Monarch, Ski Cooper celebrate another season
Another season on the slopes is almost gone, with the words “More Snow” likely to be engraved on its tombstone – or, what one ski bumming protester once shouted, “Powder to the people!”
But it’s still Colorado, where what’s considered a dry winter tallies 60 inches of snow or more. And locals who have found a home at partner resorts Monarch Mountain and Ski Cooper in Salida and Leadville, respectively, will be walking away with some great days under their belts yet, and extra cash fattening their wallets.
Commonly known as “Gaper Day,” and characterized by costumes of summer tourist-wear, live music and cookouts, the last day of the season at Monarch and Ski Cooper is Sunday, April 8.
On the Lake County end, local tribe Groovespeak will close Ski Cooper’s 75th season with live music starting at 2 p.m. Carey Nall, a regular acoustic performer at the mountain, revived the 10-year-old act alongside five fellow musicians last year. Since then, they’ve been spicing up the local scene, packing houses in Leadville on weekends throughout the dog days of winter. Groove, funk, jive – whatever you call it, they’ve got it – and on the patio under the sun in springtime temperatures, it’ll be hard not to dance the ski-boot shuffle. A scene of familiar faces and bright colors up at Ski Cooper can be found at Tennessee Pass on U.S. Highway 24, just 10 miles west of Leadville.
At Monarch Mountain, the last day of the season is celebrated with the 10th Annual Parking Lot Cook-Off and Tailgate Party. This day in Salida also marks the beginning of rafting season, and thus a second cause to party. Another preemptive summertime tradition, skiers at Monarch will be dropping their hatches and cooking out game-day style. And why cook out if not to enter the product into a contest? There’s a prize in it for the judges’ favorite dish. Expect a live musical act, yet to be announced.
For the die-hard skier or snowboarder, try the Gunbarrell Challenge – a race to run up and ski down Gunbarrell trail. Monarch’s six lifts and 800 skiable acres, including the double black diamond Mirkwood Basin, are 20 miles west of Salida on U.S. Highway 50.
Season pass holders at either mountain are entitled to three free days at the other, so use them up before it’s too late! Ski Cooper is running $25 lift tickets every day April 2-8, and adult lift tickets at Monarch are only $54 if purchased online. Visit SkiCooper.com and SkiMonarch.com for more info and to purchase early season passes for the 2018-19 season. Also, call in to Ski Cooper at 800-707-6114 and Monarch Mountain at 719-530-5000 to talk to an awesome and real live human being about the season’s close.
Both resorts will have at least 40 inches in base snow. Cold enough at night to keep it from melting, but warm enough in the day to soften it up, conditions have been spectacular in recent weeks. The Weather Channel may call for rain, but everyone out for closing day should help it stay pretty chill.
Also, catch Groovespeak at The Historic Pastime Bar this Friday, March 30, at 9:30 p.m. for $5 at the door. The Pastime is located at 120 W. Second St. in Leadville.