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Durango — Mountain layout

Mountain Layout—Skiing

Thousands of years ago glaciers scraped out the Animas Valley, leaving behind terraced mountainsides. The terraces mean several of Purgatory Mountains runs plunge downward for a bit, then level off, then plunge, then level off—all the way to the bottom, no matter what ability level you are. The effect is like a roller coaster ride. The roller coaster effect lures those who love to catch air (yes, there are warnings all over the place, but who can resist?), and those who need a breather will appreciate the flat rest stops. We counted, and youll get about 10 to 15 turns in before the pancake, keeping terror to a minimum and forgiving the less athletic among us.

All the signs on the mountain refer to lifts by number, but the trail map provides names, and sometimes people use names too, so well give you both. Heres a larger, more detailed trail map.

Expert, Advanced:

The toughest trail on the mountain is Bull Run, a double-black route that starts off rather gently beneath Dantes restaurant, next to Lift #5 (Grizzly). Once you
e on the lower part of it, theres no getting off. It has a tough pitch as well as funnels and moguls. Bottoms Chute is a nasty surprise on your way to Lift #8 (Legends). Adventure skiers can try the powder stashes between Peace and Boogie. On the front side of the mountain, tree fans will like the aspens between Pandemonium and Lower Hades. Only experts looking for extremes will be disappointed.

From the top of Lift #1 (Purgatory Village Express), what starts out as Paradise soon turns into Pandemonium, a black diamond that gets steeper and bumpier the further down you go. Likewise, Upper Hades also starts out mild, but turns hellacious once you drop over the headwall onto Lower Hades. Styx, next to the ski area boundary, can be heavenly after a fresh snowstorm. The short traverse to Styx from Lift #1s top station means youll encounter fewer skiers than ever on this utterly fabulous run.

On the back side of the mountain, Snag, perhaps the most terraced run on the mountain, leads skiers to challenging chutes all leading back to Lift #3 (Hermosa Park). Bump fans should also consider Wapiti, a black run under Lift #5 (Grizzly) that grows igloo-sized bumps. Lift #8 (Legends) in the far back is the home of most of the black-diamond terrain. Its easy to do laps here, on mostly bumpy runs—without moguls, this would be strictly intermediate territory. Beware: The triple is a slow chair, so racking up vertical is an exercise in patience. Poets Glade and Pauls Park offer nice glade skiing, Elliotts has a nice sustained pitch.




Despite the mountains name, this is Intermediate Paradise—such are the variety and plenitude of trails. Intermediates enjoy endless options for whoop-de-doing at high speeds. There are occasional frustrating flats—some folks call the resort “traversatory”—but for the most part youll find plenty of fun.

Intermediates seem to prefer the terrain served by Lift #3 (Hermosa Park Express). Regularly groomed runs include Peace, Boogie, Where, Zinfandel, and Airmail. On days with fresh snow Harris Hill can provide a fun cut-off. Want to ratchet it up a notch? From the top of Lift #3 continue down Legends toward Dead Spike. Dead Spike is frequently split groomed, with good intermediate “starter bumps” on the ungroomed side. Still not challenged enough? Continue further down Legends to the mid-loading station on Lift #8 (Legends). From the top of this lift, check out either Sallys Run or Chets.






Beginner, First-timer:

After graduating from the bunny hill, beginning skiers should head for Lift #4 (Twilight). It serves terrain ideally suited for beginners and families with small children. You won be endangered by a lot of advanced, fast skiers in this area. The easiest trail is Pinkerton Toll Road, a winding cat track. Divinity and Angels Tread are wide runs. Columbine winds through several stands of trees, giving beginners the feeling of being deep in the woods.

If this terrain is simply too easy, you may want to cut over from the top of Lift #4 over to Lift #3 (Hermosa Park) via Salvation, where youll find groomed intermediate terrain.

First-timers have their own learning area, Columbine Station, complete with its own lifts, ticket office and restaurant. Its directly across from the lower parking lots. After a couple of lessons on the terrain under the Columbine Lift, beginners can ride the Lift #7 (Graduate) back to the base area. The “Family Ski Zone” under Lift #4 (Twilight) would be the logical place for beginners to head next rather than taking Lift#1 (Purgatory Village Express) to the top of the mountain.

A catwalk down to the Columbine beginner area takes intermediate and advanced skiers back to their cars in the two lower lots at the end of the day, and a route on the other side (south) of Lift #7 makes it easy for beginners to get back to Columbine. Both trails cross an underpass beneath Sheol Street.