12.19.2004

Time for a vacation

After a weekend full of “recreation” like that, I am glad to be going home for the holidays, where I will get a chance to relax! We are finally starting to get a lot of great terrain open up here, Vail has a good portion of the Back Bowls open, Beaver Creek has the majority of their “Talons” terrain open, and over in Summit County the Outback at Keystone is open, as well as Chair 6 at Breckenridge. All that adds up to a lot of work for my poor legs, and makes me glad I spend so much time climbing mountains this summer. Saturday I went to Beaver Creek, I was supposed to meet up with my friend Ben from work and his girlfriend Erica, whose birthday was Saturday, but they slept in way to late, and didn’t make it up to join me. I spent most of the day skiing the Grouse Mountain runs, part of the Talons, which is Beaver Creek’s name for their most difficult terrain. The name comes partly from the Birds of Prey World Cup that uses part of these runs, the three lifts that form a talons-like shape, and the bird-named runs in the area like Peregrine, Raven Ridge, Screech Owl and Osprey. All together there are 13 runs, all black diamond or double black, that if skied all in the same day one gets a commemorative pin, and their name on a plaque at Red Tail Camp. In January they have a weekend dedicated to completing these runs, and have people at each run to check off your accomplishments (otherwise you need to take a lesson and have your instructor can do it). I thought it was a good time to take a few dry runs this weekend with 9 of the runs open, and the other 4 partially open. They were steep, and definitely challenging, but also very enjoyable! It was also not crowded, there were no lift lines, and the runs were not crowded. They even had the lower half of the World Cup run open, and it was groomed. Wow, was that fast! I can’t imagine what it would be like to race down it, those guys go over 80 mph! After I had sufficiently worn myself out, I went home to get ready for the birthday party. Ben and Erica hosted us for a winter barbeque at their house after “happy hour” at the local Brew-Pub.

Sunday I had some more Christmas shopping to do, so I wanted to head over to the Target in Summit County. Seeing as I hadn’t been to Breckenridge this season, I figured it would be a good use of my morning to do a little skiing over there. The base was crowded, and the lifts had long lines, I guess a lot of people were up from the Front Range today. Once up the mountain though, I headed over to the higher terrain at Chair 6 to ditch the crowds. This one of my favorite areas, not just at Breck, but at any of the resorts I have been to. The chair tops off at just below 12,000 feet, and right at timberline. The top section is through loosely scattered trees, struggling to grow in the thin air. Then there are several little steep slots trough the thickening forest below that, some of which create sort of natural halfpipes in the rolling mountain side. All of the runs are black diamond, and that in combination with the relative isolation of the lift keeps the crowds from the lower mountain at bay. It was really nice, no crowds, barely any lift lines, and a lot of fun terrain. I spent a few hours playing around up there before heading down for lunch in town, and Christmas shopping in Silverthorne. In fact it was so much fun, that I didn’t leave until about 2.30, so much for just staying the morning! I hope everyone else had a fun (and productive) last weekend before Christmas, see you next weekend!