Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

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Jamesdeluxe Jamesdeluxe
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Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

As you may remember from my previous two visits in 2010 and 2017, Monarch definitely rates amongst my favorite locals areas in North America, so when I flew into Denver last Sunday and saw that Wolf Creek and Monarch had by far the deepest bases of snow in Colorado, the decision was easy for this weekend. I drove up Friday night and when I left my motel in Salida the next morning, things were looking fine in the valley:



However, this sign on Route 50 leading up to Monarch Pass told a different story:



Ten minutes later, it looked like this and by the time I got to the ski area, it was snowing sideways. The skiing all day was fantastic, but 30+mph wind gusts froze my hands whenever I took them out of my mittens and kept me from taking pix.



Sunday morning was looking much more promising and when I pulled into the parking lot at 8 am, seeing a ski patroller's untracked run with his dog bounding through the snow after him was a sign of how it'd be today:



With more snow tonight, they'll clear 150 inches YTD by tomorrow morning.



The skies never quite cleared up so the pix from my beater camera aren't Harv-approved, but here's how it was:









Lots of relaxed meadow skipping:



Reverse shot:



Mirkwood Basin was closed for avy work, so I traversed left to Outback Bowl:



Three shots of this lady:







Three shots of her husband:







The groomers were skiing nicely too:



Given its modest vertical, Monarch has all fixed-grip chairs: one triple and three doubles. The old-school doubles should bring a smile to Upstate NY lift freaks:





I walked right up to the plaque to see the date of manufacture but it was rubbed off -- I'm guessing early 1970s?



My only regret was that I didn't bring some fat skis with me. A shame that I didn't see these guys doing demos until I was walking back to my car at the end of the day:





A nice start to my season.
Brownski Brownski
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

Awesome TR as always. How do you know that was her husband and not her boyfriend?
"You want your skis? Go get 'em!" -W. Miller
Jamesdeluxe Jamesdeluxe
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

Brownski wrote
How do you know that was her husband and not her boyfriend?
I spoke with them at the spot on the traverse where people were stopping to pick their line before dropping in:


BTW, over the two days there I chatted with a half dozen NYS expats on the lifts. The area around Salida seems to be very popular with retirees as well as mountain bikers.

raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

Great timing James.

The pace at smaller ski areas sure can be nice. The races or rope drop frenzies at places like Alta or Jackson can really have a negative impact on an experience.

Your photos look like you had the place practically to yourself.
Jamesdeluxe Jamesdeluxe
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

raisingarizona wrote
The races or rope drop frenzies at places like Alta or Jackson can really have a negative impact on an experience.
Thanks, RA. Yeah, some people love to join huge scrums for rope drops and pain-training slower skiers on the High-T. To each his/her own, but definitely not my scene.
campgottagopee campgottagopee
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

As always, thanks for sharing.

I want to go there just to ski SHAGNASTY ---- that's a great name for a trail
professor professor
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

In reply to this post by raisingarizona
  Spent the winter of 73/74 in Gunnison,Co. ….first place we skied was Monarch because Crested Butte didn't have enough snow to open in early December. Finally made it back in January 2017 for an awesome powder day. If you had a season pass from another ski area you could get a ticket for $40. It was MLK,Jr.Day and the place wasn't crowded ! Had Mirkwood Basin all to ourselves and it was deep and untracked. Your photos make me excited to get back there.
raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

We get three free days with Coleman’s Power Pass deal.
Jamesdeluxe Jamesdeluxe
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

In reply to this post by professor
professor wrote
If you had a season pass from another ski area you could get a ticket for $40.
There's a big billboard on the Route 50 access road advertising that deal; it's now $57. I paid $62/day through their website.

Monarch is as close to a community-based Plattekill experience as you'll get in Colorado on virtually every level, except way more skiable acreage, 2.5 times the snow, and no base-killing weather episodes like after Harv's visit the previous weekend.
raisingarizona raisingarizona
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Re: Monarch, CO: 12/15/19

In reply to this post by professor
professor wrote
Spent the winter of 73/74 in Gunnison,Co. ….first place we skied was Monarch because Crested Butte didn't have enough snow to open in early December. Finally made it back in January 2017 for an awesome powder day. If you had a season pass from another ski area you could get a ticket for $40. It was MLK,Jr.Day and the place wasn't crowded ! Had Mirkwood Basin all to ourselves and it was deep and untracked. Your photos make me excited to get back there.
I’d like to hear more about the Crested Butte experience in 1973! What an incredible Valley.
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