Here and Now: Clear Creek County

Here and Now: Clear Creek County

CLEAR CREEK COUNTY

WORDS & PHOTOS • DONNY O’NEILL


On Friday, the ski resorts began to close. “Ski resort base lodges and gondola cars are just like cruise ships,” was the prevailing thought voiced by those urging North American ski resorts to shut down. Can’t say we disagreed on that point. The Coronavirus has produced a new reality for the world, and that includes skiers, who oftentimes pride themselves on being able to separate from global reality. But alpine touring, long walks in the wilderness away from the general population, keeping appropriate social distancing practices in mind with your partners, of course, that seemed like the ideal way to get the skiing fix. We knew that spending time in the small mountain hamlets near established trailheads was an inconsiderate idea, their resources being limited amidst the panic of a pandemic, so we entered the wilderness from different access points, away from established communities and mountain population hubs.

Interstate 70, usually a bumper to bumper red light maze on weekend mornings was a ghost town. The wish of every Front Range skier—no traffic—was unsettling during this unprecedented global health risk. But, we did what we had to do. From the comfort of the house to the trailhead, to the peaks and back again, we did our best to satiate our appetite in our new global reality. It’s not natural for skiers to immobilize themselves; cabin fever comes quicker to us than to others. Skiers are, in general, social creatures, and minimizing contact with others is, frankly, difficult. It is natural, however, for us to find creative and strategic solutions to allow us to ski, no matter what.


One foot in front of the other.
Meadow skipper, Phil Krening.
Phil Krening, slash and burn.
Phil Krening.
Phil Krening.
Chris Manning making progress.
Chris Manning and Phil Krening approach the objective.
Phil Krening moving higher.
Phil Krening on the descent.

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