I’ve spent the past three days skiing in Colorado, which has been a super adventure: great snow, great people, and a welcome break from DC.
I met up with friends on Friday morning at Copper Mountain. Between all of the ability levels, we had 22 people on hand to take on the various bowls and chutes at this gigantic expanse of mountain. This highlights of the day: jumping the cornice into Spaulding Bowl, finding some unique lines off of rock ledges under S lift, and some insane hike-to lines off of Union Peak.
Day two was bluebird weather, but the forecast was for high winds above timberline. So we decided to nix a trip to Arapaho Basin and ski at Keystone. I managed to get in five incredible cruising runs on North Peak and The Outback before meeting up with a smaller sub-group of “the gang.” By that point, the crowds had arrived, thick as can be, and we coped with longer lift lines. Still, we found some incredible trees off the Outback and North Peak chairs. We also skied a lot of moguls, and I found that I actually liked skiing in the bumps – the first time I’ve really liked them, ever. I also swapped skis with my friend, Bud, for a run. He was running some full race stock Elan slalom skis, and they had some incredible turning power: it was like they were on auto-pilot, and every turn had incredible arcs.
Today, I met up with my new friend, Paul, at Beaver Creek. He offered to give me a “local’s guided tour” of the mountain, and it was really an epic day of skiing. Before he arrived, I decided that I had to ski the “Birds of Prey” downhill race run, which is raced by the male World Cup racers each December. The run isn’t smooth right now, as after the races are over the mountain management allows moguls to form. But the underlying snow is injected ice: hard, slick, and fast. I was exhausted at the end of the run, but it was so worth the effort.
Once I met up with Paul and his friend, Greg, he showed me some of the wild side of Beaver Creek: 60-degree chutes with rock drop-offs and tight trees (as well as knee-deep powder); mogul runs with double fall-lines and bumps the size of a VW Microbus; and top-notch cruising runs. It was a great day, even if the light wasn’t always in our favor.
All-in-all, this trip has been a remarkable success. I skied with a great group of people, and enjoyed ski areas that I’d only previously known from racing (Copper and Keystone), so I finally got to really experience the entirety of each mountain. And the Rockies are extremely scenic – though the lodgepole pines are being decimated by the pine bark beetle.
I’ll post pictures over at Flickr once I return. I may squeeze in a morning of skiing at Loveland before I catch my mid-afternoon flight back to DC.