Winding Down Winter

Once again it is time to post on this little blog about what I’ve been up to for the past season. This was an activity-filled winter for me. I went on a big ski trip to Colorado, drove all the way around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, and did a bunch of other stuff. Here are the highlights with photos and videos.

At the top of Burnt Mountain within Snowmass Ski Resort. Hike to the top was short, but wasn’t easy given the slippery slope and doing it in ski boots while carrying my skis and poles (click to enlarge)

Colorado Ski Trip

Before hitting the slopes, we checked out snow sculptures at the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

My biggest winter outing was a ski trip out to Colorado. I made a ski trip to Colorado 2 years ago, and that was 5 days of skiing the resorts owned by Vail under the Epic Pass. This season I have the Ikon Pass, and the goal was to hit all of Ikon’s Colorado resorts during the trip. The goal was accomplished by skiing 9 different ski areas in 10 days (9.5 days, since last day was a half day).

Skiing down Elk Camp at Snowmass
Bluebird skiing at Aspen Highlands
At Loge Peak at Aspen Highlands. The bowl in the background is the famous Highland Bowl. I didn’t make the hike because my legs were sore after the first day.

The first stop of the trip was Aspen, the famed isolated ski town that’s known for being expensive and a hangout for the rich and famous. Aspen has 4 separate ski areas (Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass), each with its own characteristics and charm. The weather was sunny during our time in Aspen and there wasn’t any new snow, but they do a really good job grooming their runs with the snow they had. I was able to hit 45 mph at Buttermilk which is the fastest I’ve ever gone on skis. The nice weather also meant we were able to see the excellent views from the resort mountain tops, particularly towards the famous Maroon Bells peaks.

The famous mid mountain après-ski party at Cloud Nine Bistro on Aspen Highlands. Thousands of dollars of champagne were sprayed.
There is a gong with a dragon at one of the peaks within Buttermilk. Nice view of Pyramid Peak in the back
Skiing down from the top of Burnt Mountain at Snowmass, through the Long Shot trail with some bumps and trees.
View of Aspen towards Aspen Mountain, from the top of the Aspen Art Museum

As for Aspen the town itself, it a town that caters to the rich, with its share of luxury shops and hotels. It also have a lot of interesting art galleries presumably trying to sell art to the wealthy clientele, and those were interesting to check out. I shared hotels with my friend and we booked early, so hotel costs weren’t too bad, but the food was definitely on the pricier side. Aspen is a historic town and not quite a resort village like Vail or Beaver Creek, but there are no chain restaurants, and the cheapest food option is buying from the lone supermarket or drive a little out of town.

Skiing down Aspen Mountain right into Aspen.

After 4 days in Aspen, we drove 3 hours to the north to Steamboat Springs, aka Ski Town USA. It’s another isolated ski town in the mountains. Colorado skiing is all pricey these days, but Steamboat Springs is not quite as pricey as Aspen. The main resort in town is the Steamboat Ski Resort, a large resort known for its tree skiing. We skied there two days during weekend days, and it was much busier compared to Aspen’s ski areas. Unlike the rest of the trip, we got one snowy powder day at Steamboat, which made things interesting and more difficult both on the slopes and on the drive back to I-70.

The base area of Steamboat Ski Resort
Seating in front of one of the mid-mountain lodges at Steamboat.
Steamboat isn’t the only ski area in Steamboat Springs. The city-owned Howelsen Hill is the oldest continuously operating ski area in North America.

The remaining 4 days of the skiing was spent in the 4 Ikon ski areas that are along the I-70 and closer to Denver. We skied at Copper Mountain, Eldora, Winter Park and Arapahoe Basin.

Bluebird ski day at Copper Mountain. Still some powder left from prior day’s snowfall.
Eldora is a small (by western standards) ski area close to Denver. The view from the lodge at the top is still pretty good though.
Winter Park, a big ski resort that is close to Denver
Arapahoe Basin. This is the only resort that I have visited before. Was here almost 6 years ago when I was in Denver for a conference. I fell all over the place on the blue trails back then. No troubles with the blues this time around.

The trip was a fun and memorable experience, but 10 consecutive days of skiing was pretty grueling and my body was sore and beat up at the end. I don’t think I’ll plan another trip where I have to ski 10 days in a row again. Probably a max 6 consecutive days of skiing in the future.

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