Saturday, March 10, 2007

Skiing Vail for the first time

I've been in Colorado for over ten years but never skied Vail. I raced my mountain bike there one time back in September, 1992 but never felt a strong desire to ski the mountain since the prices seemed quite high and the drive from Denver was an hour longer than going to Summit County to ski.

This winter my friend Bryce finally convinced me to ski there and we finally committed to going up Sunday, March 4th. Bryce had already skied there about ten times for the ski season since he considered it by far the best skiing close to the Front Range.

To get there for plenty of morning skiing we had to leave Boulder at 6 AM. Bryce picked me up in his car and we took off by 6:15. We were in Vail around 8:30 AM after about a hundred miles of driving.

Parking was a little tough to find since garage parking close to the mountain cost around ten dollars. We drove around a little bit and found a parking lot off a frontage road north of I-70.

The hike from the car to ticket area and lifts was about a half mile and was a little tough in ski boots but we made it to one of the base areas by 9 AM.

Ticket prices were eighty-five dollars. Since Bryce had the Colorado Pass for the season I was able to get a discount from him swiping his card at the ticket window, which made my ticket cost a more manageable sixty-seven dollars.

Since there had been a substantial snow storm a few days before and the season was turning out nicely for snowpack levels, the mountain had plenty of snow.

The mountain has the most acreage out of any ski resort in Colorado so a day's worth of skiing will make it hard for anyone to hit more than thirty percent of the terrain.

Since it was my first day to ski Vail, Bryce asked me where I wanted to ski on the mountain based on personal recommendations made by him. We skied the western-most trails of the mountain for the first hour and then made it to the infamous Vail back bowls for the rest of the morning. By noon we had made it all the way out to Blue Sky Basin, which is the furthest distance out from the main resort.

I had a blast exploring the mountain. It was quite nice to have someone who'd skied there before to show me around. The highlights were definitely the back bowls: Sun Down, Sun Up, and China Bowl. Blue Sky Basin was also quite good although it was more tree skiing. I did get lost from Bryce doing the Skree Field trail run. We finally met up again on the top of the front mountain near Patrol Headquarters.

Altogether, a very fine day.

Skiing on the western side of the front moutain at the start of the day

On top of the front mountain near Patrol headquarters