Kirkwood is no cookie cutter resort. Big faces, peppered with cliffs and a “Hey Joe, great to see you again. The snow’s deeeeep out there today” attitude make it feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of tourist-heavy ski destinations just forty-five minutes north on Lake Tahoe.
Every year, the Freeride World Tour (FWT) comes to town to tackle the northeast face of Thimble Peak, more commonly known as The Cirque, an area within the resort that has been permanently closed to just about everybody besides FWT competitors. While the terrain is definitely not suited for everyone, skiers with the necessary skills had long wished that they could tackle the steep chutes and big cliffs that are a big mountain skier’s dream.
Last season, in conjunction with Kirkwood, Freeskier ran a contest in which the winner earned a spot on a very special (and not open to the general public) guided tour through The Cirque, courtesy of Expedition: Kirkwood (EK). The guide service is a one-stop shop, right at the base of the resort, for backcountry education as well as cat-serviced or guided skiing. Now in its thirteenth year, the operation is second to none for guiding the terrain within the resort.
A bit of hike-to. Photo by Corey Rich.
We asked readers to submit photos and stories of themselves skiing rowdy terrain and after sifting through many qualified entries, Ben Woodworth (pictured below), of Salt Lake City, UT, was selected as the lucky winner of the VIP trip that coincided with Kirkwood’s stop of the FWT. Woodworth was flown in, put up at the resort and trained in a three-day, level one AIARE avalanche certification before hitting The Cirque. Individuals interested in skiing the zone must have a minimum level one certification.
Ben Woodworth listens intently during his level one AIARE avalanche certification class.
When the day came to cash in on the meat of the prize, Woodworth had two laps of the world famous Cirque under his belt before lunch. After that, it was off the backside of the resort to visit Thunder Bowl for more heart-pounding turns. And by the time the day was over, he had first-hand experience on a lot of terrain that many only dream about.
That’s all well and good for him, but what about you? Do you want to follow in Woodworth’s footsteps? Well, good news, we’re doing it all over again. Starting on January 1 and running through January 31, we’ll be accepting entries on Kirkwood’s Facebook page from people who want to make the trek out to the ski area, all expenses paid, and see the best terrain it has to offer from a guide’s point of view. All you have to do is post a photo of some rowdy terrain you’ve shredded and give us a rundown of your day. How did you get there? What did your adventure entail, what made you ski that line and what makes terrain like The Cirque the cat’s meow? We’ll narrow it down and the guides from EK will pick the skier they deem to be most deserving of this epic prize.
Where to enter:
What to enter:
Photos and words from the rowdiest terrain you’ve skied.
When to enter:
January 1 – January 31, 2014
What you might win:
Round trip airfare from any major continental U.S. airport, lodging, lift tickets, AIARE avalanche certification class (if necessary), and one awesome day on The Cirque (conditions permitting) with EK.
Photo Annual Download: This information was originally presented in Freeskier’s 2014 Photo Annual, now available on iTunes.