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Breck, 2/17-2/22

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
First, a little background about myself. I skied 100+ days in CO during the '80s while growing up, most of that at Steamboat and Snowmass. We mixed a few day trips to other areas during these week-long trips, including one day to Breck about '86 where we had 3+ feet of powder. Since the '80s, I only skied out west twice during business trips, once to Keystone and once to Snowbird. Over the past 20-ish years I've skied 1-5 days a year in VT and NH. Now that my boys are older and enjoying skiing, we are ramping up the skiing. My oldest (13) likes Stowe, and my youngest (10) likes Sunapee. My wife is so-so on skiing in general despite growing up in VT near Stratton and Bromley. To make a long story short, this was my first week-long trip to CO in 20 years, and my first to Breck.

We arrived Saturday 2/16, stayed in the Tyra complex between Four O'Clock and the bottom of the Snowflake lift. What a great location. We could easily ski in via Four O'Clock and it was only a short 2-minute walk to the lift to go up. Here's the view from our rented condo looking up at Peak 9 one morning at sunrise.

Between my parents in their 60s, my wife, and my youngest child, most enjoyed groomed blue runs. When skiing as a group, we generally spent most of our time on Peak 9 and Peak 7. We spent the most time on Peak 9 using chair C as we didn't really enjoy the flats to get to the Mercury chair. Our favorite runs there were American (blue/black) and Gold King (blue). These runs get a bit flat in the middle on our way to lower Pearless to chair C. The headwall near the top was enjoyable by me. American was moguls on the left under the chair and groomed on the right. We sometimes ventured into the moguls, but without fresh snow most of the week we ended up skiing groomers most of the time.

We had a scary time our first trip up chair C. My wife was with our 10-year-old, and he didn't get fully on the lift. About the first pole, maybe 25 feet off the ground, my wife yells "HELP" as our boy was slipping off. She stabilized him while they scrambled for a ladder and figured out what to do. Somehow, she managed to pull him fully into the chair with her left arm while he was sitting on her right. We do not know how she managed this as it was an awkward situation. Even more amazing, Ben didn't freak out. He tends to have anxiety issues, often skiing, so this in itself was a miracle.

After lunch (usually at the less expensive and more casual Peak 9 restaurant), my oldest Alexander and I headed out to ski tougher terrain. The first time out, we headed for chair 6 to ski the peak 8 back bowl area, the lower lift in this picture:

Upon getting to the top, we were both drawn to Imperial chair despite it being very blustery. I wasn't sure he could handle the double black Imperial bowl, but we decided to give it a go. We were rewarded with about 6-inches of lightly chopped up powder. The skiing was great but cold and windy. I was very comfortable skiing the slope under the chair, and Alexander did well with only a few falls in soft snow. Most days we skied this lift until it closed at 2:45. Here's my son looking up at Imperial and at the top of the lift:

When the snow got a bit hard up in Imperial, we spent more time in the chair 6 area. My son liked the avalanche cannon:

which I believe got some use during the week. He liked the Way Out area here:

A couple days we could find some enjoyable powder out in this area.

We did ski Horseshoe bowl once, but we both hated the T-bar. I realize this is a great way to get up for some, but we were not terribly comfortable with it and I think we got to the top more tired than when we got on. I guess we're lazy chair lift skiers. We might have traversed over to the Peak 7 bowls from the Imperial chair if we wouldn't have had to ski the T-bar to complete the loop efficiently.

On the last day, we got up the nerve to hike up to the summit above the Imperial chair. There was about a foot of fresh powder over night, and we got up there before lunch. At 42-years-old and fairly out of shape, the hike from 12,840 to 13,000 was pretty tiring. Even my 13-year-old needed several breaks on the way up. I have a lot of respect for you folks that regularly hike way up. Anyways, we made it up. We were a bit worried about what we had gotten ourselves into. We had watched folks hike up all week and head over toward the Lake Chutes and Snow White, but we knew weren't in that category of skier.

Here's Alexander at the top having a rest before starting off:

Looking toward Peak 7, where you can see folks traversing over from the top of Imperial lift, as well as a peek of I70 to the lower left:

Finally, a view of Lake Chutes from above. From the lift, Lake Chutes looked steeper than above. Surprisingly, they didn't look as bad from above, but I seriously doubt you'd ever catch me skiing them. I can't believe the folks over there hucking off 50' cliffs. Maybe if I was 20 years younger...

Anwyays, we made it nicely down from the top into Imperial Bowl. I got a chance to leave nice esses straight down from the summit before they were later obliterated by those who followed. It ended up about 12-18in of powder in the lee of the summit.

All in all, I was very impressed with Breck. It has a good mix of terrain for intermediates and above. Lower intermediates would like Peak 7 the best, and higher intermediates Peak 9 and maybe 10. We didn't really ski Peak 8 much except for getting from place to place, including skiing Four O'Clock at the end of the day to go home. We did go over briefly to Peak 10 to ski the blue/blacks, but we didn't find those particularly better than Peak 9. I never got a chance to venture into the blacks off Peak 10. Those looked interesting. All in all, Breck seems to be pretty well organized and it is fairly easy to get from place to place.

My youngest son had a blast on Wire Patch on Peak 7. He loved playing in the trees at the top. The last day we had about 4-6 inches of fresh powder. Most of the run had been groomed before the powder, so they left the powder and we all enjoyed making our own tracks for most of the morning.

Being a holiday week, with many schools off in the east, I was rather shocked at how uncrowded it was. Sunday and Monday were the worst with presumably a lot of day traffic up from Denver. We hit one 20-minute line at Mercury right before lunch on Sunday. But avoiding Mercury helped Sunday and Monday. Chair C was always empty. Throughout the rest of the week, I think we rarely waited as long as 5 minutes, most times no wait at all. The final Friday, it being a bit of a "powder day", there was increased crowds. We had to wait 10-15 minutes on 6 and Imperial. However, even with it being a holiday week, it was generally much less crowded than most of our skiing in VT and NH on a weekend. Being Summit County and a holiday week, I had expected worse.

All in all, a great week of skiing.

post #2 of 9
Originally Posted by ilh View Post
What a great location. We could easily ski in via Four O'Clock and it was only a short 2-minute walk to the lift to go up.
They have a lift at Breck that goes up? When did that happen? I thought they all just went across....who knew

Just kidding....Nice TR...looks like you had fun and had good snow. Breck was my first visit to CO and all it took was that one visit to convince me to move here.
post #3 of 9
Glad you had fun here! I've been here for a long time and I don't think I've ever ridden the C chair. I do ski the C-bumps on American often as my last run down. The C chair used to be one of the most crowded lifts on the mountain because people would get lost and stuck there but that was resolved with the Interconnect midway load.
post #4 of 9
Nice TR.

lol at the t-bar comment. I'm not a big fan either, but it accesses some great runs. I hope they never put a typical lift there cause it keeps so many people away.

Next time you hit Breck, you and your son should traverse over to Whales Tail or Peak 7 bowls off of Imperial chair, then make your way into Ore Bucket (great tree run). I think you will truly enjoy it.
post #5 of 9
Superb TR . Nice to read and view a visiting perspective on a mountain we ski often…made me reflect and appreciate.

Also…Kudos to your superhuman wife with the save on the chairlift along with young Ben’s composure throughout the experience...wow!
post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post
Superb TR . Nice to read and view a visiting perspective on a mountain we ski often…made me reflect and appreciate.

Also…Kudos to your superhuman wife with the save on the chairlift along with young Ben’s composure throughout the experience...wow!
When we visited, my husband especially liked the area that DD took him, whereever that was

After that, he stuck to the area in the trees off the 6 chair. We lost him in there, while we explored some chutes and bowls.
Don, you're the best!
post #7 of 9
Spent the same week plus several days at Breck and the snow was magical. I did the south blacks off the top of 10, Trinity, Mustang, and a run into Apalloosa (?) bowl and would recommend this area to a good skier looking for something different. There is a bit of a flat run to the Falcon chair, however.

T-bar is something I'm okay with at 60, since it's the most obvious way to access Magic Carpet off peak 7 and the drop into the trees below. A most thrilling decent and something I would love to do for many years ahead.

Thanks for those great pictures.
post #8 of 9

Great TR

Great TR. I think I'll make Breck my west-coast visit for next ski season.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
We definitely had a great time. If I get back there, I'll definitely try out the Peak 7 bowls, and maybe head over to Snow White. Who knows, maybe Lake Chutes will look tempting from above. I would like to check out the Peak 10 south area too.

I will point out one thing that pissed us off though. They didn't open Chair C until 9:30 every morning. What's the deal with that? Everything else (low) was opening at 8:30. From our location, our preferred route to Peak 9 was Snowflake to Chair C. Without C open, we either had to pole our way past the bottom of C on the very flat (uphill?) Sawmill to Beaver Run Superchair or go down to base 8 and take Colorado Superchair, then down Frosty's, to Chair E. My crowd didn't want to ski Frosty's (blue/black) first thing in the morning. We were pissed because this was a busy week and we couldn't see any excuse not to open C at 8:30.

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