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THE STEEPS OF WINTER PARK - James Cove, Winter Park
Thursday March 1, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The Colorado resort is perhaps best known for its wide groomers & intermediate terrain. Not so. PlanetSKI tackles the steeps. NEW




I assumed I had it in me, but as I approached a ridge with concave slope ahead where I couldn't see over the edge my heartbeat quickened.  

There was a sign that said EX - Expert Terrain - and harder than a double black diamond.

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Welcome to the Vasquez Cirque.  

I had decided to do it earlier in the day and hoped the break in the weather would remain and an approaching storm stay clear.

Check out a video weather report and look-ahead to what was to come



It did hold off and a few hours later I found myself peering over the abyss.

I though back to my gentler pursuits of yesterday - a ski-doo trip, tubing and a nice hot chocolate by an open fire. Wink
The Vasquez Cirque is a horseshoe shaped ridge and bowl with a series of steep drops with names to match.

The journey to the slopes is part of the experience.  

To access it you need to enter through a special gate under the watchful eye of the piste patrol.

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Then it is a short run through some bleak and windswept terrain.  

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A snowcat picks you up - a $20 supplement to the lift pass allows you to take the cat as many times as you want.  

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I was going in with Steve Hurlbert, my guide for the afternoon, and we were wrapped up warm for the experience. 

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"Anyone that thinks Winter Park doesn't have some seriously advanced terrain should come and sit here now, where we are," he said.  

I could only nod in agreement.  

And then this:      

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It may not be Corbett's Couloir in Jackson Hole, but it is steep enough for most.    

We tackled the West Headwall. 

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Conditions were not perfect with no powder and some pretty chopped up snow, but it was cold & grippy, and the slope was a challenge.  

And I'm pleased to say I rose to the occasion and made it down in one piece. 

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It is not long, but it is steep enough.    

There then follows a long traverse out and a run through the trees. 

Complete with a few elk skulls for company.

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Winter Park is also known for its moguls. 

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Most of the black diamond runs on the mountain remain un-groomed and become ferocious moguls fields.

Though some have a slope for those that want to stay out of the bumps.

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"The moguls are our signature runs and we are re-known for them," said Steve. 

"Not everyone likes them but we let them grow in the 80s when mogul skiing was popular and never really changed that policy," Steve added.   

I plucked up courage, tried to bang my knees together and headed for the bumps:



     

Not the greatest mogul skier in the world I think you will agree, but at least I wasn't spat out!  

And then there are the snowparks.  

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I think I'll leave my Cab-Rodeo-Double-Cork-Switch 1080 till next time.

So, you think Winter Park is only for intermediates?  

Think again.

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See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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