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May Skiing in Colorado - May 10-11

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Some of you may have seen that after a successful post-ACL ski trip (as in ACL no more), I decided to purchase a pair of Black Crow Orb skis. Typically buying skis in April is a mistake since you can't use them until the next ski season. Thankfully, a good snow year in Colorado allowed me to take a relatively last-minute ski trip to Arapahoe Basin and Winter Park.

Here is my report... pictures will be coming later.

Flew in this past Thursday and was greeted by a winter weather advisory. The drive from DIA to Summit County was fine, though. It snowed from the foothills all the way to my hotel in Frisco but traffic was light and the roads were in good condition. That was a plus (not to mention my skis arrived on an earlier flight so I grabbed them immediately upon arriving).

Stayed in downtown Frisco in Summit County... not the most convenient location to Arapahoe-Basin but much more interesting than Silverthorne and Dillon which are bland and completely lack personality. Keystone had lodging available but the town is boring during ski season... imagine the off-season. Ghost town.

Hotel in Frisco was right in the middle of town - cute, maybe ten rooms and across the street from a great German/Austrian-themed restaurant named Prosit. BUT, since the town was so quiet, I actually drove over to Breckenridge to see if there was any life around (not much). Breckenridge is still running a few lifts on the weekends through May. Anyway, dinner was in Frisco at Prosit.

Friday - drove to Arapahoe Basin. Variable conditions throughout the day from sun to snow to wind, clouds, clearing skies... back and forth. If you haven't been to A-Basin, it has the highest base of any ski mountain in North America. It is by far my favorite ski mountain... no lodging, a couple of restaurants but mostly great skiing, most of it marked as Advanced an above. To me, it is the most European feeling mountain in Colorado... you get to above treeline quickly and there are so many great spots to ski. Snow conditions were P E R F E C T. May 10th and no ice and no slush later in the day. Mind-blowing.

Best skiing, to me, was in Montezuma Bowl and in the newly opened Beavers which has some great bowls and some really nice runs... quite a bit of expert territory in the steep gullies but that's way above my ski ability. Favorite runs were Ptarmigan, Loafer (would be a red in Europe with some wonderful sections that would be graded black), Northern Spy and Larkspur. There is a little restaurant at the top of the Lenawee lift that styles itself as a little Italian rifugio. Food was much better than I'm used to in Colorado BUT it sat in my stomach like a rock. Suffice it to say, going over to the East Wall Traverse and down into the Land of Giants felt terrible. My stomach. Did not eat dinner that night.

In the end, it was a phenomenal day. Altitude wasn't too bad although I would have to take breaks here and there... drank lots of water (and had to hit the bathroom repeatedly) but keep in mind if you go there that the lift-served territory goes from 10,780' - 12,447' - that's 3,793 meters. High. Oh, speaking of that, expect a bit of that down on the front row of the parking lot... aka the beach. A-Basin has always been a free-spirit kind of mountain that draws more advanced skiers and locals. If you were in Denver and had a chance to ski only one mountain, go to A-Basin. It is routinely open into June. The base at the bottom on Friday was about 75" or 190 cm.

Trail Map: https://www.arapahoebasin.com/the-mountain/trail-maps/

More on the Beavers and Steep Gullies: https://www.arapahoebasin.com/the-mountain/the-beavers-the-steep-gullies/

Drove over Loveland pass (beautiful road where you can see backcountry skiers) and down onto I-70 to take 40 up Berthoud Pass to Winter Park. There used to be a couple of ski lifts at the top of Berthoud Pass but they shut down in the 90s. The area is very popular for backcountry skiers, as well. You'll see tracks all over the place and skiers and snowboarders hitch-hiking on the road. The road up/down the pass is long but super wide. Makes European pass roads look like bicycle paths.

Stayed in Winter Park... not my favorite ski town in Colorado. It doesn't have much character to me and the town of Winter Park is kind of straggled along the highway. My hotel was nice but also quiet. Had a friend drive in from Boulder to ski the next day.

Saturday - better weather than Friday as it was mostly sunny. Today, May 12th, was closing day fro Winter Park, specifically Mary Jane. Mary Jane is known as the harder side of Winter Park. Think less grooming, more bumps. Lots of mogul runs. It also has access to some great bowls at about 12,000 feet. One thing I like about Winter Park is that they use a Skidata reader at the base unlike A-Basin (and many places in the US) which still use antiquated paper tickets and employee who scan your pass. Anyway, only 4-5 lifts were open... one is the quad from the base, the Paradise lift (goes up to the bowls) two smaller ones mid-mountain and a learner lift. Some of the lift technology is pretty old school.

Snow was really good up top... got a bit soft at the end of the day at the bottom but it still felt really nice on runs like Sleeper. We spent quite a bit of time going up to Parsenn Bowl... nice conditions but windy up top. Skiing down Village Way led to lots of great lines into the bowl. Over by Lupine, there was a nice little cornice that led to some great snow and down into the trees. At one point, I told my friend that a run called Trestle may be a steep groomer so we headed there and found that it was anything but. Trestle is a longish bump run but the bumps eventually take you to a steep drop off that has crazy jacked up moguls. As a local web page puts it, "Trestle, Mary Jane — The iconic black-diamond run of Mary Jane, Trestle delights experts because of its variety. Pitch changes, moguls, pockets of powder — pick a different line each time and you'll never get bored." Best bet is to take a line to the right. We expected a groomer but still had a good run down. So, in the end, I would do it again... nice sense of accomplishment afterwards. Avoid Corona Way, long a lots of flat sections.

Trail map: http://assets.winterparkresort.com/PDF/WPRMaps/WPR-TrailMap.pdf?_ga=2.257243778.825323960.1557715114-1749676267.1554729629

Winter Park has lots of snowboarders. The on-mountain restaurants I saw focused on cafeteria-style food... burgers, hot dogs and the like. On-mountain dining and apres is decidedly different than in Europe. Lift lines were fine but, again, it was the day before closing. Not sure how crowded it gets during the regular season.

In the end, super happy I made the trip... great conditions for mid-May. Very memorable, no injuries and great fun on my new skis.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I'll provide more pictures later but let's start somewhere.

Frisco in May... admittedly, it was around 6:45 AM but it was awfully quiet in town



Arapahoe Basin, right before the lifts started running:



First lift up



The new quad that was installed this past season to open up The Beavers. Look at that snow. Standing at about 12,000+ feet.



Montezuma Bowl



Snow snow snow



Claims to be the highest restaurant in North America.

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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Hah hah someone keeping it real with vintage Volkls but still paranoid enough to split them (fairly obviously)
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looks lie a bloody good trip to me..
I want to go!!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Snow looks good.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
Conditions were fantastic. Still good the second day but the first day was exceptional... not a lick of ice or slush. .
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
ItaloSkier,

Great report! Thanks for posting.

2 great ski areas, indeed. We love both.

Where did you fly from for such a short trip? Do you live over there? Puzzled

I disagree with Keystone being boring, by the way. Decent restaurants and bars, a nice feel to the village and a few sports shops. What more do you need to alleviate any boredom after a day's skiing?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Bergmeister wrote:
ItaloSkier,

Great report! Thanks for posting.

2 great ski areas, indeed. We love both.

Where did you fly from for such a short trip? Do you live over there? Puzzled

I disagree with Keystone being boring, by the way. Decent restaurants and bars, a nice feel to the village and a few sports shops. What more do you need to alleviate any boredom after a day's skiing?


I do live over here so just about a 2 hourish flight to Denver. Ironically, I prefer to do my skiing in Europe but couldn't pass up these late season conditions.

For me, Keystone has always been my least favorite in Summit County. I'd rate the county as 1. A-Basin 2. Copper Mountain 3. Breckenridge (best town) and 4. Keystone (worst town). Keystone just feels like condominium community.

Can't post all the other pictures now but here are some from day 2

Driving into Winter Park from the direction of Fraser/Granby. Skies looked good to me Very Happy



Main lift running from the base of Mary Jane



One of the black bump runs that runs under the Super Gauge Express lift



The reason for my trip



Up on Parsenn Bowl. There's a fun little cornice you can use to drop into the bowl and then you can go towards tree runs like Lupin or Fireberry Glade



More to come later...
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Quote:

I'd rate the county as 1. A-Basin 2. Copper Mountain 3. Breckenridge (best town) and 4. Keystone (worst town).

You left out Loveland
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abc wrote:
Quote:

I'd rate the county as 1. A-Basin 2. Copper Mountain 3. Breckenridge (best town) and 4. Keystone (worst town).

You left out Loveland


Loveland is not in Summit County. It is in Clear Creek County with Georgetown, Empire, etc.

That said, I've never skied it and I truly want to. It closed May 5th and my first day skiing was May 10th. I was told the snow was just as good if not better than A-Basin but the lifts were shut down for the season Sad
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OK... back to the pics.

Similar spot, different view



Mid-Mountain view by the top of the Super Gauge Express



The aforementioned Trestle run. The hairier part is behind me. This is looking further down. More intimidating in thought than in reality. Rewarding to do it.



Back down at the base



Lastly, a panoramic shot from Friday at A-Basin. I think this is the Beavers, not Montezuma Bowl.

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