For the past month, I’ve been looking for the “perfect” way and “perfect” day to end my ski season. On Friday, I found it at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado. Thanks to a cosmic convergence, my son’s sports schedule took us to Summit County during a week when this year’s crazy weather was not only seasonable, but snowfall was relatively abundant.
While neither the Pallavicini face nor Montezuma Bowl, nor really anything steep was open (not nearly enough coverage), the day was relatively cold, the snow was soft and fresh and it felt like February for most of the day. By 3:00 p.m., the snow on the lower runs was softening just a little — just enough to turn everyone into expert mogul skiers. But it was never slushy or sticky and well worth the effort. As I tweeted to a friend in the Denver area: Get Thee to A Basin.
Arapahoe Basin will stay open through May and into June conditions permitting, but for all intents and purposes, our season is now done. While we might find ourselves the beneficiaries of another cosmic convergence, the calendar is filling up with lacrosse games and other spring activities. So without further ado, here is my recap of this ski season’s one big low and several memorable highs.
Low Snow. As of yesterday, Colorado’s snowpack is at 37% of normal. Not only, but The Weather Channel has just informed me that today’s temperature is 25 degrees above normal. That’s just wrong. Given stats like these, it’s no surprise that the United States had a strange ski season. New England was dry and warm, as was California. The Pacific Northwest seems to have had some good numbers, while Canadians stockpiled snow in British Columbia. But for the most part, it was a stingy year.
That being said, we had some incredible days. The snowfall may have been sparse, but it still came. And while we all sustained core shots, we also enjoyed some superlative powder days. At some resorts, notably Heavenly and Alta, the expert terrain I wanted to sample wasn’t open when I visited, but I still had fun. I mean, any day skiing is better than a day doing most anything else, right?
1. New Experiences
Alta. Yes, you probably know we love skiing Utah. And we especially love skiing Alta. In December, we had the pleasure of staying up at Alta (rather than commuting back and forth from Salt Lake). While we had hoped for a big storm to close Little Cottonwood Canyon (the better to keep the powder for ourselves), it didn’t happen. Still, I have to say skiing and staying at one of the five Alta Lodges is a unique ski experience that you shouldn’t miss.
Heavenly. Visiting Lake Tahoe in winter was a new experience for me. In summer, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather swim — not the ocean, not the sea, not another lake and certainly not a swimming pool. The Tahoe water is that amazing. I was more skeptical about winter. Being a 5th generation Coloradoan, I’m loathe to leave the Rockies. Well, I was wrong. Rumors of “Sierra Cement” notwithstanding, I was impressed.
At first, I couldn’t really get a feel for Heavenly. Then I met Malcolm and John, two long-time locals who let me tag along. The more I skied with them, the more I liked the mountain. On my second day out, I got to ski with freeskiing legend Wayne Wong and his posse. While much of the expert terrain they pointed out was closed due to lack of snow, two days after a storm, we were still skiing powder. Amazing.
I hope I don’t get in trouble with my homies in Colorado for saying this, but I’m going back to Heavenly and taking the family. And next time, we’ll be visiting the north shore resorts, too.
2. New Skills
The Family Ski Lesson. While it almost killed our teenager to join us at Winter Park for a family bump lesson, in the end we all benefited. Not only did we each learn something, but we got a useful tour of the mountain and spent the rest of the season benefiting from the tips we memorized and practiced. One of the best benefits of a family lesson is that after the lessons ends, you can still help each other. Just tread gently and with a smile. It’s “constructive criticism,” right?
The Deck Lesson. Coming in March, an indoor lesson with Clendenin Ski Method was an unexpected bonus. Not only was it an efficient way to practice skills (and have a coach analyze turns), but it was fun. On the list for next season? A multi-day mogul camp with Johnny C.
3. New Tastes.
The Adult Lunch. Something you may already know about us, is that we’re cheap. With four people skiing between 40 and 50 days each season, we don’t often buy lunch. Instead, we pack in our pockets and we’re brown baggers extraordinaire. This season however, my husband and I did take the time one day at Snowmass to enjoy a proper, sit-down, knife and fork, cloth napkin, adult lunch at the Lynn Britt Cabin. The food was delicious. The atmosphere lovely, without being uptight, and in the end, we didn’t spend more than we might on a fancy night out. Once a season, an adult, upmarket lunch is worth the splurge. Sorry kids.
So there you have it. My quick and dirty list of some of the highlights of this ski season. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve never really had a bad ski day. This season was no different. In fact, I can’t wait to do it all over again next winter.
And by the way, the very best french fries of the season are the waffle fries served at Arapahoe Basin’s Black Mountain Lodge. You’ve still got time: Get Thee to A Basin.
What stands out in your mind about this past ski season? Highs? Lows? Wonderful family experiences? Great deals? New skills? Please share!
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