By JB Bissell

One Sentence at a Time

Road Warriors Part 3: Monarch Max

[You know the drill. This continues from Road Warriors Part 2. Read that first.]

7:24 a.m. Monday, January 18, 2016. On the road again, 90 minutes from Monarch. I was a little concerned about this portion of the trip. The last couple evenings hadn’t exactly been full nights in terms of sleep. I know I didn’t really want to be up and moving already; I assumed the boys felt the same. But we were all excited about finishing up the weekend hat trick. And we had a box of Teddy Grahams. So things were good.

9:37 a.m. We hopped on the Breezeway lift and pulled out a map to plot our course. “Dad, look at that run!” Roan said. “Shag Nasty! We have to do that.”

Yes, we do.

In case you haven’t picked up on it by now, the Bissells make a fair amount of which-run-to-ski decisions based on how good the name is (sort of like making most life decisions based on how good the story will be — another family trait). If somebody’s going to name a trail Shag Nasty, we’re gonna have to check it out. Sort of like Jiggy Juggs, Devil’s Crotch, Glory Hole, and Bushwhacker.


And Shag Nasty proved to be a great run for the boys. They’ve spent a lot of time in moguls and steep, tight terrain, but have rarely had the chance to experience a big bowl with true powder. It’s a different feel. As they discovered.

“Okay, boys,” I said. “This isn’t like the stuff you’re used to. Let your skis run, and when you turn, sort of bounce, and make bigger S turns instead of smaller quick ones.” They looked at me like … like teenagers do. Right up until they both took a little tumble. Not because they were going too fast, but because they tried to turn too sharp and caught an edge (and their whole lower leg, really) in the shin-deep snow.

10:04 a.m. On the next lift, Dade said something I’ll never forget. “You know, Dad, you were right.” I looked at him like … like “no shit” (they might have the teenager look down, but I have a killer “no shit” expression). “About skiing in the powder, I mean,” he continued. “You gotta keep the speed up and not make any sharp turns, and it’s almost like you’re jumping to make every turn.” No shit.

11:17 a.m. When we first pulled into the parking lot, we had all seen a run that looked isolated from the rest of the mountain — but like a good time nonetheless. It’s called Gunbarrel, and after Shag Nasty, we started working skier’s right to see what it was all about. We took Skywalker to Curecanti and then built as much speed as we could across the ridge before stalling out above North Forty, a tame blue run. Gunbarrel was still ahead of us, but it was uphill and would require a little hiking.

“You guys want to just cut down here?” I asked.

“If we’re going to do this, Dad, we better do it right,” Dade answered.

Wow. This parenting stuff might actually be working!

IMG_5622          IMG_5613

11:44 a.m. We took a quick break at the top of Gunbarrel to enjoy the bluebird view and debate what the old rusty apparatus sticking out of the snow might be. An old surface lift, something for mining?

Based on Gunbarrel’s dreamy snow conditions, I doubt it gets much traffic, and, honestly, I’m not sure I’d make a habit of hiking to it since there’s so much other terrain around. But it was definitely worth our trek. Another experience. Another story.

2:38 p.m. We made sandwiches at the car, talked a little about the weekend, and then headed home. Nobody admitted to being wiped out, but it was understood. And I was three hours away from my own hot tub and a cold Jack and Coke.



  1. Determining the value of something based on the name… I’ve chosen more than a few drinks that way. 🙂
    Pictures are beautiful!!!!

  2. One great big adventure, and who would argue with it and a cold Jack & Coke at the end of each rainbow?
    …digging that shit

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