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Like many of the best Colorado adventure stories, this one starts with a group of determined skiers on the hunt for untracked powder.
Lio DelPiccolo, Grant Robbins, and his wife, Sara Beam Robbins—founders of the Road West Traveled, an adventure production company that started as an Instagram page in 2013—were looking at a map trying to find a new spot for ski touring. Near Allenspark, a tiny town northwest of Boulder, they read the name “Rock Creek Ski Area.” “None of us had ever heard of it before,” DelPiccolo says. “What was this place?”
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That question set off a two-year research and exploratory adventure around the state that will culminate next month with the release of Abandoned, the group’s first film. It debuts at the Oriental Theater on October 22.
The 23-minute flick focuses on three shuttered ski areas: Geneva Basin Ski Area, Berthoud Pass Ski Area, and Cuchara Mountain Resort.
They weren’t completely unfamiliar locales. Berthoud Pass is a highly popular backcountry ski spot, and as a kid, DelPiccolo would hike up Geneva Basin’s former ski runs with his family. “It’s a pain to get there these days,” he says. “You have to hike for four miles just to reach the base.” (Backcountry powderhounds don’t seem to mind the trek.) Returning as adults, DelPiccolo and the Robbins found that the runs remained, overgrown but discernible; old lift shacks were still standing, too.
The discovery prompted them to continue researching and visiting other abandoned ski areas around the state and filming their experiences. “We’ve been looking for a bigger story to tell for quite some time, and this one kind of fell into our laps,” DelPiccolo says. To that end, they rounded out the powder shots with interviews with former ski patrollers, owners, and historians.
The trio are mostly self-taught, with each of them holding down unrelated, full-time jobs and pursuing their adventuring on the side. “Every weekend we’re getting out into the mountains. Depending on the season, it’s a different activity,” DelPiccolo says.
The one constant, according toDelPiccolo: “We’ve always got our cameras with us.”
Oh, and to answer the trio’s first question: Rock Creek was a mid-20th century ski area located outside of Lyons.
Watch the Abandoned trailer:
Premiere Details: Abandoned will have its first showing at the Oriental Theater on October 22. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show will be followed by a short Q&A with some of the people feature in the film. Tickets are $13; proceeds benefit Friends of Berthoud Pass, an avalanche-awareness nonprofit.