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Michael Conniff

Michael Conniff

Posted: March 10, 2011 12:48 PM

Con Games: Return to Powderhorn


After a great day last winter at Powderhorn in Grand Mesa, Colorado, my wife and I vowed to get our ticket punched in 2011 and to stay overnight for two days of weekend skiing.

A particular pleasure for me at Powderhorn is the ubiquitous presence of my old high school pal Steve Adams, who raised his sons down the hill in Mesa and lives there still. Steve not only knows every stump and dump on the mountain, but he also loves it to death.

When we arrived Saturday morning, the wind was growling and the snow was blowing every which way from Sunday. The good news is the weather was relatively mild and the roads were all-clear until we got within five minutes of the resort. But the weather on top was forbidding.

I texted our arrival to Steve and he texted back and I quote: "Untracked. Deep" -- meaning he wasn't about to rush back to the base just because his old running buddy had arrived. The snow was just too good.

Steve Adams, you see, is a Powderhorn powderhound.

That really says it all for Powderhorn. The snow, invariably, is incredible, and the tree skiing is as diverse and forgiving as any resort in Colorado. When I joined Steve after lunch the weather had abated and there was plenty of pow to be partaken of. Steve and his friend George from Grand Junction introduced me to the trees which I typically regard as animate creatures. But there's plenty of room betwixt and between the aspens, and my fat skis made me feel reasonably pfat.

Steve explained to me that Powderhorn gets storms both from the north and the south, and when the systems hit the mountain they tend to stay right there, dumping like there's no tomorrow until tomorrow. The next day the problematical weather had left for its journey across Colorado and my wife had saddled up her Dynastars at the one resort she says she "loves." Instead of Steve's steep and deep trees, we went on long gentle blues across the mountain and back in conditions that were pretty near perfect for her. Again.

If you're looking for the chi-chi up here you are going to be chi't out of luck. Powderhorn is old school Colorado through and through, and one should not expect (a) nightlife or (b) shopping. We stayed at the Inn at Wildwood -- a ski on/ski off destination -- but the accommodations were more Spartan than Athenian. We ate at the Union Station Restaurant and the establishment was energized Saturday night by the appearance of a band. This was not to be confused with Belly Up Aspen -- the drummer ate a burger while he played the traps -- but people don't come to Powderhorn to eat or shop or even listen to music.

People come here surrounded by mesas in Grand Mesa for the snow, the skiing, the snowboarding, and the vibe of a gentle group of people who keep it real on a quiet mountain. At the end of the day -- or on the first chair at first light -- what could be better than that?

 

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