All Aboard the Snow Train: Colorado's Slopes
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
Colorado is reveling in one of the best ski seasons on record. While some parts of the state are starved for moisture, the white stuff has come down where it counts, on the slopes. Eric Whitney of member station KRCC in Colorado Springs rode the state's ski train and he sent us this report.
ERIC WHITNEY reporting:
It takes about 90 minutes for the ski train to climb up from Denver to Winter Park Resort, which so far this year has received more than 16 feet of snow.
Mr. ALTON CLARK (Ski Train Passenger): This year has been phenomenal.
WHITNEY: Ski train passenger Alton Clark, who's been skiing for 37 years, says winters like this one are rare and to be cherished.
Mr. CLARK: It's been the best since the early '60s and '70s. Just the powder--the powder conditions, a few weeks ago it was knee-deep powder up there. It was just phenomenal, phenomenal skiing.
WHITNEY: Skiers exit the train in a snowy wonderland. Heavy dollops sag off of rooftops. Long white fingers of ski runs descend the forested mountains to the ski lifts just a few paces away. Up on the lift, high above the slopes Dave Merrill(ph) from Alexandria, Virginia, says he's amazed by the huge alpine views from the crest of the Continental Divide.
Mr. DAVE MERRILL (Skier): I'm usually skiing in Virginia and compared to Colorado I'd say this is awesome. You know, this is like God's handiwork up here. So it's just like some of the very best of everything.
WHITNEY: Most people stick to the broad, open, designated ski runs, but if you sneak off into the dark, thick woods, you might run into a couple of 20-something locals like Aaron Milnies(ph) and Dennis DeBerg(ph).
Unidentified Man #1: We are in the trees above Bluebell. We're going to follow these trees out. Hopefully we'll find some rocks to huck off of and then we'll find our way into a run called Columbine.
Unidentified Man #2: Columbine, yeah.
Unidentified Man #1: And that's a bump run that'll take us down to (unintelligible).
Unidentified Man #2: Let's jump off this rock here.
(Soundbite of skier falling)
Unidentified Man #1: Oh, it's a soft landing.
Unidentified Man #2: Yeah? That didn't look very soft.
WHITNEY: Hucking, for those not familiar, means using snow-covered rocks, logs or whatever else is available to ski off of and launch into the air.
In the afternoon, blue skies had turned to snow flurries. By the end of the day it was snowing considerably harder. Back on the ski train, Alton Clark, the skier who was eager with anticipation on the train this morning, says that was just fine with him.
Mr. CLARK: I like to ski in the storm, blizzard conditions. It's great. It doesn't matter. I love to ski.
WHITNEY: Surrounded by like-minded friends, Clark turns up the music on their boom box and celebrates another fine day of skiing all the way home. For NPR News, I'm Eric Whitney in Colorado Springs.