Fantastic accumulations of snow make 2014 a winter to remember.
At the end of the day, no matter what else is involved, what makes for a fabulous ski season is abundant snow. This year, the Rockies have had it. I feel fortunate to live within a few hours’ drive of some of the best skiing on the planet, but I do have envy pangs when I think of vacationers or second-home owners in the high country who don’t have to do a same-day roundtrip, even though I never go on weekends and only ski on non-holiday weekdays. The flip side of has been challenging driving conditions. Much as the Colorado Department of Transportation works at keeping traffic moving, from aggressive plowing, chain laws for trucks and attempts to tinkering with traffic flow by various means, it’s often slow-going on Interstate 70. When I’ve been crawling along the highway after being delayed by an accident somewhere up ahead, driving into a blinding blizzard or debating whether to dare passing a fishtailing vehicle with plates from a flatland state, I wonder if it’s worth it. But then, I step into my bindings, shuffle toward a lift and know that it is. I had a back injury (not from skiing), spent two years in increasing misery and had surgery in January of last year. Bottom line is that I skied minimally in three years and got back on snow this year — tentatively and without being able to ski from first chair to last. But as the season continued, I’ve gotten stronger. I also have new appreciation for user-friendly lifts.
At Breckenridge, the BreckExpress gondola, which loads on the edge of town and unloads at what was the original base area of Peak 8, Keystone’s relocation of the River Run gondola a little closer to the Village at Keystone and therefore a shorter walk from the day skiers’ parking lot. Before I hurt my back, I never thought about such things. But even though I’m mostly mended, I think about them no — and I appreciate the consideration. Also, it helps me forget about occasional lousy drives.