by Joyce DeVore
The management at Kirkwood gleefully postponed man-made events, including a Subaru Masters of the Mountain Race, premier films and demonstrations that were scheduled for last weekend to honor the 35th anniversary of Kirkwood.
"The mountain threw its own Kirkwood Mountain Festival: what else do you call a major storm, a flawless grooming and snow removal system, followed by blue-bird ski days?" said Kirkwood Marketing and Commercial Manager Daniel Pistoresi.
A record-breaking four-day storm dropped over 15 feet of snow at the resort, which is located off a breathtaking stretch of Highway 88 in Alpine County.
"The location of Kirkwood which allows storms to channel in is called the 'K factor.' Other ski resorts just do not have the same snowpack that we do," Pistoresi added,
One of the most celebrated personalities in Kirkwood is Bud Klein, who embarked on the development of Kirkwood in the 1960s. Among the obstacles Klein overcame were no power, water, or sewer lines in the area and strict adherence to U.S. Forest Service plans for development.
With the help of a group of prominent Stockton, Calif., businessmen and avid skiers, the resort opened in 1972.
Under the supervision of Mountain Manager Dick Reuter new chair lifts and other improvements were added.
In 1995, the Telluride Group with former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Arvida/Disney Charles E. Cobb, purchased a large interest in Kirkwood.
Klein remained a major investor.
High speed quads were installed, a terrain park built, the village ice rink opened, and a swim and fitness center was added: the resort reached world-class status. USA Today ranked Kirkwood as one of the top 10 places in the world to learn to ski.
Besides beginner slopes, there are four huge bowls for extreme skiing, terrain parks, and 80 kilometers of groomed trials for cross-country skiing.
Shops and restaurants abound.
There are modern sports bars, a bar and grill, as well as lodge cafeterias.
American-Western style dining is available at a historic log cabin named The Kirkwood Inn. It was built in 1864 by Zachary Kirkwood and served travelers and cattle ranchers.
Along with the famous Bud Klein and Dick Reuter, many of Kirkwood's management team are more like a Kirkwood family, rooted in the resort. In 2007, Vice President of Mountain Operations Dave Myers, replaced Jeff Walters who was a 29-year veteran in the position.
Ski Patrol Director Alan Plaugher is another accomplished long-term resort manager.
The new general manager and chief operating officer, Chip Seamans, has also been extremely involved with addressing ecological issues.
The management takes its responsibility seriously, and is moving forward with creative solutions such as retrofitting electrical equipment to reduce power usage, and a new carpool forum.
The U.S. Forest Service has approved the Mountain Master Development Plan.
Kirkwood is called a mountain, when it is truly a self-contained community that recreates in a vast stretch of high country.
There are at least five mountain peaks within its boundary: Thimble Peak, the Sisters, Martin Point, Red Cliffs, and Glove Rock.
n Joyce DeVore is a Markleeville resident.