10_17_12_A_basin_008__MG12529x.jpg Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opens for it’s first day of skiing and snowboarding of the year on October 17, 2012 Mahala
10_17_12_A_basin_008__MG12529x.jpg Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opens for it's first day of skiing and snowboarding of the year on October 17, 2012 Mahala Gaylord, The Denver Post (Mahala Gaylord)
The Alpine Source

What: Front Range ski and snowboard carpool site

When: Officially launched for the 2012-2013 season

More info: http://thealpinesource.com/

University of Colorado alumna Rendl Clark always felt guilty on days when she drove up into the mountains to ski by herself.

Before she started working full time, she said she's ski on random Tuesdays or Wednesdays, deciding the night before to hit the slopes. By then, it was too late to see if anyone she knew was also heading up the mountains.

She's since discovered The Alpine Source, a new Front Range ski carpool site founded by 29-year-old James Kroeker, which allows users to post trips until midnight the night before to find carpool buddies.

"You're not sure if it's going to snow, if the tunnel is open," Clark said. "So it's really nice to use last minute."

The site officially launched this ski season, but Kroeker said he'd been mulling the idea for several years because he wasn't impressed with other ski carpool services in Colorado. He found other websites hard to use and dated, and none of them provided a safe and secure way to exchange money between drivers and passengers.

"As most people in Colorado know, driving in the mountains can be a hassle at times with weather and traffic," Kroeker said. "There's not going to be a train or anything in the next few years, so I was thinking if we could get people to consolidate their rides a little bit more, people can feel like they're helping the environment. They're working together to make sure they're in the right cars for safety, and just enjoy the ride up more."

The site allows drivers to set a price for the trip, which passengers then pay using PayPal.

Kroeker said he added PayPal to the site to make exchanging money a secure and official process to ensure drivers they won't be scammed out of gas money.

Kroeker, who works in Boulder at Colorado Ski and Golf, said other ski carpool websites simply weren't visible to enough skiers and snowboarders to make them useful. He hopes to make his company more of a "presence" in the winter sports community, he said.

If a driver doesn't show up, or leaves a passenger at the mountain, other users can give that driver a negative review on the site to warn other users.

Clark said she has always been hesitant of using Craigslist to rideshare because the site's users are anonymous. The Alpine Source site allows drivers and passengers to coordinate details via email, so names and other information are shared. Clark said this made her feel more comfortable because she could look the person up on Google or Facebook.

Though some of her friends questioned her decision to drive complete strangers to the slopes, Clark said she's never felt uncomfortable with any of the skiers she's met through the site.

"I've never met a really sketchy person while I was skiing," Clark said. "If someone's bought a pass and put all this money and effort into getting up there, they're usually fine."

Matt Gonzalez of Golden said he's used the site as both a driver and a passenger. Meeting new people on the drive up has been the most interesting part of using the site, he said.

By carpooling with complete strangers, Gonzalez said he's found out they have mutual friends and acquaintances in the Denver-Boulder metro area.

He's also a fan of the environmental benefits of using the site.

"When you get stuck in traffic and you see all these cars with one or two people, you think 'What a waste,'" the 28-year-old snowboarder said.

Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.