Nature finally cooperated for the legions of winter outdoor enthusiasts, dumping great mounds of snow across southern Colorado.
That means the play zone known as Wolf Creek Ski Area, along with
the surrounding environs, is a white wonderland full of all kinds of activities.
Topping the list, of course, is the skiing at Wolf Creek.
The ski area has been making itself more customer-friendly while also trying to attract new skiers to the fold.
“We’ve been working on that aspect of making things easier for the customer,” she said. “So people can fill out their information at home instead of coming up here and having to fill all the information out.”
And to attract new skiers, there is online availability of ski school lessons and rentals, Pitcher said.
Further, “we increased our fleet of skis and snowboards,” she said. “We have really great new demo skis, and we increased our standard sets for our rentals, as well as snowboards.”
Unfortunately, plans to have a new, covered conveyor lift ready in time for this season for the beginners hill did not materialize in time, Pitcher said, but the Links Lift will be ready to go by next season.
“It’s for the beginners,” she said. “It will be really great addition to ski school. Adults will be able to go over on the top terminal, and there will be a type of meet-and-greet area for ski schoolers, so this should help them out.”
Wolf Creek also has been trying to engage more women in the sport by offering ski and snowboard clinics taught by women for women, Pitcher said, with the next one set for Jan. 7.
“It’s a combination program package for $44 for a ski pass and $39 for two-hour lesson that is just a really great savings,” she said. “It will be taught by a couple of our women instructors at Wolf Creek. It’s designed especially for women and taught by women. It will be a really great little clinic for any woman who decides to come up by herself. It’s for all levels of skiers and boarders.”
Although men frequently will make a ski trip alone, it’s more rare for a woman to do so, Pitcher said, and Wolf Creek is trying to change that culture.
“A lot of men come up by themselves,” she said. “Maybe some men are more independent and women need a little bit more reassurance that they can do the sport. Some women are a little tentative, but if they see other women being able to do it, it gives them more confidence that they can get the skills, being with other women, and sometimes women relate more to women than men.”
Wolf Creek also has a series of fun races for people who want to pretend it’s the Olympics.
Racing through gates in two runs on the left and ride side of the course is a fun experience whether competing against the clock or a friend, Pitcher said, and is open to all ages and abilities.
“We have a modified slalom course, with two courses side by side, and it gives you a chance to ski both sides to check out your racing,” she said. “We have 14 different categories of age groups, and we do a little awards ceremony that’s really fun to participate in.”
Free races are coming up Jan. 8, Jan. 22 and Jan. 29.
If the slopes get to be a bit overwhelming, there are plenty of other things to do in the area, said Mark Teders, director of the South Fork Visitor and Interpretive Center.
One of the more popular activities, snowmobiling, is big because there are hundreds of miles of groomed trails throughout the area, he said, although it’s recommended to bring a snowmobile.
“And ice fishing is real popular because there are a lot of lakes around in the area that are frozen over,” Teders said, adding that the South Fork Rainbow Grocery rents augers and sleds and can recommend likely spots.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing also are big in that there are many hiking trails in the area that serve as wonderful forest paths, he said.
And in town, there’s an open-air skating rink that draws many ice skaters who get a thrill from the old-time feel of natural ice under their blades, Teders said.