|There's No Work on a Powder Day|
|Articles - BV Outdoors|
by: Morgan WilliamsThe kayaks, summer hiking boots, caddisflies, and “I Love New York” t-shirts are in the furthest depths of storage sleeping like forgotten memories. Of course the climbing gear and mountain bike faithfully stand attention ready for those mild winter days. I love the diversity of sports in Colorado that parallels the change in seasons. I spend many summer days forgetting what it feels like to float in cumulus clouds; it takes a Colorado powder day to remind me. Inarguably, skis and snowboards take precedence this time of year.
When I lived and studied in Boulder, I sometimes went riding at Eldora Ski Resort when I didn’t have morning classes. Remarkably, the parking lot would be full on weekdays. I learned a lesson: there is no work on a powder day. My second lesson: Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas Break, President’s Day Weekend, and Spring Break are all times to avoid the slopes.
This puts us in a bind and not our bindings doesn’t it? Should we avoid the slopes on powder days and essential holidays? Yeah right. Here is a healthy alternative: move to a less accessible part of the state. A second, more expensive option, is to pay for helicopter skiing or snowcat skiing. Fortunately, in Buena Vista we have two small resorts in close proximity where you’re not spending most of your days in lift lines, dodging six year old rockets straight lining the ski run, paying inflated lift ticket prices, or avoiding packs of snowboarders having a conference on the middle of the slope. I’m not an elitist, but there is something about finding your own turns without playing dodge ball on the slope.
There is something about digging yourself out of five feet of powder in the silence of a white forest with only you and your friends’ tracks behind you.
Once you’ve landed in B.V., be careful not to judge the amount of snow on your porch before planning your day; one inch in B.V. might mean one foot on Monarch Mountain. Don’t underestimate the temperature by your native neighbor getting the daily newspaper in a t-shirt. Don’t believe the exaggerated snow report sponsored by the mountain. Regardless, fresh snow is fresh snow is fresh snow. Those messages on the phone and the overflowing emails can wait. Grab those skis in the mudroom or on the porch, hop in the car, pick up your friends, fill your coffee mug at Bongo Billy’s Café, pop in your pump-up music or self-help CD, and drive to the mountain.
Monarch Mountain, Ski Cooper, and Copper Mountain are our “local” mountains. Day ticket prices for an adult at Monarch during regular season are $52. Drive time is about 50 minutes from Buena Vista depending on weather or your car’s fat new snow tires. Monarch boasts, “1000+ acres of expert terrain, steeps, trees, cliffs, and bowls.” Monarch Mountain also offers Snowcat skiing. Discount tickets are available at their websites.
The advantage of driving to Monarch and Ski Cooper is that you don’t fight traffic on the road or slopes; the trade off is that neither resort has high speed quads. This just designates more rest time for your thighs and more bonding time with your spouse, children, or friends. Cooper and Monarch are also both Mother Nature dependent on snow. Monarch receives an average snowfall of more than 350 inches per year (the most powder of all three resorts). Both mountains have on-site rental/service shops, restaurants and basic amenities.
Ski Cooper is Colorado’s fifth oldest ski area and is nationally recognized for its 1200 acres of Snowcat skiing. It is also a 50 minute drive from Buena Vista. Adult, regular season ticket prices are only $39 per day (Snowcat ski prices are much more). Ski Cooper has fun and easy to moderately difficult terrain. Families and friends can choose the difficulty of their ski run and all meet back together at the bottom of a lift without getting lost.
Copper Mountain is the furthest resort from Buena Vista at about an hour and fifteen-minute drive. Uniquely, Copper Mountain is 100% wind powered. It is the most crowded of the three mentioned resorts because of its close proximity to Denver. But it offers 2,433 acres of terrain, five high-speed lifts, a competition terrain park, and tubing. An adult, window price for the day is $69. Copper opens earlier in the season because they make their own snow. The downside to Copper is the traffic on the slopes and lift lines. Copper does offer a $20 Beeline upgrade to get you into a separate, faster lift line.
Rentals for Monarch can be found at Headwaters Outdoor Sports, Mountain Sports Haus, and Mt. Shavano Ski and Snowboard Shop. Rentals at the north end of the valley can be found at Leadville Ski Country. All shops have roughly the same prices for rentals: hovering about $15 for 1-3 days.
Enjoy the powder while it lasts. We can ski into June in Colorado, but when river levels rise in May, the skis and goggles take back seat to the kayaks and frisbees.
For more information on the ski resorts, check out these websites:
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