Winter started this year at Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado at 12:35 p.m. on Sunday, December 16. We were eating lunch at the mid-mountain Spruce Saddle Lodge when my younger son and I both shivered. “It just got cold in here. Are you chilly?” I asked him. We looked around. No doors were open, no windows cracked. Then we went outside.
It had snowed lightly for at least 24 hours, putting down a few nice inches of new snow. The temperature was in the 20s that morning, high enough to make me feel overdressed after a couple of mogul runs in Rose Bowl. Boarding the Cinch lift after lunch, the thermometer read 6 Fahrenheit. My first thought was that it was broken. Maybe the lights that illuminate a “1” or “2” were out. At the top, the thermometer read “0”.
One of my favorite things about skiing (and I have so many favorites), is the challenge of reading the mountain. Trying to find areas where powder lingers, new snow blows in, and were there might be shelter from the elements.
On Sunday afternoon, with the wind howling atop the mountain, we decided to drop down into the Birds of Prey area, specifically onto Golden Eagle. Our family has a history with Golden Eagle. If you watch World Cup racing, you know that this run is North America’s premier men’s downhill (women’s course, coming soon!). It starts out flat and rolling, lulling you into complacency before dropping you over what feels like a cliff made of ice. It’s a howling, screaming scary ride. Then it chills out.
1, 2, 3…Down and Sliding
Several years ago, we decided to outsmart Golden Eagle. We dropped down a bit below the start and thought we’d sneak up on it from the side. Our approach from the side worked, except that we stayed too high, above the Birds of Prey lift. My husband turned out onto the run. Almost immediately he lost his edges. He was down and sliding. Son #1 and Son #2 try the same thing, hit the same ice, losing their edges. They were down and sliding. Because I am smarter than a monkey and can learn from the mistakes of others, I turned in a different spot and made it, but only barely.
Plus 20 Degrees
Personal history aside, this time around, we went partway down on Peregrine before run closures steered us onto the lower pitches of Golden Eagle. Snow was falling hard and the run was, amazingly, super soft and barely tracked. Skiers left near the trees was perfect.
World Cup downhill racers would have hated it. We loved it. We lapped it again and again. Best of all, there was no wind and the temperature at the base of the Birds of Prey Express was 20 degrees. Looking up the mountain, we could see a definite band where the storm began. Down valley was clear, up mountain was dark with the promise of more and more snow.
Early Season Wonderful
With the snow this week, more of Beaver Creek is opening. Colorado had a long, hot fall. but resorts like Beaver Creek have made the most of the snowfall they had earlier, and the new, wet snow on top keeps the mountain skiing well. While we would have liked to have skied more of the Birds of Prey and Grouse Mountain runs, we made do on Golden Eagle, preying on the fresh snow and surprisingly soft conditions.
The day before we came to Beaver Creek, the Rose Bowl Express opened for the season. Rose Bowl isn’t as steep as Grouse Mountain but has plenty of moguls and super fun pitches. The coverage was good, and with the high speed quad, skiing Rose Bowl will give you plenty of vertical challenge in a morning or afternoon.
Even the runs leading down to the base area and the Centennial Express were soft and skiing well. New snow was falling, and with more and more storms piling up in the Pacific and aiming toward Colorado, there’s no reason to put off a ski day.
It’s winter. It’s cold. There’s powder. It’s time to play, and prey, on the powder at Beaver Creek.
When You Go…
Beaver Creek is located 13 miles west of Vail, Colorado along I-70. A sister resort with Vail, Keystone and Breckenridge, hearty eastbound skiers can ski Beaver Creek in the morning, Vail in the afternoon and then hit Keystone for night skiing on their way home.
Living west of Beaver Creek, we don’t do that, but in theory, it sounds fun!
We’ve stayed at two lodges within Beaver Creek Village: The Osprey and the Beaver Creek Lodge. The Osprey is located adjacent to the Strawberry Park Express Lift. You literally walk 25 steps and you’re on the lift. The Osprey is a modern, intimate lodge, with very comfortable rooms and suites large enough to tempt you to move in for good.
This trip, we stayed at the Beaver Creek Lodge. Not quite as close to a lift as The Osprey, it is still quite convenient. Pick up your skis at Christy Sports on the Lodge’s second level and it’s a short walk and three escalators up to the Centennial Express.
After skiing, there is an indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room to soothe your weary muscles and continue to wear out your kids. Speaking of kids, all of the Lodge rooms are suites, so there is plenty of room for a family to relax.
Both lodges are super convenient to the restaurants, bars and the Family Fun Fest that takes place on Saturdays all season long. For more information, please visit BeaverCreek.com.
- Tight Turns: Epic Mix Racing, Liftopia Update and One Horn Tooting, October 29, 2012.
- The World Cup Downhill That Wasn’t, December 7, 2010.
- Family Getaway: Mountain Biking at Beaver Creek, Colorado, August 15, 2010.
© 2012 – 2014, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.