Monarch’s 2016-2017 season is set to go out with a pow as local ski mountain staff prepare to put on another fabulous closing weekend filled with festivities and a little something for everyone.
The 11th annual Kayaks on Snow kicks off at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 15, at the bottom of Monarch’s Freeway Run near the base area. Participants race head to head in kayaks to see who is the first to travel across snowy berms, bumps and banks to reach the finish line across an icy-cold, man-made pond, created just for the event. Each competitor provides their own kayak, helmet, PFD and paddle; no SUP boards, duckies or rafts allowed. Registration is $25 and will run from 8 to 10:30 a.m. on the day of the event.
Base Services Manager Ryan Kempfer said the event typically draws between 40 and 60 contenders, and depending on weather, also lures a big crowd of spectators. “The best place to watch is the skier’s left side of the pond, off to the sides, or up front alongside the finish line.”
Kayaks on Snow is unique to Monarch Ski Area and Kempfer said kayakers from as far away as Steamboat Springs and Durango often show up for the event. “It is 100-percent authentic and original to Monarch. Other areas have pond skimming on skis, but we are still the only ski resort that does this. It is definitely one-of-a-kind, and it just fits our community. It’s a pretty awesome event.”
Awards will take place at 2 p.m. with prizes from local sponsors going to the fastest kayaker on snow.
Monarch skiers have been gifted an extra week of skiing this year, as closing day will come on Sunday, April 16, seven days later than usual. Kempfer said the decision was made last year to extend closing day by one week, depending on the snowpack, because April tends to bring a decent amount of snowfall to the ski area. “It worked out well because we were able to give a week back after we opened late this year.”
The 10th annual Parking Lot Cook-Off and Tailgate Party will get underway at 11 a.m., with judging to commence at 2 p.m. Participants will cook up their best tailgate food and prizes (including a 2018 season pass) will be awarded based on originality, taste and creative presentation. Registration is free, and will take place near the tunnel doors from 8 to 11 a.m.
At high noon, Monarch will host the Gunbarrel Challenge, an uphill/downhill race for bragging rights. Both skiers and snowboarders are welcome to compete in this event and there is no fee to enter. Free registration is from 8 to 11:45 a.m. inside the rental and lessons center.
Local musician Bruce Hayes will take the stage at 11 a.m., on the west deck of the ski lodge. His One-Maniac-Band will fill the mountains with rhythm and Celtgrass tunes on mandolin, guitar, dobro (and if you’re lucky, the stratobassto) until 2 p.m.
Kempfer encouraged skiers and snowboarders to get out and enjoy the fun planned for the last weekend of the season at Monarch. “The snow right now is absolutely incredible – Monarch is leading the pack. We have the biggest base in the state of Colorado. That is something to be proud of because we operate entirely on natural snow. There are deep troughs and trenches in many places on the mountain, the groomers are fast, and the powder is still some of the best of the season.”
For more information about these events or for registration, call 888-996-7669 ext. 5050 or visit skimonarch.com.