Schuss the Works

A Complete Ski Guide

Mountains, powder, and clear, cold days. The skier’s idea of heaven. Ever since ancient Norsemen first strapped animal bones on their shoes over 2,500 years ago, the allure of sliding through the snow has made some people regard summer as an interminable nuisance. Today there are over 4 million skiers in the United States. About 150,000 of them live in Dallas and Fort Worth.

One has only to turn the television dial to the Winter Olympics or Wide World of Sports to realize how much variation there is in the sport of skiing. Nordic or cross-country skiing, using longer skis and poles and simple toe bindings, is accessible wherever the terrain is relatively flat and covered by a minimum of three or four inches of snow. During winter months where there’s snow, it’s not unusual to see cross-country skiers on any golf course or public park. Alpine or downhill skiing is the standard mountain activity. The skis are shorter, sleeker, and boots and bindings have developed through scientific research only a moon shot can match.

Once leisurely downhill skiing has been mastered, the advanced skier can progress to downhill racing, slalom racing (the straight downhill course is broken by obstacle poles), free style or ballet skiing (these athletes do the impossible on skis – flips, splits and somersaults), and jumping. The advanced powder skier, not content with the uncrowded back bowls of the major resorts, now goes helicopter skiing. Accompanied by a guide, these skiers travel by air to virgin powder where there are no trails mapped out and the threat of avalanches forces them to carry beepers in their backpacks in case the mountain collapses.

Skiing is an expensive hobby and the ski subculture is often bewildering, if you multiply the number of resorts by the number of travel packages available, by the types of clothing and equipment on sale, by the different methods of teaching, by the scores of foreign-sounding ski terms heard on the slopes. The novice begins to think that his $300 vacation would have been better spent on Padre Island over the Fourth of July.

It doesn’t have to be so confusing. Af-ter all, it takes time to learn any sport. Just follow a few basic rules and join the others who begin praying for snow on November 1. A great place to begin, whether you be novice or veteran getting ready for the 1976-77 season, is right here.

Ski Clubs

There are five well-established ski clubs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For most of them, the term “ski club” is a misnomer. In addition to skiing, some have year-round activities ranging trom tennis tournaments to backpacking and canoe trips. All publish newsletters. They usually invite lecturers to ski meetings and show ski movies to get ev-eryone in the mood. Joining a ski club is a great way to meet people (singles usu-ally predominate) and it assures you of saving an average of $50 on each trip by taking advantage of the group rates. You are also saved the worries of mak-ing your own accommodations, but like any group tour, this also prevents you from some freedom in planning your own activities. If you’re the loner type, a ski club is not for you. The Dallas Ski Club has a reputation for being an older, more affluent crowd while Sno-Mad and Mountain People cater to younger peo-ple. All three have competitive rates on trips, however. The Alpine Ski Club of-fers bus trips only, so their trips are less expensive. All charge a yearly membership fee to cover operation costs in addition to the price of a ski trip. Many people belong to more than one club to get the optimum choice on times and destinations of trips.

Dallas Ski Club. 742-8529. 5336 Alpha Road, Dallas 75240

Membership: $15 single, $20 family, $10 nonresident (outside 100 mile radius of Dallas)

The club is 22 years old with a membership of at least 1,000. They have nine trips planned this year.

Sno-Mad Ski Club. 350-9026. P.O. Box 7540, Dallas 75209.

Membership: $10 single, $20 family.

The club is nine years old with 1,300 adult members. Twenty trips are planned, including one to Europe.

Mountain People Ski Club. 692-7693. P.O. Box 45225, Dallas 75245.

Membership: $14 single, $24 couple.

The club is three and a half years old with 839 members. Thirteen trips are planned.

Alpine Ski Club. 461-6436 (metro). 3310 Country Club Road, Arlington, Texas 76013.

Membership: $12.50 single, $20 family.

The club is four years old with over 800 members. Eleven trips are planned.

Ullr Ski Club. (817)461-2191. P.O. Box 701, Arlington, Texas 76010.

Membership: $20 single, $35 family, $15 renewal.

The club is seven years old with about 1,000 members. Fourteen bus trips are planned. On some of these trips, optional air transportation is available.

Getting There

Continental -647-2910 (Red River, Angel Fire, Taos)

Five flights daily to Albuquerque (two non-stop)

Six flights daily returning (three nonstop)

$136 coach round trip

$122 economy (no meals)

Group fares and package tours available. Call reservations number and ask for Tour Desk.

Texas International – 826-2000

(Red River, Angel Fire, Taos)

Five flights daily to Albuquerque (all non-stop)

Five flights returning (four non-stop)

$134 standard fare round trip

$120 economy (no meals, seating in rear)

Group fares and package tours available. Call reservations number and ask for Tour Desk.

Frontier – 453-0123 (access to all Colorado, Utah, Wyoming listings)

To Denver:

Six flights daily except Saturday (all non-stop)

Six flights returning (all non-stop)

$144 coach round trip

$116 night fare round trip (leaving and returning after 10 p.m.)

$115 freedom fare (more than 7 days but less than 30, reservations made at least two weeks in advance)

To Grand Junction and Durango:

Connecting Frontier flights

$180 coach round trip

$144 freedom fare

To Salt Lake City:

Connecting Frontier flights

Four direct flights daily except Saturday (stop in Denver)

Three direct flights returning (stop in Denver)

$210 coach round trip

$168 freedom fare

Group fares and package tours available. Call Tour Desk.

Braniff – 357-9511 (Colorado resorts only, connections by Frontier)

Eleven flights daily to Denver every hour beginning at 8:25 a.m. to 6:25 p. m. One night flight. Nine are nonstop.

Twelve flights daily returning every hour on the hour from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nine are non-stop.

$148 coach

$118 excursion fare (longer than 7 days but less than 30, reservations at least two weeks in advance)

Group fares and package tours available. Call Tour Desk.

One of the cheapest package tours available this year is through Adventure Tours. They will be sponsoring nine trips (Dec. 19 to Mar. 20) to Dillon, Colorado. There you may choose between skiing any of the three resorts in Summit County – Breckenridge, Copper Mountain or Keystone. Trips prior to January 9 will cost $179 to $229 depending on your choice of accommodations. After that date, trips will cost $189, since all accommodations will be at the Ramada Inn in Dillon. The first four flights will be via a Braniff 747. The last five flights will be via Texas International. The package will include airfare, hotel accommodations, transfers to Dillon and the ski slopes, and several get-acquainted parties.

For information, call your travel agent or Adventure Tours – 263-8094 (Metro) or 748-7090 (Dallas). TOLL FREE NATIONAL SKI CONDITION NUMBER The Ellis Ski Report 1 (800) 243-5250

The Five

Toughest Runs

We’ve taken a straw vote poll of better Dallas skiers and ski resort residents and have come up with five ski courses which we believe any expert skier will find challenging. Granted, it’s a subjective process – sort of like coming up with a list of the five most beautiful women in America. The list is in no particular order of difficulty. Our ground rules for selection are that the courses must be one continuous run from peak to base and that the more difficult portions must combine length with angle of incline and variety of terrain. Several separate runs may be combined as long as skis are the only mode of transportation one needs to get from one run to the next. So experts, if you make a trip to one of these areas this year, get your trail maps and your courage ready and see if you don’t agree.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Do you like flirting with Fear? Then take the lift to the top of Rendezvous Mountain (altitude 10,450 feet). They had to design a new trail symbol for this area – a yellow and red triangle with an exclamation point in the middle. It means “most difficult, expert use extra caution.” If your heart hasn’t already dropped to your boots, plant your poles and take off to the left down “Corbett’s Cooler.” Still in one piece? Now follow “The Chutes” to “The Amphitheatre.” From there go down what residents affectionately call “The Toilet Bowl” to the base. From top to bottom it’s the longest vertical drop in America – 4,139 feet. Are you beginning to wish you’d stayed at the lodge? Aw, come on. Try it again.

Telluride, Colorado

The choice was difficult here. One course would take you down “The Spiral Stairs” which is the steeper but only half as long as the other course, so we chose the longer one. From the top of the mountain ski right until you reach “The Plunge.” Prepare yourself. This little baby has the distinction of being the longest (2.4 miles), steepest (average gradient 65%) run in America. Try to stifle your screams or you may end up under several feet of avalanching snow. Did you make it? Then open your eyes and follow the trail to the base 3,200 feet below. How did you like all those nice, big, fat moguls?

Taos, New Mexico

Taos was on everybody’s list and most people usually mentioned “Al’s Run.” But Ernie Blake, Taos’ owner, thinks “Longhorn” is even better. He ought to know. Those blasts you hear are just members of the ski patrol dynamiting. Yep, they’re on “Longhorn.” The grade is so steep (33°), that you’ll have enough to worry about without trying to beat an avalanche down the hill. Still want to try it? Then take a lift to the top of the mountain and get in a little practice on “Castor” or “Pollux.” Tip-toe on over to “Longhorn.” It’s a mile to base. Try to keep your eyes open on this one. Sports Illustrated chose “Longhorn” as one of the most photogenic runs in the country.

Aspen, Colorado

The best advice we can give you is not to drink too much the night before you 9ki this course. Save the liquor for a celebration when you reach the base. Begin at the top of “Ruthie’s Run.” This one’s legendary. Then press onward to “International,” and after that, “Silver Queen.” Catch your breath and follow the FIS slalom hill to the base. This run down the mountain is two miles long with a vertical drop of 2,800 feet and an average gradient of 27° to 30°. About a quarter of the course is relatively flat. But don’t let that fool you. You need it to prepare yourself for the scary portions like the “Elevator Shaft” section on “Silver Queen.” Here you can look over your skis and not be able to see the transition of the hill. In other words, you begin to think you’ll need an elevator to get you down.

Snowbird, Utah

They call this place Snowbird because you have to feel just as comfortable flying as you do skiing to get down some of these slopes. If you feel like Superman, take the tram to the top of the mountain. Look for Run # 3 on the trail map. That’s “Silver Fox,” and it goes all the way from peak to base. It’s about two miles long with a vertical drop of 3,000 feet. Ready? “Peruvian Gulch” is right below you. You’ll definitely be flying through this area. When you reach the bottom of the gulch, don’t feel bad if your knees are a little wobbly. The developers thoughtfully left a cluster of trees here so there’s something around for you to lean on. Take a few deep breaths – you’ve still got about a mile to go and the bottom portion is as bad as “Peruvian Gulch.” Look out for all the moguls. Ah, there’s the base. You can tell your friends you just made it down a run with an average gradient of 65 percent.

Ski Area Profiles



This area is 200 miles southwest of Denver and is considered by most people to be the ultimate ski vacation experience in the United States. Not only does the skier have a choice of four mountains to ski (Aspen Highlands, Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, and Snowmass), but he can sample some of the best cuisine and nightlife in the country here as well. The four ski areas cover a 12-square mile stretch of the Rockies. Over 25,000 skiers can be seen on the slopes during a peak season day. There are 300 miles of ski trails and an equal number of instructors to help you improve your technique. Aspen Highlands has the longest vertical drop, Buttermilk the easiest slopes, but Aspen Mountain is where most of the expert slopes can be found. All four mountains are accessible by free shuttle bus and lift tickets for all areas are interchangeable. There are over 100 lodges or condominiums within the city limits and at least 700 shops. If you don’t feel like skiing, a week could be spent just browsing the shops – or people watching. It’s a jet-setter’s playground. In addition to alpine and nordic skiing, there’s dog sledding, tennis, ice skating, and even hang gliding for the real dare-devil. When the lifts close and you’re looking for good food and entertainment that evening, try these restaurant and bar recommendations from an Aspen resident who’s tried them all:


1. Maurices at The Aspen Alps. French cuisine. TheSwiss-born owner was once a private chef to theRothschilds.

2. Shannon’s Galley. Continental cuisine.

3. The Golden Horn. Their veal dishes and filet ofsole are excellent.

4. The Chart House. Delicious beef with an excellentsalad bar.

5. Don Giovanni’s. Northern Italian cuisine. Theirmenu changes every night.


1. Red Onion. Live music and dancing.

2. Crystal Palace. Dinner and show with topical humor.

3. The Paragon. A parlor bar, an oyster bar and disco under one roof.

4. The Jerome Hotel Bar. Good drinks in pleasantsurroundings.

5. The Tippler at the Copper Kettle Restaurant. Good drinks in pleasant surroundings.

Rates; $12 adults full day at Aspen Highlands. $11on other mountains.

Ski Rental: Lots of rental shops with varying prices. Generally in $7 to $8 range for adults.

Ski School: 300 instructors with schools on each mountain. Both GLM and American method used. $13 adults full day, $11 children. Nastar races. Cross-country lessons also available. Reservations: Aspen Reservations, Box 4546, Aspen, Colorado 81611; (303)925-4000/Snowmass Resort, Box 5566, West Village, Colorado 81615; (303)923-2000.


Breckenridge. 80 miles from Denver, is the oldest of the three resorts in Summit County. The town itself is over 120 years old with lots of Victorian atmosphere. The lifts at the ski area allow 13,183 skiers per hour to get to the slopes. With improvements and additions developed this summer, there are now 60 runs on 700 acres of skiable terrain. The vertical drop here is 2,223 feet and the longest run is 2.6 miles. Like Copper Mountain, Breckenridge is primarily a beginner/intermediate skiing area. The town is worth visiting wherever you may be skiing in Summit County. Lots of quaint shops, over 40 lodges or motels and many good restaurants give the tourist plenty of variety. While you’re there, be sure and eat at the Adams Street Cafe or St. Bernard’s Inn (the Inn’s fettuccini is out of this world). Snowmobiling, ice skating, saunas, swimming, cinema, dancing, and ski-touring are just some of the activities available when you want a change of pace. Rates: $9 adults, $4 children all day. $6.50 half-day. Ski Rental: $7.50 adults, $5.50 children.

Ski School: Hans Garger, Director. GLM and ATM taught. $9 for lull day, $6 for half day. Private lessons are $15 per hour. Ski touring classes available. Nastar races held.

Reservations: Breckenridge Resort Association, P.O. Box 1909, Breckenridge, Colorado 80424; (303)453-2918.

Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain is one of three ski resorts in Summit County, just 70 miles from Denver. Now into its fifth year of operation, the resort caters primarily to beginner and intermediate skiers (only 20 percent of its runs are expert). The area, with 14 condominium buildings and six restaurants, is no more than a 5-minute walk from the ski lifts. Seven double chair-lifts provide a total capacity of 9,000 skiers per hour. This year skiers can also get in some tennis at the Racquet Club on one of six courts. Ice skating under the lights, ski touring and snowmobiling are also available. The vertical drop here is 2,450 feet and the longest run is two miles. There are over 40 miles of ski trails.

Rates: $10 adults, $4 children full day; $6 adults, $3 children half day.

Ski Rental: $7 adults, $5 children.

Ski School: Butch Graves, Director. ATM taught. $10 adults full day, $8 children. Half day $7 adults, $6 children. Private lessons are $17 per hour (each additional person $6). Nastar races Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. $2 adults, $1under 18.

Ski Skool

If you’ve never been on skis and are itching to try, or if you simply want to correct a few bad habits, a new ski school has opened in Dallas. Ben Pinnell, associated with Wolf Creek Ski Area, has opened The Parallel Haus on Inwood Road, a warehouse in which he has installed several practice slope ramps. Students may use a 50’ by 104’ by 18’ ramp covered with a new synthetic called “dura-snow,” which allows skiers much more maneuverability than older ramp surfaces.

The school will use Cliff Taylor’s GLM (graduated length method) for teaching. In a six lesson, nine hour package, students are taught the rudiments of skiing through use of the ramps, video tapes, lectures, and movies. A second series of lessons on breaking the stem habit is also available. A chair-lift has also been installed so students can learn the correct position for getting on and skiing off a lift.

Parallel Haus. 15003 Inwood Road (north of LBJ at Beltline). 233-1979.

Six lesson beginner package, $59.95

Six lesson break the stem habit package, $59.95

Semi-private lessons, $79.95

Private lessons, $99.95

Special group rates are available.

Ski lessons offered October 1 through March 1.


Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.

Related Content