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Breckenridge 1/14-1/17


New member
May 10, 2005
Northern NJ
Date(s) Skied: 1/14/2005 - 1/17/2005

Resort or Ski Area: Breckenridge and Vail

Conditions: Breck: PP/MG Vail:pow/PP

Trip Report:
I would have liked to go at a later time in the season during the peak snowfall but my schedule didn't allow it so my fiance and I went during the MLK weekend. I was frantically checking the snow reports for the weeks prior to our arrival. Surprisingly both resorts were 100% open with excellent coverage.

We left Newark Airport around 10:00 and got to denver international around 1:00. We got in our rental (free upgrade to a Jeep Grand Cherokee[see later picture]) which was nice and comfortable for the trip to 9600ft. The mountains appeared just as we left the airport and got on the highway.

I could really get used to this...

It took about 1 hour to get from DIA to the eisenhower tunnel. I was really surprised at how much coverage Loveland ski area had for this early in the season. (Highest lift accessed ski resort in North America) Usually the winds whip around the 13000ft peaks and eliminate any early season snowfall. You can see some of the ski area and the peaks surrounding the tunnel.

Once we passed through the tunnel (highest tunnel elevation in the world) the snow started piling up. It seemed like for every 10 minutes on the road, the snow depth would increase a foot. We pulled up to the Great Divide Lodge and I was shocked at how close we were to the slopes. I could see the new Quicksilver six pack across the street. We checked in and relaxed for a little bit. We bundled up to go out to dinner as temperatures dropped into the single digits once the sun went down. We ate at a place called the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. In a word, fantastic. Cheap food, great entertainment, and a friendly atmosphere. We didn't stay out too late because we wanted to get an early start and we were exhausted from the trip/altitude.

I got up around 6, and we were one of the first people on the sixpack lift across the street. We took the lift up to the base of peak 10 and took the HSQ up to the peak. We warmed up on a groomer and headed back up to the peak. I couldn't wait to ski the Burn (the area in the picture below with sparsely covered trees). There was good coverage, but it reminded me of skiing back east with small brush poking through the snow. We did a couple bump runs on the steep dark rider/mustang and spitfire and headed over to peak 9. I wanted to hike to the top of peak 8 but it was still covered in low clouds (12000ft low clouds!)

The runs under the E chair were steep and bumpy. We were both getting tired so we decided to take a break and grab a bite to eat at the Vista Haus.

The mountain in the background is Keystone. I have no idea who that guy in the picure is.

After lunch we headed up the T-bar to the to top of horseshoe bowl. We made a couple runs off of the t-bar and then decided to hike to the summit at 12998ft, about 750vert above the t-bar. The low clouds had cleared out and the sun warmed things up nice. It was a trek. We hit the imperial bowl. Untracked snow all the way down. We hit the top of chair 6 and did some runs under the lift. Then we hiked up around the other side of the imperial bowl and I started down the imperial bowl. STEEP. I took a conservative line down the bowl trying to avoid cliffs and rock ledges, while my fiance cruised across the lip of the bowl to some easier (relative) terrain.

We ended the day exhausted and ready for vail. We hit up a sushi bar for some dinner and called it a night.

I have one thing to say about vail...EXPENSIVE. I never had to pay for parking but $20 in a garage was a little much. Lunch was $40 for the 2 of us. And a water/snack break put us back $15. Thank god we didn't eat dinner there.

But the skiing was incredible. We booted up and headed up the Riva Bahn to the Northwoods express to the back bowls. We did a couple runs in the sun up bowl and china bowl and headed to the blue sky basin. If you wanted to be alone all day long, go to Pete's bowl and head into the woods. All lift accessed, but skis like backcountry. I would recommend champagne glade for thinly spaced trees and skree field and steep & deep for tight, narrow, and steep turns.

Below you can see Heavy metal, little ollie, and iron mask. They looked like nice runs even though we didn't hit them.

The more popular bowls were bumped up (Game creek and China bowl)

Below is me standing above Shangri-La.

Looking back up Jade Glade.

All in all Vail was amazing and I could spend weeks there exploring every little trail. We didn't spend too much time on the front face because we were so excited about the back bowls and the new terrain added in the blue sky basin. We left exhausted and ready for our last day at Breck.

Our last day started out on a good note, 3-6" of new snow. We took it easy as we had to make a 5:00 flight out of denver. We skied predominantly under peak 7 and 8 doing intermediate and expert groomed terrain. It started getting real busy around 12 so we decided to call it a trip and get an early start back to the airport.

By leaving early we managed to find ourselves behind a pickup truck moving some bed box springs and mattresses. Sure enough the box springs let go and smashed the front grille, hood, windshield, etc... We pulled off and while the cop was responding the guys in the pickup took off in another car. uhhhh...not how I wanted to end the vacation but I'll take it...

I hope my next time out west doesn't end in another MVA...



New member
Oct 28, 2004
GrizzlyFD said:
All lift accessed, but skis like backcountry.

We call that "Slack Country" ;)

Great report... makes me want to go back..
Love Colorado...