3/26/13

Spring Break in Colorado

As I mentioned yesterday, we drove to Colorado to ski over spring break, but it was the weirdest spring break we've ever had.

1) there were no crowds--even at Vail
2) there was no sunshine--the glimpses of sun don't count
3) there was no falling and going boom--at least by me, hubs and daughter both bit the snow dust once.
4) there were no moguls to (bumps--I don't like bumps) be traversed--thank goodness! Though we did detour down a groomed black slope by accident--hubs not asking for directions again! Yes, it was at Vail. BTW--I have always intensely DISLIKED Vail.
5) it was cold, windy and snowy, which felt like December skiing, not spring skiing

During March, spring break can fall on three different weeks, depending on the state you live in. Since most ski resorts want to take advantage of this situation, they increase their rates. Those of us with kids are held captive by the increased pricing. Don't worry, this happens during the summer, too. If you want a good deal, take your vacation on the 'off' season. For skiing, that would be any week that kids would be in school. But this year, Keystone had a "kids ski free" deal. Oh, we still had to pay for rentals, but the lift tickets were free, which does add up. The one day we skied at Vail, we had to pay $86 for the kidlet to ski with us, since Vail wasn't part of the "kids ski free" deal.
This is a blurry trail map of Keystone. The front side of the mountain is the left slope--just skiing these runs could keep you busy all day. They are steeper than Breckenridge and better defined trails than Vail.  
On our first day of skiing, it was COLD and snow was blowing. Of course, this was the first year I decided not to pack a sweater or my snow boots . . . because it never gets cold or snowy in March, right?

Yeah, wrong.

Snow was blowing sideways. Yes, this is my 12-year old in pink . . . she was standing uphill from me . . . that why she's so much taller . . . yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
 
 
 
We were one of the first people up, but there were a few tracks in the powder. The best part of skiing powder is to be the first one to lay tracks. The next time we went down these slopes, it involved dodging the fresh piles of snow laid down by boarders. If you're leaning forward when you hit a pile of snow, plan to stop suddenly. Jus' sayin'.
 
It was fun to ski this fluffy stuff, but when we went to the back of the mountain--it was bitterly cold with the wind blowing. Usually you can see Breckenridge, which is about 15 miles away, but not today.
 
This was the first time in many, many years of spring skiing that I wore a hat, goggles and a neck gaiter. Usually, I'm good with an ear warmer and sunglasses.
 
There was no suntan to be had this year.
 
Day Two of skiing involve bitterly cold sunshine. We skied a LOT. The  sun peeked out a little bit and hubs took this picture at the top of The Outback peak. On the map this is the peak at the far right. The snowy lines over my daughter's head is Breckenridge ski resort.
 
Day Three we debated about going to Vail, since snow was predicted. The snow didn't bother us, it was the driving in the snow in the mountains that did bother us. The snow was expected late in the afternoon, so we decided to take a chance. The drive was about 25 mountain minutes.
 
I want to say right here and now. I don't like skiing Vail. I never have liked skiing Vail. I will always dislike skiing Vail. And I intensely abhor skiing Vail. The only reason I will ski Vail is because hubby likes Vail. Sorry, not a fan of Vail.
 
This is a map of Vail--just the front side. The backside is filled with numerous bowls.
 
I finally figured out what I hate about Vail-- 1) it's a monstrous mountain, 2) most of the mountain involves 'open' trails, which means you can easily cross from one trail to the next. 3) it's usually very, very crowded. 4) it's difficult to navigate from one peak to the next--ie there's LOTS of poling involved on narrow trails or catwalks. 5) I'm not as familiar with the runs to know what run leads into what other run without having to pole.
 
This time, I made hubs lead . . . and of course, he takes us down a groomed black, thinking it was a steep blue. Now, I don't mind skiing groomed black slopes, but he still refused to admit his mistake and turned it around on us that this was a 'good' thing. Yep, he's a people manager all right. The intimidating part of this run was that we could see how steep and open it was. Many of Keystone's slopes we skied were just as steep, but this was more intimidating because of seeing the entire bowl around us. It's a mental thing.
 
Vail has many amenities to offer someone who is a disabled skier. Over the years, I've seen Vail employees guide skiers that are blind, paraplegic or have other disabilities. And it is easier for foreign travelers to ski Vail than is it other ski resorts . . . but I still don't like it.
 
Now, that isn't to say that the only place I've skied is Keystone or Vail. Only since we had the kidlet have we skied Keystone with a few jaunts to Crested Butte.
 
I've skied:
CANADA--Sunshine and Lake Louise (preferred Lake Louise, Sunshine was too open)
UTAH--Park City
New Mexico--Angel Fire
and COLORADO--Wolf Creek, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, along with Vail and Keystone.
 
Sorry, no pictures of Vail. The hubs left his phone in the car--oops.
 
And this brings us to our fourth day of skiing--SNOW and lots of it. We skied Keystone. This is where it comes in handy to know the mountain like the back of my hand. At times it was snowing and blowing so hard that you could barely see 50 feet in front of you. Many times the kidlet would ski ahead and we'd lose sight of her pink coat . . . we made here stay with us after that. We were skiing Spring Dipper, which is a blue run that becomes green when a bunch of trails merge and then returns to blue. The snow was piling up and the gray sky was merging with the gray snow and it was hard to see with the blowing snow whipping around us. The scary part about this was that it would be very easy to go straight when the real trail curved.
 
The going straight part would have led down a black diamond slope. Yep, scary.
 
Skiing powder in blizzard conditions is exhausting and we called an early day at about 2 PM. The hubs went out to ski a few more runs at about 3:30. I was beat, but I also had busted my left boot sole and it was falling off in chunks. I didn't think it was a safe thing for me to ski with it in that condition. Besides, if it broke, then it would mean I would have to WALK down the mountain.
 
Nope. Not happening.
 
And then on Friday, we drove home with the monster storm nipping at our heels.
 
Later, Peeps!  

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