Saturday, December 30, 2006

The History of Skiing on the Grand Mesa (part 2)

The Mesa Creek Ski Area saw several improvements as skiing grew. A Poma Lift, funded by the Lions Club and the community, replaced one of the rope tows. This same lift, known as “Lion’s Lift,” was later moved and used at Powderhorn Resort until 2005. More terrain was opened at Mesa Creek and the management group became known as Grand Mesa Winter Sports, Inc. At that time, family season passes were $95. The first ski school in the area was started in 1952 by Don Larsh, a member of the 1948 US Olympic Ski Team.

The area became more and more popular and it was soon apparent that a different location was necessary. The US Forest Service recommended development of the Big Beaver Creek Basin but funds for the move and expansion were very limited. A group of private individuals got together and formed the Colorado Grand Mesa Ski Corporation which began the process of building a new ski area.

Next post: The birth of Powderhorn Ski Resort

Friday, December 29, 2006

History of Skiing on the Grand Mesa (part 1)

In case you haven't heard, this season is Powderhorn's 40th Anniversary! But we don't look a day over 30. With the Anniversary Celebration week fast approaching (January 8-14) I thought it would be a good idea to explore the history of skiing on the Grand Mesa. It has a great story which I'll break up into a few days' posts since it could get long. I know a lot of you read this blog at work, so I wouldn't want you to single handedly submarine the productivity rates on our account.

Skiing on the Grand Mesa has roots going back to the 1930s. In 1935 the first sport skiing began on Grand Mesa at a location near Land’s End Road. A club operation began skiing the mesa in 1938 just a couple hundred yards from Mesa Lakes Resort. A rope tow provided access to two runs. This tow was powered by an old truck which required a fresh battery every day. This battery was often lugged up the hill on skis first thing in the morning.

In the mid 1940s skiing was moved to the Mesa Creek area or what is now commonly referred to as “Old Powderhorn.” This location provided more variety of terrain for beginners and more advanced skiers. The road up the mesa was not paved at this time and cars parked wherever they could make space. There were two rope tows installed over the first two seasons. A Ford Model A motor ran the shorter tow and a Buick hearse motor ran the longer tow.

Next post: the developement of Mesa Creek Ski Area and the search for new terrain

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Watch the Pros

There are tons of professional ski and snowboard competitions in Colorado every year. These events are a blast to attend and usually completely free! If you've never checked out the X Games live before, you've gotta do it! Parking is free, the shuttle is free, the event is free...but the food is expesive so brown bag it.

Here's some details on big events happening around CO this year. Some are televised, so if work or school gets in the way you can still catch it.

Winter X Games
January 25-28
The biggest event of the year. Ski & Snowboard half pipe and slopestyle not to mention crazy Moto X Big Air, Skier & Snowboarder Cross, and Snowmobile racing.

US Freeskiing Open
Copper Mountain
January 17-21
Ski half pipe, Slopestyle, and Big Air

Breckenridge Ski Tour
February 1-4
Ski half pipe & slopestyle

Aspen/Snowmass Open
February 8-11
Ski & Snowboard slopestyle & half pipe

16th Annual US Freeskiing Championships
Crested Butte
February 20-24
This one is intense! Skiers navigate the steepest of the steep with mandatory cliff drops.

Unfortunately for the riders, there isn't a ton of pro snowboard comps in Colorado. If you really want to travel, the US Open Snowboarding Championships are in Stratton, VT.

Make sure you check out Powderhorn's very own Thunder Mt. Freestyle Fest this year! It's a new event and it's going to be BIG. Mark the calendar for February 10-11. Saturday we'll have the Terrain Park Challenge which is a slopestyle competition. The top 2 in each category will qualify for regionals in the nationwide Jeep Terrain Park Challenge series. Cash and swag are also up for grabs. The competition will be judged by the Jibij Pro Team themselves. Then we'll get to watch them go crazy in the park, get autographs, chill with the team. Also on Saturday- ski & snowboard demos, live music, tons of giveaways, and watch professional photo shoots. Then Sunday we'll have a rail jam, high ollie contest, ski & snowboard demos, giveaways, and anything else we can add to the event to make it amazing.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

January Events

Well another Christmas has passed. I don't know about you but I'm seriously tired. I'm pretty sure I don't need to eat for a couple days, I can just live off of what I consumed yesterday.

But it's time to get going on our upcoming events. There's a ton happening just in January alone! Here's the rundown of events and clinics for the month of January. If you want a handy-dandy calendar of your own, look for our half-page calendar in Sunday's Daily Sentinel.

New Year's Eve- this is a biggie! Torchlight Parade & Fireworks, Prime Rib Buffet, Rail Jam, music by the Williams Brothers Band, giveaways all night including a snowboard!

Jan 6 Venture Snowboards Demo Day
Jan 10 Women's Clinic
Jan 11 Young at Heart begins
Jan 8-14 Powderhorn's 40th Anniversary Week- get 2 lift tickets for $66 all week
Jan 13-14 40th Birthday Party- Bump-n-Jump, memorabilia room, cake, baloons, giveaways, treasure hunt, live music, food specials, toboggan rides, obstacle course, equipment demos, and a chance to win a portable DVD player
Jan 13 Women's Clinic, Freeriders, Powdercats
Jan 14 Freeriders, Powdercats
Jan 17 Women's Clinic
Jan 20 Slopestyle Competition in the Mt. Dew Junction Park
Jan 20 Women's Clinic, Freeriders, Powdercats
Jan 21 Mt. Dew Vertical Challenge & Sobe Rail Jam
Jan 21 Freeriders, Powdercats
Jan 24 Women's Clinic
Jan 27-28 2nd Annual TeleFest
Jan 27 Women's Clinic, Freeriders, Powdercats
Jan 28 Freeriders, Powdercats
Jan 31 Women's Clinic

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

All of the staff at Powderhorn would like to wish you and your family a very merry Christmas. We hope this is a season of peace and that your time with family and friends will be truly blessed.

Thank you for supporting Powderhorn! We hope that we provide a fun atmosphere for you to enjoy the time you spend with those you love. I personally get excited when I can hear people laughing outisde my office and see people smiling or taking pictures with their kids. I hope that this is another season with great memories at Powderhorn!

Sarah Allen
Sales & Marketing Administrator

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ski with Santa

Skip the scary mall Santa experience...
And bring the kids up to Powderhorn to ski with Santa! We have it on good authority that he'll be stopping at Powderhorn Christmas Eve for some skiing before hitting the night skies. Come join him for some great skiing with family and friends!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Calling All Photographers

By photographers we mean anyone with a camera. We would love to see your pictures! As you're riding the mountain this season, snap some pictures and send them our way. Send in pictures of you and your family/friends, powder shots, scenic shots, or pictures of you showing off.

If you send in something amazing we just might use it! If we'd like to use your picture we will first contact you for permission. Please send contact info with pictures. You can send them to

As I type this, I know there is at least one person already cooking up an idea to send us a shot of themselves mooning the camera or something. Please don't send us one wants to see that. Seriously, no obscenity please.

p.s. it snowed 8 inches in the last 24 hours, a foot in the last 48 hours. This weekend should be goooooood, come join us!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Snow Reporting

Apparently there was some confusion yesterday. Because it snowed in Grand Junction, I can understand that everyone thought we had received tons of new snow. When our snow report said 0" people thought we just decided to sleep in or something. But the truth is, as of 5:00am yesterday we had not received any snow. It's definitely rare that it snows in GJ and not here but that's in fact what happened. It did start snowing lightly in the morning and we've now had 4 incehs of snow in the last 24 hours. We sure wish this storm had brought more but we'll always take what we get too. As of right now it is trying to snow but very lightly. The forecast calls for a possible 1-2 inches more today.

As one of the snow reporters, I assure you we keep an accurate report that is tracked all season long. Please keep in mind that there is nothing we can do about it snowing or not. If we had our way, it would always be a powder day!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bruised Egos (among other things)

Crashing is just part of learning and progressing in skiing/snowboarding. Sometimes it's best to just laugh at ourselves....and our long as we make sure they're ok first. We get a lot of pictures over the season. Here are a few of the crashes we've caught along the way, lots of them seem to come from the park. And just to show that I'm a good sport, there's one of me in there.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Behind the Scenes

Have you ever wondered what goes on at Powderhorn to make the place run? I know I used to think that a ski area pretty much just turned the lift on and said "Go for it!" Here's what really goes on each day...

The lifts close at 4:00 every day. At this time, ski patrol does the final load on the lift to do "sweep." Patrols spread out across the mountain and ski every run slowly, stopping at checkpoints. They are looking for anyone that may not have made it off the mountain yet.

Next the groomers come out. These guys generally work shifts of 4:00pm to midnight and midnight to 8:00am. Each groomer has his list of runs to maintain. They have great stories of things they've seen running around the mountain in the middle of the night (no sasquatch yet though). We also do snowmaking at night during the early season period. Temperatures have to be at or below about 25 degrees. Our guns blow the snow into large piles which the groomers then spread out evenly around the base area. Snow is also made to build the jumps and features in the terrain parks.

Once everything has been groomed, the guys call in the report around 4:00am to a special voicemail box. Then, either myself or our communications director pulls ourselves out of bed around 5am or 5:30am to listen to their report and put out the snow report. We update Colorado Ski Country's website, the Powderhorn site, and record the phone message that you all get to listen to. Hopefully we sound perky and fool you into thinking we've been up for hours. Usually I've been up for 5 minutes and I'm in my PJs. Then it's shower, breakfast, and off to the mountain.

Our snow removal team is sometimes the first to arrive when it has been snowing. This crew is here at the crack of dark to plow everything. Our lift crew starts to arrive around 7:00 and gets to their positions at the 3 lifts. Ski Patrol is also arriving at this time to start putting up the fences, slow signs, etc (this stuff is removed every night for the grooming). Food & Beverage is also showing up around this time to start cooking up a tasty breakfast, especially those killer cinnamon rolls.

The lift crew performs safety and service checks on all the lifts and then makes a radio call to our mountain dispatcher when each lift is ready for the public. In the meantime, ticket office has opened the windows and ski school is in their morning meeting. By 8:30 the rental shop is getting tons of skis and snowboards adjusted to each individual foot. When the clock strikes 9, we start loading and the day has begun. At 10:30 the first batch of lessons begin and instructors take their groups to the different teaching areas on the mountain.

All day long we are communicating on the radios between departments trying to make everything run smooth. At about 3:30 the terrain parks close and each feature gets maintenance and raking. When 4:00 comes around again, the lifts get "toned out." This is a tone that is broadcast to all our radios with an announcement that all lifts are officially closed. Then the whole process begins again!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Big Doins

We're having a better-than-ever New Year's Bash this year at Powderhorn! Here's the plan:

Skiing/riding all day
New Year's Rail Jam around 4:00
Torchlight Parade & Fireworks 6:30
Prime Rib buffet at Wildewood Restaurant
Live music all night in the Sunset Grille by Williams Brothers Band
Giveaways all night long
Champagne toast at midnight (we'll even sing that New Year's song that no one knows the words to)

And here's the really good news- Laidlaw is providing an extended bus schedule so you don't have to drive to the party! Cost is $8 round trip.
Departs GJ
6:50am Sutherlands (Mesa Mall) and Mesa State College
7:10am Holiday Inn (Horizon Drive) and McDonald's (Clifton)

10:00am All locations
3:00pm All locations

Departs Powderhorn
4:30pm and 12:30am

Hope to ring in 2007 with all of you!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Death by Rabbit

I'm just wondering if anyone else has had this experience before. You're out skiing, just cruising along and out of nowhere something white and fast is running out right in front of you. Startled and trying to dodge this furry creature, you end up in a massive yard sale. This happened to me one day while skiing at my home mountain in Wyoming. I look back up the hill and a Snowshoe Hare is sitting safely on the side of the run laughing. Hmmm much like that Geico commercial.

I've had squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits do this before in my ski life but not as often since I've been at Powderhorn. Then one day the weirdest little animal I had ever seen ran across my path on the West End. Turns out it was an ermine. I had never even heard of them before. They are small short-tailed weasels, long cute little things. Their coat is brown in the summer and then turns all white for the winter except the tip of their tail which stays brown. Ermines are nocturnal animals but can be spotted around Powderhorn every once in awhile so keep an eye out for them. Sometimes you can spot them from the lift running between the aspens.

Maybe our mascot should be the Ernie the Ermine?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

American Cancer Society Vertical Rally

This is a really cool event that Powderhorn is hosting this year. It's a chance to find out how many vertical feet you can ski/ride in a day while benefiting the American Cancer Society. You can sign up as a team or individually and compete for prizes. All the proceeds go to the fight against cancer!

Saturday, Feb. 17

Register at

Friday, December 08, 2006

Text Messaging

Now you can get powder alerts, ticket specials and event details delivered right to your cell phone! Go to to sign up

This is a free service but keep in mind fees may apply based on your wireless plan.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Opening Day

Opening Day went off! Thanks to everyone who came up. I apologize for a rushed blog but here's a few pictures from the day

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tomorrow's the Day!

It's finally here! Opening Day is tomorrow, Dec. 7. Here are the details on terrain and everything:

50% of the mountain will be open
2 of 3 lifts
22" base
6-7 features in the terrain park
Reduced early season ticket prices

Chick-fil-A will be up here handing out coupons for free food
Magic, KJoy, the Moose, and KStar will be broadcasting live starting at 6am

Text Messaging
Now you can get powder alerts, ticket specials and event info deliver right to your phone! It's a free service from Powderhorn, just remember that charges may apply based on your service and carrier. Sign up at

Look forward to having you all up here!

Monday, December 04, 2006

3 Days To Go

The wait was so long yet its almost here already! We're opening Thursday for the 06-07 season. Time to use one of those sick days.

The mountain is in really good shape with a 30" base and we should have a terrain report of opening day for you tomorrow. Things are certainly picking up around here. Ski Patrol is out scouting all the runs and placing pads, fencing, etc. The snow guns have been active and the grooming crew (the nocturnals) have been packing and shaping the snow. I just saw our terrain parks manager hike up the mountain carrying a vacuum cleaner. Apparently he likes a really clean terrain park. Otherwise kitchen supplies are being ordered, press releases prepared, and ticket systems fired up.

A wise person told me last year that opening day is like giving birth. There is A LOT of labor involved but it's exciting. And that's definitely the mood this week. Everyone is probably burning twice the normal amount of calories but we're really excited.

Oh and another gift idea- Powderhorn Cash Cards. These can be used for tickets, lessons, rentals, food, Alpine Trader, and lodging. You can call us (970-268-5700) to order one or buy a preloaded card at Board & Buckle or Traz.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Catch the Bus

That's right, the bus is back! Laidlaw will be providing bus service to Powderhorn on weekends all season long. In addition, the bus will run December 23 through January 7, January 15, and March 12-18. The bus will not run Christmas Day. A round trip bus ride is $8.

Here's the schedule-

Depart: 6:50am Sutherlands (Mesa Mall)
Depart: 7:10am Holiday Inn (Horizon Drive)
Depart: 6:50am Mesa State College (Saunders Fieldhouse)
Depart: 7:10am McDonald's (Clifton)

Arrives at Powderhorn at 8:15am
Departs Powderhorn at 4:30pm sharp

Arrives in Grand Junction @ 5:30pm- same locations as departures

Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Please have exact change for bus driver. And please respect this service or there will be no service!