Sunlight Trails — the stories behind the ski run names | VailDaily.com

Sunlight Trails — the stories behind the ski run names

John Stroud, Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Winter brings renewed wonder when locals and visitors alike take to the trails at Glenwood Springs’ own Sunlight Mountain ski resort.

Each of the more than 60 ski runs at Sunlight has a name, and with each a little story behind the name, according to some of the long-time staffers at the resort.

Many of the ski runs simply honor the region’s geography, culture, history and natural wonders:

Crystal —  for the Crystal River and the historic mining boom town of Crystal City, located above Marble toward Schofield Pass.

Ute and Peacepipe — In honor of the earlier native inhabitants of the region, the Ute Indians.

White River — For the National Forest on which Sunlight is permitted to operate.

Defiance — The name given the frontier fort that was established near the confluence of the Grand (Colorado) and Roaring Fork rivers, which preceded the incorporation of what became Glenwood Springs.

Frying Pan Alley — For the Fryingpan River Valley.

Columbine — The official Colorado state flower.

Sun King — The name of one of the many historic mining camps located south of Glenwood Springs; among them Sunlight itself.

Holiday Hill — The small ski hill that preceded Sunlight.

Midland Express — Named for the Midland Railroad that operated in the Roaring Fork Valley during the mining boom.

And, Zephyr — Named for the famous California Zephyr, the historic passenger train line that came through Glenwood Springs. The name is still used by the Amtrak line.

Some of Sunlight’s runs got their names through naming contests, including Beaujolais — a name submitted by Charlie Sprick, grandfather of local artist Dan Sprick. Dan’s grandmother, Mary, also submitted “Loopity Loop,” which became simply Loop

Others of Sunlight’s trails are named for people who contributed in some way to the ski area’s legacy. Many of them have since passed, but others are still living and remain influential.

Among the latter lot is Tom J’s Glades, formerly Upper Glades, named in honor of longtime Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky, who is still a part owner and financial officer for the resort, as well as a three-term Garfield County commissioner.

And, more recently, three runs on the famed East Ridge were named Aligator Alleys (A1, A2 and A3) in honor of current U.S. Ski Team member and New Castle resident Alice McKennis. McKennis got her ski legs under her skiing at Sunlight as a small child with her father, Greg McKennis.  

As for the in-memorium honors, there’s Dawson, located on the west side of the main bowl. It was named in memory of “Monk” Dawson, who died in a Jeep rollover accident while helping with the construction of the Segundo ski lift. Speaking of which, Segundo itself honors the region’s Spanish heritage. Segundo means “second” in English. The lift was the ski area’s second. The original bottom-to-top lift had a midway option to disembark — thus the run named Midway.  

Joslin, another popular west-side run, includes a plaque at the very top of the run honoring the memory of Jim Joslin, an active member of the Sunlight Ski Patrol. Joslin was among the 12 Rocky Mountain Natural Gas employees who died in a tragic propane gas explosion at the RMNG distribution warehouse on Devereux Road on Dec. 16, 1985.

Teed’s Run, located on the East Ridge, is named for Teed Stoner, who died in an avalanche while snowboarding on the ridge in the early 1990s. Afterwards, Sunlight decided to officially open and maintain the area, which has become popular with steep-and-deep expert skiers and boarders.

Not far from there is Tod’s Ride, named for Todd Elston, a long-time ski patrol director who was injured while doing avalanche mitigation work before the East Ridge was officially opened.

Ivy’s Run, a short trail descending from Columbine to Ute, is named in memory of Ivy Adler, a former member of the Sunlight Ski Team who died in a tragic car accident on Highway 82.

Not far from there is Charlie’s Glades, named in memory of a child who died after hitting a tree while skiing through the woods between Cornice and White River.

There’s also Perry’s Plunge, named for the late longtime Carbondale-area rancher Bob Perry, an original Sunlight investor; Gibson’s Glade, named for Ed Gibson, a longtime Sunlight building and grounds and general maintenance worker; Sherman Forest, named for Tom and Olly Sherman, founders of the 100 Club ski and hiking group in Glenwood Springs; Little Max, named for the late Max Doose; and Cassanova Glade, named for the late Tony Cassanova, another longtime Sunlight volunteer ski patroller.

Finally, though not a ski run, there’s also Leonard’s Lookout, an archway framing Mt. Sopris and the Elk Mountain Range that’s named for the late long-time part owner Leonard Lorentson. His son, Todd, now holds those shares of the company, and his granddaughter, Tiffany, sits on Sunlight’s Board of Directors.