Who’s in the van? Part 1.

Over the course of this ski season, I’ll be writing up trip reports from day trips, weekends, and weeklong ski adventures to all of the Colorado Gems. Most of these adventures will take place with family and friends in Storm the Astro van. So a few words about the repeat characters.

The Front Range Weekend Warrior

I’m Jake — a white, middle class, been-accused-of-being-a-hipster, 7:30 to 5er, 40-50 days a year skier. Six years ago this fall I moved to Colorado, and that ski season fell back in love with a sport from my childhood. I grew up skiing in western New York at Holiday Valley a handful of days a year. When I was 15 I tagged along with a friends family to my first ski pilgrimage at Winter Park. (Berthoud Pass ski area was still a thing then.) Between 15 and 25 I don’t think I skied a day.

Berthoud pass when it still had lifts. Now a popular backcountry spot for Front Rangers.

Over the past six years I’ve built a life in Denver and a life as a skier. I got a job with the State of Colorado that I still hold. Soon after my better half Kaitlyn moved out to CO. We got our first 2001 Astro van (more on Bessie in a future post) and used it to ski and camp regularly — especially with our friends in the Denver Family and the idiots in the RMR crew. On average, we spend 40 nights a year in the van. By 2016 we were onto our second and current 2001 Astro van, Storm. And had done even more grown up things like moved into a small 1000 sq ft house in NW Denver, and got the quintessential mountain dog, Westley.

Wessels in the alpine off Second Creek. Summer recon for winter skiing.

As a skier, I’ve gone from snowboarding a handful of days my first season here, to skiing 40-50 days a year over the last few. (Yep, a reformed snowboarder). The majority of these days are logged at various ski areas. This includes a bunch of day trips to Front Range mountains, mostly Loveland. But last year I had the Epic pass and RMSP+ pass, so skied most everywhere. (More on that in a later post). We do a lot of overnights in the van to these areas to save gas, enjoy time together, beat traffic, and sleep in. Once or twice a year we even stay in a condo up in the mountains for a weekend with friends or family. I’m also part of the exploding popularity of backcountry skiing. Every year I log more days than the previous in the backcountry. I’ll be detailing those adventures here too.

A reformed snowboarder
Sometimes Cousin Eddie goes skiing.

Lastly, and most annoyingly, I tend to be obsessive about whatever hobby I’m into. For the last few years, that is skiing. (In the past these obsessions have included: baseball, golf, fountain pens, fine shoes, bicycling.) My S.O.P. is researching. I spend a not insignificant amount time researching ski-related everything. I’m a gear head who loves trying things but doesn’t love spending money. (Current quiver: 8 skis and bindings. Total spending on said skis and bindings: $1552.) TGR, PugSki, and other online ski communities have been a huge source of knowledge and vectors to enable my research obsessions. As of writing this, it is mid September and I’ve already mounted, structured, flattened, repaired, tuned, and wax a bunch of skis for this fall. You might imagine that someone who is working on skis in a garage on a 90 degree day is a bit wonky. I think my better half would agree.

Mounting skis on a 90 degree day in September with friends. Nothing better.

Part 2 featuring Kaitlyn, and more photos of Westley, to follow.

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