As we rounded the corner on the pass during moderate snow, we saw the carnage of an avalanche slide. Apparently many places that haven’t slid in over 30 years were now sliding. We rallied up and parked near the train tracks and learned that travelling to Winterpark by train is still a thing and it serves many guests still. Hmmm, could this be the answer to the growing traffic issues on HWY 89 in Truckee? We jumped on the Cabriolet and glided over roads and tubing area to the main gondola entrance. We had heard about this place called Mary Jane’s and so decided to try that area first. They had about 8 inches of fresh snow and right away we fell into a good pocket of tree’s and glades that weren’t too steep. We explored most of the mountain that day but Mary Jane area was by far the best. Winterpark delivered and that’s one mountain down and a few to go. We heard Copper mountain got more snow than anyone and an avalanche took out a gas line near the Copper mountain resort and they closed. Hmmm, does that mean untracked runs when they re-open? I decided to feed my information addiction by focusing on the status at Copper for a possible visit for Day 2.
Denver has a big airport. After getting the snowboard bag out of a upright coffin dispenser-looking contraption, group member 2, Loren aka. Lorenzo, was there to pick me up in a nice ice storm around midnight. It was nice because we knew that meant snow up at higher elevations and hopefully good lucky powder days to come! Loren had been in Telluride, CO for a week already and is driving back to California to work in Tahoe after this next leg of the trip finishes. We had a slippery, dark ride through Denver but had the right vehicle and tires and so we talked through a rough plan as to how to hit a few new ski resorts in Colorado on the IKON pass and end up sleeping at our friends rustic ranch near Vail tomorrow night. With snow falling, and looking at the map on our route, we decided Berthound Pass would be a good area… and the resort – Winterpark. At 1am in the morning, we arrived at our roadside hotel, later to be known as the Door Slammin’ Inn.
In the morning, after a slow start we etched our way up the highway. Loren is a mountain man and he knows how to drive in many types of conditions. I fed my information addiction and checked twitter… Lucky I did , record breaking avalanches were occurring near all the area’s we planned to go, including a slide blocking both lanes on the highway to Winterpark and all the resorts! We pulled over to eat and think this through at a small mining town diner off highway 70.
The other folks arriving at the restaurant warned us that they might not open the road for the entire day. Darn it! We know some area’s and resorts have a unappreciated habit of slow opening or not opening at all for when conditions are the best, but Colorado was supposed to be exempt from that status. With all this snow , is there too much of a good thing again? This isn’t Squaw Valley, this is the Rockies with steeper and longer runs and trained patrollers. This can not be! The waitress tried to offer some alternatives, like moose viewing my the creek or visiting the town library. As our brainstorming continued, I checked Twitter again and after about an hour, we got word – The pass has been cleared and is open. We jumped back in the car and headed up Berthound Pass.
Ever heard the term Sierra cement? Well, we haven’t seen much of that this February. It’s been cold, very cold, especially for this area. Combine this cold with deep snow, several storm cycles, atmospheric rivers and minimal melt has broken nearly a decade of drought like conditions and reignited the adrenaline enthusiasts fire – and the videographers too!
Check out this early February day at Alpine Meadows and check back for more footage as we edit it!
Made some adjustments to the old car and took it down to test it out at AutoCross. In 100 degree heat and after a few hours and over 25 runs, my ignition coil went out and the car sputtered to a stop just outside the exit of the run. I hoped letting the car cool down would help and so decided to jump into a few drift cars and go for some rides. It was incredible and inspired this video from that day….
Take a look and see more videos on the YouTube channel—> https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUS-Up72Py1nZdz2eVKpWQA?view_as=public
The part you don’t see is the two times the car broke down on interstate during rush house at the spaghetti bowl on the way home, during the week of Hot August Nights, with the whole valley layered in brown smoke from the nearby fire or ten. I didn’t know exactly what the problem with the car was at this point. I called a tow on the side of the interstate and just before dispatch, I put the phone on speaker and tried the engine again – bingo, it started. I just want to make it up the next exit, which required 3 stoplights before getting to a residential area. I went for it. After sweating it out at the 3rd stoplight, all of which I hit, I made it to near a sports bar and the car started sputtering and lurching. I knew I only had moments and was eyeballing any shade to break down in and made it to a suburb and called for the tow. The tow truck guy was a pro. He had towed a classic car earlier that day for an older guy and had about 20 stories for me on our 45 minute ride up the mountain pass. He was an ex-semi-pro athlete who was used to keeping up being in-shape. This made most of his other stories about his life in the singles scene in the city, which was interesting. After some issues with getting the tow truck stuck, he was able to ‘walk’ it back down and put the rear tires back on pavement and then go and drop the car down on the street.
The tow truck rear end tires are off the ground and so is the car!
This coil looks hardly used. I noticed it missing a few weeks earlier. The heat really seemed to affect it. I dropped a new one in for about $35 in 5 minutes and am back on the road!
A home with a lot of history in the city of Los Angeles.
See my Take here.