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Mountain News: Hell freezes over for Taos

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TAOS, N.M. – Taos Ski Valley has finally decided to drop the ropes for snowboarders. A memo to employees distributed by Mickey Blake, the ski area president, said the change will occur on March 19.

“I guess hell finally froze over….” said one blogger on the website of the Taos Daily News, where the news was reported.

In the West, the only other major ski area where snowboards remain banned is at Deer Valley.

“For several seasons the debate has been more directed as to ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ snowboarding would be permitted at Taos Ski Valley,” the memo continued.

The Taos Ski Valley website blogsite revealed great enthusiasm. “On behalf of about every tourist-related business in town, I want to thank TSV for lifting the ban,” wrote Marc Coan.

One unidentified grandparent lauded it as a way to renew family inclusiveness. “I am happy to say that once again we can be a ‘snow sport family’ in one area… hurray!”

As well, there was disappointment. More than one writer was sure that Taos Ski Valley founder Ernie Blake, who died in 1989, must be needing Tums.

One writer, while embracing the need for snowboards, called for a skis-only policy for some runs, to retain good moguls.

 

Still seeking pot of gold

VAIL, Colo. – For most of his life, Earl Eaton has been tromping up mountains, looking for a pot of gold. At age 85, he’s still looking.

It’s not that he hasn’t had success in his own way. Fifty years ago last March, Earl Eaton led Pete Seibert up what is now called Vail Mountain, to show Seibert the expanse of mostly treeless hillsides now called Vail’s Back Bowls.

This was before Interstate 70 was even authorized westward from Denver. While Seibert had trained nearby at Camp Hale, he had never seen those bowls. But the sight of them clinched his decision that this was the place to realize his boyhood dream of creating a big ski area.

Eaton grew up on a ranch about 10 miles west, during a time when the Eagle Valley was a hardscrabble place of mostly too-long winters for decent farming or ranching. Some people worked on the railroad or at the mines.

Things had changed little after World War II, when Eaton and Siebert were both living in Aspen. They probably met at Aspen’s famous Red Onion bar. In time, he learned of Seibert’s life-long quest to someday build his own ski resort. Later, when Seibert was managing Loveland Basin, Eaton confided to Seibert that he might have Seibert’s answer.

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