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
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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