ON A WING & A PRAYER
THE CHALLENGE: Crested Butte’s “Rambo,” the steepest manmade ski run in North America
CHANCE YOU’LL SURVIVE: Anywhere from 99 percent, if you’re an expert skier, to somewhere around 50 percent, if you decide to huck Rambo right after your first lesson on the bunny hill.
HOW TO DO IT: Rambo is only about 300 yards long, but it plummets almost 400 vertical feet in that distance, confronting adrenaline junkies with an insane 55-degree, tree-studded pitch. The beginning—dropping in from an elevated lip—is the scariest part. With every jump turn, you’re going to fall a few feet vertically through the air, so remember to tackle this double black diamond with freshly sharpened edges that can catch the snow. Other tips: Wear a helmet. Pray.
ICE, ICE BABY
Meet Heart Cameron, Evergreen Park and Recreation District’s park operations manager, who started driving Zambonis 17 years ago across Evergreen Lake, the largest Zamboni-groomed outdoor ice rink in the entire world.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO DRIVING A ZAMBONI? “I was hired here as a parks maintenance worker, and part of my job was to keep our 10- plus ice rinks smooth and clear, which included driving the Zamboni and using other tactics like water pumps, tractor brooms, and plows.”
DURING ICE SEASON… “Keeping the rinks clear is pretty much a 24/7 operation. We have nightly watering and grooming and morning Zamboni work. If we have large groups in, the Zamboni runs all day.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE A ZAMBONI? “It’s fun. Once you bring a Zamboni out, you’re the star of the show because everyone loves it and wants to drive it. In one Zamboni ride with ideal conditions, it can take two and a half to three hours to condition our rinks. Without ideal conditions—if the ice is soft or there are several bumps we need to smooth out—it can be an eight-hour job for one guy. Fun fact: Our Zamboni has a Volkswagen motor.”
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF DRIVING ONE? “The peace and quiet. We mostly use the Zamboni early in the morning before folks get here, so you’re out there watching the sun rise on the ice and it’s just you, one other guy, and a machine. It’s serene.”
BY THE NUMBERS: SKI INDUSTRY
472: Number of ski areas operating in the U.S. last year
430: Average inches of snowfall per year at Wolf Creek (highest of any resort in Colorado)
3,132: Number of skiable acres at Snowmass (the most of any resort in Colorado)
69: Number of double-black runs at Silverton
25: Number of lifts at Winter Park
0: Number of green runs at Aspen Highlands and Aspen Mountain
29,758: Number of skiable acres (excluding backcountry) in Colorado
11,326: Average peak elevation (in feet) of all Colorado ski resorts
227: Average days in Arapahoe Basin’s season
21.1: Colorado’s percentage share of the national ski market last year (largest in the country, followed by California at 13.7 percent and Vermont at 6.9 percent)
SIX RULES FOR…DRIVING ON SNOW AND ICE
“Getting better at driving in the snow is like getting better at skiing—you need to train and take lessons,” says Mark Stolberg, vice president of training at MasterDrive, Inc. “There have been a lot of changes to car technology over the years and a lot of driving aids added. You need to know how these things work.”
2 GET EVERY DRIVER SUPPORT YOU CAN AFFORD
“Anti-lock brake systems (which most cars have now), traction control, skid control, and, obviously, all-wheel or four-wheel drive—all of these things make a difference.”
3 REPLACE YOUR TIRES
“Tires are meant for specific uses: Summer tires are designed for warm weather and water; winter tires have a rubber compound that stays pliable and grips in the cold and a tread pattern designed for snow and ice. That rubber compound is the most important part of a winter tire. Summer and all-season tires don’t work in the cold because the rubber compound is different.”
4 MELLOW YOUR DRIVING HABITS
“You can’t apply the same force when the weather is bad. We often say to slow down, but it’s really about driving smoothly and gently. When you brake, instead of going from zero (no brakes) to 10 (pushing the pedal to the floor), go from two to four to six to eight.”
5 LEAVE MORE SPACE
“Leave space to respond to other drivers and have an escape route. When the vehicle ahead of you passes a stationary object, count to three (one thousand one…). You should not pass that same object within three seconds. When it’s wet, double that, and when there’s snow and ice, double it again.”
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN HOME FIRST-AID KIT
You can create a home kit that covers most bases in a couple of hours. Start with a container—we’d suggest an inexpensive but sturdy Dopp kit or a plastic bin. A quick run to the drugstore can cover most needs. Here’s a start:
Nonstick sterile gauze pads in several sizes, adhesive tape, adhesive bandages in several sizes, elastic wrap bandages, triangular bandage, sterile eye dressings, small aluminum splint, cold packs, thermometer, antiseptic wipes plus solution, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide for disinfecting, insect repellent, space blanket, tweezers, scissors.
Calamine lotion, anti-diarrhea medicine, antihistamine, hydrocortisone cream, cough medicine, pain relievers.
We’d also suggest adding a current first-aid manual (the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Red Cross both publish good ones, available on Amazon), a list of medications (and allergies) for each family member, and a list of doctors’ phone numbers as well as local emergency numbers.
Keep the kit out of the reach of young children, and check its contents annually for expiration dates.