Daily Archives: January 3, 2017


The Eagle Mine

In 1865, President Lincoln informed the miners in the West: “I will promote mining interests to the best of my ability, because their prosperity is the prosperity of the nation.”

These were sage words spoken by a great leader. Shortly thereafter the President was dead. The people, however, listened.

After the Civil War, many Americans lost their homes as well as their jobs, and the President’s words and lure of riches buried in the mountains of the West called to them. The rush began in Leadville, Colorado, with the discovery of gold; and then, again, with the silver boom of 1877.eagle_mine_1

Thousands flocked to the town to dig for their fortunes, however, many of these prospective silver barons arrived after the best mines had been claimed, so they filtered down Tennessee Pass, traveling over Ute Indian trails. Soon, strikes in the Battle Mountain District were discovered, first in Red Cliff and next on a sloping mountainside plunging some 600 feet to the canyon below. The ore occurred in sulfide replacement deposits, and this treasure vault would soon become the richest and most successful in Eagle County. One day this place would become a town called Gilman.

Those from Red Cliff who found the three-mile jaunt too difficult, began to build groups of scattered miners cabins on the sloping mountainside. And, each encampment had its own name – Rock Creek, Bells Camp, Cleveland – and, finally, Gilman, a new town established in 1886; that, at an elevation of 8950-feet above sea level, sat on a dramatic 600-foot cliff above the Eagle River on the flank of Battle Mountain.

The growing settlement of log cabins and tents, which were located on the side of the steep hill, as well as nearby mining operations, were developed in the 1880s by John Clinton, a prospector, judge and speculator from nearby Red Cliff.

Clinton had acquired the profitable Iron Mask Mine, noted for its numerous caverns with crystal formations. The town, which Clinton developed in order to keep miners at the site, was initially named for him. Soon, financiers and business men sniffed out the scent of profitable investments, and followed in Clinton’s footsteps. Denver real estate developers Walter S. Cheeseman, George W. Clayton and Judge D.D. Belden purchased the Cleveland Group that included another mine, a lode so famous that the entire subterranean activity below Clinton became known simply as “Belden”.

These men also enhanced the mining capabilities by constructing a stamp mill and smelter to refine silver ore. So, below what would become Gilman, were a myriad of mines including Ida May, Little Duke, Ground Hog, Belden, Iron Mask, May Queen, Kingfisher, Little Chief, Crown Point and Little Ollie.


At the time that ore deposits were discovered in Leadville and Clinton area, the mountains were in a completely primitive state. Only simple Ute Indian trails were used to get to these areas. The early trail over Battle Mountai nand Tennessee Pass went nearly straight up the mountain. As more adventurers swarmed towards Clinton, the trail was widened to allow teams of mules or oxen. However, the route remained treacherous and was aptly named “Battle” for a reason. The original route from Red Cliff to Clinton curved around the top of the cliffs, overchanging the eagle river from dizzying heights. The elevation change between Red Cliff and Clinton was 300 feet, but the road required the traveler to climb over 1,000 feet to scale the cliffs. The route included several passages of 18-percent grade. With a rock wall on one side, and a plunging descent to the canyon below, the crude road was frightening ordeal, especially after a heavy rain or snow storm.

Records show that a group of buildings called Astor City was located at the base of Battle Mountain included a sloon called Baxter’s Saint’s Rest. (Supposedly, travelers on the old Battle Mountain road needed a stiff drink whether going up or coming down the road.). As well, several companies including the Eagle River Road Company and Kelly’s created toll roads which were maintained until 1882 when the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad built its railroad through the canyon below the mining claims.

Clinton continued to grow and people moved into the town. In November 1886, the entire area became part of the new Eagle County; and in doing so, had to not only register an official name, but maintain a post office, as well.

After it was discovered that the name “Clinton” had been claimed by a town in California, the place was renamed Gilman, inspired by Henry M. Gilman, the superintendent of the Iron Mask Mine. Gilman soon turned from a primitive mining camp into a village; where, supplied by the railroad at Belden, families prospered. The town boasted a theater where traveling dramatic troupes performed. There were hotels like Iron Mask, boarding houses, schools, a hospital, and even a newspaper named The Gilman Enterprise.


In 1912 New Jersey Zinc bought all the mines around Gilman, including the land; and soon, the days of independent miners came to an end. By 1919, the Iron Mask Mine was renamed “Eagle 1” and “Eagle 2”, and continued to supply zinc under Battle Mountain.

Eventually, the mine boasted 62 miles of tunnels beneath the mountain. Due to the precarious route over Battle Mountain to reach Gilman and Red Cliff, and after hundreds of accidents, in January 1923, a new road over Battle Mountain was completed. The job took two years and required the removal of 75,000 cubic yards of rock.

Despite the new road, several years of severe winters kept the route closed. Cars in Gilman were put on blocks, radiators drained, and batteries were removed and taken to the assay lab where a charger was kept to maintain the batteries throughout the winter. It wasn’t until the winter of 1929-30, that the road was able to stay open.

In 1936, yet another new road was built over Battle Mountain and in 1940, the Red Cliff Bridge was completed just east of Gilman, one of only two steel arch bridges within the entire state. Today, the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After surviving town fires in 1885 and 1899, Gilman continued to grow; and now, a company town, boasted a fine grade school which provided housing for its teachers. It also supported a general store and a staff house, which was the company’s version of a hotel. The mining company provided houses for employees; and while the houses had no central heat, each had a kitchen, living/dining room, two 12 x 12 foot bedrooms, a bathroom with wash basin, a claw-foot tub and a commode. The company also operated a mess hall and a dormitory which could accommodate sixty men.

Gilman also had a clubhouse where food could be prepared for banquets. The main floor served as a basketball court, gym and dance hall, which was later remodeled into two bowling lanes. Upstairs in the clubhouse was a library. The town employed as many as 375 people in the middle 1940s. For many years, the mine remained profitable and hired more employees than any other business in Eagle County. In fact, during WWII, miners were exempt from the military draft, because the zinc they mined was vital to the country’s war effort.

However, years of zinc production created toxic pollutants; and, in 1984, the mine was shut down, flooded and abandoned by order of the Environmental Protection Agency. At the time, the mining operations were owned by Viacom International. Cleanup of the mine began in 1988 with the relocation of mine wastes and capping of the main tailings pile. Today, the cleanup has been declared a success.

New developers have arrived on the scene and since departed, but Gilman was eventually annexed by the town of Minturn. Still, the town sleeps quietly, as if waiting for the prince to kiss it into livelihood. Gilman , once king of the hill in Eagle County before Vail arrived, now is deserted. Buildings are empty and windows broken. “No Trespassing” signs hang on the closed gates. However, no place is more picturesque than Gilman in the fall. From Highway 24, one can see the gold leaves of the aspen trees, while the remnant of a once thriving mining town snuggles amid the forest. And one can’t not wonder what it was like to have lived in this storied town in its hey day.

The footsteps of the early prospectors who were summoned by dreams of easy living, created twisted paths down Battle Mountain. The ranchers and merchants followed. To those prospectors, who followed President Lincoln’s directive, we owe a debt of gratitude for the settling of the Eagle River Valley and much of Colorado.


Evening Melodies

So much energy encompasses daytime activities in the Vail Valley that it often seems that nothing could follow a day of on-mountain action found throughout the area. And while the après ski scene in Vail, Beaver Creek, and the surrounding area remains a beloved rite of passage for locals and visitors alike – there are plenty of outlets for night owls to hit the town. Just lose the ski boots and continue the daytime revelry with an evening at some of the area’s most iconic spots for food, drink and music.

evening_melody_1Piano bars in particular are some of the most classic ways to take in the area’s jazz vibes, and plenty of local acts makes for an exciting winter line up throughout the Vail Valley. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a valley so full of jazz and summer concert series is just as musically inclined in the winter months, as local bars and restaurants look for ways to keep the music alive and the evenings exciting.

Down valley is the spot for classic jazz and piano tunes from some of the Vail Valley’s most recognizable performers; pianists like Micky Poage, Peter Vavra, Kathy Morrow and Tony “Tony G” Gulizia – just to name a few–provide nightly entertainment at some of Edwards and Beaver Creek’s fine dining establishments that perfectly compliment a three course meal, or provide reason on their own to head out for an evening of cocktails and live jazz with family and friends. Grouse Mountain Grill’s headliner and resident pianist, Tony “Tony G” Gulizia is known to mix it up with an assortment of local and nationally acclaimed musicians to keep things exciting.





The music scene extends to Vail and Lionshead Villages, too; Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant and the King’s Club in the Sonnenalp Hotel are area staples to take in some German-inspired small plates or beverages and kick back after a day on the hill to local entertainers playing more contemporary hits. evening_melody_2Or, if you’re looking to really hit the town–and maybe have a later morning the next day–head to Frost Bar in the Sebastian Hotel on Friday and Saturday nights for a live DJ set, cocktails and dancing.

Vista at Arrowhead, Edwards
Winter is in full swing starting December 12th at Vista, and
resident “piano man” Micky Poage will be in house six nights
a week from 6pm to 9pm, Monday through Saturday. Call
(970)926-2111 for more information or reservations. King’s Club, The Sonnenalp, Vail
Spend the evening with a German beer, and a full calendar
of local acts on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 8pm each
night. For more information on our nightly performers, call us
at (970) 479-5429.

Timber Hearth Grille, Cordillera, Edwards
Peter Vavra will be behind the piano at the Club at Cordillera
each Saturday night from 6pm to 9pm. For reservations call
(970) 926-5500. Tavern on The Square,

The Arabelle, Lionshead Village
Local bands will take the stage on Friday and Saturday
evenings, starting at 8pm, for some beloved classics and
newer hits. Tavern on the Square will also be featuring live
music for New Year’s Eve with no cover. Call (970) 754-7704
for more information.

Splendido at the Chateau, Beaver Creek
Nightly music will be a staple at Splendido throughout the
winter, featuring a rotating schedule of local jazz and piano acts
such as Kathy Morrow, Bob Finnie, Taylor Kundolf, and Peter
Vavra each evening starting at 7pm. For more information and
reservations, call (970) 845-8808.

Grouse Mountain Grill, Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek’s Grouse Mountain Grill will be hosting local
jazz legend Tony Gulizia, known around town as Tony G,
from 6:30pm to 10:30pm each night with the exception of
Tuesdays. Reservations are recommended, and the restaurant
can be reached at (970) 949-0600.

Pepi’s Bar & Restaurant, Vail
Nightly entertainment will be provided by local musicians in
the restaurant’s bar area, starting at après and going through
the evening. Call (970) 476-4671 for more information and

Frost Bar, The Sebastian Hotel, Vail
After earlier hours of small plates and lounge music, Frost Bar will
be featuring a DJ on Friday and Saturday evenings kicking things
off at 10pm for some afterhours cocktails and dancing. Frost bar
can be reached at (970) 477-8130 for more information.


Hollywood or Bust

On a mountain, in a backyard or, perhaps, in a basement there’s a chance you’ll find fledging filmmakers honing their skills hoping to make it big time. They may not have the budget, but they have the drive and ambition. Hollywood, here they come! The proving grounds are film festivals, where films are screened and professionally judged and nascent, independent filmmakers are given a chance. And many times, the fans of these festivals see productions they may never be able to find in their local theatres.

One such indie film was Steven Soderberg’s Sex, Lies and Videotape, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 1989 and won the Audience Prize. Miramax Studios “picked” the film up and released it shortly after. The movie, which was made with a budget of just over $1 million, grossed nearly $25 million in the United States alone.

“Film festivals are crucial exhibition circuits because they nurture independent films,” notes Jeffrey Ruoff, film historian and documentary filmmaker in the Department of Film and Media Studies at Dartmouth College.

“We try to program as many new films as we can from our submission process in our festival,” says Sean Cross who, in 2004, along with his brother, Scott, founded the Vail Film Festival with Megan Musegades as associate director, under the auspices of the Colorado Film Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting independent film. Of the 67 films shown at the 2016 festival, twelve had world premieres, two had U.S. premieres and 28 had Colorado premieres.

“We have always been focused on independent films and are not concerned about store-driven projects,” continues Cross.

“Unlike some film festivals that primarily program films that have shown at other festivals, we really try to program from our submissions. We’re generally looking for a story that’s entertaining, that’s compelling and is tooled well, across the board. And obviously, we’re trying to find great films because we want our attendees to have a good experience.” The festival employs a team of programmers for its films, focusing on feature films, short films and documentaries. Generally, 60 to 90 films are screened each year.

“I learned that anyone can be a filmmaker,” comments Levi Gilbert who, along with other students studying the craft at Western State University, attended last year’s Vail Film Festival. “However, it takes a tremendous amount of dedication and the people that had films in the festival displayed just that. I learned that everyone there loved what they did from documentaries to features. “There’s so much you can do with this art form and so many people you can work with–I knew it was the place for me. Film festivals are a great resource for all filmmakers to talk and dissect each other’s films so the next one will be even better.”

According to Cross, the story telling and content of budding filmmakers remain the same. “They generally tell personal stories and that hasn’t changed,” he remarks.

“But the film-making technology side has changed a lot in the last decade or so. The equipment has improved and most people now film on digital. In that sense, more people have an opportunity to become film makers. So, we’ve seen advancement in the quality of the films from a technology standpoint and in terms of the number of people who are able to make films.” And although some films screened at the festival have featured “names” including Slow West, starring Michael Fassbender, Enemy,starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Before Sunset featuring Ethan Hawk and Julie Delpy, it is really the “newbies” that the festival enjoys discovering. And in that sense, Cross has some advice. “Short films are a great calling card’ so if you don’t have the resources to make a feature film, make a short film,” he says emphatically. “They are taken very seriously and can be a great way to get yourself known in Hollywood.”

“What we’ve seen is that a majority of films that are submitted to our festival can be edited more. One should try to make the film as concise as possible. Many times we see a film that, had it been edited a little more or, perhaps, been a little shorter, it would have been better. A lot of film makers spend a good amount of time shooting the film, so they want to put everything they’ve shot into the final cut. They should cut more and use just what will convey the story they are trying to tell–in a concise way.”

Newly graduated, with a degree in Communication Arts, Gilbert is currently working on a film for the Sundance Film Festival. “I always knew that I wanted to be part of the production process and right behind the camera,” he shares. “Maybe one day in the distant future I’ll direct a feature, but for now being behind the camera suits me just fine.” As for Cross? “I really like the storytelling aspect of filmmaking,” he admits, “so I think writing and directing are really the essential parts of filmmaking. Those are two areas that have my interest.” Who knows? Perhaps, one day we’ll see Cross Brothers Productions right along with the Coen Brothers.


CMC at 50

When Colorado Mountain College’s President, Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, speaks of the institution which she leads, she brims with pride in its past and enthusiasm about its future. CMC’s founding is an inspiring story of communities coming together in the American West to provide an important resource for their children. Over the past fifty years CMC has grown to become one of the most highly ranked community colleges in the nation and now serves 20,000 students a year. It has, however, never strayed from the legacy of its grassroots beginnings.

It all started, Dr. Hauser explains, in the early 1960s when David Delaplane, the new manager of the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce, pulled a folder labeled “Education Committee” out of his filing cabinet. All it contained were the names of a few committee members. Delaplane, who was struck by the lack of local opportunities for higher education, began by convincing that committee of the need for what was then known as a junior college. To do so, they found that they needed a district with at least 400 graduating high school seniors and property valuation of $60 million. In the ’60s on the Western Slope of Colorado that was a tall order, and there was no way that Glenwood could go it alone. To fulfill the state’s requirements would require that the committee from Glenwood bring together five contiguous counties to support their fledgling project. Back then, there were no thriving ski resorts. Aspen was just getting started and Vail was not founded until 1963. This vast area, which today is dotted with world-renowned tourist destinations was rural and sparsely populated, the main occupations ranching and mining.

Delaplane and his committee had to convince people in the communities, which made up Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Summit and Lake Counties to tax themselves to support the new college. So, he and his committee hit the road, taking their case to PTAs and Kiwanis Clubs and any other local organization where they could plead their case. A potent argument they used was that the new college would be affordable, especially for residents, whose children would be able to attend at in district rates.

In 1965, the hard work paid off, and voters in the five counties gave the new college their approval two to one. Two years later CMC opened its doors in two locations. Generous ranchers had given the college 800 acres for the Spring Valley campus near Glenwood and Lake County had provided land for the Timberline campus in Leadville. In-district tuition was $6.75 per credit hour.

Soon, the college began spreading its wings across the district’s other counties. And, it was always a community effort. Eagle County is a case in point. Artist Randy Milhoan arrived in Vail when the town of was barely a speck on the map. In 1969, he joined CMC as a part-time instructor and soon found himself in the thick of bringing continuing education to the valley, working with one rotary phone and a mimeograph machine from his home in Minturn, where he still lives. With the help of Susan Brown-Milhoan and local artists, Dan Telleen and J im Cotter, Milhoan created SummerVail, a workshop for art that took place in small wooden buildings dotting a meadow in what is now Ford Park, and ran from 1970 to 1984. “We offered, two-week long sessions – for credit and non-credit – including ceramics, painting, sculpture and even macramé,” recalls Milhoan, who was with the school for 15 years. Classes in other subjects were held in garages, churches and Vail’s original hostelry, the Vail Village Inn. The college engaged people in the valley to volunteer and share their expertise as part-time faculty members. It was a far-cry from the sleek new facility in Edwards, which is now CMC’s Eagle County home.

Today, CMC comprises 11 locations in nine counties. Three of its campuses are residential, and are situated against a backdrop of some of the Colorado Rockies’ most dramatic scenery. In addition to more than 25 associate degrees and more than 75 certificate programs, the school now offers bachelor’s degrees in applied science, business administration, elementary education, nursing and sustainability studies. And, its Isaacson School for New Media is one of the country’s first community college programs to teach digital media, journalism, marketing and design.

A lot has changed over the past 50 years, but CMC continues to fulfill the vision expressed in its mission statement: “We aspire to be the most inclusive and innovative student centered college in the nation, elevating the economic, social, and environmental vitality of our beautiful Rocky Mountain communities.” Throughout its expansion, CMC has maintained its commitment to affordability and excellence. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the school offers the nation’s third most-affordable public four-year degree and the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named CMC as one of the nation’s 150 top community colleges.

The symbiotic relationship between CMC and its communities is flourishing. The college works closely with the 13 school districts. If offers open enrollment to its counties’ graduating seniors and helps to smooth their path to matriculation. It participates in the federal Upward Bound program, that provides guidance and tutoring to pre-college youth, particularly first-generation students. And for youngsters who are ready to undertake college work while still in high school, CMC offers its courses as an alternative to AP classes, awarding credit towards the associate degree for students who complete the work.

It was just two years after the founding of Vail that CMC opened its doors in the valley so, essentially, the two institutions have grown up together, sharing the same entrepreneurial spirit.

The college that began by offering, predominately, life-long learning courses out of a building in Cascade Village in Vail, has now become a campus that, while continuing to engage the “learner,” offers four bachelor degrees, numerous associate and certificate degree programs. Its degrees and certificates are also excellent vehicles for people already in the workforce, who would like to reinvent themselves through a new career.

Nikki Maline was working in real estate when she heard about CMC’s bachelor’s in sustainability. “It was exactly what I had been searching for and the program prepared me to do something I love,“ says Maline who is now the energy programs coordinator at Energy Smart Colorado at Walking Mountains Science Center.

The sustainability program also led Bailey Matthews, whose background is in the educational field, to change careers. “I realized that one can change things through information and outreach,” she says. And her commitment to the three pillars of sustainability, a healthy environment, a vital economy and social equity make her a perfect fit at Active Energies, whose community activities include helping low-income families lower their energy bills.

As well, the college offers courses that prepare students for employment in the diversified professions that dominate our resort-driven community such as the two- year Culinary Arts Degree program in which CMC has partnered with The Sonnenalp, Vail Resorts, The Four Seasons and The Ritz Carlton to embed full-time employment as part of an internship. And the new bachelor’s programs in business administration and sustainability studies have already opened many doors Eagle County for graduates.

“The BS in business administration that I received from CMC taught me concepts of sustainable and social impact as well as leadership techniques,” says Rebecca Kanaly, the executive director of United Way of Eagle River Valley. “The lessons I learned about entrepreneurship made it possible for me to run a valleywide nonprofit,” she says.

For Amy Connerton, it was her associate’s in science and training as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) that started her on a career path. She spent ten years as a medical assistant and is now the director of CMC’s Medical Assisting Program, which she helped to create. It is one of one five such community college programs in Colorado to be accredited by the American Association of Medical Assistants. “I want to give students the same excellent teaching and one-on-one guidance the CMC gave me,” says Connerton.

And for valley native, Mikayla Curtis, manager of strategic impact at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, the CMC certificate program in sustainability complemented her master’s degree in negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding which she received from California State University, Dominquez Hills. “At CMC,” she shares, “I found passionate instructors whose non-judgmental teaching style encouraged discussion and exploration and independent thinking.

The Edwards campus, which has 4,000 students, is very committed to partnering with the entire valley community and its culinary arts program is just one example. “We have wonderful partners, where our whole goal is to meet the need of the employer where the students are full-time employees who gain that associates degree on time,” says Kathryn Regjo vice president at Colorado Mountain College, Edwards. “Students can work and finish their degree in two years, which is one of the fastest tracks to advancement in that industry.”

The school is also working on a partnership with the Vail Valley Medical Center to bring surgical technician associate degrees to the campus, where they will be providing the curriculum and the medical center will provide surgical labs at the Shaw Regional Medical Center. “The medical center will also help to financially support our faculty to run the labs and that makes such a high-end degree program an option,” Regjo says.

“So it’s really this relentless pursuit of collaboration and partnership to bring new degree programs to enhance offerings to really make great things happen within our community,” continues Regjo. “Last year we began offering basic certificates in phlebotomy and health information coding and billing, both high-need positions in not only the valley, but all of our mountain communities.

“Our degree in elementary education is serving a direct need in our county right now as our student population continues to grow and we have a high need to ‘grow our own teachers’ for the area. Now a person can live here, learn here, grow here and have a professional career here, all while understanding the expectations of education in our valley.”

As well, the Edwards campus is home to the largest dual enrollment program for the entire college. Last year, more than 700 students took at least one college class or more at no cost. This amounts to tuition savings of $332,000. Compared to CU Boulder’s in-state reduced tuition, that savings is over $2.5 million for those 704 students.

“We are a great resource for this valley and the over 4,000 students that we serve,” says Regjo enthusiastically. “And partnering with our local communities is really something the Edwards campus emphasizes.”


Up and Out, Lots to do in the Vail Valley

A wonderful family ski mountain just two miles west of Beaver Creek,
Arrowhead can be accessed from Beaver Creek Mountain via the village-
to-village interconnect.
Lift Information: Lift opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m.
Ski School: Arranged through Beaver Creek at (970) 754-5300
or www.beavercreek.com.
Grooming: Arrowhead has more than 90 acres of snowmaking
and is extensively groomed.
Snow Conditions: Visit www.beavercreek.com for the latest

Nestled between Beaver Creek and Arrowhead resorts, the peaceful setting and intermediate runs of Bachelor Gulch complement the more challenging terrain of Beaver Creek. Still largely untouched by big crowds, you’ll find it to be a relaxing and enjoyable alternative. Unless your lodging is in Bachelor Gulch, it can only be accessed by skiing or snowboarding from Beaver Creek or Arrowhead. A most enjoyable commute!
Lift Information: Lift opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 3:30 p.m. The
lift or skiable catwalk is the only way out of Bachelor Gulch; no shuttle
or car transportation is allowed for non-lodging guests.
Ski School: Arranged through Beaver Creek at (970) 754-5300
or www.beavercreek.com.
Grooming: Bachelor Gulch is extensively groomed.

There’s something special about Beaver Creek. From its heated sidewalks and quaint, European village feel to a diverse ski experience on a user friendly mountain, you’ll soon behooked.  Beaver Creek Mountain is actually comprised of Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead ski areas, forming North America’s only village-to-village ski experience. A well-balanced system of trail difficulty and 275 sunny days a year will keep you coming back. The vertical rise is 4,040 feet and the mountain boasts 1,625 skiable acres, so crowds are rare. The Talons identifies Beaver Creek’s most advanced terrain reaching from the Birds of Prey and Grouse Mountain to Larkspur Bowl. Access to The Talons is identified by the three chairlifts rising out of the Red Tail Camp area and servicing primarily black/double-black diamond terrain. The Talons is certain to test even the most experienced skiers and riders.
Lift Information: Most lifts open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m. Public parking is available in the Elk and Bear lots on Highway 6 in Avon, and free shuttle buses run continuously. Beaver Creek Village public parking is available at Village Hall and Market Square. Beaver Creek Ski & Snowboard School: Graduates like to say the Ski andSnowboard School at Beaver Creek is the best in the country. Maybe any country. Certainly, it’s the only U.S. mountain to regularly host the Men’s World Cup. And uniquely, even some beginner trails are high on the slopes. Choose from private, adult or children’s lessons; alpine, snowboard, Nordic or adaptive. Call (970) 754-5300 or visit www.beavercreek.com.
Grooming: Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead have
hundreds of acres of grooming. Grooming information is posted at
the bottom and top of most main lifts and on-mountain information
boards or visit www.beavercreek.com.
Snow Conditions: Visit www.beavercreek.com for the latest


Vail is a world-renowned destination for skiers and snowboarders. Once you experience its vast reaches of light Rocky Mountain powder, 350 inches of average annual snowfall and wide-open groomed terrain, you’ll know why. From the seemingly endless and legendary Back Bowls to the user-friendly cruiser runs of Golden Peak and Lionshead, Vail can satisfy or challenge every level of skier. With 5,289 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical rise of 3,450 feet, Vail is the largest single ski mountain in North America.
Lift Information: Most lifts open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m.,
with the exception of the Back Bowls and Blue Sky, which close at 3 p.m.
Vail Snowsports School: Vail Mountain is home to one of the finest
snowsports school in the world. With a tradition of excellence, it is
committed to staying at the forefront of its profession by investing in technology, facilities and pros. The incredibly diverse staff brings a wealth of knowledge and skill with a guest-centered focus to help you achieve your goals and experience Vail Mountain like you never have before. Call (970) SKI-VAIL or visit www.vail.com.
Grooming: Vail boasts hundreds of acres of snowmaking and the
largest fleet of snow groomers in the world. Grooming information
is posted at Golden Peak, Vail Village, Lionshead and on-mountain
information boards or visit www.vail.com.
Snow Conditions: Visit www.vail.com for the latest.

Bowling is a great activity for families and friends of all ages and abilities.
Interactive and fun, shake up your après ski routine with some competitive
indoor fun. With a full service dining room and sixty-foot bar, also has an
ace up its sleeve with ten lanes of bowling glory. bōl’s sleek and modern
design is one of a kind that help to make the establishment the most
exquisite bowling alley in the world.
bōl (970) 476-5300

Travel with ease through the winter backcountry in an enclosed and heated snowcat. The thrill of powder skiing awaits. Enjoy tantalizing views of Colorado’s highest peaks and fresh powder you don’t have to share with the crowds. (800)707-6114 or www.skicooper.com. “Get High, Get Deep, Get After It,” with over 2,400 acres of treed slopes and open bowls in deep Colorado powder

Sink your skinny skis into a smorgasbord of Nordic options throughout the Vail Valley. From the more than 30 kilometers of track with sweeping, panoramic views at McCoy Park atop Beaver Creek to the 15 kilometers of trails with views of the towering Gore Range at the Vail Nordic Center, there’s something for cross country skiers of every level. Cordillera in Edwards also offers miles of trails through stunning countryside.
Cordillera (970) 926-2200
McCoy Park (970) 754-5313
Vail Nordic Center (970) 476-8366

The Vail Valley is rapidly becoming a haven for skaters of every description.
From figure skaters to hockey players to recreational skaters of every level,
you will find the ice to your liking wherever you turn. For a breath of fresh
air and time out from the slopes, try outdoor skating on one of several local
ice rinks,
Adventure Ridge (970) 476-9090
Arrabelle at Vail Square (970) 754-7777
Beaver Creek Village (970) 845-9090
Dobson Ice Arena (970) 479-2270
Eagle Ice Rink (970) 328-2668
Nottingham Lake (970) 748-4060
Solaris Plaza (970) 476-9000

Avon Public Library (970) 949-6797
Capitol Theater – Eagle (970) 476-5661
Cinebistro @ Solaris (970) 476-3344
Colorado Ski Museum (970) 476-1876
Eagle Library (970) 328-8800
Riverwalk Theater (970) 476-5661
Vail Public Library (970) 479-2185
Vilar Performing Arts Center (970) 845-TIXS (8497)


Serenity at the Spa

With the multitude of outdoor activities to enjoy in the Vail Valley, it’s not surprising that most people try and fit 26 hours into each day. From skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing, fat biking and ice climbing, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy all that the area has to offer.

However, in the attempt to do everything, our bodies often pay the price. As important as it is to make the most of your minutes, it’s also important to recover and give those sore muscles a break, a rub and a stretch. The Vail Valley is home to world-class spas that focus on fitness — and recovery. While a rest day is helpful, seeking out specialized treatments at one of these spas can be just what your glutes, quads and calves ordered.

There’s really no wrong choice when visiting Allegria Spa at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. From the moment that you walk into the soothing spa with its light and airy ambiance, tension seems to fall away and kinks begin to unwind. The menu includes options for couples as well as single guests and ranges from body treatments to massage therapy and everything in between.

Choose from muscle-relieving treatments like the Alpine Thermal Relief, which combines a variety of massage types with heated herbal packs and body butter that transforms you into a most satisfied and relaxed burrito. Or pamper your dry, wind kissed skin to the multi-sensory Body Polish, which includes a hydrating body butter application and the private waterfall experience of a Vichy shower (shown on page 130-131). Be sure to allow enough time to soak in Aqua Sanitas, a water sanctuary with a system of pools, showers and steam rooms that are available to all spa guests.


When your sore, tired body needs something more than a gentle touch, the Sonnenalp Spa has a global remedy that will work you in all the right ways. The Warm Herbal Poultice Massage includes relaxing muscles by massaging with a steaming, herbal concoction (the poultice) for medicinal heat and opening the pores for detoxification. After one round working with the poultice, the therapist continues with a traditional Thai massage, creating a one-of-a-kind experience.

“The heat sensation from the poultice…there’s nothing else like that,” says Patricia McNamara, director of sales and marketing at the Sonnenalp. “I’ll never do a hot stone massage again.” McNamara said that this treatment is particularly suited for those spa-goers who are looking for something more extraordinary than a traditional massage, especially if deeper pressure is desired. This is one case when being under pressure is a most pleasurable experience.


Just steps away from Gondola One and Vail Mountain, the RockResorts Spa at The Lodge at Vail could be one of the few locations that could lure you away from the slopes on a powder day. Make your excuses to the crew and slip away for a personal pampering experience in this cozy spa, complete with Jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas and fireplace.

For muscles that have been pushed to their limits for the sake of snow, ask for the Stress-less Body Wrap with Mini Shirodhara. This herbal clay and essential oil body wrap will relax not only your muscles, but also your nervous system, creating a complete calm. The mini Shirodhara treatment, which is a form of Ayurveda therapy that involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead, and scalp massage also serves to calm the mind while improving your mood.It’s an experience meant to revitalize you, body and soul.


The Vitality Center is known for not only training some of the valley’s best athletes, but also motivating, relaxing and soothing them through a wide variety of spa treatments and holistic healing. For overworked muscles, magnesium is the mineral of choice for the spa’s wellness massage. Most Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium, which is integral to more than 300 of the body’s processes, including promoting healthy muscles and nerve function and energy. The best way to absorb it is through the skin directly; the Magnesium Wellness Massage incorporates pure magnesium into a massage that both stretches tight muscles and relieves tension and knots. It’s one of the most enjoyable ways to get your minerals that you’ll experience.

Looking for another boost to essential vitamins? Choose to add some ultra-violet light therapy. This innovative use of light provides extra doses of safe rays for a burst of Vitamin D, which can be harder to absorb during the short winter days (especially when you’re layered against the elements).


Mud has therapeutic properties that have been proven throughout the centuries. However, just jumping into the closest mud pit after a good rain is not the best option. Instead, visit Bloom Spa at the Sebastian in Vail. There, you’ll be able to experience the benefits of Green Chai Soy Mud, a detoxifying agent that will help to draw out the overindulgences that you’ve enjoyed during your vacation.

In addition to the wrap of Green Chai goodness, a massage with vanilla and Shea butter is incorporated, which can help sooth the sore muscles that are a badge of honor after a day on the mountain and restore the softness to your skin.

This combination of wrap and massage is perfect for someone who knows their way around a spa menu, but wants something a little different, says Angie Brown, spa director at Bloom.

“Massage is our most requested treatment,” she says, “but this (wrap) is something a little more than just a massage in that one treatment. I like it for the person who has been doing spa treatments and who wants something a little different.”

A mountain-inspired slope-side retreat, The RockResorts Spa at The Arrabelle at Vail Square was created as an oasis for relaxation and recovery at the base of Vail Mountain. With treatments ranging from body therapies to facials and massage, there is sure to be a treatment to soothe and relax your aching muscles and repair the ravages of the elements.

For the body: the Sports Enthusiast Body Recovery does just as it purports and soothes and relaxes. Featuring a nourishing “Muscle Melt” solution to alleviate tension, a body wrap for maximum absorption and a sports massage as the final touch, this full-body treatment will make even the weariest warrior feel like conquering a few more runs.


For the face: try HydraFacial MD, the newest advance in non-laser skin resurfacing. This all-in-one treatment cleanses, exfoliates, hydrates and provides antioxidant protection for clearer, more beautiful skin, perfect after winter winds have wreaked their revenge.

Of course, sometimes a massage that will revitalize and reinvigorate you quickly, getting you right back on to the hill, is just what the treatment doctor ordered. At Simply Massage in Vail or Avon, a sports massage can address the specific muscles related to a particular activity–quads and calves, for example. More importantly, massage can actually assist in treating and preventing injuries. Which means that getting a treatment is not only a treat, but is also good for your overall health and future well being.

One of the best parts of vacation is coming home feeling — and looking — relaxed and refreshed. Sometimes winter conditions can derail this appearance, even after the most enjoyable experience. To ensure that you look as good as you feel, Vail Dermatology, located in Edwards, has a menu of daily services that can take your face from dry to dewy or wrinkled to radiant — whatever you’re looking for. Best of all, you can just drop in! Skin Rejuvenation Want to feel fresh? A SilkPeel Dermal to make your face feel fresh and healthy might fit the bill.

Ranging from “gentle,” which requires no recovery time, to “powerful,” which can require a week or more of recovery time, these treatments can exfoliate, smooth skin and remove blemishes, deliver laser resurfacing or utilize microneedling for collagen repair and deep infusion of treatment products.

Smoothing and Filling Finding a few more laugh lines from the great time you had with your family or a few lines around the eyes from enjoying the sunshine at altitude? There are options for wrinkle smoothing, including Botox®, and fillers like the Juvéderm® line. If you think that taking care of your skin is something that only ladies should consider, think again. While the market for facials and fillers is smaller for men, it is growing: Last year, the industry saw a 20 to 25 percent growth in male clients. Men account for only about seven percent of the industry overall, but it’s still a growing market.

After all, men want to look good, too.


Vail’s Own Eloise

There are probably very few people who have not heard of Eloise, the character in the books created in the 1950s by author Kay Thompson, who described the book as a story about a little girl who “lives in the room on the tippy-top floor of the Plaza Hotel in New York City with her nanny, her pug dog Weenie and her turtle Skipperdee.” Eloise is precocious and mischievous whose antics have delighted readers for decades. In fact, there’s an Eloise Suite at the Plaza resplendent with “an Eloise approved palette of pink and black,” to make any child’s heart sing.

Living in a hotel full time, is commonplace for many whose lives are just too busy to undertake the care of a home. When Presidents Hoover and Eisenhower left office, they moved into the Waldorf Astoria in New York, as did General MacArthur, when he retired.

So it’s no surprise when retired, successful businessman, Harvey Simpson, whose wife had passed away and who fell in love with Vail on his first visit in 1964, moved into the Sonnenalp. To date, Simpson has spent over 2,050 nights at the hotel and is its first permanent resident. The Sonnenalp’s own Eloise.

“So,” says Simpson, with a child’s joy, “20 Vail Road is my new address. Look what I have. I have a studio apartment. I have my balcony and I get up every morning and look out at Vail Mountain. It’s inspirational, you know.

“You talk about being 90, and I say, ‘wow’. I have a spa. I have the restaurants. I don’t need a kitchen because I can have the food sent up to me when I want it. I have a swimming pool, the skiing, the hiking. I just have a real feeling of well-being. I think you can add a few years to your life by living in these mountains, in this healthy environment.”

Like most of his family, Simpson graduated from the School of Engineering at Cornell University. “My father and his brothers opened a small construction business after World War I, when they returned from France,” says Simpson. “After I got out of the Navy, I had the good fortune of joining their firm and, with my cousin, Ed, continued to work on some amazing projects in New York. Some that were high-profile.”

Before they even went to college, Simpson and Ed worked as laborers for Simpson Roofing & Ventilating and Simpson Iron Works, the parent companies of Simpson Metal Industries,Inc., where they learned everything from the ground up. Six years after they joined their fathers, the cousins formed Nab (nuts and bolts) Construction Corporation. “It was just something small. We didn’t think of it as much as a firm then,” says Simpson. “But we needed the name to get involved in general construction.”

And getting involved is exactly what the cousins did. The litany of projects in which Nab Construction Corp. and Simpson Metal Industries, Inc. were involved as contactors or subcontractors is a prodigious list of famous attractions that include Yankee Stadium, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone Bridges, the Queens Zoo, the New York Passenger Ship Terminal, Grand Central Station, Kennedy Airport, the New York City subway cars, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. “We were very fortunate to have worked on so many noted jobs in New York,” Simpson recalls. “We even had the opportunity to develop two high rises. We’re probably one of the most diversified construction companies in the United States. Most of my cousins are engineers and have affiliated companies including firms that are working on space programs. The whole family is entwined.

“Because the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge projects were so high-profile, every newspaper and magazine in the world came to interview us and the workers,” reveals Simpson. “They asked the workers if their families had come through Ellis Island. And having the French engineers come over and actually build a new torch in our shop, just for the job we had done on the reconstruction on Liberty Island, was an incredible experience.”

While working on the reconstruction of the Brooklyn Bridge, the firm was required to work with the Civil Engineering School at Columbia University. “We had never had to do this,” Simpson says, with a laugh. “We were required to have one of the school’s professors on our payroll to watch what we were doing and make sure there were no calamities. It was a fun job” In fact, the cables that were taken down from the bridge were chopped up, put on plaques and given out as gifts to the the firm’s bankers, politicians and everyone else who was somehow involved in the reconstruction.

The company also got engaged in building subway cars. “When the New York City subway system needed new cars, we opened up a plant in Brooklyn to accommodate the TGV, (Train à Grande Vitesse–the French high speed train) engineers, as nobody in the United States was building subway cars,” explains Simpson.

The Nab Construction Corp. has worked on a litany of projects from environmental control systems, to fabricating and erecting structural steel, to building waste treatment facilities to installing a complex conveyor system for a postal facility. And the list goes on. Currently it’s working for the New York Transit Authority, wiring up New York’s subway system with WiFi.

“I guess I have my own little history,” says Simpson reflectively.

However, Simpson, doesn’t dwell on what “was,” but rather on what “is.” “I’m fascinated by Vail and what’s happening here,” he admits. “I’ve been skiing 100 days a year and even went heli-skiing last year in British Columbia with the Game Creek Club. I thought it would be a good experience,” says this 90 year old, with a teenager’s sense of adventure. “At my age,” continues Simpson, “I better keep moving if I want to stay healthy. And, Vail gives me that opportunity. I might just walk. I might go up the gondola and hike. And of course, I have a swimming pool. I do it all.


“People talk about old age and what makes you tick when you’re 90 years old and over. They talk about having a good social life and having a lot of friends. Some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever met in my life live right here in Vail, including the Sonnenalp’s owners, the Faesslers.

“Between my business and the years I spent in the Navy, I’ve been all over the world and this is actually the finest hotel that I’ve ever been in and to say, ‘Wow, this is my home. This is my living room, right here at the Kings Club.’ “Can you think of a better retirement home?”


Rugged Harmony

The stars aligned when the home high above Eagle Ranch was built, assures owner Kasia Karska. And, indeed it would seem that way. Outside, it is in harmony with the rugged Western terrain which embraces it. Inside, it is in beautiful harmony with the lifestyle and philosophy Kasia and husband, George McNeil, cherish.

The siting of this high-perched home was intentionally aligned with the constellations and earth in mind. “It was the perfect lot to be able to apply Vaastu Shastra, the 6,000-year old knowledge of how to place a building so it reflects the very surroundings and can’t be alienated from the universe,” explains Kasia, a designer and president of KK Design & Build.

The description of 360-degree views couldn’t be more apropos to this bird’s-eye setting. Only a short hop from Eagle Ranch, the town of Eagle and Highway 6, the couple’s home still seems in a world all its own. Pirouetting around the lot brings panoramic vistas of yet another mountain—the Sawatch Range, both north and south; New York Mountain; Castle Peak and Bald Mountain are among the soaring backdrops. The acre lot itself is dotted with pinion pine which rambles into the tree covered hills climbing the lofty peaks beyond. Yet, it is minutes from “all the fun things the valley has to offer,” notes Kasia.

The exterior of the home was drawn from its surroundings, as well. Covered in weathered, 30-year-old barnwood, it perfectly echoes its Colorado heritage, topped with a carefully rusted, metal shed roof, upheld by metal columns over the front entry.


An upright horseshoe above the front door captures both the western atmosphere and good luck, and slim wind chimes make delicate music when westerly winds blow. Kasia’s mother once told her, “My daughter lives in a barn.” And a deliberate and very elegant barn it is. Although the exterior is pure Colorado ranch, even from the outside foreshadowing of the contemporary is seen in the home’s slashes of rows of windows and the gray porcelain panels surrounding a side entrance. From the wide glass front door, one can see straight through the house to the back of the lot—almost as if there were no interior at all.

rugged_harmony_2Stepping inside the home, however, is like entering another realm. The tranquility of the simplistic, but elegantly contemporary interior is palpably soothing, a striking juxtaposition to the rustic exterior. A pale, sculptured light hangs entrancingly over the entryway, while a recessed art niche holds a lovely orchid watercolor in bold Japanese styled strokes. Beyond the entrance, the only reflection of the rustic exterior is the soaring barnwood ceiling, its peak off centered and inset with a high niche with two skylights.

Throughout the home, Kasia, the home’s contractor, applied the principles of Feng Shui, as well as Vaastu Shastra. For instance, the living space follows the Vaastu Shastra’s golden rule, or ratio: width=X, divided by length=X times 1.618, which is considered to be the most pleasing ratio in which to live. “That (rule) is in every space we created–living, dining, cooking, “sleeves” or connections, and master bedroom and bath,” explains Kasia. “It just feels right.” Visitors, she assures, love the spaciousness of the home and the way it captures the views. “Nowadays, there is so much going on in our lives and so much of it is spent apart, we wanted an open area where we could be together.”

The entire east side of the home is wide, sectioned glass panels that fold back to open the living/dining area to the wide patio beyond and truly mesh indoors with the outside. “The home was built to maximize the views,” states Kasia. The home’s very color scheme of tone-on-tone rugged_harmony_3grays, metal, glass and black and white accents perpetuates the feelings of peacefulness. It is impossible not to unwind and relax in this interior. The wide, porcelain tile of the exterior side entrance adds continuity throughout the common spaces of the first floor and extend to the patio beyond. Paler gray covers walls and galvanized steel window casings provide an invigorating contrast. Everywhere, Asian touches add a meditative ambience, furthered by the Buddha statues in every room. Orchids strewn lovingly throughout the rooms add soft sprays of color and provide a delicate beauty, while Japanese modern art elicits vitality to the muted backdrop. “We wanted a sleek, minimalistic look and feel,” explains Kasia. “We were the clients. Our children are grown.”

The home’s concept began with the kitchen–the center of the home. “When you walk into the kitchen, you see views,” notes Kasia. “The important thing to us was not to put a backsplash on the counters, but to use the windows as the visual backsplash.” Here, the couple’s love of balance, function and space becomes evident. The kitchen is enticingly open–a clean, attractive sweep of efficiency that proves an appealing extension of the serene living space. A striking interplay of lustrous wood, shining stainless-steel appliances, chrome fixtures and glass aligns with therugged_harmony_4 couple’s preference for a minimalistic look. Two long parallel sets of counters provide ample space for eating and cooking over Echowood cabinets, a composite wood that reflects the couple’s commitment to sustainable, earthy elements. In line with Feng Shui principles, the gas range faces east in the outside counter; opposite, granite countertops enclose the sink, above which is a wall-mounted TV. rugged_harmony_5But who needs TV when you have gorgeous mountain views to gaze at through banks of windows both above and below the frosted glass upper cabinets? The gray breakfast bar is paired with wire stools, fitted with slim, poppy-red, leather seat cushions that provide an unexpected and enlivening contrast.

On the northeast wall of the dining area, a large blowup picture of an idyllic waterfall hangs prominently. This not only adds to the prevailing serenity of the home, but also applies the requisite Feng Shui element of water for abundance to the home’s north side. The long plank dining table, capped with metal on each end and paired with sleek gray dining chairs, offers the needed warm, earthy elements.

In the living area, a fascinating treatment of steel cables strung from the high celling above is anchored to an iron I-beam on the floor, creating the illusion of a room divider from the nearby entry. The inset fireplace, the space’s element of fire, faces south.

Surrounding it, rows of narrow Basalt tiles resembling gray-washed bamboo provide a dramatic backdrop to the room as they climb to the ceiling. Two richly textured, Armani charcoal-gray sofas are strewn with various textured, tone-on-tone throw pillows. A wide glass coffee table catches the fireplace’s light, and is strewn with orchids, candles and a singing bowl.

The wide spacious patio beyond holds a long table for outdoor dining, and two cozy seating areas; one with an enclosed firepit to extend the mountain evenings long past the gorgeous sunsets the property enjoys. “Today, we don’t have a lot of time to spare. So creating a space that feels good and is a harmonious building is essential,” says Kasia.

Just beyond the kitchen and dining areas, a quiet reading nook doubles as an office. Windows to the west continue to showcase the western vistas. A floor-to ceiling pane of glass overlooks an enclosed tiny courtyard to the east, and then opens beyond into the wide Western landscape, where birdfeeders dot the scrub brush and birds flock for dinner in the summer. In the winter, it provides a perfect frame for the winter-frosted range beyond and roaming wildlife. Two diamond patterned, upholstered chairs are paired with a rich, petal-stitched ottoman and an oriental throw rug. A floating desk—an attractive stone slab—hangs in front of the wide window and provides an inspiring space for the creative pair to work.


A magnificent barnwood door hangs cleverly from rails, sliding open to reveal the master suite beyond on the north end of the home. A small entry speaks to the importance of peace and tranquility to this couple. A puzzle fitted, wood floor leads to a niche holding a Buddha statue below an Oriental picture. The master bedroom is a serene private sanctuary. Three sides of the room are glass. “I never want to leave here,” exudes Kasia. “There is sunlight from morning to night.” Low antique wooden tables flank the bed. A prayer flag from Tibet serves as a colorful window treatment over one window. Nearby, sits Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, while across the room, a 1700s-era, antique Chinese chair is paired with a wooden display rack, ablaze with colorful, hanging scarves.


The master bath is a wonderfully iridescent play of light, with pale marble, wide windows and chrome accoutrements. Boldly veined marble counters play up the Oriental feel over pale cabinets and forms the backdrop in a stylish open shower, with a freestanding frosted panel of glass in front, while hidden showerheads in the ceiling rain a cascade of water below. Kasia wanted an Oriental boat for a bathtub, but settled instead for a pleasing, pale, boat-shaped tub. A second shower is enclosed in glass and holds a granite bench. A stacked washer and dryer are hidden in a closet; and just beyond, a generous walk-in closet features a wall of tiny cubbies to neatly and attractively display belts and adornments without searching.


Through a second hanging barn wood door is the home’s second entrance and the entrance to the guest suite. Kasia explains, “We wanted a space for us to enjoy guests and a space where guests can come and enjoy themselves without being disturbed.” A collection of Western-style hats hang from a rustic coatrack above a walnut slab bench, on a steel I-beam in the entry. The entire second floor is devoted to the guest suite. Recycled carpet lines the floors. A sitting room, dining area, stacked washer and dryers, Echowood-fitted bath and charming bedroom complete the secluded suite. A slim balcony gives guests the same grand sweep of New York Mountain and the northern Sawatch Range as the main residents enjoy below.


Ski Tuning 101

There comes a point in a ski’s lifespan when it might seem like it’s time for retirement, and while that time certainly does come, keeping up with smaller fixes and basic maintenance is an important part of improving the longevity and performance of any set of skis. Aaron Den Bleyker, of Double Diamond Ski Shop in Lionshead Village, says that regular upkeep is an imperative part of avoiding bigger equipment problems, and that there’s really no such thing as over tuning.

“A lot of people are worried about tuning their skis too much because they think it removes a ton of material,” he explains, “That’s really not the case–it’s rare you’re going to tune through a pair of skis before you’re looking to retire or replace them.”



Specifically, heading to your local ski technician for a temperature-appropriate wax and edge work is something that can’t be overdone to improve ski performance. Hard-packed snow, in particular, creates rough spots and burrs along ski edges. Similarly, skiers may find that the cold wax they put on the week before isn’t the right match for sticky, groomed snow on a blue bird day.

“You can’t wax your skis too much,” says Troy Goldberg, owner of Troy’s Ski Shop in Vail Village. “Waxing every day is great, waxing once a week is minimal. Getting your edges sharpened is more  round every 5-7 ski days depending on how hard the snow is.”

Early season and late spring, in particular, are the best times to invest in bigger repairs. Ask about   full tune to clean up wear and tear from the beginning of the season—or end of the previous season—as ski shops have machines that are able to buff out bigger snags along ski edges, fill in nicks on the base, and apply a new, seasonal structure, which is similar to tire tread, to the ski’s base, as well.

“If you’ve put a deep base structure into your skis and you have a spring wax, you’re going to head out early season and feel like you have Velcro on your skis,” says Den Bleyker. “We do more of the bigger ski-tune overhauls for people early season, and then when we switch over to spring skiing around March is another good time to come in for a bigger tune up.”

The beginning of the season is another great time to have a local ski technician take a look at the din settings and release of your bindings, and make any adjustments as needed for the upcoming winter.

“Once a year, it’s an excellent idea to get your bindings tested in a full function test,” explains Goldberg, “We set the bindings up for your age, weight, height, skier-type, boot size, and then we release it in all directions with basically a torque wrench and make sure it’s releasing to the set standards.”



The propensity for some to skip a trip to the ski tuner and try their hand at some do-it-yourself maintenance might be enticing, but not knowing the basics—or having the wrong equipment can have just the opposite effect on a pair of skis. Goldberg explains that even basic repairs can turn into major fixes when attempted incorrectly.

“It’s a lot easier to do more harm than good,” he explains. “One thing I like to tell people is sharpen the side edge of the ski as much as you want, but don’t take a file to the base edge your base edge bevel—that can change the angle of your base edge and can lead to quite a bit of your ski needing to be removed.”

A diamond stone, in particular, is a good piece of equipment to keep in an at-home tuning kit, as it’s the professional’s go-to choice for lightly buffing troubled edges. However, if an at-home repair isn’t an option, feel free leaving it to the experts.


How Did I get here?

hdigh_1This is the question that I often ask myself
when I’m sitting alone in some of our planet’s most remote winter environments getting ready to participate in an activity that, at one point, I could only dream about.

My first thought is always, “WOW!” And then I ask myself, “How did this happen?” Soon I begin to think about the decisions and relationships that put me in this place, right here, right now.

I believe that each one of us has a calling, a unique gift, which defines our purpose. Some stumble into it. Others seek it. Too, there are those who feel entitled and assume it’s supposed to find them. Yet, sadly, a great many of us never attain our goal—for many reasons; it could be environmental, cultural or economical barriers that create roadblocks.

Finding a purpose has been one of the catalysts for the Youth Initiative Project, a nonprofit that I founded three years ago to introduce educational enrichment to the children of Eagle County. I wanted to help create productive members of our community so they benefit all of us in the future. If I can just help just one kid find his calling—from the thousands that I impact, then I will have succeeded.

I won’t sugar coat this. As a teenager and young adult, I had to pull myself back from the edge several times. I was lost. Really lost. But I think, perhaps, it was the natural sense of survival that forced me to persevere. Ultimately, it seems that we need to take risks in order to find out who we really are.

How did Steve Jobs become Steve Jobs? Bill Gates become Bill Gates? Or athletes, Michael Jordan, Greg Lemond and Bode Miller come to be who they are? They were introduced to the playing field; yet, all of them had it in them to take risk. More importantly, they had to persevere. They had to push forward to become successful, no matter how many times they thought of giving up.

Many times I felt that as though I had failed far more than I had succeeded.And being constantly beaten down and lonely motivated me to work even harder, to survive.

For me, the most memorable of those “how did I get here” moments was in the middle of the night, while I was sitting alone on a far away peak under a gold and purple sky. Behind me the mountain fell away into a dark abyss, while in front of me the sun was trying to set over the ocean—but couldn’t because the earth had rotated back on its access and the North Pole would soon be lit for months before another night fall.


I was placed on this particular peak by a helicopter somewhere in Norway, above the Arctic Circle, while a Warren Miller film was being shot. My job was to position myself to ski a narrow chute off the southwest facing slope of the peak for the camera to eventually film me from the helicopter. But things went sideways when one of the other athletes injured himself on another peak and needed to be airlifted out of the mountains. The next thing I knew, I was alone on the highest peak in the region and had no idea how long I would be there.

As I sat there by myself completely disconnected from anyone, I soon realized that the only person who knew where I was located was the pilot who had left me on that lonely peak. For a moment I thought holy s**t! He might not come back. On the other hand, I actually thought, what if I walked off the edge and disappeared?

The reason I was chosen for this film shoot was a combination of events that included my winning a free-skiing competition months earlier. That win confirmed that I was skilled for this type of terrain. And the fact I traveled well and worked hard was also a plus.

hdigh_3The radio on my chest allowed me to communicate to a distance of five miles. And, now, there was dead silence. There was not a breath of wind, and as far as I could see in any direction, not even a glimmer of life. It was almost midnight, and even if I had a map, I would have no idea where I was. We had been flying in circles, up and down a valley on the way to the mountain, and we had turned numerous times in various directions. From my seat in the helicopter I had not seen any landmarks, from the air, other than the chute I was going to ski. When we landed, I was 3,000 feet above a maze of fjords. The sky was purple and orange and the reflection off the snow-covered peaks was a psychedelic violet.

If I had to find my way, I would have no idea which side of this mountain to ski down to have the best chance for survival. The fact of the matter was, even if I would have been forgotten, and decided to ski the 3,000 vertical to the ocean, I would have no idea which way to swim or survive in the arctic water to get back to civilization. My fate was going to be left to the Viking gods if the helicopter did not return. How did I get to this magical moment in my life skiing for the famed cameras and cameramen of Warren Miller Entertainment? I grew up watching the legendary company’s films and hoped that one day I would get to be in one of them. Now here I was sitting on a peak above the Arctic Ocean, after working with them for 10 years.

The irony of how I got on that mountain is that I actually know, precisely, what led to this moment in my life. My very first memory is something that occurred when at I was just 16 months old. And when I told my father he knew exactly what I was talking about.

As I remember, I was in a backpack as my dad skied a bumpy line underneath a lift. To my left, pine trees were flying by. It was snowing and my father had on a dark coat. Large pom-poms coming off his hat were rubbing my face. (Obviously this was before helmets, when parents did irresponsible things like ski with their kids on their backs.) I remember moving fast and I guarantee this was the moment my brain was being hardwired to duplicate the same sensation and why I spent the rest of my life trying to achieve this sensation time after time after time.

It would take a novel the size of War and Peace to describe every step it took for me to be standing on a peak in Norway by myself. So when kids come up to me and tell me that they want to do what I do because they are really good skiers, my head explodes with memories of how I got here. And what it took. That’s when I tell them that learning to ski was the easiest part. Should the conversation proceed and they have the patience to listen, I try to explain what I mean.

I tell them that it’s the work they do off the skis and beyond the slopes that can, perhaps, lead them to this place. Combine that with athletic ability and they might start to come up with a road map on how to make it happen. Most likely I have lost the kids’ attention at this point, because it doesn’t always not sound like fun. It’s a big commitment and a lot of hard work.

As it happened, I wasn’t able to make the final “one percent” and gave up competitive skiing. I was very depressed for a while. And the pressure of graduating as just an average student weighed on me. I was so frightened of being lost that I began to panic. Without a purpose my world got dark.

Then, as fate would have it I was was hired to do a Warren Miller film. When they began to shoot , I skied as hard and as good as I could. And I remembered a few words of advice that one of my mentors had given me. “Shine where you can,” he said, “But be willing to carry the tripod whenever possible.”

So, after every shot I carried the tripod for our cameraman. It kept me humble and it tied me closer to the excitement and energy going into what we were all trying to accomplish.

My path has not always been easy. In fact, at times, it has been turbulent. But, it is said, “that which does kill you can only make you stronger,” and provide greater stories on the way. And, to this day, even after skiing in almost 30 Warren Miller films, I still carry the tripod.