After 15 years of living in Vermont, my family moved to Louisville, Colorado, last year—largely for easier access to world-class skiing. Sure, the Green Mountain State has its fair share of hills, but we sought bluer skies, deeper powder and more options for off-hill activities. With our 10-year-old son, Harper, in 5th grade and our daughter, Dillon, in 6th grade, we were also excited about the Colorado Ski Country USA 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program.
Where to ski first? Since my husband, Carlton, had learned to ski at Eldora, we decided that would be our resort of choice, and marked our calendars for November 18th, the earliest ski day ever for our family. During the 45-minute drive, up Boulder Canyon and through the funky town of Nederland, we listened to the Grateful Dead and talked about the day ahead, wondering which runs would be our favorite, and if we’d run into any of our new friends.
The parking lot was our first surprise. Back in Vermont, Carlton would drop us all off at the lodge and we’d race inside to put on our boots in the warmth instead of in sub-zero temperatures. But at Eldora, everyone was booting up in the lot, swilling the last of their coffee and other assorted beverages before trekking toward the lifts. “What are we going to rate this day?” asked Carlton of the kids, referring to our 0 to 100 scale of ski days, which factors in everything from weather to snow to food. “We’ll have to see!” said Harper as we crunched through the snow up to the Alpenglow Lift. Whoa. This high-speed six-pack was a major upgrade from lifts we’d taken in the past—and with a moving carpet, too.
We did a warm-up run on Windmill, feeling the soft snow underneath our skis on the bluebird day. Dillon zoomed ahead at speeds I’d never seen before, clearly confident in the Colorado terrain. Sister and brother flew off jumps, weaved in between trees and sprayed each other with snow during hockey stops. Before we knew it, our typical hot-chocolate break had passed; we were having too much fun in the creamy conditions to indulge in whipped cream. Doing laps off the Indian Peaks lift, we discovered Hornblower and Lower Diamondback, ideal for the four of us.
When lunchtime called, we wolfed down chili and burgers outside on the sundeck of the Timbers Lodge, soaking up rays as we planned out the rest of the day. Rarely had I seen my kids so chatty and animated as we shared inside jokes and people-watched. It would not last, of course, as fatigue set in and they started snapping at each other, as pre-teens will do. But once we’d done a couple more rides up the Alpenglow, the kids were glowing again. During the car ride home, we had only a couple of minutes to talk before Dillon and Harper fell sound asleep.
“Dad,” said Harper. “I rate this day an 88.” Carlton said, “What would make it 100?” And Harper replied. “If we had the whole mountain to ourselves.”
Sarah Tuff Dunn recently moved to Louisville, Colorado, with her husband, Carlton, and their two children, Dillon, 12, and Harper, 10. They’re looking forward to exploring the world-class skiing in Colorado, aided by the Colorado Ski Country 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. Sarah has been writing professionally for nearly 25 years and her work has appeared in The New York Times, SKI, Skiing and Powder, among other publications. Read more of Sarah’s writing here and follow along with her Colorado skiing journey here.