As I wake up unreasonably early every other Friday and leave my soft, warm bed for a dark, cold morning, creeping down the street with a hot coffee to usher me into the long drive ahead, I often wonder why I bother. Of course, by the time the sun comes up and I have the iPod tuned to something profound and my sensibilities fully restored, I remember why. I love the mountains! I love to ski! More than any other sport, I love careening downhill on oversized, snowboard-inspired powder skis, skinny, waxless Nordic skis, or mid-size, touring-weight telemark skis. You name it, I love it.

Of course, I am not unique in my affinity for the snowy slopes, or in rising early to venture west to find them. Nor am I unique in my frustration and disappointment with the traffic, the pollution, and inefficiency as I drive alone like many others whose cars congest the highway lanes alongside me.

So I’ve been thinking about this commute I have, and wondering what I can do about it.

My first strategy is to combine my trips with others, also known as carpooling. When I can’t talk my friends or fiancé into getting up at 5 a.m., I can look elsewhere. I’ve discovered a great website called, where you can sign up and either recruit others or respond with your own posts to carpool. A successful match means minimizing gas, traffic, pollution, vehicle maintenance, and personal time spent at the wheel. Plus, you may find a new friend to shred with. And this site even has road conditions, traffic updates, weather forecasts, and fuel efficiency tips. Other options include Carpool World (,, Craigslist, and many more.

My second strategy is admittedly a privileged one. I have an on-mountain locker for my gear and some really great friends who open up their homes and spare bedrooms to me. So I can stay for two days at a time and maximize my snow experience, then drive home at a less popular time — like Sunday morning (and I wave to the crazy skier traffic going uphill). So the following weekend I catch up on all the house, school and work responsibilities I neglected the weekend before.

The third strategy is a larger carpool. The CU Ski Bus is a popular transit method available to all students, faculty and staff at CU-Boulder. For $15 ($5 for Herd members), you get a ride to and from Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin on weekends, and if you are a student, faculty or staff member you can purchase an additional ticket for a non-affiliate. With on-board bathrooms and DVDs, it’s about as good as a trip can get. Check it out at: For non CU-affiliated travelers, try Colorado Jitney ( and go to any of the resorts as far west as Vail for $35 one-way or $50 roundtrip.

My last effort to feed my need for snow without treading so heavily on the planet is to stay informed and participate in the ongoing debate about mass transit on I-70. There are many perspectives and valid concerns, and I think everyone should learn more about the options and get involved in the process of planning for the future. You can download a complete document at and in particular pay attention to pages 14, 15, and 28-34 (including how public input can be submitted).

If you have any more ideas about recreational commutes to the western Rockies, email me at

Katherine Doan is the communications coordinator for the CU Environmental Center.

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