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And now for something completely different... I had a chance to ride at
Eldora Mountain this past Saturday.  Obviously a lot of the other resorts
out here in CO get more press on skivt-l and elsewhere, and for that reason
I figure it's probably worth a brief mention.  For those who don't know,
Eldora is about a 30 minute drive from Boulder, making it the closest ski
area to that town.  Some friends of our were taking their first lesson
snowboarding and they scored an extra set of free passes, so my gf and I
went with them for the day.  The lure to Eldora is that you get to avoid the
I-70 traffic jams that you must negotiate getting to any of the other ski
resorts from the front range.  Not that it really matters too much this time
of year, attendance at Colorado resorts drops off markedly after March, and
April is probably my favorite month to snowboard here, but a free pass is a
free pass, even better when it's some place I've never been before.

Eldora has a rep as a small local mountain, which if you're comparing it
other places to ski out here, it is.  But once you realize that Eldora over
six times the amount of skiable terrain as Wa-Wa, you realize how relative
such judgements are.   And once you arrive at Eldora, you realize that
there's also a lot more to a ski area than just the number of acrage
available to ski.  Pulling into the parking lot, my girlfriend and I quickly
realized that we were a long way from Breckenridge and Vail, or A-Basin, or
even Wa-Wa for that matter.  I almost immediately had the feeling that I had
just stepped into a time machine and was twenty years back in the past.  The
whole place seemed kind of run down.  I eventually realized that this
feeling could be attributed to the lifts there.  For starters, Eldora
doesn't have single high speed lift, not a one.  While that's not all that's
wrong with Eldora, it definitely is a major detraction.   Yeah, after
spending three years in Colorado, I realize I'm now a detachable lift snob.
Sure, I'll ride an old double chair once in a while, but it's usually in an
area where I know I can do it to avoid the big liftlines at the high-speed
quad, not because it's my only choice.  Riding the lift, a pass holder
informed me that rather than buying new lifts, they purchase used ones from
other areas.  I didn't even know they did that.  He even commented that they
did a pretty poor job maintaining the place.   That said, the terrain I rode
wasn't too bad.  My girlfriend like blue cruisers, so I didn't get to sample
much of the steeper terrain on the backside, but what I did was fun and I
saw plenty from the chair that also looked interesting.   Pitch varied
greatly on some of the blues we did, which gave the terrain a nice rolling
natural feel to it.  On the plus side, the mountain was definitely not
crowded, but considering it's off-peak I had no idea if that's typical or
not.  On the minus side, like most small mountains, dining options were
limited, which is probably why most people seemed to be brown-bagging it.
The fired up the outdoor grill after we had already purchased cold fries and
burgers indoors, which incidentally cost nearly as much as the food at
Breck.

All in all, I wouldn't say that Eldora is a bad mountain, but I would
definitely not advise anyone to go out of their way to ski there unless they
really hate I-70 traffic and enjoy sitting on slow lifts.  My girlfriend was
emphatic that she wasn't going back there (the cold, tasteless veggie burger
was the last straw for her), and  while I probably won't go out of my way to
ride there again either, I wouldn't mind having the opportunity to sample
some of the stuff in the back.

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