It was 2:30 in the afternoon and snowing hard. Much as I hated to admit it, my chariot was on the verge of becoming a pumpkin. I needed to be home for dinner and unlike most Loveland skiers, I had to drive west.
I’d already tried to click into the giveaway Icelantic skis, but like one of the ugly step sisters, my boot was too big for the binding and they were not to be mine. Still, after my first day of skiing at Loveland, on a powder day no less, I felt like Cinderella at the ball: “Is this really me? Am I having this much fun on a workday?”
One of the super cool benefits of blogging this winter has been the ability to ski with media guides and resort insiders when I visit a new ski area. If you read my post on Snowmass two weeks ago, you know how helpful it can be to have a long-time local show you the mountain. Well, the same thing happened when I was at Loveland in late February for a Colorado Ski Country USA media day. I was put into a group led by Pip, the Assistant Director of the Loveland Ski Patrol. There was a lot of new snow and he knew where to find it. I’ll share some of his secrets.
Fun Steeps Right at The Base
We were at Loveland on a very snowy, foggy day, so Lift 9, which takes skiers to the top of the mountain and provides access to “The Ridge” was closed. While that might have been disappointing, Pip instead took us up Lift 1, right from the main base and over to some expert runs, Over The Rainbow and Avalanche Bowl. Big moguls, big snow, big fun…and much better visibility.
Fantastic Tree Skiing
This was one of the best surprises at Loveland. With a base elevation of 10,800 feet and a summit elevation of 13,010 feet above sea level, many of the runs at Loveland start out above tree line and then take you down into the trees via chutes.
We skied glades off of Lifts 4 and 8. I probably couldn’t find them again, but it wouldn’t matter because there are so many options. Lift 4 offers blue runs from the top with the option to drop into the intermediate North Chutes or the advanced Fail Safe Trees area to skiers’ right. Skiers’ left offers similar options, taking the Zip Trail overs to Sunburst Chutes and then onto Splashdown. Lift 8 is the lift that is the furthest east at Loveland. Skiing Lift 8 requires taking a tunnel underneath I-70 to get back to the main base.
Lots of Intermediate Terrain
While our group wanted to stay in the trees and play in the powder, Loveland offers a wealth of intermediate and beginner terrain too. With blue runs from the top of every lift and green runs from the top of Lifts 1, 6 and 2, there is something for everyone at Loveland and no one needs to feel intimidated. On a powder day, it was hard to tell what these runs were like. Cruisers? Moguls? Then again, on a powder day, who cares? Definitely something I will have to check out when I return.
One Mountain, Two Ski Areas
One of the unique things about Loveland is that the mountain is divided into two distinct areas: Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley. Both Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley have their own parking and base areas, with restaurants, retail and rental shops. Loveland Basin is the heart of the ski area, while Loveland Valley is primarily the area for the Ski and Ride School.
Prior to this visit to Loveland, I’d only skied Loveland over at Loveland Valley when my kids were racing at the springtime Loveland Derby. At that time, I’d noticed a couple of nice intermediate runs, but mostly we were hanging around the race course.
Loveland Valley: A Self-Contained Ski Area for Learning
This time, I made a point of visiting Loveland Valley and visiting the ski school. When I got to the ski school, I asked for Sam, a Ski and Ride School Supervisor. Sam had his hands full with a very young skier who was very tired. Sam had no idea I was there, but watching him, I could tell right away that this guy knows how to work with kids.
And working with kids and beginner skiers is something Loveland does really well. The beginner’s ski school is self-contained at Loveland Valley with a magic carpet, children’s learning area (indoor and outdoor with lunch served in the children’s center). There are two lifts, Lift 7 and Lift 3. Lift 7 only serves gentle beginner terrain, while Lift 3 offers more of a challenge on some blue runs, allowing for progression within a contained area. What you won’t find at Loveland Basin are freeskiers crossing through and around lesson groups or intimidating terrain adjacent to the learning area.
Loveland Valley offers a one-stop shop for rentals and ski school. Even better, parents can park at the Loveland Valley lot, get their kids set up for lessons and then take a bus over to Loveland Basin for their ski day. And just to sweeten the deal a little more, sign up your children, ages 4-14, for three lessons and they get a season pass! The same deal is available for adult beginners, while adult intermediates can earn a discounted pass after three lessons. Click here for more information on the Loveland Ski and Ride School and the Three Class Pass for next season.
Ski School For Experts, Too
While Loveland Valley does offer a unique ski school environment, there are also ski school offerings for advanced and expert skiers and riders. A.T.A.C. (pronounced “attack” and standing for “All Terrain, All Conditions”) clinics are offered on selected days throughout the ski season and will take your skiing to a new level. Each clinic is $90, including a lift ticket, or $60 without a lift tickets. Half-day clinics begin at 10:00 and include video analysis. Pre-registration is required. the next clinic will be held on April 3. And yes, participate in three A.T.A.C. clinics next season and earn a discounted season pass.
Spring Lasts A Long Time At Loveland
While I was at Loveland in the heart of Winter, I am looking forward to skiing there again this year on a gorgeous, warm Spring day. Known for its “first in the nation” opening day rivalry with nearby Arapahoe Basin, Loveland offers a long season. Opening in early to mid-October, closing day at Loveland for 2011 is May 8th. With over 400 inches of snow each season, they’re will be plenty of snow left on the mountain.
When You Go…..
Loveland is only 53 miles west of Denver, straight up Interstate 70. Located above the Eisenhower Tunnel, Loveland is one of those resorts you may have driven by countless times and thought to yourself, “I need to go there.” Yes, you do.
Information on all things Loveland is found on their website. The nearest lodging is in Summit County or in the old mining town of Georgetown, just 12 miles east on I-70. Loveland Central Reservations can help you make plans and offers Stay and Ski Packages which include lodging and lift tickets for two adults.
Finally, Loveland is celebrating its 75th birthday next season and upgrading Lift 4 to a fixed grip triple chair. Who says you can’t get better with age? While Cinderella may have to go home, the ball continues.
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