Get Out! The Glade runner
Glade runs at Powderhorn offer plenty of variety between the trees
When I can’t get away to a big resort for the weekend, I really enjoy skiing at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.
Sure, the lifts may be slow, but at least there are lifts to ride. There is a large variety of runs for such a small mountain, and when the snow is plentiful and the people are, too, I like to drift off into Powderhorn’s glades. Spread out across the mountain, glade runs at Powderhorn are a great mix of steep and mellow terrain peppered with evergreens and aspens.
My first foray into anything remotely gladed was a Valentine’s Day trip a few years ago down the top of Sweet Misery/Diversion over to Hooker. To start this run, make a right turn off the West End lift, and turn right again at the sign for “Diversion.” I like to turn right under the lift, skirt a couple of evergreens and ski a short but narrow slope back to the lift towers.
Most people ski the same few lines here, so troughs appear. These make it entertaining as you navigate your way through this section. Often large moguls appear through here, so be prepared. The good thing is the trees on the right side of this area are spaced out well, so you can veer off trail if you need to.
Soon, you’ll pop out right at the lift line. Enjoy this wide-open, mellow area before making a sharp right and heading back into some small trees. Through here, there are easy tracks to follow. Just cruise on a track through the trees, and you’ll find yourself looking out at Snowcloud or down and left to Hooker. While you’re here, if you like mogul runs, ski through the trees to the left of Hooker and pop onto Hooker when the trees get too tight. Hooker drops into Red Eye, taking you back to the lift.
If you prefer a groomed cruiser, ski down to Snowcloud and take it back to either the West End or Quad lift.
Another short glade section is Racer’s Glade, reached by turning left off the Take Four Quad lift. This glade has nicely spaced trees where you can look two or three moves ahead. After less than a dozen turns, you’ll find yourself at the edge of Showdown. You can make the run longer by starting higher, near the actual Racer’s Glade sign, but we usually turn onto the Racer’s Edge cat-track and then jump into the glade on the left.
A final “practice” section of glades can be found by skiing Showdown or Racer’s Edge, then taking Harold’s Way over to the lower portion of YooHoo.
For glades that require more commitment and skill, Mad Dog Glade and Thunder Mountain Glade provide plenty of excitement.
I think Mad Dog is the easier of the two. Branching off from Snowcloud, Mad Dog’s entrance is wide. Some people drop in on the right side of the sign up high, while others, myself included, head to the left of the run sign to avoid the very top portion, which is usually skied out anyway.
What makes Mad Dog easier than it might at first seem is the steepest part of the run is also the most open. After three or four turns around bumps and mostly evergreens, the run’s pitch mellows out, and the number of trees increases. From here, it’s a twisting, rollicking luge run around aspens all the way back to Snowcloud. There are many different paths to take, and the best part is you can see your end destination through the trees, so there is very little chance of getting lost.
Farther down the cat-track toward Tenderfoot is Thunder Mountain Glade. To avoid the onslaught of skiers who might be cruising down the track behind you, I like to stay far right and ease to a stop near the entrance to Thunder Mountain, then check the traffic.
When the coast is clear, I ski over to the edge of the run and survey the best path into the glade. Thunder Mountain is much more intimidating to me, for this very reason. There is no gentle entrance into the trees. You basically have to jump in sideways and make a quick turn or two around some very large boulders to get down into the glade itself. From here, the glade opens up a bit, and a gentler pitch develops.
The path to the end of Thunder Mountain Glade isn’t always as clear as that of Mad Dog Glade. Sometimes I have to stop for a minute to survey the area around me to determine where to go next. Some take off from Thunder Mountain to catch the end of Mudslide or to head into nearby boulder fields. Others take a more direct route to the glade’s true end on Cow Camp.
If you’re looking for something even more technical, try Mudslide. Mudslide is a run labeled “experts only” and, after face-planting on my second turn on it last year, I can see why. Mudslide has a steep entrance and resembles a massive halfpipe. It is not for beginners. Mudslide should not be your first glade run or your first of any kind of run. Once you get down the face, though, it’s a pretty entertaining and rolling ride over to Cow Camp.
Recently, Powderhorn decided to name and map a few “secret” glades on the mountain: Sven’s Bend and Thunder Bird Glade. I’ve stayed out of Sven’s in the past just because hiking up to it from Maverick seemed like too much work. Still, once we get more snow, I’ll be exploring these newly mapped glades.
If you decide to head through the glades at Powderhorn, please be careful. Remember that trees are unforgiving. They will not jump out of your way. Also remember that other skiers cannot see through trees.
Be sure to stop to rest or survey the area in a place where others can easily see you as they approach; right below a big evergreen is not the place to stop. Always ski glades with caution and wear a helmet.