Chasing Last Chair
Ski days usually start early — eat a quick breakfast and get on the gondola in search of freshies — but some of my best ski days are those that start after lunch.
I’ll agree, it’s kinda hard to break tradition and wait to get on the hill. It’s time to start a new one by waiting a few hours. Start the day with a dip in the local hot springs or get brunch at your favorite restaurant. You’ll be rewarded with quiet runs, no lift lines and the bluest of blue skies, if you wait a bit.
I find that by waiting there’s also a fun sense of urgency to the afternoon of skiing. We have a limited time to ski, so we push ourselves to get in as many runs as possible. Our chairlift talk shifts from the regular banter to strategically how can we maximize the afternoon. Where do we start, and what’s the proper sequence of lifts to get us efficiently across the mountain? Occasionally, we get hit by surprise snow on a run, so we’ll stick to one lift and keep skiing the same set of runs over and over. All this in the effort to get as much in before the lifts stop.
This is where the chase begins. Storm Peak stops running at 3:15 p.m., and then Burgess Creek stops at 3:30 p.m. Try timing your skiing so you can get close to last chair on Storm but have enough time to literally get the last chair on B.C. It’s rewarding when you sit down and know you got the last ride of the day.
Next up is either Thunderhead or Christie. This decision depends on what you want to ski. Is it fast groomers down Vagabond and being one of the last skiers on the hill or lapping the terrain park? You can also link the Bashor lift into either of these options. It doesn’t close until 4 p.m.
Don’t spend too much time planning. Your afternoon will likely adjust based on conditions, what you want to ski and how determined you are to chase. If the chase to ski more doesn’t sound good, there’s always a barstool to chase down for apres ski.
Have you heard? There’s snow in the forecast for this weekend. You may want to keep to tradition, but the next time there’s no freshies to be skied, think about breaking it.
Garett Mariano, Alpine skier
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