The Mountain Games (or just an average weekend)
We do this stuff every weekend, right?
The earliest incarnation of the GoPro Mountain Games I remember was a kayak rodeo on one day — with free beer tickets — and a raft race down Dowd Chute — bring your own beer — the next.
I remember thinking as I milled around Vail Village that summers in this new place I lived had the potential to be pretty nice. Apparently, the Vail Valley Foundation, a bunch of companies and thousands of people agreed with me.
As much as Vail/Beaver Creek/Eagle County thrives on snowsports, summer (or what passes for it so far) is becoming more of a thing when it comes to our little corner of the world.
Yes, the Mountain Games have refined the art of commercialism. On Sunday, there’s an event called the TIAA Bank Youth Climbing Competition. Where is it located? The TIAA Bank Climbing Wall. Where is it? Near the IsoPure Athlete Lounge and the Pacifico Food and Beer Garden.
Of course, we’re not bagging on the sponsors. Someone has to put up the scratch to make all of this go. It’s just I’ve lived here 22 years and would prefer to call it a climbing event at the base of Vista Bahn/Gondola One.
The above may seem silly, but in some ways the entire GoPro Mountain Games are silly to most people who don’t live here. In one weekend, there are 5K and 10K running races, kayaking or rafting up at Homestake and Gore creeks, multiple bike races, including one up Vail Pass, tightrope walking (slacklining), flyfishing, and you take your dog everywhere.
Seriously, this is silly to a lot of people, except those of us who live here. Yes, while it would be hopeless to explain to someone from Iowa why one should pedal up Vail Pass, all of this (and a lot of stuff I left out) is just called Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday here.
I live on the east end of EagleVail near Dowd Junction, and the kayakers and rafters are starting to drift by my porch. (On a personal note, do they know they are taking their lives into their own hands when I play golf at EagleVail?)
Every other Wednesday, the Vail Recreation District East West Hospitality Mountain Bike Town Race Series goes off, and 300-400 people do something like take on Vail, Beaver Creek or an insane climb like Davos Dash.
The VRD also has the La Sportiva Running Series, which includes a half marathon. It’s been at Vail, where runners go up Vail, down into the Back Bowls and back up. This year it’s at Camp Hale, at nearly 10,000 feet. So this weekend’s 10K and 5K running races aren’t out of the ordinary, right?
Fishing season never really stops up here. It merely changes location depending on cubic feet per second. I do, though, like that the flyfishing finals are in an undisclosed location. Please say hello to Dick Cheney for me. And when the Eagle is ready to fish, do remember that I’m still playing golf.
Stand-up padding? Completely normal here. Yoga? Do you know anyone who’s not in a yoga class of some form? Disc golf? The usual.
Dog-jumping contests? Let’s face it, there could be no more of a Vail/Eagle County event. Does anyone love dogs more than people in this area? (Indicated answer, no.) If dogs were counted as people in Eagle County during the 2020 census, Colorado would add at least one electoral college vote.
The GoPro Mountain Games are a big weekend, welcoming summer to the area, but it’s really just another weekend for us.
I’ll see you at the TIAA Bank Climbing Wall near the IsoPure Athlete Lounge and the Pacifico Food and Beer Garden.
Following a grueling five-day push, 10-year-old Glenwood Springs native Selah Schneiter became the youngest to ever scale the 3,000-foot nose of the iconic El Capitan at Yosemite National Park.