Week 1: Vail
Our first day of skiing is at Beaver Creek, which also happens to be hosting the World Cup Championships.
Finding parking on the mountain was impossible, so we resorted to catching the gondola from Avon.
Expecting it to be crowded; we find no-one is skiing, they are all watching the racing.
It doesn’t take long before our muscles start protesting, as its been three years since we skied. We take it easy, viewing the day as a warm-up.
Our accommodation is at Eagle Point, in West Vail (another timeshare). Whilst not ski in – ski out, we have our own shuttle service to drop us at the Lion’s Head Gondola.
I’ve mentioned the Haviland family before. I stayed with Lindsey in Connecticut in October. We are finally catching up with Sue Haviland and her husband John.
I haven’t seen Sue for way too long; haven’t met John, nor Sue, Don. Now living in Colorado, they drive-up to spend the weekend with us.
The years quickly dissolve, it’s not long before we feel like we’ve all know each other forever.
Sue spent time in Australia and knows my family well. She worked for my brother Simon, played netball with my sister Jane and baby-sat my nieces.
We had a great weekend, chatting more than skiing – I don’t think any of us stopped talking for the entire weekend.
Sue and John, both have a love for travel and adventure, so we got lots of tips from them on our future travels into Central America.
Whilst the ski season in Colorado was not one of their better seasons, it still surpasses Australia. Vail is such a large mountain, you can always find somewhere good to ski.
The George is an out of the way, hard to find bar, though not that hard, as it can get crowded. Happy hour starts at 3pm and we’ve found ourselves sipping two-for-one martinis each trip we’ve made to Vail.
Another favourite spot is Vin 48, with a superb selection of wines, it also does a happy hour with a delicious selection of small plates. A couple of these does us for dinner.
As you can see, we are a fan of the “Happy Hour”. Why not? It’s certainly allowed us to eat (and drink) at some great places for much less.
Skiing is not a cheap sport, but you can be savvy with your money. Firstly, we bought secondhand skis, much cheaper than renting them and better quality.
We also bought a season pass. The Epic Pass (which has just added Perisher Valley in Australia to it’s list), covers multiple resorts, which just happen to be the places we were skiing anyway. It paid back after 5 days.
Someone on our shuttle to the gondola made the comment; “Even if I had all the money in the world, I don’t like being ripped off”. The prices on the mountain are extortionate; I get it, we’re in Vail, but US$6 for a coffee and it’s not even good coffee?
There is something in both our psyche that just wouldn’t allow us to pay US$12 for two (crap) coffees. Each day we packed an energy bar and shared one (crap) coffee between us.
We don’t seem to be able to go far in the US without one of Don’s golf buddies being nearby.
During the week Jeff Hall and is son (playing hookie from school) drive up from Denver for the day to watch some of the World Cup and we spend a few hours skiing with them.
The following week, another golf connection; Neal Zahn also happens to be skiing at Breckenridge and was the benefactor of Don’s ski helmet that we’d purchased for the trip (he’s got another at home).
Week 2: Breckenridge
We’ve moved up considerably in the luxury stakes. Our accommodation for the week is One Ski Hill; Ski-in, Ski-out and a Ski Valet.
Each morning your skis are waiting for you. When you finish for the day, step out of your skis and someone is waiting to pick them up. This is my type of skiing!
The resort runs a Women & Wine ski lesson mid week. A few hours skiing with an instructor, followed by a glass of wine (or 2).
I quickly realised that whilst after 10 days of skiing, I’d got a little bit of my fitness back, it still had a long way to go. The few hours skiing with a group of good skiers, pushed me to ski much harder than I do when skiing with Don.
It was also a great way to explore parts of the mountain that I wouldn’t otherwise take Don, as well as meet other people
Breck is an interesting mountain. With a better snow base than Vail this year and being slightly higher, the quality of snow was better. We also got some fresh snow during our stay – fresh powder is always a highlight.
The black runs are not really black, even Don didn’t find them difficult. I say that with the exclusion of the moguls. Some people love moguls, but my knees buckled in long ago and I don’t hunt them out.
There are some good long runs, but the mountain is badly planned. The mountain is divided into 5 peaks, called peaks 6-10. Peak 6 is the newest and has one lift.
If you are energetic and like hiking up-hill in ski boots, lugging your skis to reach off-piste chutes and powder bowls, it’s fantastic.
My philosophy is; the lift takes you ‘up’ and you ski ‘down’, no additional ‘up’ required!
Week 3: Park City?
We had planned to continue our skiing in Park City, where our dear friend Andrea (who we saw in Austria), now resides.
However, the culmination of a number of factors, has bought us to the decision to return to Australia earlier than scheduled.
We still stop-off at Park City for a night en route to LA. Donating our skis to her growing collection, perhaps with the hope to make it back for a future ski season.
It was a lovely surprise to find her Parents also visiting. Whilst the stay was short, we had a great night catching-up and meeting her friends.
Once again, thanks Andrea. And the bed is heavenly!