EMR: new year, new improvements

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  Last Thursday was Eldora Mountain Resort’s most profitable day in recent years. Vehicles overflowed the parking lot, settling into lines along the Eldora road, but people didn’t mind walking the short distance to the main lodge, or the Indian Peaks Lodge or the Nordic Center or Ignite.
It was a holiday crowd. They have been waiting all year for their time on the slope, renting equipment, taking lessons, eating lunch at any of the multiple resort concession areas, bars and coffee shops.
Although change is not immediately noticeable, a stroll through facilities reveals the changes that have been made since last season, improvements that add to the overall feel of sprucing up the resort. Making it sparkling clean and welcoming.
EMR General Manager Brent Tregaskis is enjoying the makeover that was enabled by the Powdr purchase, the increase in resources, the ability to upgrade the aging lodge.
The restrooms smell like freshly hewn pine and the fragrance doesn’t come from a can of chemicals. It is the natural scent of the wood taken off the mountain to create the new trails that add to the enjoyment and variety of the snowsports experience. Guests noticed the clean new look, especially the restrooms on the outside of the building at the bottom of the lift.

The west wing area has been expanded and remodeled. Blue and white checked tablecloths welcome the area designated for the women’s program and people bringing in their own lunch.
In the back rooms, the old rental equipment has been cleaned out, making room for ski teams and their voluminous ski bags and backpacks. These restrooms have also been refinished, all the wood gleaming.
That clean gleaming wood also creates a light and inviting atmosphere in the Timbers bar, which has repurposed railroad track lumber into the bar and counters. As one entered the barroom, which was packed on New Years’ Day, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee tickled the caffeine senses. Want a latte, an espresso topped with whipped cream? EMR has joined the current trend and offers what draws people into the high end coffee shops.

Barrista Heide Burke says that people are more drawn to the Timbers, now that then can enjoy their favorite coffee creation.
At the Indian Peaks Lodge, a new facility has opened in the upstairs cafeteria: the Indian Peaks Bar now sells panini sandwiches and salads. Tregaskis says offering food and drinks at the IP bar has been a good addition.
Food and drink are available just about everywhere on the mountain.
Last week, Powdr’s CEO, visited the area and spent a day skiing with Tregaskis and said he was super happy with the improvements. They looped the backside a few times, taking the new trails, Red Tail, Alpine Horn and Wolftongue, between and Indian Peaks and Corona. Adding these three trails has connected the existing long runs, making for more diversity on the backside and luring skiers and riders to spend more time on the Corona area. Three more variations on the terrain.
What they hadn’t expected is that the trails, being narrower than Corona, have proven to stand up better in windy conditions. When Red Tail opened there was no need for man made snow. The 75-foot wide trail captured the natural snow and held it.
“That was huge,” says Tregaskis. “The new trails are probably the biggest improvement we made over the summer.”
Logs were hauled by truck out of the area much of the summer. The larger trees were removed by helicopters which picked up four to five trees at a time, when it wasn’t too breezy.
“People who were against development  are now generally supportive of the changes,” says Tregaskis. “All of these improvements make the resort better, more appealing, and people are unbelievably positive about these new rooms. I believe we are on the right track. Cumming is passionate about working with the Nederland community.”
Tregaskis says the CEO lived in Nederland and in Gilpin County in the late 80s. He was into rock climbing and later was a climbing guide on Mt. Ranier. He has only good memories of Nederland and the ski area.
“We want to be better partners with the Nederland community,” says Tregaskis. I joined the Nederland Downtown Development Authority board of directors because that is the right thing to do, and we are working on doing more things with businesses.”
EMR is the largest employer in the Nederland/Gilpin area, with 80 Nederland employees and 40 Gilpin employees.
With more and more snow sports enthusiasts glutting the resort’s parking lots, the administration has been seeking solutions. One of them is to run a shuttle bus between Nederland and Eldora, like the ones that take people to Hessie in the summer.
EMR is now offering uphill skiing to the die hards on Monday morning at 6  a.m. Tregaskis says that 102 people showed up for the first uphill race.
In the past year, EMR has made several donations to Nederland non-profits and plans to do more to assist the Nederland agencies that assist the public. But, he says, the resort can’t donate to every non-profit agency in the county. It will only be an ongoing contributor to the Nederland community.
Many behind the scenes improvements have taken place in the last year; like the $10,000 Vulcan steamer that now lives in the Lodge cafeteria kitchen. The new company is about quality and improvements and working with Nederland.
This Friday, EMR is hosting a high school giant slalom meet with Middle Park, Platte Country, Eagle Valley, Clear Creek and Lake County High Schools, sponsored by Nederland High School. There will be a men’s’ and women’s’ run in the morning and a men’s and women’s run in the afternoon.
Spectators are invited to attend the event, bring their cowbells, dress warmly and cheer the home team down the hill.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.