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Colorado, 5 Resorts - 6 Days

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Trip report.
Colorado 5 resorts in 6 days. 12-19th Mar 2009
It all started from a snowheads tip that abnormally cheap flights were available to the states by booking through Expedia Australia.
Without too much thought I booked the first date which returned a low price, i.e. Aus$340, £163 at the time for a flight to Denver.
Asking for help on Snowheads, Frisco Lodge, Frisco was suggested as a good place to stay.
I booked their cheapest b&b room which at 2$=1£ as it was looked good value for single occupancy.
The C.M.E. transfer coach looked convenient and coupled with free local transport made everything do-able at reasonable cost.
I never got to test the transfer coach or local bus service as a ski buddy said he wanted to join & so we hired a small 4 wheel drive for £200 for the week including a tank of fuel and extra driver cover.
I bought Vail peaks 6 out of 9 day lift tickets for $382 & $342 for the Senior pass with postage is now looking more expensive with exchange rate below 1.5$:1£ ! A few more days and the epic season pass which is great value would come into play, maybe next season.
It was a disappointing I could not get their website to accept my credit card and had to make an expensive transatlantic telephone call to do the deed.
I was disconcerting not to get a confirmation e-mail or shown on my online a/c with Vail resorts & as I was concerned $724 tickets would get lost in the pile of junk mail arriving whilst I was away skiing in Canada.
The ticket were waiting for me when I arrived home from Canada but they were just stuck to a card with no confirmation of the cost or how many days they were charged with.
I now see the card is activated when you first use it and reward points go onto your a/c. I see they failed to zap me on two occasions at the base and I only show 4 days skiing & so lost 2000 reward points, I guess I can get them credited if my credit card is debited for 6 days skiing.
10,000 points would get me a free days skiing next year- but I suspect if I do it again I will go for longer & get the season pass.
As my cheap air ticket was only available for from Heathrow, I took the overnight coach from Leeds, which was cheap & and not so bad as I had two seats for myself. In some ways it was better than my normal 4 am start to the airport as I never sleep easily before a trip.
My buddy set off on a parallel service from Liverpool & we arrived at Heathrow nicely.
I thought we were too early but the mysterious labyrinth journey to the shambles of Terminal 4 was lengthy & not pleasant lugging bags & skis.
My air tickets were for a mixture of KLM & Northwest and my buddies with Northwest, even though they were for the same plane only caused us confusion as they was demarcation between the two airlines at the Airport meaning checking in at opposite ends of the shambles of the terminal.
We also had to use the self check in which refused to function & in the end a nice lady at Northwest sorted us both out with adjacent seat & found me an attractive Filipino lady to sit next to me so I could flirt all the way across the Atlantic and through Immigration & customs in Minneapolis, If only I had met here 20 years ago ! Free ski carriage, 2x23 kg allowance, two sets of skis - no problem.
The flight was on time & we took full advantage of the free bar.
Immigration in Minneapolis involved a long queue, photograph, retina scan ? and finger printing followed by interrogation.
My buddy had some surplus fruit to dispose off but they were reluctant to take it on the plane. The sniffer dog got him & he was lucky to avoid a full cavity search.
We then had to claim baggage go through customs, recheck bags & go through security again. Now I realise why there is a 3 hour gap between connection on the way out & 50 minutes only on the way back.
We had time to have a meal, there was a range of cuisines but settled for a beer & a burger but was phased by the mammoth proportions.
We went to departure gate for the plane to Denver to find the flight was overbooked and $300 incentives being offered to take a later flight. We declined as we would be struggling to get to Frisco at a civilised hour.
The size & number of travellers at Denver airport comes as a shock as does the lack of direction to baggage collection. We followed the flow on the ultra modern train transit system which puts Heathrow to shame.
Our bags, however took an age to arrive. I had a voucher for Thrifty Car hire but the desk was unmanned an a cardboard sign said go to door 72.
We eventually found the stands for shuttle to the numerous car hire lots
The massive size of the car hire compounds also comes as a shock, the scale of operations etc.
Help from Snowheads said that the I70 can be difficult in bad weather & a 4X4 would be safer & I am glad I took this advice.
We had ordered a RAV4, the guy behind the desk said I get you a Dodge Nitro. O.K. a piece of U.S. crap but the price is right.
He went to drive it round for us. When he came back he said he couldn't find it so he brought us a Hummer & he had signed our paperwork to say it was OK.
The Hummer would give us much amusement with its crude engine and erratic automatic gearbox but mostly with peoples reaction, youngsters thought we must be ageing rockstars, greenies hissed abuse at us for destroying the planet.
I had bought the £20 platinum upgrade on the car hire deal which gave extra drivers use & a tank of fuel. This turned out to be a fair deal with the 23 gallon tank on the Hummer, which would get us to the next gas station. It also came as a shock that petrol is still very cheap in the U.S. at around $1 a gallon.
Navigation shouldn't be a problem as we only had to follow the I70 west until we hit Frisco.
It took a while to get used to driving in the States after a 25 year gap.
It is pretty easy once you realise you can drive in any lane & overtake on either side, avoid using outside & inside lanes as the may peel off to go somewhere else.
Once we cleared the lights of Denver & started climbing it started snowing. It was a tense affair with tired eyes and lane marking weren't visible. and the road was in a poor state.
The Hummer following every rut, crack & pothole. Its demented gearbox changing up & down.
I was bemused at the confidence of some drivers to speed on.
The road was then like a yard sale with vehicles strewn on the road & in the ditch for several miles the police & recovery trucks having a field day.
We hummed along and reached Frisco at a quarter to ten about an hour later than expected but safe & sound.
Frisco lodge dates back to early mining days. The Americans seem to like to keep these in pseudo Victorian decor with stripy wallpaper & creaky metal sprung high beds.
It doesn't do anything for me as I live in a Victorian House at home.
We had to dash out to find somewhere to eat as most restaurants had last orders at 10 pm.
Too late, only the Moose Jaw saloon was open. This is all you imagine about a western saloon. Cheap pitchers (Jugs - I was told means tits, which is fine by mean when you see the bar maid) of beer, live music.
The state of the one inadequate toilet, the filthy apron on the chef didn't inspire my hunger but needs must. I had fish & chips, not a great choice as the fryer was in dire need of an oil change but the beer was good at $6 a jug and the band good.
They had messed up with their room allocation and had upgrade us for a night or 3 as it turned out. Which was good as we got and extra room (without a door) & a an ensuite which is a bonus with my troubles.
No closet so we had to live out of a suitcase which causes me difficulty as I need to organise all the gear for skiing. Anyway after a days skiing, a good dinner & beer, I only need a bed & a toilet.
Slept fitfully & gave up trying to sleep at 6.30 am. Tried to work out what planet I was on & to sort out my gear.
Went down for breakfast. A great communal affair, make your own porridge from a pack, milk & microwave. Help yourself to whatever you fancy, scrambled eggs, sausages, yoghurt, fruit, bread. Cook your own waffles, cover them in yoghurt, add berries - wonderful.
Nice atmosphere, like being in a chalet, get to meet other guests, I actually like most of the Americans, I guess skiers are nicer people.
Put a couple of warm home made muffins in my pocket for elevenses, magic, feeling good.
Day 1, opted for Breckenridge, 15 minutes down the road, the free car park is a mile from the lifts but the shuttle bus is frequent, no problem, why pay just to save 10 minutes.
Was a little concerned our lift passes would not work but no problem.
I normally study pistemaps beforehand as I need to glasses which are a faff when skiing. Breckenridge only takes a few minutes to work out as it is a line of four peaks and you can traverse along up lifts & skiing down. I didn't really take to Breck as the hill profiles we the same just getting steeper as one traversed leftwards.
You need to use a drag lift to reach the highest bits, I don't need this in the 21st century. Pretty nice weather, very cold first thing and warming with the sun. Only the 3 inches of fresh snow last night after 2 or 3 weeks without and the runs pisted to death. Poor standard of skiing/ dangerous boarders.
Hot dog for lunch, prices seem reasonable (after France). We are high above 3000-3900 m but no problem with altitude sickness, well I have been at altitude half of the winter.
Back from skiing, although it is b&b there is après ski food laid out for us, soup, cheese, biscuits, wines ! as well as always available hot drinks. Some good discussions about, skiing, politics etc.
Out to explore, found the micro brewery & the inevitable rack of all the brews to test, can't remember where or what we ate.
Day 2, got the hang of breakfast and was well fuelled. Keystone today. A short drive along the dam road, another blue sky day.
Free car park. Walk though the base village complete with host giving you piste maps, "have a nice day", advice where the best skiing is, how to get there. Loved Keystone, lots of varied terrain, trees, bowls. There is a wonderful suntrap at the bottom of a back bowl, good bar-b-que.
Snow in remarkably good condition. Piste patrollers were noticeably pro-active & better skier behaviour.
We grabbed a couple of deck chairs and watched the procession of novices who had stayed onto the wrong, steep run down to bottom coming to grief and tumbling down to the bottom to everyone's amusement. You could predict who would fall.
A superb day, albeit sunburnt. Colorado prime rib for dinner, disappointing compared to Alberta beef. More beer at the Moose Jaw but too tired to stay after 10 when things liven up.
Day 3 Beaver Creek, still blue skies. A longer drive, stunning scenery, a 30 minutes to Vail and a few minutes beyond to Beaver Creek. A massive expensive real estate development, eventually found the free car park .
Good varied terrain, lots of trees. The Birds of Prey runs are terrific and mostly unpisted. I had a minor mishap exiting the trees to find a kicker & failed to land the jump, pride hurt. So had to go to the terrain park to practice jumps.
Had the best lunch of the week in the very smart lodge at the top of the lower lifts.
Great prime rib with sweet potatoes, veg & home-made horse radish and jeux.
$18 but they annoying add tax to everything after which give an odd number of cents to all purchases which when it amounts to a pile of coins you give away.
I liked Beaver creek, the ski area was bigger than I assumed from my reading and once clear of the base the skier were not pretentious and good company on the chair lifts.
One un pc conversation with a redneck revealed his answer to deviants, other races and politicians was to shoot or bomb them which certainly would be effective.
This concurred with my impressions gathered from road trips in the 70's but most other Americans I met had now moved on.
There was a distinct polarisation of Obama supporters/ opponents.
Ate at Vinneys that night, a new restaurant & obviously talented Chef.
Day 4 Vail. Blue sky. Yesterdays sun had melted lower slopes & they were icy in the morning shade. Vail is up there with the best, varied terrain, different bowls with new bits to find . Lots of skiing in the trees.
I'm very impressed. The lifts connect up nicely, some queuing at bottlenecks. The day was spoiled when I decided to go over the edge, rather than pole it along the track to the far edge of resort ridge. It was a named run but we made the mistake of stopping & looking at it.
My buddy was phased which in turn chickened me. We were not alone. He decided to traverse along but it got worse with a fearsome rock outcrop waiting for fallers. The snow was deep but had the full heat of the sun and was treacherous. It would have been OK if we had gone straight down the steep, mogulled but compacted slope.
After half an hour of sweating and mountaineering I got to a chute where I could straight-line it to a mini bowl, I thought I needed the speed to clear the upslope on the other side. Under the above boot high wet snow one ski connected with something sending me cartwheeling. One ski came off, the other ski did not & bent my ankle back to an unnatural degree, I felt the tearing in my calf muscle an feared the worse.
After regrouping, retrieving skis, I set out to find my buddy who was struggling down a different route. We stopped for lunch (muffins) & I packed my calf with snow. Walking was painful, skiing not so bad with knees bent. Good practice skiing predominately on my left leg as normally I favour my right.
I managed to work our way back to the car park, hard bumps were painful. Driving was OK. Soaked my leg in the hot tub fro an hour. Followed by fiery jack. Didn't know if I could ski tomorrow if things stiffen up. Had dinner across the road followed by painkiller in the Moosejaw.
Day 5 A-Basin. Walking was difficult but my leg was usable with pain, could get by skiing mainly on my left leg.
A-Basin is different, being a no frills ski hill a few miles beyond Keystone up the spectacular Loveland Pass.
My buddy really liked it. I was not as sure as I was less enthusiastic on one leg. It is high, very high, the top ridge at 13,050 feet is raked with strong wind where there is no wind elsewhere and the slopes are scoured with the wind.
By my standards some of the terrain is extreme and not all lift served. Some great caches of snow low down in the back bowl, shame I wasn't up to it.
I was badly affected by the altitude on the top ridge as I fought for breath & battled the wind. definitely leave this hill until you are acclimatised but well worth doing. Drove back via Loveland. Stopped at the continental divide view point. Some hardcore skiers were skiing down from here to be picked up at the road a few thousand feet below !
More Jugs of beer & fiery jack. I was getting immune to the ointment but not the beer.
Day 6, Vail again & last day skiing. Went back to do the bits we had missed. It confirmed impression that the skiing at Vail is up with the best.
It rounded off a great trip. Having ones own transport made things easy and added Vail into play.
Day 7 , usual breakfast, easy drive back to Denver in daylight, check in painless & flights on time. Slept for a few days when I got home.
I want to do it again. Need to go for longer, I will probably make a road trip out of it and take in Aspen, Salt lake resorts, Jackson hole and Tahoe. It will have to be a circular route as split centre airfares look expensive where a Manchester to Denver return is about £316 at the moment.

Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Fri 3-04-09 10:27; edited 2 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Lechbob, excellent report - glad it all worked out with the cheapo flight Very Happy
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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?
I just used my cheapo flight as well !!
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stanton wrote:
I just used my cheapo flight as well !!

Yes I thought it was too good to be true and was very suspicious but it was fine. I assume there was an error in Flying Blue's pricing software.
I checked prices for next year through normal UK brokers and it is very reasonable at £316 for Manchester to Denver via Philidelphia return. I am tempted but it is a little early to decide dates and next years skiing. But.... planning & research is part of the pleasure & passing time between seasons. Have found a number of b&b's close but not in the skiing resorts at reasonable cost - they nearly all go with the Victorian theme.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Lechbob wrote:
stanton wrote:
I just used my cheapo flight as well !!

Yes I thought it was too good to be true and was very suspicious but it was fine. I assume there was an error in Flying Blue's pricing software.
I checked prices for next year through normal UK brokers and it is very reasonable at £316 for Manchester to Denver via Philidelphia return. I am tempted but it is a little early to decide dates and next years skiing. But.... planning & research is part of the pleasure & passing time between seasons. Have found a number of b&b's close but not in the skiing resorts at reasonable cost - they nearly all go with the Victorian theme.

I flew out to LA with NWA & back with Air France total cost about €155 inc, LOL !!
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Sorry Lechbob that you didn't get to visit Winter Park in on your trip out to Colorado. Next time com on out and visit the best ski resort in Colorado.

Top 10 Reasons to Ski and Board in Winter Park, Colorado in APRIL

April is the locals’ favorite month to ski. This year, the resort is open until April 19th! Most everyone else is thinking since it’s warm in their city, it must not be good skiing in the mountains. Not true and here’s why. Our Top 10 List of why you should visit Winter Park in April:

1) April is the 2nd highest snowfall month of the year in Winter Park.

2) Average temperature in April is a high of 44 degrees. Throw the fleece on and ski in your long sleeve t-shirt!

3) Winter Park Lodging By Owner has sweet lodging deals. Stay 3 nights and get the 4th free.

4) Lift lines are short if any! All of the Spring Breakers have gone home and you have free reign of the mountain.

5) If you book with Winter Park Lodging By Owner, you can ski for $40/day (and kids ski for $25/day). You could almost splurge for a burger at Sunspot with that kind of savings.

6) You don’t have to wait for a table at one of the Top 10 Restaurants in Winter Park.

7) You can still cash in on the FREE Bruxelles draft beer at the new Cheeky Monk in the Village at Winter Park (you must mention “Winter Park Lodging By Owner”)

Available lounge chairs at Snoasis and Lunch Rock. Sit outside in the sun and have a cold one or a hot dog (or both considering you’re skiing for 40 bucks!) and R-E-L-A-X.

9) Avoid having to go to Easter egg hunts in hometown.

10) And the #1 reason why you should ski or board in Winter Park in April - another day to put off doing your tax return!!!

Find lodging at

Follow all the Winter Park news at snowHead
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
mosesbradford, I think you may have a vested interest which you should be upfront about otherwise it tends to upset people on this site.
No need to over do the hype, Colorado skiing has much to commend it with good value and the advantage that altitude making for a snow sure long season.
Winter Park gets massive advertising on our Satellite TV.
I saw the off ramp from the I70 to Winter Park on our return to Denver. Given the chance I will give Winter Park a try.
If I had not had the Vail Resort lift Pass I would have skied Copper which was praised by other guests.
I'm not tempted into April skiing, as I need to spend some time with my family & it is our Easter School break making cheap Air fares hard to find.
1) You certainly are getting lots of snow right now.
2) Fortunately I understand your average daily max early April temperature at base is just above 0 (32F) overwise it would be water skiing.
3) Most in resort accomodation seems to be for 4 people which is uneconomical for me.
4) Short lift lines are a must, I avoid European resorts in School holiday periods, however the latest lift equipment in many Austrian resort makes other places lifts look dated.
5) Good value but would prefer to avoid the junk food.
6) Sometimes having to wait for a table is a measure of the quality of food, but I must say I found some decent food in Frisco at fair value, other places tried to be too fancy &
failed to pull it off, the wine however was overly expensive which meant I went without a couple of times, a great shame as it enhances the experience.
I don't if its excessive mark up or a tax thing.
7) Free Beer, you've got snowHead 's attention - everybody over to your place - be warned there are some thirsty snowHead 's
Cool sounds good to me
9) ?
10) My Gordon Brown tax return has to be in by November & paid by February - along with making good U.S. toxic debt is why I am broke.

Seriously if we do a US skiing/ road trip next season- I'll try & fit it in - I would be looking for budget accomodation not necessarily in Resort.
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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!
Enjoyed your TR...interesting to see how others view CO...
Not sure if it is still on offer, but last month I reserved my unlimited Copper & Winter Park season pass with 6 days at Steamboat online for $399.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Awesome deal the Colorado Super Pass! Book your lodging with Winter Park Lodging by Owner by June 1st and get 20% off next ski season lodging.
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