Day One 12/26/15:
This was a VERY long day. We had to wake up at 3 AM to catch the 5:30 AM flight from Houston to Denver. By the time we landed, it felt like Noon. We grabbed the rental mini van at 9:00 AM, and we were off for Summit County. It was cold and snowy, so it took about two hours to get there. After getting food, skis, and checking into the Summit Inn, I made it to Keystone by 2:00 PM. During this time, my Grandparents made themselves very comfortable at Inxpot in the village. At about 4:30 PM, I ditched my plans to night ski and called it quits. It was starting to feel altitude sickness and I didn't want it to affect the rest of my trip. Maybe skiing after a flight from sea level isn't the best idea....
(Descending in to Summit County)
Day Two 12/27/15:
I woke up feeling much better after 10 hours of sleep. This was my first lesson day at Breckenridge. After signing in, I took a few laps on the Colorado Superchair before meeting my instructor, JJ Hyon. JJ is a very knowledgeable, positive instructor who knows the mountain well. We spent most of the morning working on mogul technique on Peaks 8 and 9. In just half a day, I already began to feel more confident in the bumps. About an hour after lunch, I heard that they opened the Imperial Express for the season..... So I left the lesson a little early. The result was some fun powder and chowder skiing. And a *gasp* four minute lift line wait! The nerve! 😂
At the end of the day, I found my grandparents I'm relaxation heaven at the living room at One Ski Hill Place. It was hard to get my grandfather to leave...
Overall, it was a wonderful day with blue skies, good snow, and incredible views.
Day Three 12/28/15:
This was my second day of lessons at Breckenridge. I was able to get in about 6 laps on the Colorado and Rocky Mountain Superchairs before my lesson. I really fell in love with some of those groomers. My instructor for the day was Randy Maring, a gentle older man with a great love for the sport. He was pretty new to the mountain, but he was an excellent teacher. The morning was spent defining mogul and steeps technique on Peaks 8 and 9, while we put it to the test in the afternoon. We finished the day rather climactic in Contest Bowl, a double black. After my lesson, I ate a hearty meal of bison meatloaf at the Blue Stag Saloon in Breckenridge. That night I was struck with the beauty of this small town. I've always been fascinated by scenery, but never by a town like I was by Breckenridge.
Day Four 12/29/15:
I again skied at Breckenridge. I really fell in love with the terrain and the happy vibe that the mountain seemed to carry with it. I started my day skiing the Colorado and Rocky Mountain Superchairs until about 9:30. Then I skied 6 Chair and Imperial until about 1:30, taking a lunch at 11:00 at Vista Haus. I then skied Peak 6 until 3:15, and Peak 7 til 4. Peak 7 is fun for getting quick vertical at the end of the day.... Because it's so flat that you can straightline the whole way 😂. I didn't spend much time on T-Bar, mainly due to the lack of snow. Next time I will spend a lot of time on it. I really enjoyed the terrain off of 6 chair for its variety, and I enjoyed Imperial and Peak 6 for the open bowl feel. The one striking factor of the day was that I skied on to almost every lift. The longest line I waited in was one minute. Peak 6 was especially empty. Afterwards, we ate at a wonderful Cajun restaurant in Frisco called the Lost Cajun. I strongly recommend it. Overall, another great day in paradise.
Frisco at Sunset
Day Five 12/30/15
Another day at Breckenridge. I started my day at Quicksilver, then took a few laps on Peak 10. Those groomers were especially fun for their consistent pitch. I then took the super connect over to peak 8 where I spent most of my day on 6 chair and Imperial. I ended my day on a Contest Bowl run, and some Rocky Mountain Superchair laps. Once again, no lift lines. I really fell in love with Breckenridge!!!
Upper Four O'Clock
Day Six 12/31/15:
On the last day of 2015, I headed to Keystone to give it a fair chance. And unfortunately, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, and Vail blew Keystone out of the water. After checking out of the Summit Inn. I started my day at River Run and headed straight for the Outback. The first thing I noticed is that the groomed runs were not near as good as they were at Breckenridge just the day before. I took the Outback Cat up to North Bowl, and I was blown away by the views, but not the run. The snow was extremely crusty and the cover was thin, but I could tell this would be an awesome run on a powder day or a soft spring afternoon. I did, however, enjoy the bump runs on North Peak and the BBQ at LaBonte's. Keystone has good terrain, but the infrastructure and maintenance is lacking. Almost every good run has a grueling catwalk to get back to the lift. It was especially horrible after my run in North Bowl and in the Black Forest trees (which were a bit too tight for my taste). And it's not just a long catwalk. All the runs funnel together, making it extremely crowded, and it gets icy quick. The groomers therefore become hazardous after about 10 am due to the people and therefore the ice. This was something that was negligible at the other resorts. Maybe Keystone could put in more lifts to shorten run outs and spread people out. Just an idea. The lift lines were also longer at Keystone than they were at Breck. I thought it would be the opposite. Keystone has many good things about it, but I'm glad I spent more time at Breck. It might be a while before I give it another try. I called it quits at about 2:30, and we headed for Eagle County. We checked in to the Christie Lodge, and then headed up to Beaver Creek for the NYE fireworks. First off, Beaver Creek is the coolest ski village that I have ever seen. It's luxurious and beautiful, and it blew me away. The fireworks show and the huge bowl of Pho I had at a Vietnamese place that night made for a great ending to a great year.
North Bowl, Keystone
Fireworks at Beaver Creek
Day Seven 1/1/16
There was no better way to start off the New Year than having my first ski day at Vail. I started off the day at Eagle Bahn Gondola then dropped into Game Creek. The snow in Game Creek Bowl was phenomenal. At about 10, I dropped into Sundown Bowl and found a pocket of really good snow. Then I headed over to Blue Sky Basin. I really enjoyed the wide open bowl below Earl's Express. I also appreciated Lover's Leap, but I settled for Iron Mask due to the thin cover on it. At about 1, I headed to China Bowl and skied it til about 2:15. I then flipped to the frontside via High Noon Express to avoid the mob scene at Northwoods. After that, I skied Wildwood and Mountaintop until closing. I noticed that the mountain was very quiet until noon, but it was pretty crowded at 3:30 due to the people that woke up late. Most lines were about 1-2 minutes, but it was about 7 minutes to get out of the Back Bowls. Overall, an awesome day of skiing.
The Gore Range
Endless Views from the Eagle's Nest
Day Eight 1/2/16
Saturday was a day of Luxury skiing at Beaver Creek. I lapped some of the best groomers I have ever skied off of Centennial and Cinch Express, complete with a new layer of man made snow, which felt pretty amazing to ski. They call this White Carpet Snow. To top that off, I was surprised with a cup of hot chocolate at the top of Centennial Express at about 9:30. How's that for service? After that, I did some laps in the Rose Bowl and headed over to Talons Restaurant for lunch at about 10:45. I had a Colorado Bison Burger and sweet potato fries, and it was by far the best on mountain meal I have ever had. Expensive, but worth it. I then skied Larkspur, Bachelor Gulch, and Strawberry Park until about 2:30. I found Bachelor Gulch to be pretty boring, while Larkspur and Strawberry Park had more interesting terrain. After making a quick stop at the Candy Cabin, I took a few laps on Grouse Mountain. I wish that I had spent more time on Grouse Mountain, but at least I know for next time. I decided that I was not leaving Beaver Creek without skiing the Birds of Prey World Cup Downhill, I made Golden Eagle my last run of the day. And I didn't fall! 😂 I finished the day with a record 34,260 feet.
I really enjoyed Beaver Creek and I cant wait to ski it again.
That night we took a sleigh ride dinner at Bearcat Stables in Cordillera. It was a very good experience, and somewhat nostalgic because of my ranch working time in the summer.
Day Nine 1/3/16:
On Sunday, I grabbed second Gondola at Vail and took some warmup laps on Mountaintop and Northwoods before riding Sourdough Express up to China Bowl at 9:30. The best groomer I have ever skied goes to Poppyfields East in China Bowl. It was incredibly creamy and the ridges were deep. Every carve was perfect. You almost couldn't even hear it. I then skied China Bowl til I headed to Two Elks for lunch at 11. Two Elks is definitely the coolest on mountain restaurant I have ever been in. The enormous burrito I had was pretty darn good as well. After lunch, I skied China, Siberia, and Mongolia Bowls until 1:00. I then flipped over to Sun Down Bowl where I skied until 3. I then skied Riva down to Golden Peak, where I took a few baby park laps (and still ate it). I considered this my best day of skiing on the trip. I finished the day 10 feet shy of breaking my record-34,250 vertical feet.
The Beautiful View from China Bowl
Day 10 1/14/16:
The dreadful day had come. The day of departure. I made sure to catch first gondola that morning. I warmed up on Northwoods and Mountaintop, then skied Avanti until 9:45. I then skied Pride Express and did Born Free park laps until I had to meet my Grandparents at 11:00. We returned the skis, and drove back to Denver. It was near impossible to concentrate in Calculus the next day 😂
I am a much better skier now than when I arrived in Colorado. I'm much more confident on steeps and moguls, and I'm a good carver on the groomers.
I'm in much better skiing shape than I thought. I skied 10 days in a row, and 221,000 vertical feet, and barely had any soreness. My triceps were far more sore than my legs after using my poles so much at Keystone. I was able to lap the highest lift in North America fairly easy. Aside from slight stiffness and tiredness in the mornings, I was energetic and limber the whole trip through. In fact, the days I felt the best were my 8th and 9th.
I'm not going to ski the day I fly in again. Next time I'll give myself more time to adjust. I was lucky to not get sick this time around.
Vail Resorts is not an evil corporation. They try very hard to deliver an awesome experience, and they really do. The people that work for them are extremely friendly and courteous. They act like they love their jobs. We actually did have a problem with my ski lesson (not the instructor or lesson itself) and they gave me an extra lesson for our trouble! They also do an outstanding job of dealing with crowds.
Vail and Breckenridge have taken over my top two slots for favorite resorts from Alta and Snowmass (just barely😉). Sorry!
Best Overall Resort: #1 Vail (definitely my favorite),#2 Breckenridge (follows Vail closely), #3 Beaver Creek
Best Terrain: #1 Vail, #2 Breckenridge, #3 Beaver Creek
Best Groomers: #1 Beaver Creek, #2 Vail
Best Scenery: #1 Vail, #2 Breckenridge
Place to get most Vertical: #1 Beaver Creek
Best on Mountain Food: #1 Beaver Creek, #2 Vail
Best Service: #1 Beaver Creek
Best Village: #1 Beaver Creek
Best Town: #1 Breckenridge
Best Steep Ice Skating: #1 Keystone
Longest Catwalks: #1 Keystone, #2 Vail
Most Fur Coats: #1 Vail
Most Down-Home: #1 Breckenridge
Worst Visibility on a cloudy day: #1 Breckenridge
Most Uncrowded: #1 Above Treeline at Breckenridge, #2 Beaver Creek
Best Hot Chocolate: #1 Beaver Creek
Best People Watching: #1 Base of Peak 8, Breckenridge, #2 Garfinkels at Vail
Favorite Runs by Resort:
Vail: Deuces Wild, Northstar (when groomed), Poppyfields East, Forever (favorite run), Genghis Khan, Iron Mask, In the Wuides
Breckenridge: Duke's Run, Northstar, Crescendo (best moguls), Contest Bowl (favorite run), Middle Snowbird, Imperial Bowl, Pioneer (best for straight lining), Ore Bucket
Beaver Creek: Centennial (favorite run), Ripsaw, Yarrow, Golden Eagle, President Ford's, Raven's Ridge
Keystone: North Bowl, Porcupine, Powder Cap (favorite run, best bumps), Frenchman
Edited by obsessedtxskier - 1/19/16 at 8:38am