Requiem for the chutes
Vail Daily, Vail Colorado COIt is human nature to destroy what we love. We conquer things with the belief that once ruined, we can be free to respect or even worship what we lost, knowing that it poses no threat any longer. Jesus is the epitome of this process, but I digress from that obvious dead end. In this case, I am referring to the once-great Stone Creek Chutes. Once upon a time there was a fabulous sunny slope just out of bounds in Beaver Creek. Seldom skied, the chutes were beautiful lift-access backcountry that boasted medium to huge cliff drops, steep, perfect powder turns, and no hiking involved. On a good day, you could get in a large handful of laps before scooting off to work that same afternoon with a big grin on your face that only fresh powder turns can contrive. Those days are over. I thought I was too young to be referring to the “good old days,” but I was mistaken. It was only last year I was snapping photos of my buddies so deep in fresh powder, they looked like they needed a snorkel. You can still make out their silly grins.This week my partner-in-all-things and I dropped in to scope out the “new terrain” on our hometown mountain. Our hopes soared as we cut through the trees to the drop-in point, noting that our tracks were the only ones. As soon as we reached the “new runs,” our hearts fell so heavily the thud was almost audible. No longer the semi-untouched terrain it had been the year prior, I could barely recognize it. Bombed to hell as a proactive measure, the dismembered snow lay in ugly gray clumps as far as the eye could see. Our beloved chutes had been skied like steep bumps so much that now it’s what they are: another bump run. I felt like I was at Disneyland, riding the thrilling attraction they’d probably call “Xtreme Chutes” or some such nonsense. Our hearts sank even further when we dropped in to the already obvious conditions. It was just as bad as it looked. Completely dismayed and overcome with the feeling of helplessness, we concluded the run with heaviness where hope was moments before. No longer a harrowing endeavor, the traverse out looks like it had been bulldozed this summer. As wide as a cat track and nearly as flat, it no longer dissuades the faint of heart. It belongs to them. A half-conscious drunk on skis can now make it out unscathed, where the trail used to be only shoulder wide between the trees and whoop-de-dos. My legs would ache from the isometric contraction of holding myself together to avoid a collision with the aspens. Skiing out to the Rose Bowl lift in silence, we paid our respects to the demise of something superb. I mourn the loss of the great friend Stone Creek Chutes was to me, and I’ll never forget the times we’ve spent together. I refuse to give up on the Beav entirely, out of respect and loyalty to one that has treated me well. I guess it means I just have to travel a bit farther to seek out the untouched. I understand that nothing gold will stay, but if The Man ever installs a chairlift to access the Bald Spot, I’m leaving.And so I lay Stone Creek Chutes to rest. You will be missed.Dana Jurich of Avon writes a weekly column for the Daily. Send comments or questions to email@example.com
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