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TR: Colorado Trip


SLUSHIE

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Anyone that read the Snowboarding/Skiing thread might have seen my post about me going on a trip to Colorado, I just got back from that trip. I live less than an hour from the snow of Tahoe, but it was time to branch out a bit. Other than one trip to Mt. Bachelor when I was a kid (I was actually DEATHLY sick with an allergic reaction on that trip and went out maybe 1 day. I spent more time at the hospital), I haven't really snowboarded outside of California. While the snow is actually much better here at the moment, it was still nice to get out of CA and experience some new mountains. Just a few days before the trip the forecast said there was going to be a couple of inches every day, but as it got closer that disappeared and it only snowed maybe an inch one of the days. What was correct about the forecast though was the temperatures. Sunday-Tuesday it was colder than -10F during the day and in the -20s at night. Seriously freaking cold.

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Since Southwest doesn't fly directly to Denver from Sac we had to stop at Robb's favorite place in the world, LAX. While I have been to LAX a few times before I'm not really sure what terminal I was at, but I must say it was old and crappy. The the couple of bars in the area actually had tube TVs. A Denver football game was going on, and since Denver was where we were going, there was a lot of fans that wouldn't pull themselves away from those awesome TVs and the flight was late taking off. Shortly after taking off news spread like wildfire though the plane that they lost. If you look along the trailing edge of the wing you can make out the Hollywood sign, hardly.

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Denver had a light dusting of snow all over it Saturday night/ Sunday morning. We stayed fairly close to the airport for one night before heading into the mountains. Coming back to Denver a week later all this snow was completely gone. The parking lot had 2 more of those horse trailers in it. Not sure why, I didn't see a single horse.

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This is the view of the pool area from the balcony. We were on the 2nd floor, but the balcony was only a few feet off the ground. The 1st floor is actually the parking garage and some hallways that connect some of the buildings together. So while the pool was technically in a different building, we could walk under the ground to the pool area without going outside. The pool was indoor/outdoor and was said to be heated to 90, but it didn't seem that warm to me and when going though the threshold outside it was noticeably colder (It was -10 after all). I didn't spend much time in the outdoor portion.

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Looking to the right of the previous picture. Parking and walkways are underneath this area.

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On Monday we spent our first day skiing at the resort we were staying at, Breckenridge. This day was really really cold and it was around -15 on the mountain. The coldest temps I have ever been out in. Luckily I had plenty of layers and some heaters in my boots. It wasn't at all windy so it really wasn't all that bad, there were only a few times sitting on the chair where I really felt all that cold, besides my face that is. There isn't too much snow on the ground in Colorado right now, so many areas of the resorts weren't open. Breckenridge has the highest chairlift in North America, but it wasn't operating. This rope tow was the highest you could get.

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Photo of me from the top of the rope tow.

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On the way down from the rope tow there was actually a little nice area where you could do a bit of tree skiing. It was short lived though as the rope tow isn't too long and I only did it once, since when on a snowboard rope tows are the devil.

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The next day we decided to take a break since Monday was going to be the same temps, and On Tuesday it was supposed to warm up significantly (POSITIVE 20s). We decided to do some touristy stuff instead. The town of Breckenridge is a pretty cool area. The other Vail resorts all have "Villages," which are pretty much outdoor malls with condos around it. Breckenridge though is a real historic mining town. It really reminded me of Old Sac and places like that. One thing I noticed was all the T-shirt shops. There was millions of them and they all had the same T-shirts. Since the resorts in the area are all named after the towns there was a lot of "bootleg" shirts since the names were public domain. For dinner we went to the Breckenridge Brewery restaurant.

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Had to get the sampler of course. I'm a huge wheat beer fan and I really enjoyed their Agave Wheat which is produced with agave nectar instead of sugar. For food I got a bacon and blue cheese burger which was AMAZING.

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On Wednesday we went to Beaver Creek. This resort was super nice. The place we were staying has a little ski shop and when asking the guy working there for tips n stuff he said he liked Beaver Creek the best because you can go fast there. My thing is going fast as well and the guy was certainly right. The runs here were really wide and had a fairly constant slope compared the Breck. It was also a fairly easy place to navigate. Beaver Creek ended up being the best of the resorts I thought, and it also happened to have the best snow as an inch or two of fresh snow dropped overnight.

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Amazing.

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Something I thought was cool that many of the resorts had was ice carvings. This is something we don't have in Tahoe at all since it easily gets into the 40s on the average sunny day.

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On Thursday we went to Vail. While its THE VAIL of Vail Resorts, I actually liked it the least of the 4 Colorado mountains. The place was super confusing and had flat trails all over the place to get around. 2 of the 3 people in my group (myself included) actually got lost. I can see how this place could be amazing on a powder day though (just imagine fluffy powder all over that hill) but since there was no powder, it sucked. This is actually the back side of the main hill, and it was the side the sun hits. At the bottom it was bare spots galore.

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This is the ice rink in the newer of the two Vail villages (yes they have 2 malls, it's ridiculous). What was also pretty lame at Vail was the parking. There are parking garages that are owned by the city and they gouge skiers like crazy to park there. Parking in them for a day of skiing costs $25. It's free from 3pm to 3am though. It's incredibly lame.

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Another ice carving at Vail.

Edited by SLUSHIE
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More stuff.

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For Friday we decided to take it easy (not drive anywhere) and go to Breck again. Breckenridge actually has an alpine coaster. It looked fun, but I didn't care to ride it. I have never seen one of those up close and I was surprised at how quiet it was. It hardly made any noise at all.

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Here is a bridge where it goes over part of a run. This is actually just a little portion between two trails. Not quite as impressive as the Park City one.

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Some people going through one of the helixes.

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On our last full day in Colorado we went to the final of the 4 Vail resorts in Colorado, Keystone. Keystone was a pretty nice resort, but the conditions on this day were the worst of any of the other days. Every run was basically solid ice, and it took a lot of the enjoyment out of it. What i liked about this place was its simplicity. This place was super easy to navigate and had a gondola within the resort that connected two of the peaks together to make getting around even easier. That mountain in the center of the photo is Breckenridge.

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Not only was this day a Saturday, but it was also a holiday weekend. This place was packed beyond belief. This photo doesn't do the crowd justice as it was later in the day. While on a chair some locals told us that Keystone is the only resort that wasn't blacked out for pass holders that weekend. If we had known that we may have gone on Friday instead of Breck and saved Breck for the last day. While we got many less runs in, our vertical feet was actually not that much less than previous days, as Keystone has very little flat areas. Once you get down the steeper portion of the mountain, the chair is right there, where as at the other paces (especially Breckenridge) you you went along a significantly long flat area before getting the the chair.

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The front portion of the mountain is actually open most nights until 8pm for night skiing. Since we had been out 4 days in a row, making it until it was dark, especially having rode on ice all day long, was pretty much impossible. This is just a small portion of the crowd coming down to leave shortly after 4pm.

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Another ice carving at Keystone. Most places still had holiday decorations all over also.

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On the way back to Denver before flying out we decided to stop at the Coors brewery. When i read about it, it said it was a self guided tour that took around 30 mins, but it ended up being a guided tour that took a bit longer than that. There was evidence that it was self guided at one point though. On a Sunday the place opens at 12, and there was already a large line for the bus from the parking lot, we ended up having to wait maybe 20 mins and 5 or so buses. One cool fact about the brewery is that it is the largest single site brewery in the world, and that all original Coors in the world is produced there. The area is also a really nice historic town and on the way into the brewery on the bus, they take you on a short tour of the town.

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This is called Table Top Mountain or something like that. It's just above the parking lot.

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I actually thought the tour was pretty well done. The only other large brewery tour I've done was the Budweiser plant in Fairfield CA, and it doesn't come close to this one.

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Quality control area.

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Somewhat candid photo of myself after the tour. After the tour you could get 3 samples. I tried Batch 19 which is some new beer with some ridiculous advertising but was actually alright, Colorado Native which is only sold in Colorado and reminded me quite a lot of Sierra Nevada, and Blue Moon.

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We had actually planned to go to another brewery, Great Divide, before heading to the airport, but since the experience at Coors ended up taking a bit longer than expected we had no time to do that. Even though I'm not a fan of Coors it was still a good time.

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After arriving back at Sac, one of my bags (the one with all my clothes) came out of the baggage claim half way open with my clothes hanging out. Luckily only one of my shirts was messed up and they gave me $16 for it. A $30 shirt I bought at Vail was right on top in a plastic bag and thankfully it was fine. They ended up giving me another duffel bag which is virtually the same exact thing. My clothes were pretty nicely packed in there to get everything to fit, and since I didn't care to take 15mins to cram everything in this new bag they gave me another "emergency" bag as well, which is basically a small water proof duffel. While it sucked this happened the whole thing was pretty painless, especially since the bag I had was the same thing they gave me to replace it.

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My Epic Mix for the 5 days on the mountain.

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That's a shame about the conditions you had. It has been a tough year in Colorado. I was in Telluride week before last and they had gotten 34" the week before and were still hurting for snow. Breck, Keystone and Beaver Creek can be great and I generally agree with your assessment of Vail (although Blue Sky Basin at Vail can be nice too--it just takes so long to get back there). I'm headed out to Sun Valley soon; maybe I'll remember to take enough pictures to do a TR.

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