Purgatory ’15

Purgatory review
(4th in the string of 3/10 “Competing CO” @ end of ’14-15 ski season)

I’m really itchin’ to fill the CO bucket. There’s only two more resorts to do, but these are “tucked” into the southwest corner of the state. I’ve visited this sub-region before, but things beyond control have consistently preempted the best laid plans.  Now all lights are green. It’s “go”.

I enjoyed another pleasant breakfast with the family and saw them off under the critical stare and admonitions from my wife Carolyn. She had to return home to her career. I was on my own in a rental car awaiting the repair of the family car I had bounced of a “road turd” in PA and nursed in hobbled condition to Denver (but that’s another story).

So it was up and over the continental divide this time. All the visits along the road thus far stopped short of the crest, but for the duration of the afternoon leg, it was all down hill. The ride was scenic and enjoyable passing along the reservoir and canyon to the town of Gunnison. Crested Butte was out of my way, and I had skied it years ago. Boy, I’d love a re-do, but perhaps another day.  The route turned south through the city of Montrose and over the pass toward Silverton, home to the unique area of the same name. Again having been there and done it, I forced myself to motor on down to Durango.

I had a reservation at the Knight’s Inn, a motel chain within the Wyndham group. I used this property in another life (a different story). It is on the north end of the city well positioned for my jaunt to Purgatory next day. OK, OK! They have changed the name, perhaps in an attempt to draw, rather than spook and run off would be Catholic patrons! Please be aware its now the Resort at Durango. Oops, flash, Durango was purchased and the new owners have returned the name Purgatory. We have get all bent out of shape if we didn’t catch is almost the same breath, that they have poured in an additional $10 million in improvements. Keep up the good work, boys and keep us apprised.

Purgatory at Durango review

The resort is about a 15 minute drive out of town. Yea, I had passed it on my way the prior evening, and had to retrace my course – a major faux pax I usually avoid.) So the Resort ranks comfortably within the “day-tripper” category, but it is truly a major resort with plentiful condos erected to form a community square and define a distinct central plaza.

A “village” is nicely laid out at the base. It is a stone’s throw off the main drag, and the parking lots encircle the town square. One lot is right on the highway with a lift to sweep the locals to the main mountain lifts. A reception center welcomes guests and is manned with beaming “personality-plus” to answer all inquiries and efficiently steer visitors, guests, and users to our respective ends.

It was a short, easy walk across the stone-paved square to the main lift. Many stores, restaurants and real estate businesses facaded the way. It was a warm inviting atmosphere on this exquisite spring day!

Three peaks cascaded off the main lift, and I enjoyed all the runs. Plenty of variety, neat stone lips might invite one to get some air under deep powder conditions. There were plenty of narrow trails that opened notable tree possibilities. The mogul fields were plentiful and being soft spring conditions I took full advantage of many.

I introduced myself and was toured about the base by a very accommodating hostess who extended professional consideration on behalf of management. A great day. I loved it. Thanks guys!

Onward with more characters:

On our walk-about of the base, I was introduced to a fellow instructor. She was seeing off a student from a private lesson she was momentarily concluding. She was good! I delighted in observing her warm and ever so pleasing demure as she encouraged her much younger (I’m guessing local housewife) student.  I complemented her noting she exemplifies a mode, message and model I attempt to exude. She extended a business card (smooth!) which presented her specialty: children and young adults.

I related my like-passion and suggested a proximity of experience. Yup, I was close! She actually had a couple years on me but her zest, energy and enthusiasm left me far in arrears. And her husband, four years her senior was also still active. They are “townies” who have established themselves on their ability and record. They are the quintessential Ski-With-Me mentors paradigms. God bless them both.

The is a mid station ramp on the third peak just below a nice mogul field which offers the opportunity to ship a gentle run-out to the main loading station at the base. The high speed detachable doesn’t stop or slow, thus as you load, there’s little time to ask permission or express congenial niceties.

So once safely aboard, I introduced myself to a nice young man residing solo whose space I had just invaded. As it turns out, he is a lift attendant here at Durango enjoying his day off in doing what he does best – skiing.  And “Yes”, he responded. “Let’s ski together.”

Great ending to a great day. He showed my all his favored runs revealing discreet entrances to trails and pathways I never would have known. He politely tolerated some of my war stories and tales of ski-bumming.

We extended our friendship into the parking lot where I just happened to have a few long-necks left in a bow I try to include in my truck when on the rioad.He was mulling over returning to school to complete his degree, so we even strayed into a discussion of more serious and impactful matters of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Wow! This is the life! He did tepidly extend an open invitation to join-up in the evening at the best of the local craft breweries. I regret my decision, but I was thinking of my early start on the morn to make Telluride in due time as planned. Another time, another place, I trust.

Come, Ski With Me!

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Skier, rider (of sorts), wanderer, teacher, coach, blogger (wannabe), perpetual child, ...