Sometimes, even Mountain Correspondents miss snow days. Yes, I missed the last powder day at Durango Mountain Resort, so my goal for today is to be the cruddiest skier on the mountain. I'm going to search high and low for crud, scour the slopes, and enlist the help of a highly trained professional in order to find the stuff. It's not going to be easy, it's not going to be glamorous, but I'm going to do everything I can to find Purgatory's crud.
Sure, powder skiing is great. Everyone likes untouched fresh turns, but with the advent of fat skis, the widespread adoption of high-speed lifts, and the pinpoint accurate forecasting one finds from their local weather man <pause for laughter>, powder days can be hard to come by. More often, one finds themselves staring at a mountain that's been skied, wondering if there's any left for them. I find myself in this position today, standing at the bottom of Durango Mountain Resort and wondering why I thought is was sooooo important to go to work the previous day when all my friends had been skiing powder. Never fear, I've got a secret weapon, and his name, is Mark Garrity.
Mark is the Director of Durango Mountain Resort's Ski & Ride School, and aims to solidify Purgatory as the "Best in the Southwest". Learning to ski and ride is an important function of any ski school, but at Purgatory it doesn't stop there. Mark and his gang will gladly take advanced skiers out to tweak their skills and show them new spots to test their skills on the mountain. And that is just what I plan to do.
I chase Mark to the backside of the mountain where we warm up on some buttery groomed runs before beginning "Operation Search & Destroy", or as Mark calls it "looking for powder." Whatever. I like mine better, but Mark knows the mountain and he knows where the snow is, so I'll follow him.
You can see the years of Purgatory's Ski and Ride School has seeped in to Mark's core. He skis with the precision of a Swiss watch; there is no wasted motion, no unsteadiness. Through groomers, crud, and even some small powder shots, he's smooth and technically flawless. Plus, he didn't laugh at me when I augured it in beneath the chairlift and spent ten minutes digging for my ski.
Strangely enough, the last patches of untouched snow lay directly beneath chair 8, on Durango Mountain Resort's backside. Everything else has seen at least a few skiers, and I wonder why this little spot can hide for so long in plain site. I ask Mark why it hasn't been skied.
"It's tricky to get to. You have to know where you're going." he replies.
And when you're skiing with a ski instructor at Durango Mountain Resort, you know where you're going.
-John Trousdale, Mountain Correspondent, Colorado Ski Country USA