Future reunions may be organized by the Descendants, veterans of the Division serving after WWII or others. We are hoping most of our WW II Veterans will attend this special reunion

The Last Ridge by McKay Jenkins tells the story of the 10th, and has earned high praise. Now, there's a documentary of the same name based on the book. It's being broadcast on PBS stations, and a DVD is available (the link has both air dates and DVD ordering information).

But this Saturday, August 4 at 2 PM, the Colorado Historical Society is presenting a special showing of The Last Ridge at the Colorado History Museum. McKay Jenkins and film producer Abbie Kealy (a 10th Mountain descendant) will speak and sign copies of the DVD and book. Tickets ($7 or $15) include museum admission, so you can also see the Soldiers on Skis exhibit. A pretty sweet deal for anyone near Denver who's interested in military history.

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October snowstorm pictures

Posted by Richard on October 27, 2006

So, you saw the national news stories about the snowstorm in Colorado and want to see more snowy scenes? A couple of Denver TV stations have pretty sizable collections of viewer-submitted digital photos you can peruse.

First, take a look at the slideshows at — they have thumbnails you can scroll through and click on if you don’t want to look through a whole long slideshow. Then, check out the big slideshow — no thumbnails here, just titles/descriptions to help you pick and choose among the 119 images. Some titles are pretty descriptive — Coyotes at play (19 KB); others not so much — Bailey 09 (27 KB). But showing the file sizes is a nice touch.

The biggest snowfall totals were south and west of Denver. Since it was 70° F. Wednesday, much of what fell melted when it hit the warm ground. Nevertheless, we had about 3-5" on the ground in town. Here’s a shot (from 9News) of Washington Park, about 3/4 mile from my house:

October snow in Washington Park

If you drive south from my house down Broadway about 7 or 8 miles, you hit the suburb of Highlands Ranch. It piled up about 10-15" around there. Here’s what somebody’s deck looked like by mid-morning (from CBS4Denver):

October snow on Highlands Ranch deck

Further south and in the mountains, some places got two feet or more. Actually, the mountains have been pounded every few days for the last couple or three weeks. If you’re a skier, start making plans for a great season. At least two of the big destination resorts are opening on Nov. 3 (Copper and Keystone; rumor has it Winter Park will, too), and they have beaucoup snow already!

Meanwhile, in Denver it will all be just a memory by the weekend — the forecast says sunny and near 70°. You could go up to Loveland in the morning for a half-day of skiing, and then come back to town and play a round of golf or take a bike ride in the afternoon. πŸ™‚


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Summer snow

Posted by Richard on September 22, 2006

Summer isn’t officially over until this evening, but for all intents and purposes, it ended decisively yesterday in the Colorado mountains, with lows in the teens and heavy snow. Many places had over a foot of accumulation by this morning, and the northern mountains are expecting another foot or two before the storm clears out Saturday. Travel in the high country was — and is — problematic:

Blowing snow and icy roads in the high country forced the overnight closure of part of Interstate 70 Thursday into Friday, stranding some travelers with forecasts calling for up to 16 inches of snow through Friday night in the Rocky Mountains.

The highway reopened to traffic just before 6 a.m. on Friday morning.

Eastbound I-70 was closed from Vail to Georgetown late Thursday, although officials began letting drivers who were stuck at Silverthorne between the two cities continue traveling. Westbound traffic was being allowed to travel past Georgetown in stages, said Ryan Drake of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

A winter storm warning was issued through 6 a.m. Saturday for areas including Rabbit Ears Pass, Breckenridge, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 that passes underneath the Continental Divide.

The winter-like driving conditions sent many drivers hunting for rooms Thursday night.

This Colorado weather report is provided as a public service to all you Texas skiers. They’re making snow at the resorts, Mother Nature is helping out in a big way, and there’s already talk about what a great early season it’s going to be — it’s time to start planning your first ski trip.

Skier-snowman at Keystone
Skier-snowman at Keystone Resort. See more snow pix at CBS4Denver.


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