Tag Archive | "skiing"

Mt. Bachelor: Size Matters

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Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

Mt. Bachelor, Oregon

By William Triplett

It’s difficult to look at Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor in all its glorious mass and think size doesn’t matter. With terrain falling from a summit of 9,065 feet and spreading out over nearly 3,700 skiable acres – rivaled only by maybe six other U.S. resorts – the effect can be alternately inspiring and intimidating. A total of 88 runs may not be huge (Vail, for instance, has 193), but each one seems to go on forever, including one that stretches 3.5 miles. And when I was there late last March, each one I skied seemed virtually empty. There’s a lot of mountain to go around for everybody.

Still relatively little-known outside the Pacific Northwest, Mt. Bachelor, on the eastern edges of the Central Cascades, isn’t your typical destination ski spot. There are no sleeping accommodations either on-mountain or at the base. Best place to bunk is about 20 miles away, in Bend – and that turns out to be an advantage in at least two ways.

One, most of that 20 miles is a loping highway through the Deschutes National Forest, full of pines, hemlocks and some dramatic rock formations, all of which make the drive go by not just quickly but scenically. Two, Bend is at lower elevation, and in the springtime it’s balmy and full of things to see/do in normal clothes. Hit the slopes in the morning, and in less than half an hour be back at your hotel wondering where to sit outside to have lunch. Or maybe go play nine holes on one of 26 golf courses in the area.

Or, as I did my first day there, just stay at the mountain, chow down at one of the several eateries, and take on some more runs. Trails are slightly tilted toward advanced/expert skiers – 60 percent are black or double black diamond. But the remaining 40 percent for intermediates and novices are likely to keep them busy quite a while. Me, I tend to stay on blue or double blue, with an occasional single black diamond if it doesn’t look too terrifying.

But a note for extreme adrenaline junkies: You can ski 360 degrees off the summit, taking any of the more than a dozen double black diamonds that essentially reserve the crown of the mountain for you. And cross-country buffs: 35 miles of trails await you. Did I say this place was big?

If I skied the same trail twice all day, I didn’t notice. And yet, as large as the place is, I found different parts of the mountain extremely accessible mostly because of numerous cat tracks allowing easy traverses from one area to another. The many treelined chutes and turns are not only fun but help preserve shade on the snow as the sun bears down during the afternoon – no small thing in spring. Because of its eastern location in the Cascades, Mt. Bachelor gets a fairly dry snowfall during the regular season; conditions I encountered were classic spring corn, as good as pretty much anything I’d experienced in Colorado or Utah that time of year.

Next day I wasn’t so lucky. A quick, unexpected warm-up generated some heavy fog, including one lengthy whiteout and even some rain. Them’s the breaks with spring skiing, though I later learned this was highly unusual for Mt. Bachelor. With its size and elevation, the place almost has its own weather system. And when the fog and rain were gone, it was back to seemingly endless carving and schussing under blue skies.

Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon

The Bend area at large is an outdoors-enthusiast’s version of heaven. In addition the golf, there’s rock climbing, mountain biking, white water rafting, fly-fishing (the 2012 national fly-fishing competition was held in Bend), hiking, and more – along with about 300 days of sunny skies every year. Downtown Bend has its own mountain-hip atmosphere emanating from a four or five block stretch along the two parallel main drags – Wall and Bond Streets. Boutique shops featuring many locally made products, from pottery to jewelry, are nestled among charming restaurants. One of the finest luthiers in America – Breedlove Guitars – is also in Bend; the factory tour is well worth the time.

Overall, my favorite place to hang was Cafe Sintra on Bond, where I could sit on a sofa with a fresh pot of tea and read amid locally made artworks adorning the walls. Not that I ignored the more than 10 microbreweries in Bend. I sampled as many as I could, and was not disappointed once.

Places to stay abound. I settled into the Pine Ridge Inn, which overlooks the Deschutes River and is maybe two quick turns off the highway that runs straight to Mt. Bachelor. Pine Ridge is a luxury rustic lodge with a contemporary – and very welcoming – feel. Balcony views of the river are stunning. But there are all sorts of hotels, motels, B&Bs, camp grounds, and RV parks available as well, all catering to a wide range of budgets.

So, a trip to Mt. Bachelor is really a two-fer: That incredible mountain, and then the Bend experience. You’ll likely need to rent a car, but that’s a small price to pay compared to the enormous good time you can have.

Visit Mt. Bachelor

William Triplett is the former DC bureau chief for Variety. Triplett has written about various destinations, from Scotland’s Inverness and Paris’s Pere Lachaise Cemetery to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and the Beatles’ old haunts in Hamburg. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Baltimore Sun,and Capital Style.

William Triplett is the former DC bureau chief for Variety. Triplett has written about various destinations, from Scotland’s Inverness and Paris’s Pere Lachaise Cemetery to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and the Beatles’ old haunts in Hamburg. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Baltimore Sun,and Capital Style.

Stratton: Classic Vermont Skiing

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By Stevenson Swanson

Stratton’s reputation for wide, open trails did not really hit me until my son and I stood at the top of the Sunriser Supertrail during a late-winter weekend visit to this classic southern Vermont ski resort.

d4ba6cbd4b904bebb3aec2110ee6bafcTo my eye, the grand boulevard of Sunriser appeared to be as wide as a football field is long. A cautious skier, determined to use the whole trail to keep his speed under control, could start at the top on opening day and slide to a stop at the bottom on the last patch of snow in the spring.

But at least the trail did not feel crowded during Stratton’s New Orleans-themed Marchdi Gras festival (scheduled for Mar. 28 this year), one of its biggest late-season events. Even as many ski areas start to wind down for the year, Stratton turns March into a continuous party. In addition to Marchdi Gras, the month features the Vermont Open Snowboard and Music Festival (Mar. 12-15) and the “24 Hours of Stratton” family carnival on Mar. 21-22.

Cutting up the powder at Stratton.

Cutting up the powder at Stratton.

Stratton’s appeal for families is easy to understand. With nearly three-quarters of its trails qualifying as beginner or intermediate, it is well suited as a place to learn and hone one’s skiing abilities. That still leaves room for single- and double-black diamond pitches near the top of Stratton Mountain, which, at 3,875 feet, is the highest peak in southern Vermont.

Among the green trails was one I welcomed: a glade called Daniel’s Web. The romance of gliding through snowy woods has long appealed to me. But glades at most ski areas are black diamonds. That’s understandable, given the likely winner of any collision involving a human and a tree. But how are you supposed to develop as a glade skier if there aren’t some easier tree trails in which to thrash about?

Judging by my experience in Daniel’s Web, I’ll have to find many more glades where the ratio of trees to trail is heavily tilted toward the trail before I can move up to more challenging glades, but I’m happy to have made the close acquaintance of some very substantial birches and pines.

Open since 1961 and counting novelist Pearl S. Buck among its original investors, Stratton has undertaken a $21 million program of upgrades and additions in the last two years.

85c210b8021d42959ee024fb2974f374Prime among them is the $3 million replacement of the original 1988 gondola lift. The new gondola cabins, which hold 12 passengers, have a rubber-mounted frame that is intended to provide a smooth ride during the eight minutes it takes to climb from the base to the peak.

As a member of the Intrawest group of ski areas, which includes Whistler and Tremblant, Stratton’s base area has that Intrawest instant-village feel, with a pedestrian walkway that winds past upscale storefronts, including new shops and restaurants that were added during the capital improvement program.

e92182e9bb0f44e0bb257e19bc58afffWith accommodations at the mountain, you could easily stay, ski, shop and steel yourself with food and drink without venturing beyond Stratton. But this part of the Granite State has other temptations. For one, Bromley Mountain Ski Resort is close at hand if you’re seeking a change of terrain.

And Manchester, the largest nearby town, offers a variety of lodging choices and an array of arts-and-crafts shops, at the heart of which is the Northshire Bookstore, a sprawling bastion of the printed word. The restaurant scene is lively and varied, too, including Bistro Henry, which offers an eclectic mix of steak, seafood and bistro comfort dishes.

The choice is yours—go for the full Stratton on-mountain experience, or mix skiing with a sample of Vermont village life.

For more information, visit Stratton Mountain Ski Resort.

 

Stevenson Swanson is a former National Correspondent for The Chicago Tribune.

Exclusive Powder at Beaver Creek

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Beaver Creek, Colorado

Beaver Creek, Colorado

Story & photos by David McKay Wilson

Vail and Beaver Creek will become the center of the ski world in early February when the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships return to the Colorado Rockies for 14 days of ski racing and partying. My son and I visited the resorts – just 11 miles apart on I-70 – in mid-December as an electronic sign at Beaver Creek’s entry counted down the hours until the opening ceremonies.

We met up in the mountains after he’d completed his first term in college, and I’d found a way to thrive, for yet another year, in the trenches of daily newspaper journalism. There’s nothing like a few days in the mountains to reconnect, and recharge. As my sons grow older, there are fewer pursuits we can enjoy together. Skiing remains one activity that can captivate us for days.

We’d rolled the dice on a pre-Christmas ski vacation, uncertain if the snow gods would do their light and fluffy thing so early in the season. As luck would have it, they delivered. We hit it just right, arriving on Monday, just after 17 inches of snow had fallen. A day later Beaver Creek opened Grouse Mountain for the season, with more than three feet of powder for the taking that memorable morning floating down Bald Eagle and Raven Ridge. We finished up the week at Vail, which was awash in powder in the Back Bowls, with ample swaths of fresh snow welcoming us a week after the major storm.

We cavorted in Siberia Bowl, finding deep snow in Gorky Park and making graceful turns through the trees in the Shangri-La Glade. Even the boulder fields off the top of Blue Sky Basin on Steep and Deep had enough coverage in mid-December.

“I could ski these bowls all week,” my son declared. “There are so many lines to ski, and so much snow.” The powder alerts from Vail on my phone following our visit provided prodigious evidence that Colorado was in for a fabulous 2015: twelve inches on Dec. 22, eleven inches on Dec. 23, eight inches on Dec. 26 and another inches on Dec. 27.

 

Luke in the powder at Beaver Creek.

Luke in the powder at Vail.

This was good news for Vail Resorts, one of the world’s biggest ski companies, which owns 11 ski resorts, including Vail and Beaver Creek. The publicly traded company bills itself as “the premier mountain resort company in the world and a leader in luxury destination-based travel at iconic locations.”
We’d arrived in Beaver Creek, just a week after the company had announced that its most recent purchase – Park City Mountain Resort in Utah – would merge in 2016 with its adjacent Canyons resort to form the world’s largest ski area, with 7,300 acres of skiable terrain. Vail Resorts plans to connect the resorts with a gondola, as part of its $50 million investment in the merger over the coming year.

Flights were too expensive into nearby Eagle/Vail, so we took the 6:30 a.m. United flight to Denver out of New York City, and were on the mountain skiing by 1:45 p.m., after stopping at Christy Sports to rent a pair of Rossignol Soul 7s for my son. We stayed in Beaver Creek, in a well-appointed Highlands Slopeside condominium, one of 230 managed by East West Resorts. Slopeside meant we could ski down to the lifts in the morning, and find our way down from the Buckaroo Gondola at days end. Staying at the Slopeside gave us privileges at Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt, which featured an outdoor pool and hot tub, with a warm waterfall of steamy water that fell ever so gently on my tired shoulders.

Highlands Slopeside, one of the many condoes managed by East West at Beaver Creek.

Highlands Slopeside, one of the many condos managed by East West at Beaver Creek.

After my soak, I had a glass of Fat Tire Ale at the Park Hyatt bar, where I met Dr. Kelly Grimes, a physician from Fort Worth who was settling in with his family for a few days on the mountain, which included a sleigh ride up the mountain to a cabin for dinner one night, and a day of snowmobiling with Vail Valley Tours later in the week.

“This place is off the chain,” he said.

Beaver Creek is one of those exclusive resort towns constructed in the mountains, set off from the town, which you enter through a guarded gate. There’s a bit of a Disney World feel, with many of the buildings connected with underground tunnels, a high-end boutique shops in the ski village, and chocolate chip cookies served each day at 3:30 p.m. Its winding roads on the mountainside don’t lend themselves to walking in the winter, but the Beaver Creek free transportation system is a charm. We were on the Eastern Route, which came around every 20 minutes or so.

The author enjoying freshies at Vail.

The author enjoying freshies at Vail.

But you could call for your own free ride to anywhere within the resort by calling Dial-A-Ride, which came promptly during the pre-Christmas lull. I was warned they can take longer during busy holiday weeks.
There are ample opportunities for fine dining – both on the mountain and in town. Our best dinner came one night at Maya, a Richard Sandoval restaurant at the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa, just outside the gates of Beaver Creek, in Avon. I’d worked up a mighty thirst on the slopes, which was slaked with a mango margarita. Our waitress made us two guacamoles at the table – one with bacon, and another with tuna tartare. My entrée was divine: chipotle rubbed salmon, with lacinto kale and sweet potato puree.

At Vail, we skied to The 10th, in Mid-Vail for lunch in the resort’s sit-down restaurant, where you take off your boots and put on a pair of slippers, and order from menu. I found sustenance in a cup of steaming hot chocolate, the tomato-filled minestrone soup and a tasty grilled panini.

The race stands are ready for the fans at Beaver Creek.

The race stands are ready for the fans at Beaver Creek.

Parking at Vail can be expensive, so we did as the locals do: we parked on North Frontage Road in West Vail, and hopped on the free bus from the stop by the Safeway grocery sore to the Sandstone stop. We lugged our skis across the walking bridge spanning I-70 and jumped on the lift at Lionshead.

Vail/Beaver Creek could get busy come early February, when skiers from more than 70 nations descend on the two ski towns for the world championships, which were last here in 1999. Hopes are high for the hometown gals, Lindsey Vonn and Michaela Shiffrin. Beaver Creek has emerged at the United States’ premier alpine ski racing venue, with the annual Birds of Prey downhill race. In February, there will be 11 events over two weeks, with all but one of the races in Beaver Creek. The awards ceremonies, and the evening free, and ticketed, concerts, meanwhile, will be in Vail. The races will be held off the Birds of Prey lift, so the rest of the resorts trails won’t be affected by the races. Spectators can watch the races for free – either in the temporary stands that went up in December, on by hiking up the hill and watching trailside.

Visit Beaver Creek

David McKay Wilson, a veteran journalist who lives in New York's Hudson Valley, is an avid cyclist, skier and swing dancer. His travel writing has taken him around the world, with his work appearing in the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Hartford Courant, and several Gannett daily newspapers.

David McKay Wilson, a veteran journalist who lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, is an avid cyclist, skier and swing dancer. His travel writing has taken him around the world, with his work appearing in the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Hartford Courant, and several Gannett daily newspapers.

The Ultimate Ski Resort Guide to Plan Your Perfect Trip

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Tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

By Larry Olmsted

Colorado’s ski season is off to a tremendous start, Utah is catching up and Tahoe is finally shaking off the snow shortage of the past two seasons and returning to its normal deep, white conditions. Early pre-Christmas snow across New England helped kick off the winter in style in Vermont and New Hampshire, and more is on the way. For skiers and snowboarders the season is off to a great start, and as usual, a lot of friends and acquaintances have been calling or emailing me with the same questions I get around this time every year, “Where should I go for my ski vacation?” or “What’s the best ski resort?”

Continue reading …

 

Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Midmountain Majesty at Telluride’s Chic Madeline Hotel

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Hotel Madeline, Telluride

Hotel Madeline, Telluride

By Everett Potter

Telluride is Hollywood’s idea of a Western ski town. Thanks to a late 19th-century silver boom, it is packed with ornate clapboard Victorian homes, most of them in a National Historic Landmark District. The backdrop of jagged mountain peaks is as dramatic as anything this side of the Swiss Alps, while the ski mountain has legendary steeps and bump runs–The Plunge looks like a giant overturned egg carton on a nosebleed-inducing incline–that rival those at Jackson Hole.

Continue reading …

Active Travels: What’s New in the New England Après-Ski Scene

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plate_booth

Plate in Stowe, Vermont

By Steve Jermanok

There’s very little “new” in New England and that’s just the way we like it. We’re proud of our history in this little corner of the country, including home to some of the oldest ski resorts in the nation. After all, we’re the hearty bunch who still cherishes the single chair at Vermont’s Mad River Glen. Yes, we’ll happily embrace the new heated bubble chair at Okemo this winter, but we like our predictability. This is especially true of the après-ski scene, where we’ve been going to the same bars and restaurants for years, if not decades. That’s why it’s always a surprise when a new restaurant comes on the scene and creates a buzz in town. This is exactly what happened in Stowe this past March when the small eatery Plate made its debut. Los Angeles natives Jamie Persky and Mark Rosman create a Californian mix of salads made from local produce and meat dishes like a pork belly and egg appetizer. Local microbrews like Lost Nation Brewery from Morrisville are on tap and their signature dessert, the banana pudding, is already receiving rave reviews.

To read about other new restaurants close to ski areas in New England, see my latest story for Liftopia.
Steve Jermanok Working as a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, contributing editor at Budget Travel, and regular contributor for The Boston Globe, Men’s Journal, and Yankee Magazine, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1500 articles on 80 countries. He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. With his wife, Lisa Leavitt, Steve launched a boutique travel agency, ActiveTravels.com, in May 2012. His clientele includes many people in the travel business, including Steve Kaufer, founder of TripAdvisor (designed his honeymoon to Turkey), and Mark Snider, owner of The Winnetu Resort on Martha’s Vineyard and The Nantucket Hotel on Nantucket. You can follow him @ActiveTravels

Steve Jermanok Working as a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, contributing editor at Budget Travel, and regular contributor for The Boston Globe, Men’s Journal, and Yankee Magazine, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1500 articles on 80 countries. He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. With his wife, Lisa Leavitt, Steve launched a boutique travel agency, ActiveTravels.com, in May 2012. His clientele includes many people in the travel business, including Steve Kaufer, founder of TripAdvisor (designed his honeymoon to Turkey), and Mark Snider, owner of The Winnetu Resort on Martha’s Vineyard and The Nantucket Hotel on Nantucket. You can follow him @ActiveTravels

 

The Peak of Alpine Chic in Courchevel

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L'Apogee in Courchevel, France

L’Apogee in Courchevel, France

L’Apogée is the latest rarefied resort to open in Courchevel, that lair of ski-happy oligarchs in the French Alps that’s often dubbed Moscow-on-Snow. It’s situated in Courchevel 1850, the glamour-puss of the resort’s four villages (the number refers to the altitude in meters), an otherworldly locale where the sidewalks seem to sprout Parisian fashion designers and English celebrities, all jostling with those Russian magnates. This is the place, after all, that hired Karl Lagerfeld last year to give one of its cable cars a “makeover.”

Read  more at ForbesLife …

The Billionaire Who Bought Taos Ski Valley

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Hiking up Kachina Peak at Taos Ski Valley

Hiking up Kachina Peak at Taos Ski Valley

By Everett Potter

When hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon bought northern New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley (TSV) in December 2013, it baffled many in the ski world. Twenty miles outside the latter-day-hippie redoubt of Taos itself, TSV is arguably the least likely major U.S. ski resort to attract a highflier’s attention. It’s not a posh haven like Deer Valley or Beaver Creek but a none-too-chic outlier with an architectural hodgepodge of aging condos and ersatz alpine chalets. And its visitor base–it’s been drawing the same dedicated families for decades–likes it just the way it is.

Continue reading …

Colorado: The Best Week of Skiing Ever

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Copper Mountain, Colorado

Copper Mountain, Colorado

David McKay Wilson

When you have the best day of skiing, ever, on the first day of a six-day romp through the Colorado Rockies in mid-February, what do you to top that?

You have the best week of skiing ever.

That was my conclusion after skiing Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge and Winter Park over six days. The snow was deep, the air crisp, and it kept snowing, night after night, day after day.

It was a week that tested my 60-year-old legs against the likes of my two sons, 15 and 17, and godson, age 25. I chased them all week – across the back bowls of Copper Mountain, down the steeps at A-Basin, and through the fresh powder fields at Breckenridge, where the northern wind blew a gale.

It was the third consecutive year that the four of us had ventured out West for our Mancation in the mountains – to challenge ourselves on the toughest terrain we could find, endure the brutal weather that can unfold at 12,000 feet, and kick back together after a day on the slopes.

On the sixth day, on a blustery afternoon at Winter Park, with the snow still plentiful on the Mary Jane Chutes, my sons were back at the Olympia Motel, finishing up their homework in recompense for playing hooky for three days. I skied until 4 p.m. and declared victory.

The snow all week was bountiful. It began dumping in Colorado in early December, and hadn’t stopped, setting the stage for spectacular spring skiing.

At the offices of Colorado Ski Country, they had to reconfigure it website to allow three digits in the base-depths because so resorts many had more than 100 inches piled up at their mid-mountain measuring sticks.

“Mother Nature has been very kind this year,” said Jen Rudolph, of Colorado Ski Country. “Now we’re waiting for the next round of announcements, to see who will extend their closing date. I skied last year on Mother’s Day at A-Basin. It was my best Mother’s Day ever.”

Copper Mountain

Our first stop, at Copper Mountain, just off I-70 in Summit County, about two hours west of Denver International Airport,  provided a glimpse at the snowfall bonanza, and the deals to be had this year. Along with discount tickets at Liftopia.com, Copper has a $99 pass Snow Day promotion that provided a ticket on Super Bowl Sunday, Copper’s closing day, and any day in which the mountain had reported at least four inches of powder. By mid-February, there’d been 18.

We felt like heroes on our first runs at Copper. It was one of those bluebird days, with the brilliant sun revealing the majestic Tenmile Range, and three inches of light, luscious powder providing the perfect float for our rockered skies, including the pair of demo Rossi Soul 7’s my son rented from Christy Sports in Copper, and returned five days later in Breckenridge.

Far above timber line, the vast bowls of Copper were in perfect shape. So were the glades, where stashes of powder abounded through openings in the lodge-pole pines in the appropriately named Enchanted Forest.  Over on the Super Bee, where the US Olympic Ski Team did its speed work in December, I did my Ted Ligety imitation as I cranked up my GS turns to see just how fast I could go. It was plenty fast.

While I relaxed after dinner in our fifth-floor two-bedroom unit at the Passage Point lodging, the boys headed over to Woodward at Copper, the indoor facility with jumps, trampolines, and foam pits where you can work on your inverted snowboard and skiing tricks.  A word of warning: a slip-up at the facility can put you on the shelf for a day, as it did to my god son, who turned his ankle on the trampoline and sat out a day to let it heal.

Deep powder in Colorado this winter.

Deep powder in Colorado this winter.

Arapahoe Basin

On Day 3, we headed to Arapahoe Basin, the down-home mountain in Summit County that calls itself “The Legend,” which recalls its early days in the mid-1940s, and its reputation for some of Colorado’s longest lasting alpine conditions. A-Basin typically stays open past Memorial Day, when the tailgating gets serious along The Beach – the front row spots in the parking lot that can be reserved for up to $175 a day. A-Basin maintains a strong audience among the locals who snap up $299 adult season tickets and $99 for kids up to 14. A three-day adult pass was $139.

With no lodging at A-Basin, we stayed five miles down the road at the Keystone Resort, in a spacious two-bedroom  at the Sundance Manor Condos, with a well-equipped kitchen that helped for the Italian dish I whipped up for the young lads. I felt like I was doing the time warp at the Sundance, which featured two cassette boom-boxes, preserved in their 1980s splendor, in a glass cabinet. I need to bring my cassettes next year!

The opening of the Montezuma Bowl in 2007 increased the area’s terrain by 80 percent, and provides groomers for intermediates and steep chutes and cornices from those looking for a launching pad. On our visit, however, the wind was blowing a gale, leaving an unforgiving hard-pack. So we skied the front side, cavorting down the natural half-pipe on Humbug, and discovering the wonders of Pallavincini, the world-renowned run with bumps galore, and a steep pitch that tested my legs.

While making my deliberate turns, an A-Basin hot-shot straight-lined it down the edge, in a blur.

“That’s a whole different game,” remarked a fellow skier.

On a ski vacation, it’s always good to splurge, at least once, for lunch on the mountain. That day came to A-Basin, at 6th Alley, its $1 million addition, where I quaffed my thirst with a Bacon Bloody Mary, and chowed down on a savory pork stew. The boys, meanwhile, devoured mac n’ cheese with roasted tomatoes, a calzone stuffed with exotic cheese, and waffle chicken sandwich that took two hands to eat.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge

We arrived under the portico at One Ski Hill Place at Breckenridge before sunset, just as the snow began to swirl again. Open in 2010 by Rock Resorts, the 88-unit condo complex at the base of Breckenridge’s Peak 8 provides a state-of-the-art experience on slope-side skiing. The spiffy kitchen was all Bosch, the master bathroom had steam piped into the shower, and the complex’s two-lane bowling alley reminded me of grand hotel I stayed at 30 years ago in Arosa in the Swiss Alps.

Having a place on the mountain at Peak 8 is the ultimate in luxury. There’s no need for transport, as you walk to the lift, can dine at The Living Room, and even come back on lunch to make sandwiches. There’s a free gondola downtown, where you can walk to groceries at City Market, or procure some over-the-counter medication for your sore legs at the Breckenridge Cannabis Club.

The snow Gods were with us again. We awoke to six inches to a foot of fresh powder, with the snow coming down sideways. It was downright cold – 5 degrees and 40 mile-an-hour gusts. So we layered up, and headed up for the powder day of our dreams. We skied Peak 8 early, finding untouched powder eight inches deep on Cresendo. We hit it straight down the lift line on Spruce, strutting our stuff for the early morning crowd. Then it was up the T-Bar to Horseshoe Bowl, and then Contest Bowl, where the boys found a lip through the trees which they launched.

Skiing the powder at Breckenridge

Skiing the powder at Breckenridge, Colorado

While they did laps on Peak 10 through the glaes called Windows, I explored a run called Devil’s Crotch, where I found my rhythm on the steep, undulating terrain. Later that day we made it out to Peak 6, the new addition to Breckenridge, where the six-pack Kensho Super Chair ensured that the wait wasn’t long. We hiked briefly up to the Beyond Bowl, where peaks jutted up to more than 13,000 feet, and we made fresh tracks with ease down Elysian Fields, and Daydream.

The day ended with a soak in the outdoor hot tub, and a treat my Dad – an inveterate skier who instilled the love of the sport all through my childhood – would have savored: a shot of Breckenridge single barrel Bourbon Whiskey, straight up.

Skiing Winter Park, Colordao

Skiing Winter Park, Colordao

Winter Park

Our last stop was Winter Park, ski area owned by the city of Denver, and operated by Intrawest since 2002, which you reach by crossing the Continental Divide over Berthoud Pass on US Route 40. We stayed at the Olympia Motel, a no-frills economy hostelry popular with Coloradans that had all 40 rooms sold out during our stay.

From the Olympia, you are within walking distance of a dozen restaurants, including the Library Sports Grille and Brewery, where I guzzled the Winter Park Ale, a hoppy salute to the mountain village at 9,800 feet, and the boys devoured hamburger platters brimming with French fries.

If you are staying in town, take the free shuttle to the mountain. You won’t like the walk from the lot to the resort. We skied Winter Park on Sunday, and got a taste of Colorado weekend skiing – it can get mobbed.

We skied the Super Glade Express, down the soft bumps on Sterling Way. There was plenty of snow in the woods, and as I skied alone for the first time all week, ventured into glades far denser than I had in the whole trip. I took it slow, side-slipping through one particularly tight chute. It was quiet in the woods. I drank it in.

There was four inches in the parking lot at the Olympia on Sunday morning. We had a 3:45 flight p.m. flight, and contemplated grabbing a few runs before embarking for DIA. But we’d heard stories about driving back to Denver on I-70 on Sunday. So we enjoyed our continental breakfast of bagels and pastries at the Olympia, and began 65-mile drive to DIA, which took us about two hours, as we crossed the Berthoud Pass. We ogled the back country skiers and their lines down the steep chutes. We crawled along the bumper-to-bumper to traffic I-70 for 20 miles.

And we began planning for another Mancation in 2015.

http://www.breckenridge.com/

http://www.winterparkresort.com/

http://www.arapahoebasin.com/Abasin/Default.aspx

http://www.coppercolorado.com/winter/index.html

http://www.liftopia.com/

 

DW-300x268 (2)   David McKay Wilson has written on travel over the past 30 years as a freelance journalist, with his travel stories appearing in The Boston GlobePhiladelphia InquirerHartford CourantNew Haven Advocate, and Gannett News Service. An avid cyclist and skier, Wilson enjoys vacationing in the mountains and by the sea. His articles on public affairs have appeared regularly in The New York Times. He’s currently the nation’s top freelance writer for university alumni magazines, with his work appearing in publications at 81 colleges and universities, including Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown and the University of Chicago.

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Apres-Ski Dining Favorites in New England

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Apres ski dining in New England

Apres ski dining at Solstice Restaurant in Stowe, Vermont

For my latest Liftopia blog, I was asked to divulge my favorite après-ski dining choices in New England. After a day of hitting the slopes, I’m not content with a beer and a hot tub. No, my body craves a good meal. I’ve made it a habit to find the finest places in town to dine. They run the gamut from casual pizza joints to innovative continental cuisine.

At the base of Stowe, Stowe Mountain Lodge went overboard to use as much indigenous wares as possible, so there’s real Vermont birch twisting around the columns and the marble on stairs leading to the bar comes from Lake Champlain. The resort also prides itself on using local produce. At Solstice Restaurant, expect Vermont-based artisanal cheeses, microbrewed ales, and locally farmed vegetables and meats.
For skiers heading to Okemo, a favorite in Ludlow is DJ’s. You have to love a place that still features a salad bar in this day and age, included in the price of an entrée. Grab a booth and get ready to dig into the chicken marsala, salmon, and ravioli dishes. Best yet, they have my favorite Vermont ale on tap, Switchback.
For a town with a year-round population hovering around 1300, there are a surprising number of good dinner options at Loon. Start at the mother and son run Gypsy Café on Main Street. The eclectic menu features Indian-style chicken samosas, Middle Eastern lamb loin dipped in the best hummus this side of Tel Aviv, Mexican fajitas, and a spicy Thai red curry duck. Wash it down with one of their strong margaritas and you’ll understand why the place feels so festive.
Started in 1998, the Flatbread Company now owns ten pizzerias from Maui to Whistler. Yet, it’s their locale in North Conway, near Cranmore Ski Area, that has the Granite State all abuzz. Maybe it’s the Zen-like ambiance with all those Tibetan designs and the massive wood-fired clay oven plopped down in the center of the room. But I happen to think it’s the Coevolution, topped with roasted red peppers, red onions, olives, goat cheese, garlic, and mozzarella. Much of the produce is from local organic farms and you can taste the difference.
In Bethel, Maine, you can usually find me at Sud’s Pub after a day of skiing Sunday River, downing one of the 29 beers on tap. Located inside the Sudbury Inn, start with the hot Sudbury wings or a cup of tasty clam chowder. Then choose between the burgers, pizzas, or entrees like grilled sirloin tips or blackened salmon. Happy dining!
steve  Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.

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