As mountain memories are fading into the past, I remembered that I hadn’t actually written anything about our ski holiday yet – an omission I am delighted to rectify.
This year we finally decided to treat ourselves to a holiday in the Rocky Mountains – everyone we know who’s been raves about the skiing there, and we have long cast envious glances in their direction. I am pleased to report that it was completely worth it, but now we have to start saving for next winter!
Due to a combination of indecision and tight-fistedness, we decided not to stay in one of the mountain resorts, but opted for a b&b in the small town of Frisco. This turned out to be one of the best holiday decisions we’ve made in ages, as the Frisco Lodge was simply wonderful: cosy, chintzy in the nicest sort of way, with an excellent breakfast, and an apres ski happy hour each afternoon with complimentary wine and snacks. (Inexplicably we failed to take any photos, although I do have a video from happy hour one night…)
To begin the trip we flew into Denver and spent the night in a motel on the mountain side of the city, before getting up bright and early for the drive up to Frisco. Just a couple of hours later we were kitted up and on the chairlift at Copper Mountain, which is probably the nicest ski area I’ve been to.
Most of the runs were beautifully groomed, but quite a few had been left for moguls to develop, and as we headed in for lunch even Tom was tempted to try them out.
After an action-packed morning it was time for some refreshment, and we found a great bar/restaurant at the base station. (Another reason Copper became our favourite mountain was that we could actually afford to eat there – for Vail and Breckenridge we needed to pack our own lunch.)
We’d booked a two-day lift pass at Copper and three days for the Vail resorts, so the next day we headed out to Vail to see what all the fuss is about. Whilst the skiing was clearly excellent, and the famed back bowls (next picture) were quite fun in places, it was definitely our least-favourite mountain of the trip. I think this was mostly because it was just so extensive – we probably spent as much time trying to work out where we were, and where we were going, as we did actually skiing. Plus $14 for a simple hot chocolate and a black coffee is iniquitous even by New York and London standards!!
Back at Copper on day 3, we took the advice of some friends we’d made in the lodge and went on a free mountain tour. This turned out to be a great way to spend the afternoon – our guides took a small group of us around the ski area, we learned all sorts of interesting facts (largely apocryphal, I suspect) about the resort, and covered a lot of ground. We liked it so much that we did the same thing the next morning at Breckenridge.
If anything, the Breck tour was even better value, we covered an enormous amount of terrain and the whole thing lasted almost 3 hours. Between runs our guide imparted all sorts of information about the mountain, good pistes to try, and a bit of natural history thrown in for good measure.
We enjoyed Breckenridge so much that we decided to go back there for our final day, rather than trying out yet another resort, and it was fantastic. It snowed lightly for much of the day, the slopes weren’t too busy, and we were both on good form. Of course that meant I got a bit cocky and decided to try a black double diamond run, which would have been delightful had it not been the steepest, craziest mogul field I’ve yet to encounter. Then once I’d skidded my way down it spat me on a winding run through the forest, whizzing around trees. I was rather pleased to rejoin the piste after all that. I stopped to take a photo half way down, which really doesn’t do it any justice whatsoever…
I had belatedly discovered that I could log into my lift pass from my phone and see our statistics, which was most exciting. This told me that we’d skiied 12,841 vertical feet at Vail, and 13,145 on the first day at Breck, so I was determined to do at least 15,000 on our last day to end the trip. By the time we stopped for afternoon coffee we were just over 16,000 and I was still having fun so decided to push on to 20,000 (Tom did just one more run then retired to the bar). The last few runs were superb – I was at Peak 7 which is all lovely rolling blues, there was hardly anyone else about, and the snow was falling.
So that was a great way to finish, and we were very sad to head home the next day (especially with all that fresh snow…).
Despite some oddly-fluctuating temperatures, Spring is definitely springing back on the East coast, which naturally means that our thoughts turn to plans for summer holidays. And our annual trip to England. Not to mention the madness of Easter at St Barts – our 4th, can you believe it?!
Apologies for the slightly sub-par standard of photos – I was using my phone camera the whole time.