Making the adjustment to 12 months of snow at Copper Mountain
BIG ISLAND PUBLIC PARK
What: The only resort-maintained summer ski/snowboarding opportunity in Colorado
Where: Copper Mountain
When: Open Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through September
Cost: $28 per day
An attached garage is pretty much the best thing you can have on your place if you live in this area. I’m sure it’s something my grandmother considered when she purchased a nice little townhouse in Vail in the early ’70s. She lived there for the next 30 years, and then I became lucky enough to move into the place.
At that time, the idea of 12-month per year snowboarding, for me, was inconceivable. I’m not the splitboarding type, it takes too much time. On a good year I might do two trips up nearby couloirs. The convenience of the sport is what provides me my ability to ride every day in the winter.
Now, over the course of the last few years, snowboarding in our area has become a 12-month per year option, and it’s quite convenient. Nearby Copper Mountain has transformed what’s possible, turning their winter halfpipe into a patch of snow that lasts all summer long. Over the last few years, the Big Island public park has been open on Saturdays and Sundays to anyone and everyone who wants to get on snow. This year, it’s open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“Last year we were able to keep the park open through Oct. 2 … and we’re looking like we’re going to be able to do it again this year,” Chris Stellato, the regional marketing supervisor at Copper Mountain, told me on Wednesday. “It’s something that we think brings a lot of value to the experience here at Copper, and it’s definitely something that we’re going to continue to do for the years to come, for sure.”
GETTING USED TO IT
I’m sure I’m like a lot of locals. The ski/snowboard season ends, perhaps with the closing of Vail, maybe with the closing of Arapahoe Basin, but either way, at that point, your board or skis, boots, outerwear, wax, tools, etcetera, all go into the back of the closet, not to be seen again for months. Out comes the skateboard, longboard, electric longboard, road bike, mountain bike, raft, paddles, life jacket, rod, reel and everything else.
Over the last couple of years, for me, getting out the summer gear isn’t complimented by putting away the winter gear. Instead, the equal and opposite reaction has been to discontinue parking in that nice attached garage of mine.
I know what you’re thinking: “Only a pompous _____ would bemoan not parking in his attached garage in the summer.”
Having kids, you learn a lot about the fine art of coercion, and you learn a lot about yourself along the way. Parking in the garage makes convincing my 2-year-old to consent to a car ride easy, yet I endure the fight because I don’t want to put away my snowboards. What does this say about myself? Indeed, Copper Mountain’s summer shred scene has presented some opportunity for soul searching.
Imagine you’re my daughter’s age, you’ve been cooped up in the house for hours, you’re told it’s finally time to get out of the house and you’re thrilled to go outside the front door and breathe in the fresh air.
Now you’re told to get in the car, because you have to go to the post office.
“Ugh,” I’ll say to myself as the screaming begins, trying not to curse Copper and their awesome park. “My life is a mess.”
I talked to my friend Brendon Glenwright for organizational advice. He’s a snowboarding coach for kids at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and said thanks to Copper’s summer scene, he’s been able to snowboard every month of the year, and every week of the year most months, for the last few years. He loves the scene up there.
“The hiking and the rails gives you such a good opportunity to learn,” he said.
Like so many locals trying to make it in the Vail Valley, Glenwright’s time in Vail has been beset by housing problems and he has had to move often. It has made him minimize his gear over the years, and the activities that he chooses to focus on.
“My gear is all mixed in, there is no summer and winter,” he said. “My snowboard sits in the same spot, my gloves are out, boots are out, balaclavas hanging from side of the bed.”
One day earlier this summer, I rafted Gore Creek, longboarded down Buffehr Creek Drive and hiked the North Trail all in the same day. All that gear now sits in my garage, it has been used many times since, and it’s not about to go into storage. And I think I’ll head up to Copper and try out a different board on the rails this weekend.
The gear in the garage has been a great learning experience for the kids, as well. My 10-month-old will watch Lilia, the 2-year-old, comb through the gear and name each piece. She also likes to ride the skateboard in the little bit of open space there is in the garage.
So there it is, what a wonderful life. I’m really thankful to have both an attached garage and a nearby opportunity to get on snow 12 months per year. As for those trips to the post office, I guess I’ll have to plan for a little more coercion time and besides, like a slide down a rail on your snowboard, coercion is a skill that requires practice.