Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Priest Creek wasn’t named after a paralleling padre, and Bashor Bowl has absolutely nothing to do with all the gate-bashing that takes place in the giant slalom runs on the NASTAR course.
In fact, when it comes to naming Steamboat’s fabled ski trails and long-standing chairlifts, things aren’t always what they seem.
Ski historian Sureva Towler reported in her book, “The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs,” that quite naturally, Priest Creek was named after Chester Priest, the first settler on the creek.
So, it follows that ski area archives report Bashor Bowl was named after Carl Bashor, whose parents homesteaded 160 acres that are bisected today by Giggle Gulch. I guess the Bashor clan was prone to laughter.
No matter, Carl Bashor spent six decades skiing every square inch of Storm Mountain (the name locals used for Mount Werner before it was renamed in 1965, about 10 months after local skiing legend Buddy Werner died in an avalanche in Switzerland).
The lower terminus of Four Points chairlift is situated close to where four trails — Vortex, Ego, Lightning and Four Points liftline — converge. But that’s incidental to the fact that John Fetcher and Gordy Wren (the latter competed in the Olympics in ski jumping and slalom racing) encountered a mule deer buck while looking for the ideal site for the lift’s upper terminal. The modestly sized buck had four tines on each side of its rack — four points.
Back in the day, if you encountered a wild animal on the mountain, you named a ski run or a lift after it. That explains how Steamboat’s first quad chairlift, Elkhead, got its name.
Elkhead is the closest thing to a commuter lift at Steamboat; it carries skiers and riders from the base of Sundown Express back to Thunderhead for lunch. Its name is derived from a grisly find made by Fetcher, Loris Werner and Dick Randolph (who helped build the original trails at Jackson Hole, Wyo.). The trio was exploring the Priest Creek area in 1971 when they came upon the skull of an elk that had been buried in the snow by rodents.
It’s a well-known fact that porcupines like to gnaw on elk antlers. I wonder why Steamboat doesn’t have a trail named Porky’s?
Can you name Steamboat Ski Area landmarks named after cattle brands?
Here we go:
The Bar UE lift was named after a ranch operated in the South Valley by Edward “Pop” Werner, father of Steamboat Olympians Loris, Buddy and Skeeter. And yes, Buddy’s Run is named after Buddy.
Flying Z was named after South Routt Rancher and former county commissioner J. Frank Stetson’s brand. If you’ve been horseback riding at Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch behind Steamboat Lake, you’ll understand the connection to Del Heid and Olympian Ray Heid (pictured above bashing gates on Bashor). Perhaps not as well known is Crowtrack, after Oak Creek rancher Raymond Pedersen’s Crowtrack Quarter Circle brand.
It’s fitting that a number of ski trails at Steamboat are named after personalities. Nelson’s Run was a no-brainer after Nelson Carmichael won a bronze medal in moguls in Albertville in 1992. Way to go Nellie.
It was fitting when Central Park was changed after 16 years to honor longtime ski school supervisor Rudi Schnackenberg, a member of the famed 10th Mountain Division. Ted Cordova, who started grooming runs in 1965, got his props on Ted’s Ridge. Huffman’s is a memorial for ski patroller Garry Huffman, who lost his life in a snowmaking construction accident in 1981.
And then there are unofficial nicknames for unofficial ski trails, which are nonetheless acknowledged by Ski Corp.
Everyone knows where Twistercane is. Art’s Stash is his own business. But you should go check out Castles from the top of Vagabond down to Why Not. It’s a great place to show off for rock-jumping photos.
If you don’t know where Land of the Little People is, I’m not telling.
But everyone should ski the only unintended run on the mountain.
Ski area managers and U.S. Forest Service officials meticulously plan every new trail. But when a heavy snowmelt caused a mudslide between Betwixt (is that redundant?) and Lower Concentration one spring, there was only one thing to do.
They named the new trail Mother Nature.