View from top of Montezuma Bowl (Arapahoe Basin)

14 February Last day in Aspen and the temps rose to just below freezing. Good day not to be on the slopes and instead I did a XC ski in the Snowmass area where the golf course is turned over to skiers in the winter. Quite hilly and defiantly burnt off some calories. Very pretty route. One can also ski all the way to Aspen which would be a good day outing, esp given the free bus transfers which means you only have to go one way!

We had booked into a motel in Glenwood Springs. Really a hidden treasure of a town. Has an outdoor hot spring open air swimming pool, neat to see people swimming, steam rising from it in sub zero temps and snow laying on the surrounding buildings. It was a developed at a tourist centre in the 1880s when the railroad opened and tourists came to enjoy the springs, exploring caves, skiing and so on. A lot of the town buildings are oldstyle and charming. We found a great brewpub and had a lovely evening.

Next day was back in the car to head to Summit County where we had booked an apartment for a week so we could explore Copper and Araprahoe Basin. Originally the plan had been to head off into the backcountry and stay in one of the 10th Mountain Division Huts behind Breckenridge. However we changed our plans when Mike injured his achilles and boy am I glad as we were hit by a winter storm which would have made staying in the hut and getting in and out not that much fun. Anyway as we could not check into our apartment until after 4pm we headed off to the Keystone Nordic Centre where I spent an hour XC skiing round the front 9 of the golf course. Very pretty with the trail running past the Snake River and wending through the trees. Mike chilled in the restaurant and then was very patient with me when I chose some new ski sunglasses (to replace the ones I lost last year) at REI.

The apartment that we had booked is really comfy and well kitted out. Just as well as Mike has also sprained his calf and caught a cold so decided to spend Sunday and Monday at ‘home’ whilst I went back to the XC centre on Sunday and downhill at Copper on Monday. Note to self not sure on reflection if Mike had not caught a mild version of the dreaded Covid 19 as he was under the weather for quite some time.

16 February I was all set to go to Copper on Sunday morning, bit anxious about the weather as it was snowing and quite breezy. Then I looked at the traffic report and decided it was a really bad idea! So whilst Mike sorted out with Andy for him to inspect our car port which had been blown down by Storm Dennis, I headed back to Keystone XC area. This time I explored the trails on the back 9. Fun trail, quite hilly and fresh snow made the downs fun. The 18th in particular, which is a steep drop hole. Must admit this would be a lovely golf course to play.

17 February Link to Copper Mountain Resort ski area https://www.coppercolorado.com/the-mountain/trail-area-maps/winter-trail-map The snow kept on falling all day and night with about 10 inches of fresh accumulation by Monday morning. Perfect ski day and the traffic looked okay. Copper was the first mountain out West I skied when I was first learning and I have really fond memories of it. We stayed on resort that time and were fortunate enough to have fresh snow every night followed by blue skies in the day!

Today we had plenty of fresh snow but no blue skies and I was glad to have the first few rides up in the gondola to stay warm. I was a bit nervous about skiing a ‘new’ resort on my own but spread my wings and had a great couple of hours skiing off Blackjack and Sierra lifts. Snow was really soft, especially going through the glades. On the main runs even though it was quite well tracked I still had the feeling of skiing through fresh powder. It was however very cold and by early afternoon I decided to call it a day and head back before the bank holiday traffic to Denver got too bad. Mike had a good day at home and seems to have cracked his cold and the calf muscle strain is much better as is his achilles. Spent the rest of the afternoon doing the jigsaw and catching up on admin.

Andy had gone out to our house in Wales and with our neighbours help demolished what was left of the car port. Owe him one for that. Never liked the structure but had not realised it was jerry built and the wooden supports had not been bolted into the footplate rather just placed in it. Good thing there was no damage to our neighbours property / car otherwise we would be making both an insurance claim and a claim against the person who did a detailed structural survey for us last year, with a supposed focus on all the new build elements! Oh well just brings forward work that we were planning on doing anyway.

Tuesday 18th Beautiful blue skies and no wind so we both headed off to Copper for an ‘easy’ ski day or at least that is what I thought. Mike managed one blue run from the top of Solitude and then it was onto the blacks off Storm King to see how his various injuries coped with bumps. No holding him back and he wanted to explore the area I skied yesterday off Blackjack and Sierra. Both had fun and in the glades the snow was still cold and light.

Made our way up to the top of Union Peak and had a good ski down Matchless to the Three Bears lift. This is a new lift that has only opened up this year. Previously Tucker Mountain was only accessed by snowcat. Was bitterly cold at the top as the wind was whistling over the summit. Fortunately we could take shelter in the ski patrol hut and fortify ourselves with Mint tea and trail mix before heading down skiers right – this time double blacks. Enjoyed ourselves so much did it 3 times! Taking slightly different runs down especially through the glades at the bottom. Both felt we had had a full day and so although still fairly early headed back to a lovely dinner of swordfish steaks and a fantastic bottle of Stags Leap Aveta Sauvignon Blanc.

Wednesday 19th Undecided as to whether we would return to Copper or go to Arapahoe Basin this morning, however on checking out the forecast Copper was a clear winner. It was predicted to be very windy with snow showers in the afternoon, and needless to say cold! As Copper has a gondola and there is a lot more sheltered skiing we decided to leave Arapahoe till Thursday when the forecast was much better. Good choice is all I can say. Decided to stay fairly low today given how windy it was and fortunately it was not too cold, or we are getting acclimatised!

After a couple of groomers under Solitude we were tempted by the double blacks off the top of Super Bee. Mike did say it was meant to be an easy day but hey ho! The snow was great and we had 1400ft of bumps to navigate before having a well earned rest on a slow lift back up to the top – only to do it again, and again. Both decided it was then time for a groomer. Alas we were tempted yet again after a shortish run down a lovely blue by another black bump run, this time a mere 1600ft all the way to the base (down Far East and aptly named Too Much!). We both agreed that it was time to take some easy runs off the top of Alpine and head home – via a shopping trip where we purchased a couple of bargain Patagonia down jackets – green is obviously not this years colour!

Thursday 20 Link to map of ski area https://www.arapahoebasin.com/the-mountain/trail-maps/ The promised snow (couple of inches) arrived late afternoon and we woke to beautiful blue skies. After fortifying ourselves with porridge we headed off to Arapahoe Basin, what a perfect day. Had a coffee in the base station while we waited for the temperatures to rise to a tolerable level and then got the chair to the top of Snow Plume Refuge – what a great name. Skied down a couple times to mid station to get our ski legs and then headed off down the backside to ski Montezuma Bowl. The snow was still cold even though the day was heating up and we had to strip down to base layers to hike up to the Zuma Cornice and then ski down to Ned’s Cache and some fun tree skiing before heading back to do it all again, and again!

Last run down the snow was starting to transform under the blazing sun so we headed off to the Snow Plume Refuge in search of a beer, alas many others had the same idea and we decided to head down to the larger Black Mountain Lodge for a very welcome beer and trail mix. Helped out a couple of other skiers who were not sure of the best way down. Mike said it was sweet that one of the guys followed my every move down the mountain! Glad we could make their way down easier.

Finished off the day with a couple of runs in the Beavers. These slopes are North facing and so the snow was still in good shape. First run down through Marmot and then decided to try Ptarmigan. Unfortunately Mike clipped a hidden rock on the traverse across to the run and gouged a chunk out of his new skis! Very unhappy and also worried about his achilles so that wasn’t a great end to the day for him. Fortunately the skis were easy to repair and the achilles benefited from a rest day as the next day we headed up to Steamboat.

I really enjoyed the skiing at Arapahoe, could not have had a better day with fresh snow, blue skies and no wind. Made a tasty prawn curry for supper which we had with a very nice bottle of Silver Peak Chardonnay and finished the evening by completing our jigsaw puzzle. Now ordered a couple more! Photos below are of views from Snow Plume Lodge.