Sunlight, CO: 01/18/20

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Sunlight, CO: 01/18/20

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:24 am

I'm back in Colorado for the next 11 days so this weekend a couple areas are on the docket that virtually no one mentions in the online ski world (other than Tony's helpful TRs in 2013). Even if I had an Epic or Ikon Pass, I'm not sure I'd want to be at any of those major ski areas over a busy holiday weekend.

Opened in 1966, it's an unpretentious, old-school ski area frequented exclusively by locals.
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I hadn't seen any of these in a while!
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From the map, it doesn't look like much compared to the monster ski areas to the east, but it covers 2,000 verts/680 skiable acres and has a surprising amount of variety, including a lot of tree skiing in the aspen groves, some steep chutes, and on the lower looker's left a good-sized sector of double-black terrain that's going to be served next year with the ski area's first new lift in decades: the East Ridge expansion. I'd bet a doughnut that it won't be a high-speed chair, which they don't really need.
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The two main chairs are Riblets from the late 60s/early 70s. The lifties patiently remind every person or couple boarding the chair "watch out for the center pole."
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Overnight, Sunlight picked up 4-6 inches so the first three hours were spent tracking through the bootcuff-deep new snow. Here I am in my first in-action pic on a ski-area's social-media feed: only took 20 seasons of skiing for someone to notice me!
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Sorry for my sometimes blurry pix, had to zoom in for a few of them, and the high clouds never completely dissipated until around 2 pm. Still, a fun day for all.
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I caught up to a posse of telegirlz at western ski areas on one run:
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By early afternoon, most of the obvious new snow had been tracked up but there was plenty of soft chop that was fun to play in:
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Even though the parking lots were full, density was not an issue -- here's a lonely patroller on the runout back to the main lifts:
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They use old snowboards for trail signs:
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Heading into the aspens for additional untracked mid-afternoon:
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I shared a chair with the only other skier on the hill with Kästle skis. Turns out that a while back she lived a couple years in Lake Placid, was well acquainted with the good/bad/ugly of skiing in the northeast, and preferred Whiteface and Jay.
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Food and beverage is only at the bustling base area:
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... and this trailer at the summit:
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On the way back to the car, I saw that someone brought out the longboards:
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In short: despite the long drive from Denver, a fun off-the-beaten-path area only 15 minutes from I-70 and a great place to avoid the holiday hordes. So far this season, I'm three for three in Colorado for fresh snow. There's nothing in the forecast for the next couple days but I'm hoping for good views at my next stop.
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Re: Sunlight, CO: 01/18/20

Postby EMSC » Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:16 pm

I think the statement 'tracked out by early afternoon' can only be used on a holiday weekend at a tiny number of ski areas. Most are tracked out by 9am.

Probably no TRs for me for Sunlight since I haven't skied there since before I joined FTO. Lifts are just too slow for me. I swear they run slower than normal fixed grips.
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Re: Sunlight, CO: 01/18/20

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:20 pm

Even though the parking lots were full, density was not an issue

The day I was there was a Dec. 31, at least as good a stress test for crowds as MLK. James had a bit nicer weather than we did though.

There's no question Sunlight belongs on the list of "best uncrowded areas." I'm guessing it's a notch ahead of James' next stop in terms of both terrain quality and lack of crowds.
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Re: Sunlight, CO: 01/18/20

Postby q » Thu Jan 23, 2020 2:43 am

Thanks for sharing this, brings back happy memories of one of my favourite smaller places!
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