Quandary tackles vertical rise and goat nods a helpful reader | SummitDaily.com

Quandary tackles vertical rise and goat nods a helpful reader

White Mountain Tours snowmobile guide Alan Whitlock finds some fresh powder to plow through during a previous winter.
Summit Daily file photo |

What does vertical rise mean?

Vertical rise, vertical drop or just plain vertical refers to the elevation gain at a specific ski resort. The terms are used pretty interchangeably, and if you don’t believe me, check the Summit ski resorts’ websites and you will see almost all of them use a different version of the term. However, the calculations are all done the same way.

Now Quandary is no math wiz, but this one should be a simple subtraction. Simple being a relative term, of course. Obviously in Summit you are dealing with some pretty big numbers. So take off your shoes and let’s try an example: Breckenridge Ski Resort has the largest vertical rise in Summit, totaling 3,398 feet.

In order to get this number simply subtract the base elevation (9,600 feet) from the summit elevation (12,998 feet), and just like magic, assuming this old goat isn’t a liar, we get 3,398 feet. This means that from the time your tippy toes leave the base, you will have a 3,398-foot journey to the top of the mountain.

Have a question for Quandary? Send an email to quandary@summitdaily.com

Interestingly, the resort with the smallest vertical rise happens to have the highest summit elevation. All this really means is that Arapahoe Basin Ski Area gets started at a higher elevation than the other ski resorts in the county. A-Basin’s base elevation is actually 10,780 feet, more than 1,000 feet higher than any of the other resorts in Summit. This doesn’t leave a lot of extra room to rise, which is why A-Basin has the county’s smallest vertical rise — 2,270 feet — with a summit elevation of 13,050 feet.

This is good information to have as a ski resort, but you can see why it hasn’t really taken off outside the lift lines. In other words, when your friends ask how far your gorgeous Dillon condo is from Denver, don’t tell them it’s 3,831 feet of vertical rise — unless, of course, you’re trying to be as crotchety as a certain goat.

A note from Quandary

Over the years here Quandary has been lucky enough to come in contact with some serious experts on all things Summit County. Last week this old goat wrote a gripping report on where to snowmobile in Summit County, and while it might have been a decent introduction to this Rocky Mountain recreation, the experts at High Country Snowmobile Club have added some very valuable information.

It’s nice to have good friends in the know, so follow the advice in the letter below to get even more out of your snowmobiling adventures.

Snowmobiler’s letter

Dear, Quandary, the wise old mountain goat,

Thank you for your article on snowmobiling in Summit County. As the local snowmobile club, we noticed that it could use some clarification.

The historic Boreas Pass Road you described falls under the jurisdiction of the Summit County Open Space and Trails Department, not the Forest Service. We have been informed that road is in the process of being closed to snowmobiles. It has been removed from the Forest Service’s website (http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/whiteriver/recreation/wintersports/?recid=40405&actid=92).

When will it be officially closed? We haven’t heard back yet from Open Space and Trails.

To more accurately answer the reader’s question: Where can you snowmobile in Summit?

Guided rides and tours are available in Breckenridge off Tiger Road, through Good Times Adventures, (800) 477-0144, or in nearby Lake County, with White Mountain Tours, (800) 247-7238.

For readers and guests with their own snowmobiles, snowmobiles are permitted in the Tiger Road area outside of Breckenridge, however they are restricted to within 100 feet of designated routes in the Golden Horseshoe area and all the Forks of the Swan (North, Middle and South).

Open motorized snowmobiling (riding on and off trails) is permitted in the Deer Creek and Webster Pass areas outside of Montezuma, the Spring Creek area just past Green Mountain Reservoir and in portions of the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area.

Of those areas, only Vail Pass is a fee-based area and a portion of those fees goes toward grooming the trails.

The Spring Creek area has 18 miles of groomed trails providing access to the Elliot’s Ridge area. Our club, the High Country Snowmobile Club, partners with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Dillon Ranger District and the BLM to maintain, sign and groom those trails each year.

In addition, the club’s volunteers also help educate users about the boundaries of the Eagles Nest Wilderness area.

The Montezuma area is ungroomed but lots of fun.

The U.S. Forest Service, Dillon Ranger District, Winter Motor Vehicle Use Map can be picked up at the Ranger District’s Silverthorne location or downloaded here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5400680.pdf.

More information and a map of the Vail Pass area can be found at http://www.dillonrangerdistrict.com/vail_pass_win_rec_area.pdf.

Information and a map of the Spring Creek area can be found at http://www.summitsnowmobilers.com/grooming-trail-maps.html.

We’d like to encourage everyone to know where to ride legally and to educate themselves about the current avalanche conditions for each area. If you are venturing off trail, please carry the proper avalanche safety equipment, know how to use it, make good travel decisions and ride safe!

Thank you,

Richard Holcroft


High Country Snowmobile Club


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