'That shit was up to my waist, man'

Take a trip down memory lane with some local yokels

"Can't tell you what year it was, but I remember skiing The Burn on Thanksgiving Day and it was awesome because the snow was knee-deep and I think I was one of three people skiing it. My girlfriend of the time didn't have a pass, so she couldn't ski it with me. But then the lift stopped for 10 minutes. So they passed tickets out as compensation and I was able to bring my girlfriend back the next day. We skied it together, and I was truly thankful for the snow and the lift ticket."

-Tom Castrigno, roving chef

"I skied up Baldy Road early last season and 4-wheelers had made a huge mess of the road, kicking up gravel and spinning out. I passed a guy in a Jeep taking his parents up above treeline. I wanted to ask him, "Don't you think the driving is over?" I kept my mouth shut and skied down into French Gulch via Mystery Gulch (it's a mystery because I don't want too many people to know about it), where the snow was really rotten. I couldn't really make any turns, with ruts, rocks and hibernating bears down there, but still kept skiing as the snow got shallower and shallower. I didn't want to take my skis off - I had rock skis on anyway, but it took nearly three hours to intersect the Sally Barber Road and another few to reach my car back up on Baldy Road."

-Mike Zobbe, hut master

"Back in college when I was ski racing, we trained at night on a little hill about 30 miles from the university, and since we were the low team on the totem pole, the JV, the scrubs, we got the practice slope that was farthest from the lights. That meant part of our run was behind a knoll with some trees on it that cast a pretty dark shadow. It was slightly disconcerting, to say the least, to be running a slalom at full speed and all-of-a-sudden to go into the dark, still trying to run gates, never mind red or blue, it was hard to see the poles, period. I definitely took a few slaps of bamboo to the face."

-Bob Berwyn, journalist

"On Oct. 4 in 1994 there was a huge snowstorm and so we did Loveland Pass on Oct. 5 and there was a foot of powder. None of the ski resorts were open; Keystone and Loveland opened within a few days. I usually go down to the Sand Dunes in October when I'm really jonsing, climb the dunes and get my legs in good shape. But that year, I skipped it."

-Cindy Kleh, boardercross racer, works to pay race fees

"The night before Keystone's opening, we used to hike up the hill and take our runs, dodging snowmakers and hopping hoses in the dark."

-Brian York, bartender, capenter

"My first year in the mountains (1992), I lived in Vail and it was powder galore. I was all excited because I'd be teaching skiing. But then, skiing my first day in knee-deep powder I realized, "I don't even know how to ski this shit, how can I teach skiing in it?" This was in October, just before Halloween. Since our jobs hadn't started yet as first-year instructors, we went out every day, all day, to get better. And then we'd go home exhausted and drink margheritas."

-Christie Abel, graphics artist

"One of my first winters (around 1980), when I still used to get out and ski at every opportunity, the first snow that fell only produced a few inches. I lived up on Baldy Road and after working at the restaurant one night it was snowing, and even though there was only three inches or so, we went out skiing on the roads. It was late and real dark. I remember seeing the sparks fly out from our skis scraping the dirt road, but we just had to get out there. These days, I save my energy for the big powder days."

-Carl Scofield, photographer

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