What we do when we can’t ski | VailDaily.com

What we do when we can’t ski

Veronica Whitney
A hiker makes his way down West Lake Creek Trail Sunday afternoon.

Brendan Wills and Hans Carlsgward, who have been skiing everyday since they got to the valley on Dec. 15, swapped snowboard boots for fishing boots on Sunday when temperatures reach the 40s.

“We decided to go fishing because our passes are restricted,” said Wills, 26, of Avon. “I think it sucks the passes are restricted. Today, it’s warm and it’s nice to go fishing. But, tomorrow after the snow storm hits us, I’d rather go snowboarding.”

After a relaxing one-hour long breakfast at Bob’s restaurant in Avon on Sunday, Ken Barham, 39, of Avon, who wasn’t snowboarding as he usually does in the weekends because his pass was restricted, was getting ready to help a friend to move.

“If you want to ski, you go ride the other mountains: Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin, where the passes aren’t restricted,” Barham said.

Every winter,when guests flood the valley and The New York Times is sold out at Starbucks by 8 a.m., locals know the rules: for five days the merchant passes are restricted at Vail and Beaver Creek – except for children.

This year Vail Resorts lifted the restrictions on the passes over Thanksgiving but retain them from Dec. 27 through Dec. 31. The next blackout period will be Feb. 15 and 16 for President’s Day holiday weekend.

“It’s kind of a bummer, but there will be other days,” said Beth Johnston, 33, of Avon. “I usually ski two or three times a week, but I have some friends visiting, so I do stuff with them.”

Vaughn Miller, 44, of Avon was getting ready to go snowshoeing with a friend on West Lake Creek trail Sunday, where about two dozen cars were parked by the trailhead.

“If my pass wasn’t restricted today, I would be skiing with my kids,” Miller said. “But we got options, there’s other stuff to do here. And, at least, they don’t restrict the kids’ passes.”

Although Rob Hamina’s children passes aren’t restricted, Hamina, of Edwards said he doesn’t like Gunnar, 8, and Ian, 11, to go to the mountain all by themselves.

Instead, the family goes ice skating with friends to Nottingham Lake.

“Even thought the kids can go skiing, it’s more fun to come all here,” Hamina said.

The parking lot at Nottingham Lake was almost full before noon Sunday. Local families like the Haminas, unloaded food and drinks, skates and hockey equipment from their cars.

Among them were Janine and Michael Glennon of Avon, who own Vista Restaurant. The Glennons agreed that not skiing for a while isn’t a big deal.

“We have so much going on this time of the year that we don’t have time to go anyways,” Michael Glennon said as his 4-year-old son, Matteo, ice skated across the lake.

“I think we would still be ice skating, even if the passes weren’t restricted,” Janine Glennon said. “It’s too busy out there anyways. We will wait until January to go back skiing. In the meantime, we will skate, sled and ride our bikes on nice days.”

Others, however, aren’t that patient.

“There are ways to get up and ski,” said Casey Schaefer, 29, of East Vail.

“I have some friends who skinned up to chair 10 (in Vail) the other day and then ski the whole mountain for the rest of the day.”

Schaefer, who skis four or five times a week when passes aren’t restricted, said he isn’t that desperate.

“I use this time to catch up with other stuff,” he said with resignation, “like my laundry and vacuuming.”

When that is done, he goes ski touring to Vail Pass.

“You get a few turns in that way,” he said.

These days offer a change of pace for Jim Gargiulo, 28, of Vail, who coaches the snowboarding team at Vail Mountain School.

“I go ice climbing to East Vail,” he said.

Inside Starbucks in Avon, Hayley Pollock, 28, of Eagle-Vail, siped her latte by the fireplace.

“I’m not a huge skier, so it’s not that bad for me,” she said. “Instead of skiing, I like to come to Starbucks with friends for coffee and take care of my family.”

Outside Starbucks, Robert Gutierrez put his (bike) helmet on. Gutierrez, 50, of Avon, usually skis on weekends, but this week his pass also is restricted.

“It’s such a beautiful day, that I decided to ride to Vail,” he said. “It’s not a big deal, just a week. But, I’m still waiting for the storm….”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.

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