Stone Creek: Private stash goes public
Vail, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK ” Some locals mourn Beaver Creek’s decision to open the Stone Creek chutes ” a secret stash they and a few other intrepid locals once shared.
Craig Kosko ducked the ropes there for years before the chutes opened this season.
“Do I think they should close it again? Yes,” the Eagle-Vail resident said while working in a Beaver Creek boot shop. “For one, it’s dangerous for the average Joe and it was a nice stash.”
Kelli Rohrig first skied Stone Creek in high school.
“It definitely ruined it,” she said after skiing there Wednesday.
Despite the fact Kosko and Rohrig must now share Stone Creek with others, they still believe it’s the best inside-the-resort terrain in the valley.
Stone Creek is a short, steep series of chutes, glades and cliffs tucked into the eastern portion of Beaver Creek. The area is secluded, quiet and has expansive views of the Gore Range.
The Cinch and Drink of Water lifts drop people above three gates ” two along Ripsaw and one off Red Buffalo ” which allow access to the ridgeline above the expert terrain.
Kosko plans to fight the crowds and continue skiing Stone Creek.
“It’s awesome,” Kosko said. “The type of terrain there you don’t get on other parts of the mountain. It’s more like Utah ” backcountry but inbounds skiing.”
The mountainside is dotted with cliffs small and massive. One particularly large cliff rises perhaps 60 feet into the air. Several runs end at a catwalk leads skiers and snowboarders to the base of Rose Bowl.
The only comparison remaining to Stone Creek Chutes is Vail Mountain’s smaller Prima Cornice, Kosko said.
“It’s a little bit better than Prima Cornice,” Kosko said. “In Stone Creek there’s more variety.”
Kevin Roop, a ski school manager, often skied Stone Creek before it opened. He compares it to Aspen Highlands and said the terrain gives Beaver Creek something Vail Mountain lacks.
“I don’t know anything at Vail like that,” he said. “I think it’s the most sustained steep pitch in the valley.”
Beaver Creek took over the area in 2002 because it was prone to avalanches caused by skiers and snowboarders ducking the rope.
“I’m shocked they opened it because the avalanche probability is high,” Kosko said.
Beaver Creek ski patrol monitors Stone Creek. After last week’s storm, patrollers blasted apart any potential slides, said Barrett Langendoerfer, head of snow safety.
“It certainly adds to the terrain where we need to do avalanche control after a storm,” he said.
Because patrollers might be throwing explosives into the snowpack after a storm, Langendoerfer asks people stay out of the chutes if they’re closed.
Stone Creek gives the resort the expert terrain it had lacked, said John Garnsey, chief operating officer. “It gives us a little bit of diversity of terrain,” Garnsey said. “The vertical is short, but it’s high impact.”
Rohrig said making the terrain available to the public is part of the trend of skiers and snowboarders wanting to experience extreme terrain safely.
“It’s kind of the progression of the sport,” Rohrig said. “For a long time nobody did a backflip on a motorcycle. Now kids are doing it. I think people want the challenge, but not the consequences. It’s controlled.”
Even though these skiers and snowboarders might devour the fresh snow once shared by few knowledgeable locals, Rohrig remains optimistic.
“There’s always another good place to go ” you just have to work harder,” Rohrig said.
Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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