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Monarch Extends Ski Season

Monarch Extends Ski Season

A Powder22 AlanDeepAS

SALIDA, CO — After receiving over two feet of snow in the most recent storm cycle, Monarch Mountain has announced it is extending its ski season. Monarch’s closing day will now be Sunday April 17, 2022.  

“It’s important to us that we give our guests as much time as we possibly can on the hill. It’s clear that winter is not done with us yet, so we’re going to keep skiing and riding” said Marking Manager, Allie Stevens.

Monarch intends to host its traditional closing weekend events. Kayaks on Snow will be on Saturday, April 16, at 11:00am, and The Gunbarrel Challenge will be on Sunday, April 17, at 1:00pm. More details for both events can be found at

Wings passes are still available “Ski the rest of this season and all next season” for only $569.

Spring season brings lots to celebrate on the slopes

Spring season brings lots to celebrate on the slopes

Photo Credit: Aspen Snowmass

As we head into the months of March and April, skiers and riders can’t help but be reminded that the ski season is heading towards its end. But these months also signal spring skiing, what many say is the best time of year to be on the slopes. “Colorado has amazing spring skiing with the longer days and milder temperatures,” says Dana Tyler Johnson, Cooper Director of Marketing and Sales.

Here are a few other reasons parents say they love heading to the mountains for spring-skiing season.

A relaxed vibe. “Skiing in the spring weather is more of a laid-back affair,” says Cameron Grant, who regularly skis with at least one of his three boys, a teenager and two college-age sons. “The mornings are mellow because we wait for the snow to soften up a bit. That means that we sleep a little later and probably eat a better breakfast. We just have fun on the hill. We also take longer lunches and often find ourselves sitting out in the sunshine watching the skiers and boarders splash around in the slush.

Warmer Temps. It is warmer and sunnier in the spring, says mom of two daughters Johanna Ladis. “It feels like once spring youth sports start on the Front Range—usually around mid-March—the slopes get a little less crowded. Families are committed to staying in town for games or tournaments, which means fewer people on the ski mountains. And I can usually find good lodging deals for the week of spring break and/or March weekends.”

Fun festivals. March and April bring lots of unique festivals to Colorado’s resorts to ring in spring. As part of the Aspen Snowmass Bud Light Spring Jam 2022, March 25 through April 3, you can catch free concerts, night skiing, and banked slalom races. Eldora and Copper Mountain will both host their own Subaru Winterfest, a celebration of all things winter featuring even more live music, contests, and giveaways. You can get in on the action at Steamboat Springalicious as well, where you can expect hilarious and fun events and a boatload of fresh Champagne Powder. You can check out all these events and more here.

It’s just easier. Warmer weather means dragging less clothing and gear, and having an easier time getting ready for the slopes, says Carrie Goldin, who has a son and daughter. “I like spring skiing because it’s more enjoyable to spend time with the kids in nicer weather,” she says. “I feel like it takes the whining out of skiing.” Most importantly? “Better après-ski,” says Tim Nichols, who skis with his wife and three young boys. “It’s lighter longer and warmer, so you can stay outside and enjoy yourself afterwards.”

Colorado Ski Resorts Hit the Home Stretch with March Snow and Spring Activities

Colorado Ski Resorts Hit the Home Stretch with March Snow and Spring Activities

Photo: Arapahoe Basin

After a week filled with fresh snow and more on the way by the weekend, resorts in Colorado Ski Country USA are heading into the final stretch of the season with the best conditions of the year. The late February storm brought over 20 inches of snow to resorts in southwest Colorado, and provided Front Range resorts with a snow blanket to cover President’s Day weekend tracks. March and April are historically the snowiest months in Colorado, setting up a spring filled with powder and fun.

While the snow falls on the high country, Colorado Ski Country member resorts are preparing a full slate of concerts, festivals, dining experiences, and more for guests to enjoy. From the Front Range to the San Juan, skiers and riders will find no shortage of activities on and off the slopes.

See below for details at specific resorts:

Arapahoe Basin

A-basin’s famous Moonlight Dinner Series is back on March 19th for ‘A Night in Spain’. Diners can ski, snowshoe, or ride the lift under the stars to the mid-mountain Black Mountain Lodge for a chef-prepared meal that will transport tastebuds to another part of the world. Reservations are required.  

On Friday, March 11, A-basin will host the first ever Steep Gullies Gauntlet in support of the Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG). Participants can challenge themselves to see how many Steep Gullies laps they can muscle while raising money for a new SCRG headquarters. The event will be followed by a taco bar dinner.

Finally, in celebration of 75 years of world class skiing, join Arapahoe Basin the first weekend in April for three days of celebratory events. Events include Skimo, a moguls competition, scavenger hunts, apres parties, and a 1946 themed dinner at the 6th Alley (costumes encouraged).

Aspen Snowmass

In celebration of 75th years of operation, Aspen Snowmass will host ASPEN 75, a live show at the Wheeler Opera House on March 11th & 12th. The live multimedia event in partnership with Pop Up Magazine will be a night of storytelling filled with disco, dynamite, thin ice, unlikely journeys, brotherhood, bootpacking, kitty litter, drunk dials, yodeling, and more as one and all celebrate 75 years of carving lines and creating possibilities.

The 22nd annual Bud Light Spring Jam festival will return to March 25- April 3, bringing a week of competitions, downtown concerts and parties to Aspen Snowmass. This year’s calendar includes a host of new and returning on-mountain competitions and events including the Banked Slalom on Snowmass, Terrain Park Boot Camp, Bud Light Mountain Challenge, KickAspen Night Skiing and the Anon 4 MTN Mission, in which teams will compete across the four mountains of Aspen Snowmass in a scavenger hunt adventure race. The Spring Jam will also feature the Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series throughout March and April, and the Bud Light Core Party in the streets of downtown Aspen, with Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats performing a free concert.

Aspen Snowmass Spring Concerts:

  • March 1: The Dip, Snowmass Base Village 
  • March 25: The California Honeydrops, Aspen Mountain Gondola Plaza 
  • March 26: Sea Billies, Aspen Mountain Gondola Plaza 
  • April 2: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Downtown Aspen  
  • April 8: Cash’d Out, Snowmass Base Village 


Cooper will continue the popular ‘Ski with a Ranger’ program every Sunday through April 17th. Guests will ski around the mountain with a ranger from the US Forest Service, and learn about the flora and fauna of the area, learn how to identify tree species, and get a bit of history about Cooper and the 10th Mountain Division.


Copper Mountain, recently announced as a US Ski and Snowboard Team practice facility through 2025, will host the Special Olympics Winter Games on March 5th & 6th. More than 200 athletes will participate in alpine, cross country, snowboarding, and snowshoe events.

Subaru and Copper Mountain are thrilled to welcome back, Subaru WinterFest on, a one-of-a kind music and mountain lifestyle tour that invites friends, family, skiers, snowboarders, music fans, and dog-lovers alike to bask in their love of winter and adventure! Head to Copper to enjoy live music, Subaru swag, the latest in adventure gear, free snacks and beverages, activities for your pup, and amazing daily giveaways! Subaru WinterFest at Copper Mountain will be March 11th through the 13th.

Copper Mountain will also continue hosting Play Forever Thursdays throughout March, offering $99 lift tickets with a portion of proceeds benefiting various non-profits including the Summit County Rescue Group, Summit County Care Clinic, and the High Fives Foundation.


Eldora will host Subaru WinterFest, a celebration of adventure and all things winter, from March 4th – 6th. Eldora is proud to have an amazing lineup of artists, including Lissie, Pixie & The Partygrass Boys, Kind Hearted Strangers, and Lindsay Lou, all brought to you by Harmon Kardon. There will be plenty to sip on from Alpine Start Foods as well as s’mores and hot chocolate in the afternoon – not to mention daily giveaways and opportunities to test the latest gear from Mammut, Nordica Ski, Arbor Collective, Solo Stove, Dynamic Wax, Thule, Klean Kanteen, and more.

After two years off, the 4th annual Trick Ditch Banked Slalom presented by 10 Barrel Brewing Co will return to Eldora. Eldora’s Trick Ditch, home to one of Colorado’s first ever halfpipes, will yet again be the stage for a unique, fun, and fast banked slalom course where 150 riders will compete for their share of the $10,000 prize purse. Learn more at

And every Friday-Sunday this spring, Eldora invites guests to chill in their 10 Barrel Snow Beach beer garden zone with our mobile pub, Lil’ Chugger. Kick back with family and friends and enjoy live music, 10 Barrel beers, and the glorious sunshine. Learn more at

Howelsen Hill

Howlesen Hill will continue to host Ski Free Sunday each week throughout the remainder of the season. Colorado’s most affordable Sunday lift ticket, families can enjoy a free day of skiing by visiting the Howelsen Hill lodge to pick up their ticket.


Monarch’s signature event, Kayaks on the Snow, returns in April on closing weekend (exact date TBA). Contestants in kayaks race head to head, like skier cross, down a specially designed course with berms, banks, and bumps, ending in an icy pond!

Monarch also recently launched the Wings Pass, a season pass good for the remainder of the 21/22 season and all of next season. The Wings Pass costs $569 and is available now.


Purgatory will be offering guests that purchase three or more consecutive days of lift tickets a free $20 resort credit for each day of their visit from Feb. 28th – April 3rd.

March at Purgatory is also prime time for Purgatory Snowcat Adventures (PSA). Owned and operated by Purgatory Resort, PSA is Colorado’s largest snowcat skiing operation with access to 35,000 acres of guided terrain. To promote guest safety, expert guides and cat operators manage the terrain and select the best possible lines in each zone and ensure untracked powder every time. PSA also offers dining excursions and three-times daily scenic snowcat tours.

Purgatory will hold a Pond Skim contest on April 3rd, a popular favorite for spectators and contestants alike with costumes, music, and beer from Ska Brewing. Prizes are awarded for the best skim (male and female), best wipeout, and best costumes.


Incredible Colorado bluebird sunny days, hilarious and fun events, along with a boatload of Champagne Powder® snow mean that spring will shine a whole lot brighter in Steamboat-Ski Town, U.S.A.®. The Steamboat Ski Area celebrates the close of the winter season with a festival including a boatload of Springalicious® festivities and free concerts.

Schedule of Events:

April 2- Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert (Big Sam’s Funky Nation)
April 9- 40th Annual Cardboard Classic

April 9- Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert (Magic Giant)

April 10- Splash Down Pond Skim

April 10-  Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert (Dumpstaphunk)


On March 4th, Sunlight will host the 2022 Defiance Challenge, an endurance competition challenging teams of two to see who can ski the most runs over the course of 10 hours on the mountain. The current record was set in 2010 with a total of 49 runs and over 66,000 vertical feet! Learn more and register to compete here.


Winter Park Wonderland

Winter Park Wonderland

It seems almost unfair to call Winter Park the prettiest resort I’ve visited in my quest to get back into skiing after 25 years away. With fresh snow having fallen overnight, every tree was dusted with picture-perfect powder, but even setting aside the unfair advantage the new snow provided, Winter Park is just pretty. I thought it entirely possible that I was imagining it or exaggerating the case, but no—Winter Park won Best Ski Resort in North America in 2018 and #1 Ski Resort in North America the following year. Clearly, I wasn’t the only one who saw something special on these slopes.

With more than 80 years under its belt, Winter Park is Colorado’s longest continually operated ski resort and offers more than 3,000 skiable acres across 166 designated trails. And if that weren’t enough, the truly dedicated can find an additional 1,200 acres of off-piste options—that is, terrain without designated runs or marked trails. Off-piste is situated far from grooming equipment, but equally far from crowds. The overwhelming majority of Winter Park’s offerings are for those that know their way around a mountain—a full 74% of its slopes are designated for advanced skiers and up.

Despite being heavily weighted toward more experienced boarders and skiers, the remaining quarter of the park was more than enough to keep someone like me busy. A particular favorite was the all-too short Wildwood Glade run.  Accessible from three(!) different lifts (Sunnyside, Super Gauge Express, and High Lonesome Express), this blue run cuts down a narrow pathway with a steep slope on the uphill side and what I took to be an impassable drop-off through thick trees on the downhill side. I was quickly disabused of that notion when a group of boarders dropped over the lip with hoots of glee and quickly disappeared out of sight. Maybe someday, I thought. But for the moment, I was perfectly content to stick to the track and enjoy the tranquil bliss of gliding through a just-shaken snow globe.

Rising up, straight to the top

Knowing full well that I wasn’t as resilient as I was as a 20-year-old, I’d spent a fair bit of time trying to prepare myself for the rigors of the sport.

As part of a larger goal to get in better shape, I’d spent two months leading up to this winter of ski adventures performing daily strength and cardio exercises; I’ve been fortunate to be working from home for the duration of the pandemic, so breaking away for a few minutes of home exercises has been logistically easy. It was nothing too intense and rarely more than 10 minutes a day, but I was committed to keeping up my streak and was definitely seeing results by the time I set out on my first trip.

Alas, it wasn’t enough.

I’d wracked my brain for long-ago memories of what body parts hurt after skiing so that I’d know what to work on—but I honestly couldn’t remember anything hurting back then (oh, to be 20 again!). Without a good idea of what I should be doing to prepare, I went with a gut feeling: squats for my quadriceps, sit-ups and jackknives for my core, a stair stepper machine for cardio, and the occasional wobbleboard while at my sit-stand desk for pretty much everything from the stomach on down.

The attempt to prepare was valiant, but ultimately insufficient. As anyone who shreds the gnar on the regular can attest, skiing is like, hard work, man. With how much I ached after my first day, I was happy I’d done at least something to prepare. I could only imagine the pain I would have been in had I hit the slopes cold.

Perhaps the most surprising ache was in my calves, and along with them, the muscle opposite them, a jerky-thin strip of muscle running alongside the shinbone called the tibialis anterior. Just as the calf pulls the foot into a tiptoe position, the tibialis anterior works the opposite way, lifting the toes off the ground. Both muscles are vital for balancing, but I would have thought that being encased in a rigid boot would render them immobile and more or less unused on the slopes. Nope. In hindsight, I wish I would have spent more time on my wobble board preparing these balancing muscles for the rigors ahead.

There and back again

Like most resorts, Winter Park’s main parking lot can accommodate only a fraction of the skiers that the mountain can, and so relies upon satellite parking and shuttle buses to ferry skiers from remote lots to the base of the mountain. It goes without saying that you should pay close attention to which satellite lot you parked in—and yet, here I am saying it. Winter Park seemingly has more individual parking lots than it has ski lifts, and it has a lot of ski lifts.

After parking, I had dashed to the incoming shuttle bus moments before it departed and completely failed to note which lot I’d parked in. I was the last one to board the packed shuttle bus, and as a standee, my view for the duration of the short trip was the back of a fellow rider’s helmet. I couldn’t see out a window and honestly had no idea how I’d gotten to the base village—nor precisely where I’d come from. Several hours of skiing later, I realized my mistake.

So it both goes without saying and yet also bears repeating: note which lot you parked in. It’ll save a lot of heartache later in the day, as well as a wasted bus ride visiting several of the lots that aren’t the one you’re looking for. Ask me how I know.

It was only after I got back home that I learned of what may well be a much better way to get there: the Amtrak Winter Park Express. The train makes the 56-mile run from Union Station in Denver without stops, and drops passengers off at Winter Park’s doorstep. Ski and board transport are included in the fare, which starts at $29 for a one-way trip. Travelers can kick back and relax in wide, reclining seats and drink in the scenery as they avoid all the I-70 and US-40 traffic. The train’s route passes through 29 tunnels as it makes the climb from Denver, culminating in the 6.2-mile Moffat Tunnel under the Continental Divide. It’s both the highest railroad tunnel and third longest in the US.

…With powder skiing for all

The National Sports Center for the Disabled helps athletes of all stripes embrace the great outdoors with adaptive innovations. From kayakers and rock climbers to skiers and equestrians, the NSCD provides more than 1,800 lessons to participants annually.

At Winter Park, that takes the form of private and group lessons in alpine skiing, ski biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

The NSCD has helped train nine US athletes participating in the Winter Paralympics, as well as athletes from New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Israel, and Great Britain—so don’t be surprised if someone in a sit-ski blasts past you with Olympian-level skills!


Awesome Après Options in Colorado Ski Country

Awesome Après Options in Colorado Ski Country

Photo Credit: Arapahoe Basin


After a full day on the slopes, my top priority is to find a sunny spot to sit, kick off my ski boots, and enjoy après ski food and drinks with my friends and family. Luckily for me, Colorado ski areas offer a wide variety of options for early evening indulging with great food, drinks and lively atmosphere. I’ve highlighted a few of my favorite stand-out après ski menu items below, in case you haven’t had the chance to try them yet.

A Beer Made Special for a Colorado Ski Area. Several ski areas have partnered with local breweries to create custom-made beers, perfect for relaxing after a long day of skiing and riding. Highlights include Loveland Ski Area’s Bernese Mountain Brown Ale by Guanella Pass Brewery, Cooper’s Kerrigan Irish Stout by Dillon Dam Brewery, Monarch’s Throwback Red Ale by Elevation Beer Company, and Sunlight’s Sunny Pop Craft Soda by Tommyknocker Brewery. There are no shortage of great beers at ski areas across the state, and there’s something special about sipping a special beer that you can only get in one place.

Mountaintop Après at Winter Park. Every Friday and Saturday, Winter Park offers a unique alpenglow après ski experience at Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge, complete with cocktails, live music, and incredible views at 10,700 feet. If you load the gondola after 4pm, there’s no lift ticket required. And a wonderful bonus from the Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge – From 9am-4pm during the winter season, they also offer a Choose Your Own Adventure Mimosa Bar.

Echo Mountain’s 2 Mile Pie. The closest ski area to Denver has a new pizza truck, parked at 10,560 ft. above sea level (aka Two Miles High), serving delicious pizza for a slopeside treat. Also at Echo, Brother’s Grille offers soups and salads, sammies and burgers, plus draft beer, wine and cocktails. I’m partial to the Echo Hot Chocolate, because hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps is the best way to warm up on a winter day.

Elk Camp at Aspen Snowmass. Located atop the Elk Camp Gondola at Snowmass, this is the best place to enjoy a casual, on-mountain après ski scene complete with a heated sunny outdoor deck and a cozy indoor fireplace. I like to pair my cocktails with the artisan hand-tossed pizzas. Don’t miss Ullr Nights, a nighttime, winter wonderland party with winter activities like tubing, riding the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, snowbiking, s’mores and hot chocolate by the bonfire.

The Taco Beast at Steamboat. This unique, on-mountain roaming snowcat serves four types of trail tacos. You can snag food and drinks five days a week, from 11am – 2pm (or until sold out). This might not be within traditional après ski hours, but I’m always inclined to find the Taco Beast at lunchtime – or else call it a day a little early to enjoy some Beef Barbacoa tacos and a beer or two.

The World-Renowned Bacon Bloody Mary at Arapahoe Basin. This is an après ski item – or a breakfast beverage – that draws a crowd from far and wide.  Arapahoe Basin’s 6th Alley Bar & Grill, located in the base area, offers indoor and outdoor dining with mountain views and some of the best après ski atmosphere you’ll find in Colorado. Pair your Bacon Bloody Mary with the nachos or the pork brisket and thank me later.

Kathryn Robinson is a professional communicator at the intersection of the outdoor industry and higher education. After transplanting to Colorado from Florida, she learned to ski for the first time in her early twenties and never looked back. When she’s not on the slopes, she’s working with the Outdoor Recreation Economy program at CU Boulder, hiking, kayaking, or spending time with her family.

Six Unique Colorado Skiing and Riding Experiences

Six Unique Colorado Skiing and Riding Experiences

Photo Credit: Aspen Snowmass

Colorado is home to some of the most unique skiing and riding experiences around. If you’re looking for a winter activity to remember – or one that will inspire envy among your friends and family – look no further than these incredible, off-the-beaten-path ways to enjoy Colorado’s ski areas.  

  1. Enjoy your powder turns with a side of live music. The only thing better than a great day of spring skiing or riding is an après ski party accompanied by live music. There are lots of opportunities to get your groove on at Colorado ski areas this spring, including Arapahoe Basin’s Shakin’ at the Basin Spring Concert Series, Copper Live, the Eldora Music Series, and Springalicious at Steamboat Resort. Almost all Colorado ski areas host live music throughout the spring, so be sure to plan your trip to coincide with free slope-sides concerts.


  1. Check out new lifts and terrain expansions. One of the most unique Colorado skiing and riding experiences is to ride a new chairlift, or ski and ride on a new terrain expansion, before most of the world gets the chance. And Colorado ski areas are always reinvesting in their mountains, so there are lots of opportunities to be one of the first to earn bragging rights. Recent additions in the last few years have included Arapahoe Basin’s 468-acre terrain expansion into the Beavers and the Steep Gullies, including the new four-person Beavers chairlift; the three-phase terrain expansion and new lift on East Ridge at Sunlight; Copper Mountain’s 273 acres of new expert terrain on Tucker Mountain with the new Three Bears chairlift; Steamboat’s 355 acres of new terrain in the Pioneer Ridge area; and many more!


  1. Plan a Gems Card weekend. It’s the best way to see Colorado’s hidden gem ski areas in style. Gems mountains are known for being affordable, authentic, easy to access, and having incredible skiing and riding. And with the Gems Card, you’ll get even better deals at each ski area – get 30% off your lift tickets, or bring a friend for 2-for-1 lift tickets! Some Gems Card weekends we’ve explored in the past include the Front Range Gems Card Weekend, the Central Colorado Gems Card Weekend, and the Southwest Gems Card Weekend.


  1. Pair skiing or riding with world-class winter activities. Everyone knows Colorado is home to some of the best skiing and riding in the world, but did you know it’s also jam-packed with winter activities that will thrill the whole family? Colorado ski areas have everything from mountain coasters and snowmobiling to tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides. There’s no shortage of snowy activities available, for skiers and non-skiers alike.


  1. Hit the spring slopes in beachy attire. In Colorado, you can count on getting bundled up in cold-weather gear to ride powder in a mid-winter blizzard. But skiing and riding lasts well into the spring, offering the opportunity to cruise the slopes in shorts and Hawaiian t-shirts – or even a bikini. Several ski areas also host beachy-themed events, like pond skims, concerts, and Arapahoe Basin’s late-May Swimwear Day. Don’t forget the sunscreen!


  1. Go skiing or riding under the stars. Although Colorado may be known for its bluebird skies and sunny ski days, Colorado ski areas also offer skiing under the stars. Several ski areas offer regular night skiing, including Echo Mountain, Steamboat Resort, and Hesperus Ski Area. Several more ski areas offer occasional night-time access to the slopes, like Full Moon Dinners, Snowcat Dining Excursions, and Guided Gourmet Snowshoeing. There’s no better stargazing than from Colorado’s ski slopes!

Kathryn Robinson is a professional communicator at the intersection of the outdoor industry and higher education. After transplanting to Colorado from Florida, she learned to ski for the first time in her early twenties and never looked back. When she’s not on the slopes, she’s working with the Outdoor Recreation Economy program at CU Boulder, hiking, kayaking, or spending time with her family.

Rekindling a Passion for Skiing in Loveland

Rekindling a Passion for Skiing in Loveland

My parents’ love story began at Loveland, and it seems only fitting that a blog celebrating Valentine’s Day would begin here as well.

Family lore tells of the day my father popped the question in 1983. My mom was certain that it was coming during that ski trip, she recalled—it was only a matter of when. She was by no means an expert skier and my dad, she remembered, wanted one trip down the mountain without any falls to set the mood. “One good run,” he’d said. Once that requirement had been met, he stopped a quarter of the way down their next run outside a small warming hut and pulled out the ring he’d been carrying all day.

My father has since passed away and my mom never managed to make it back to that spot, though it remained etched in her memory—but only there, since neither had a camera with them that day. If Mom could help me pinpoint on a map where they’d gotten engaged, I promised her I’d take a good photo of it.

Finding the cabin proved surprisingly elusive. The layout that was so clear in Mom’s memory didn’t seem to align with what we were seeing on Loveland’s trail maps. She was almost certain she’d identified the correct building, but the route leading to it seemed all wrong. The mountains may be eternal, but the lifts had changed in the intervening years: What was once a single trip up the mountain on Lift 2 was now split into two lifts, and the restaurant at the top was new too, further muddying the picture.

Once we’d puzzled all that out online, though, there was no mistaking the place: the E-Tow Cabin off the Ptarmigan Lift. Mom was sure of it. With a bit of squinting and a healthy dose of poetic license, I could even see that the two runs splitting left and right from the top of Ptarmigan formed a heart shape.


Originally the site of a basic towrope lift—labeled sequentially as the E-lift—that towed skiers up the mountain by a rope they gripped onto, the building is the oldest such cabin still standing at Loveland, dating back to the 1940s.

Back in the saddle again

With a family story that begins on the slopes of a mountain, it seems only fitting that skiing played a notable role in my childhood. We didn’t have the money to ski regularly—we were definitely an equipment rental type of family—but a natural athletic ability meant I was reasonably good, a moderate blue to easy black skier. When I recently moved back to Colorado, my home state, I realized with something akin to shock that it had been some 25 years since I last strapped on a pair of skis. It certainly wasn’t a conscious avoidance of skiing, but just a natural result of neglect. I was eager to see if I still had it in me.

In retrospect, then, making a beeline for the E-Tow Cabin wasn’t my smartest choice. My mom remembered the route as being an easy green, but it must be groomed differently now, because it’s a solid blue these days.

I was amazed at how quickly feelings long forgotten were remembered: It was love all over again as the chairlift quite literally swept me off my feet. The sky never seems so blue, the snow never so white, and the winter sun never so warm on your face as during those few minutes when the lift whisks you upwards. My dry spell away from the slopes had technically been snapped two weeks previously when I tried to teach my 11-year-old daughter to ski (check out that story here), but since we never made it off the bunny hill, that hardly seemed to count. And now I was staring at my first real slope in decades. Had mountains always been this steep?

Thankfully, long-dormant skills came back as easily as did the memories. Like riding a bike, it seemed I hadn’t forgotten how to ski, either. Truthfully, I was a little surprised at how little trouble I had. S-turns flowed seamlessly into one another, though I probably took wider lines down the mountain to keep my speed in check than I used to—I wasn’t nearly as invincible as I used to be, after all. It’s amazing what a couple decades does to one’s conception of mortality!

Learning from a Ranger

When I saw the sign at the base of the Ptarmigan Lift announcing a Ski With a Ranger program at the top, I knew it was something I wanted to check out. One of the highlights of skiing for me had always been the opportunity to enjoy Colorado’s beauty. Yes, the beauty was contained in an artificially groomed and maintained outdoor playground, but that hardly seemed to diminish it. A Ranger talk that promised topics on geology, ecology, wildlife, and history was simply too good to pass up. And I admit I was particularly interested to see how this would play out on skis.

A volunteer with the US Forest Service, Nancy McNab was a masterful host for the talk. Nancy regularly produced laminated photos, animal pelts, a vial of gold flakes, and other props from her Mary Poppins-like waist pack. We started in a chilly, wind-whipped area far above timberline—the zone above which few trees grow. Those that do manage to eke out a life in this rarified air are small, gnarly, and twisted. What would seem a young bush at lower elevations might easily be 200 years old up here. Poles planted and skis angled against the nonstop wind, our group listened to Nancy talk about the landscape around all around us and explain how the alpine tundra at our feet differed from arctic tundra found in more northerly latitudes.

A scant three minutes of skiing took us several hundred feet lower in elevation and a world away from the nearly barren bowl above. With a thick glade of pine trees forming a natural break against the wind and the sun at our backs, it seemed downright balmy. It’s the same temperature change that thousands of skiers disembarking every hour from the Ptarmigan Lift experience as they zoom down the mountainside. It was a delight to slow down long enough to properly appreciate the different climatic zones the mountain had to offer.

Pulling out a plush animal toy, Nancy introduced us to the downy chickadees that call this region home, and showed us the improbably large rear feet that give the snowshoe hare its name. As an actual lynx pelt was passed around, everyone in the group marveled at just how thick and luxurious the predator’s fur was.

Toward the bottom of the mountain, we paused near the spot where I-70 enters a tunnel and pierces the Continental Divide. Nancy shared the history of this monumental engineering project that, in 1973, created an alternative to the treacherous and winding two-lane Loveland pass that had until that point been the only route in this area through the Rockies. To this day, the Eisenhower–Edwin C. Johnson Memorial Tunnel remains one of the highest vehicular tunnels in the world; it’s also the longest mountain tunnel and highest point of the United States’ interstate system.

Check out Loveland’s Events page to find the next Ski With a Ranger date.

It’s easy to love Loveland

Just 53 miles west of Denver, the family-owned Loveland is situated entirely within Arapahoe National Forest, and its location has made it a favorite of urbanites along the Front Range for generations. One thing that sets Loveland apart from so many other Colorado resorts—besides its 1,800 acres of terrain and copious amounts of snow—is its pure, unadulterated focus on skiing. There is no base village, grand resort, or 10-story hotel at the foot of the mountain. For some, that’s a reason to zip by it and keep traveling down I-70, but for anyone interested in a day trip, it’s what makes Loveland so special (and comparatively affordable).

That’s not to say it’s without amenities, of course: There’s an eatery and pro shop at the base of the mountain, and a lovely restaurant at the top of Ptarmigan Lift.

Amusingly enough, those that do pass Loveland by still get closer to it than they might expect: they’re underneath it. Loveland actually straddles the Eisenhower Tunnel and several runs pass right over it, so next time you’re going through that long tunnel, consider that there are skiers carving the slopes hundreds of feet above your head!

I was particularly excited to check out Lift 9, Loveland’s newest addition to the mountain. Granted, ‘newest’ here means it was installed in 1998, but did I mention it’s been 25 years since I’ve been skiing? When it opened, Lift 9 was the highest chairlift in North America, a title it held for only seven years before being surpassed. Regardless, though, it’s still among the highest chairlifts in the world, offloading skiers and boarders at an impressive 12,700 feet.

To drink in the view in all its glory, climb up the 15-foot embankment that ensures no one can accidentally cruise down the wrong side of the Continental Divide (can you imagine?!). From here, you can see both ends of the Eisenhower Tunnel with ant-sized cars moving in and out of the east and west portals.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, there is no beginner terrain to be had at this elevation.

Calling it a day

Those looking for multiple days of skiing, or maybe just wanting a good night’s sleep rather than tackling a dark drive home, will have to look nearby for lodging. To the east of Loveland are the twin towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume; slightly farther to the west, on the other side of the Divide, are Dillon and Silverthorne. I opted for the Historic Windsor Hotel in Silver Plume. A scant 10 miles from Loveland’s parking lot and mere feet from the interstate exit, I think it may well be the closest public lodging available. Built in 1884, the hotel is as much museum as it is lodging. It’s said to have hosted both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla—though as anyone familiar with these feuding turn-of-the-century titans of invention could imagine, it probably wasn’t at the same time.


Yes, the floors creak a bit, and the stairs aren’t quite as square as once they were, but that to me is part of the charm of a building only eight years younger than the state of Colorado itself. The bed was comfy, breakfast was filling, the innkeeper was gracious, and the wi-fi signal was strong. What more could a guy ask for?

Mountaintop Matrimony

Those looking to start their own love story at Loveland might want to consider the resort’s annual Marry Me & Ski Free mass wedding event. New couples are joined in matrimony and married couples renew their vows in a beloved tradition that’s pure Loveland. An après party is held at the base of the mountain for all participants and guests with wedding cupcakes and sparkling apple cider provided. Participating couples that pre-register will be eligible for 2-for-1 lift tickets the day of the event. Details about the 2022 ceremony are here.


I hadn’t skied in more than 25 years; could I teach my daughter to?

I hadn't skied in more than 25 years; could I teach my daughter to?

Keen observers of the human experience have long noted that a gulf exists between successfully doing a thing and successfully teaching someone else to do it. Nothing drove home the truth of this idea so well as trying to teach my 11-year-old daughter to ski.

A Colorado native, I’d spent my fair share of time skiing throughout high school and was fairly good, a moderate-blue to easy-black skier. In college, I managed to ski exactly once when I convinced my girlfriend to join me for a day on the slopes. I’d teach her everything I knew! She’d love it! She wasn’t particularly athletic, had never been skiing—nor ever wanted to—and agreed to go only reluctantly. I was over-eager to be skiing again, cluelessly unaware of my girlfriend’s limitations, hadn’t prepared her for what to expect, and had spent not a moment thinking about how I would convey my knowledge to someone else.

It went about as well as you might imagine—which is to say that it was quite nearly the last date we ever went on.

I’m happy to say that we somehow overcame that disastrous outing and that that college girlfriend is now my wife of nearly 23 years. I’m unhappy to say I hadn’t been skiing since.

We moved to Washington DC after graduating, and while ski resorts certainly exist east of the Rockies, I was too much of a mountain snob (and too broke as I started my career) to consider any of the local terrain. And given the traumatic experience of our first attempt, my wife understandably had no interest. When we moved back to the Centennial State, we agreed that our daughter could hardly call herself a Coloradan without knowing how to ski. Truth be told, though, I had to question my own Colorado credentials: could I still call myself a skier? Twenty-five years, not a few gray hairs, and a knee surgery later, former skier seemed a far more apt description.

Goodbye Sled, Hello Skis

My daughter reaches for her sled at the first sign of flakes, so she was eager to put the local hills behind her and experience the real deal, an actual mountain. We discussed it quite a bit as a family: did Layla want to take formal ski lessons, or learn from her dear old dad? Of course the tale of my epic failure as an instructor came up—but I was older, wiser, and far more introspective now. Fatherhood does that to a guy. I’d successfully taught my daughter to use a spoon, ride a bike, and execute a double leg takedown when I coached her peewee wrestling team. Surely, I thought, I could be a better ski instructor to my daughter than I’d ever been to her mom. But wanting to present both sides of the question, I shared my internet research on teaching a family member to ski. The results were unanimous: don’t.

We all agreed that an actual ski instructor had the potential to do a vastly better job than I could—of course—but a lemon of an instructor would be disastrous. We didn’t have all that many ski weekends available to us and it would be painful to lose any time to a bad teacher. So after thoughtful deliberation, Layla opted for the devil she knew over the devil she didn’t. Here was my chance at redemption. I would teach someone I love to ski.

It went about as well as you might imagine.

An Auspicious Start

The Aspen family of resorts was celebrating its 75th anniversary, and that seemed a good place to begin my daughter’s skiing journey, but with nary a beginner green hill in sight—and definitely no bunny slopes—Aspen Mountain itself was right out. Luckily, the Aspen complex comprises four resorts (Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk) and Buttermilk is widely regarded as one of the best places for novices to learn the sport. Unexpectedly, it’s also the home of the Winter X Games, where gravity-defying athletes perform their spinning aerial stunts. I had my daughter believing for a good three seconds that the enormous halfpipe ski jump we saw being groomed in preparation for the games is what we were going to tackle.

In reality, our destination was Panda Hill, a broad, gently sloping bunny slope where beginners of all ages learn under the tutelage of innumerable instructors in distinctive red parkas.

We’d watched instructional ski videos before leaving (man, what a difference YouTube makes for the amateur instructor!), talked about the mechanics of skiing, practiced clipping into our skis and releasing the bindings, and Layla practiced her snowplow technique before sliding up to the Panda Peak lift. We were both filled with anticipation as the open-air chair moved up the slope at a kid-friendly pace. We watched as youngsters with skis no longer than my forearm dutifully followed their red-coated instructors in orderly fashion. Surely my daughter would nail this and we’d be off to more challenging slopes by lunchtime.

We were not off to more challenging slopes by lunchtime.

My daughter’s first fall occurred seconds after dismounting from the chair. Even after years spent playing in the snow, I think she was a bit surprised by just how slippery skis could be. Not a problem, I thought. She’s dressed for it, her attitude is great, and we’ve got nowhere to go but up.

I’m proud to say that she was grasping the basics. Her turns were slow in coming, but she could initiate them and bleed off speed as she coasted across the slope. Time after time, though, she would hold the turn too long and start turning too far uphill. Invariably the tips of her skis would splay out, the tails would cross, she’d slide backwards and downhill for a moment and then fall. As long as her speed was in check, she could occasionally string together a series of broad s-turns—but far less regularly than either of us would have liked.

Despite the years spent away from my beloved mountains, I was delighted to find that I was able to make these turns myself, but I quickly realized that I lacked the knowledge to understand what was going wrong for Layla, or even the vocabulary to explain to her if I did. I was staring into that gulf between doing and teaching.

A Little Guidance From a Pro

Luckily, a little bit of karmic payback—the good kind—was coming our way.

Despite the dozens of instructors on Panda Hill, they were well outnumbered by their charges. With each chair on the beginner’s lift able to accommodate only two riders, the instructors relied on kind-hearted adults to accompany their young learners up and meet them at the top. My daughter was comfortable riding the lift alone, so I had been a lift buddy several times throughout the day. By happenstance, I’d helped the same instructor several times and after a bit of internal debate, decided it was morally justifiable to ask if he might provide a word of guidance for my daughter.

He readily agreed and after watching her for a moment, his brief advice to Layla seemed to help—that was the first run she made it to the bottom without a fall. Alas, it wasn’t quite enough; she continued to have trouble initiating turns and was often skiing at the ragged edge of control. My little thrill-seeker

had no problem blasting straight down the mountain—it was just those pesky turns and stops that kept tripping her up. Sometimes quite literally.

We skied until the lifts closed for the day and then headed to nearby Snowmass, the largest of Aspen’s four resorts, for some après-ski enjoyment.

Goodbye Skis, Hello Skates

We had a little time as we waited for it to get dark—more on that in a moment. First up was ice skating in the Snowmass base village. The ice rink is free of charge, as was the skate rental. Somewhat surprisingly given its free nature, we were offered the highest quality loaner skates I’d ever seen. And an oversized apple crepe while nestled up to an outdoor fire pit afterward was just the thing my daughter needed to unwind.

Finally it was dark enough for Luminescence. Through February 27, Snowmass is hosting this colorful and free nighttime display of light. A series of glowing art installations runs alongside Fanny Hill between Snowmass’ base village and the Village Mall. We found the best way to experience Luminescence was by taking the short skycab trip from the base of the village: we got to enjoy the lights from our elevated gondola position on the way up and then more closely as we walked among them on the way back down.

Our choice of comfortable winter boots was a good one as we were hiking down a snowy mountainside. Be aware that while the ski lifts will have long since closed by the time you’re enjoying Luminescence, you may still encounter skiers and boarders making their last run down the mountain.

We might not have made a skier out of my daughter on Day One, but we certainly made for some good memories.

Down But Not Out

We came back to Snowmass the following day and took the high-speed, enclosed Elk Camp Gondola to the mountain’s beginner slope. Our second day went much like the first, unfortunately. It seemed that confident mastery of the basics was just beyond Layla’s grasp. Much of the advice I’d read about not attempting to teach a loved one to ski centered around the heartache, frustration, and tears that often resulted. While I’m disappointed I couldn’t make a skier—even a novice one—out of my daughter in a weekend, I have nothing but respect for her determination to keep trying and a deep appreciation for her great attitude.

As we made our way back to the parking lot shuttle bus, we shared a skycab with an instructor whose nametag noted she was from Washington DC. We struck up a conversation about the place that we’d until recently called home. I mentioned my inability to teach my daughter to ski and with a sly grin, the instructor replied, “Well, you know what I’d say to that.

Yes. Yes I do. We’ll be back for more, but next time we’ll leave the teaching to a professional.


Aspen Snowmass Celebrates 75th Anniversary on January 11

Aspen Snowmass Celebrates 75th Anniversary on January 11
21-C-033Photo Credit: Sam Ferguson, Aspen Snowmass

Celebrations include a Ski Parade and a Commemoration Ceremony at Aspen Mountain’s Historic Lift 1

To honor its historic milestone 75th anniversary, on January 11, 2022, Aspen Snowmass will mark the occasion with a day of community-wide celebrations on Aspen Mountain.  

The festivities are open to all and will begin at 11:30 a.m. with a ski parade beginning at the summit of Aspen Mountain and ending the base of Aspen’s original Lift 1 in Willoughby Park. Skiers who are strong intermediate level or above are invited to join the parade. 

At 12:00 p.m., in conjunction with the daily noon siren, Aspen Snowmass will host a lift dedication reenactment and celebration in Willoughby Park at the former base of the original Lift 1. The ceremony will feature a reenactment of the 1947 “champagne smash” and special guest speakers, including Aspen Snowmass President and CEO, Mike Kaplan, and Scott Fitzwilliams of the White River National Forest. A complimentary champagne toast will also be served to those in attendance to mark the occasion.

The 75th Anniversary celebration shows with Pop-Up Magazine at the Wheeler Opera House have been rescheduled to March 11 & 12, 2022.  The two-night-only run of shows will feature mixed-media storytelling emphasizing Aspen Snowmass’ people, places, and ski town passion in a “live magazine” format.

Other anniversary activations include toasting to the 75th with a specialty Aspen 75 cocktail, a spin-off of the original French 75, available for $7.50 in all on-mountain restaurants with bar service. The Aspen 75 will also be available in The Little Nell and the Limelight Hotels. 

Fans of Aspen Snowmass can celebrate virtually by following @AspenSnowmass on social media for a 75-day countdown of definitive events and moments that have contributed to the foundation of the brand. The countdown, which began on October 28, will culminate on January 11 to align with the celebration at Lift 1. Visit the Aspen Snowmass social media pages to track the countdown and join in the celebration. 

Going out the Gate: Why Backcountry Decision Making Matters on the Resort

Going out the Gate: Why Backcountry Decision Making Matters on the Resort
Photo Credit: Aspen Snowmass

If you’re skiing in Colorado chances are you’re a soft snow fanatic. That feeling of weightlessness and pure joy as you lay tracks through an open powderfield is borderline indescribable – and a feeling we all chase. No matter the stoke or the adrenaline, it’s important to note that the search for soft snow often leads us into avalanche terrain – even if you’re on a resort. 

Although we’re not here to deter you from chasing those coveted turns, we are here to educate you on your responsibility as a skier or rider in these zones. Even if a lift is in sight, the fact of the matter is slackcountry is backcountry. It’s not just on deep days, it’s important to include backcountry decision making into your terrain choices no matter the day. 

  • How will you know when you enter sidecountry or slackcountry terrain? Be on the lookout for “gates.” No, they won’t necessarily have a latch, but they will have a sign letting you know that you are entering an area with backcountry conditions and that rescue may be delayed. Sometimes gates are avalanche beacon access only, and others are subtle and you may not even notice passing through one – always be aware of your surroundings especially when you think you may be entering a gate. 


  • With big dumps comes big responsibility. If it’s a big storm day and you’re feeling those powder day jitters, head to and read the report! The avalanche report will walk you through the forecaster’s outline of the day and let you know exactly what slopes could pose the greatest risk. Most avalanche accidents happen when the danger is Considerable. On days listed Considerable or higher, maybe consider wearing an avalanche beacon inbounds and carrying a shovel or probe if in especially consequential terrain. There’s no shame in being cautious in avalanche terrain – the best ski day is a safe one. 


  • Part of the reason we love skiing out here, is that the terrain is HUGE, which means there’s a whole lot of terrain for ski patrol to assess and control every morning – especially after a big storm. When it is a storm day, and we hear those beloved booms of avalanche control, it’s important to only enter terrain that has been opened by patrol. It’s not a day to duck a rope. Should you trigger a slide, you could put yourself and others in serious danger. Wait it out – getting rope drop is half the excitement. 


  • Always travel into these zones with a buddy! Even if you’re skiing trees on a regular day, tree wells can pose a serious danger so it’s always important to have a partner. 


  • Before you hit your line, discuss your plan and where you and your partner plan to meet post-descent. Ideally you’ll go one at a time and to be sure to have eyes on each other. This is also a great excuse to get some shots for the ‘gram. 


  • If you’re unsure where to begin or a bit nervous, with knowledge comes power! Check out programs like the Mammut Center at Copper or a slew of online resources as a great way to learn backcountry basics. A lot of resorts also offer tours based off of skill level and terrain, which will also help you get a lay of the land and ask.