Exploring The Lure of The White Ribbon of Death

by Kirsten Dobroth | November 4, 2015

Arapahoe Basin Web Cam White Ribbon of Death

Arapahoe Basin Web Cam 10-4-2015

It’s that magical time of year again when ski resorts across the country have blasted just enough snow to start spinning the lifts, and hoards of  pass holders make the journey to ride the epic one run that has been opened. Affectionately dubbed a “White Ribbon of Death,” by snow sports enthusiasts around the country, these stand alone runs present an opportunity for skiers and snowboarders to meet up with a few thousand of their closest friends from around the area, and take a run or two before retiring to the parking lot for an afternoon of merry making and beer drinking. In order to understand this annual rite of passage for so many skiers and snowboarders (and snowskaters, skibikers, and skibladers), it’s important to understand what makes early season hot laps such a special part of any season.
Everyday’s a Party at The Beach
One stop at the Arapahoe Basin parking lot, in Colorado, and it’s pretty obvious that the beginning of ski season marks a celebration rivaled only by Closing Day. We’ve all got that friend who is rarely seen on the mountain without his backpack full of beers; he thinks that powder days are a cause for shots and après ski is the meal between breakfast and dinner. He (or she) lives for the early season party. The early season is that pure and innocent time before powder day hangovers, when party guy’s friends are all on board with his hard partying ways. From the grill to the house made margs chilling at the parking lot, this is party guy’s time to shine, and everyone is down; it’s that special time of year when you can get away with two runs before excusing yourself to the tailgate.
The Rail Gypsies Come Out From Hibernation
A ride up the lift reveals a far more elusive part of a visit to the ribbon of death- the annual migration of the rail gypsies. They’re easy to spot from the lift; some sort of arbitrary headwear, probably not dressed adequately for the temperature, and travelling in packs of at least two, one of which has a camera rolling. They usually spend most of the day hiking the few features park crews have put in, regardless of whether those few features consist of a single box. It’s a special thing to witness these beings in their natural habitat, as they oftentimes put on a good show, and aren’t as accessible to view for much of the season when the whole mountain is open and they’re still in the park.
The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Winter
There’s something truly enchanting about being in the mountains, particularly when strapped in to some sort of  snow sliding device. After spending months of warmer weather exploring the mountains by foot, there’s nothing more exciting than to see said hills dusted in winter’s latest precipitation. It’s a time to relive epic days with friends from the season before, and set goals for the season that has just begun. New ski boots get broken in and toe nails fall off, and typically, someone bangs up a board or two trying to pop into the trees and discovering glades of only rocks and stumps instead. Above all, it’s about rediscovering the reasons why many of us sacrifice time, paychecks, girlfriends, boyfriends, and sick days to a sport that only rolls around one season a year. Enjoy, snow loving friends, go forth and get stoked.
Four resorts are already open this season! Check out deals on to experience the splendor and magic of early season riding for yourself.

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