Summer sneaking up on the slopes |

Summer sneaking up on the slopes

Matt Zalaznick

Because there are days – even powder days – when some of us would just rather take the dog for a hike, when some of us are wishing it was summer – but we head up the hill anyway because we don’t want to show up at work the next day and get berated over the the miles and miles of sick fresh champagne sicko freshies we missed.

There’s not so much pressure to conform when the snow melts and the mountain closes. So, which is better – winter or summer?

“That’s a really stupid question,” says Alex Whetstone, a snowrider from New Hampshire.

Some local skiers and snowboarders, even some quite diehard riders – even as the valley’s two world-famous hills are being pounded by a non-stop string of powder days – are honest enough to admit they prefer the summer. Ah, the summer – when you never have to shackle on the ski boots or find a place to park on Vail’s jam-packed Frontage Road; when you don’t have to worry about anything larger or hungrier than a starving black bear breaking in to your living room.

“I hate summer,” says Damon Bryan, a skier from Denver. “I’d like it to snow all year. If I could afford to move to Chile every summer I would. I’d do the endless winter thing.

“And,” he adds, “I never vacation in tropical weather.”

Guess that’s Aruba’s loss, isn’t it?

Contentious conflict

But the rivalry between summer and winter –a conflict often as contentious as the running feud between tourists and locals – presents a problem that’s arcane, complex and riddled with existential contradictions for Bryan’s friend, Shanli Tse.

“I love snow; I hate the cold,” she said.

Snowboarder Paul Petro, a snowboarder from Longmont, shows a tad more equanimity when balancing a love for deep powder with an affinity for long summer afternoons hiking and mountain-biking until the sun sets.

“I’m not a psycho snow person,” Petro says. “But right now I’m thinking about more snow. We can never have enough snow.”

What Petro means to says is he snowboards hard all winter, but he’s not the kind of guy you’ll find riding the strip of slush at Arapaho Basin in July. By then, he says, he’s stowed the snowboard for the winter.

And while he admits there are no good beaches in Colorado, he says conditions on the slopes have been getting better and better over the last several weeks.

“It’s been really good all season,” Petro says. “It dropped off for a little while, but it’s gotten pretty good again.”

And, after several straight days of snow, the very latest forecasts are calling for snow to keep falling for the next several days.

“Best part of ski season’

Snowrider Jeb Ober, who’s from Boston but lives in Boulder, says summer is not on his mind at all.

“We’re just getting to the best part of ski season,” Ober said.

But Dan Jester and his fiancee, Debbie Campbell, say they are looking forward to this summer – because they’re getting married.

“We’re both doing the planning,” Campbell says. “He’s been very good. If it’s flowers, he may not have a strong opinion, but he’s taking part.”

That means he’s good at nodding his head and saying, “Yeah, that’s a great idea honey,” right S but this is not a marriage report, it’s a ski report and we’ll thank Jester for getting us back on topic.

“I prefer the summer,” Jester says.

How come it’s all Front Rangers in this article? Aren’t there any locals on the slopes these days? Why, yes there are. Rob Viegelman of Eagle-Vail says while summers in the mountains are spectacular, he still hasn’t had enough of the slopes after seven years in the valley.

“I don’t think I’ll ever have had enough,” Viegelman says.

And the snow this week?

“It’s nice that it’s snowing again,” he says. “It was getting tracked out and hard there for a while.”

Viegelman says if he preferred the summer, he’d move.

“If I’m not snowboarding, I’d rather be surfing, and I can’t do that here,” he says.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at

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