Winter Wonders

It’s April and spring has begun, which means it’s once again time to look at what sort of fun I had during the previous season. This post is actually half a month late because… I’ve been lazy about writing here. For winter, most of the fun I had was with skiing. I took my first flights since the COVID pandemic started and skied in Colorado for a week. Also skied in PNW. Here are the photo and video highlights.

Skiing down Harmony Ridge at Whistler Mountain

Like the last ski season, I purchased an Epic Local Pass, and set out to ski enough to make the pass worthwhile. I skied a few days at Stevens Pass and Whistler-Blackcomb. All of these are day trips, and I go to Whistler when I visit Vancouver. Whistler is so big that there are still parts of the resort, such as the Blackcomb Glacier, that I have not skied. Hoping I’ll still have a chance to get a spring ski day at Whistler.

Whistler Blackcomb Peak 2 Peak Gondola
First time I’ve ridden the Peak 2 Peak Gondola at Whistler in more than a decade

Stevens Pass weekday
Went to Stevens Pass on a non-holiday weekday. I have never seen this mountain so empty lol.

The highlight of my ski season was my week-long trip to Colorado. I flew there and skied the four Epic Pass resorts along the I-70 with a friend. We hit Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail (2 days), and Beaver Creek. It was a wonderful trip. Weather was cooperative for the most part, and we got a few bluebird days. All four resorts have plenty of skiable terrain and are memorable in their own way. Breckenridge has the highest altitude ski lift on the continent amongst its 5 peaks. Keystone had a Mardi Gras party in the its resort village when we visited. Vail is the flagship and largest resort in the state, and has its legendary back bowls and pretty swanky resort villages. And Beaver Creek is probably the most upscale of the bunch.

Skiing down the Imperial Ridge and Bowl from the Imperial Express Chair (highest ski lift in North America) at Breckenridge.

Breckenridge Peak 8 Base
Main base area below Peak 8 of Breckenridge, with this cool statue of Ullr, the Norse god of snow

Keystone facing Breckenridge
A nice view of Breckenridge in the distance, from a trail at Keystone

 

I definitely enjoyed skiing in Colorado. Would have been better if there was a little more snow, especially at Vail’s back bowls, but otherwise everything went well. I’m no expert skier by any means, but my skiing skills have improved over the previous season, and I can handle steep single black diamond trails if they are not too bumpy. Moguls are still a challenge. My toughest run during the ski trip was when my friend led me down a single black mogul run. I took a long time to get down and fell a couple of times, but I learned from that experience. I also skied my first double black diamond trails on this trip, but it was Breckenridge’s Imperial Bowl trails, and those are not really double blacks in terms of difficulty.

Vail Legendary Back Bowls
The Legendary Back Bowls of Vail. I skied them

Vail ski racer statue
Cool statue of a ski racer at the main base of Vail

Four Seasons Resort Vail Haute Chocolate
Going upscale with the après ski. Went to the Four Seasons Vail to try their famous $19 “haute chocolate”. Tasted pretty good, but you definitely pay for the luxury.

Beaver Creek
Heading down towards Beaver Creek’s resort village. Also first time I’ve seen a “chondola” (chair and gondola combo)

Beaver Creek resort village
The resort village at Beaver Creek is definitely upscale

In addition to skiing, we did some sightseeing, such as at the Loveland Pass. We also visited Leadville, which is the highest elevation city in the US. There are towns in Colorado that are at a higher elevation, but Leadville is the highest “city”. We visited the National Mining Museum and Hall of Fame located in Leadville. The Mining Museum is larger than we expected and has some really interesting exhibits. I especially liked the sets they had replicating conditions inside the mines. Of course, the shiny rocks and minerals were cool to look at too.

National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum fluorescent minerals
Shing fluorescent minerals under black light at the mining musuem.

National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum tunnel
A display showing the mining tunnels of the old days where they used donkeys to pull mine carts

The main reason we went to Leadville was to see the ski joring festival. Ski joring is a competition where a horse rider pulls a skiing along a snowy course, and the skier has to hit a number of jumps and collect some rings, all while trying to hang on the rope. A pretty good crowd showed up to the annual festival. It’s the first time I’ve seen or even heard of ski joring, and it was a fun event to witness. They should put this exciting event into the Winter Olympics. Would certainly help viewership.

A rider and skier pair charging towards the finish at the Leadville Ski Joring event.

I had a lot of fun on my Colorado ski trip. It was a good first trip after lifting of pandemic restrictions. There are still a lot more ski resorts in Colorado and elsewhere I want to visit, so will probably be getting another season pass for the next ski season.

Other than skiing, I spent the holidays in Canada with my folks, and helped them shovel some snow. We had a White Christmas, which is rare for the Vancouver area. During periods of good weather, I also visited some local parks. The highlights of that was visiting Seattle’s local zoo, the Woodland Park Zoo. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to a zoo. I like zoos when I was a kid, and Woodland Park Zoo was decent in terms of size and variety of animals it had.

Woodland Park Zoo giraffes
The giraffes at Woodland Park Zoo getting some treats

Woodland Park Zoo gorilla
The silverback gorilla is too cool to face the audience

That’s all the highlights for the 2021-2022 winter. The weather is getting warmer, and the daylight hours are getting longer, so I will probably start hiking and collecting shellfish. Canada has finally lifted it’s border COVID testing requirements, so it’s easier for me and my folks to travel across the border, and maybe we can finally do some family trips again. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll have a wonderful spring season as well.

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