Skiing in Rocky Mountains

Originally, this blog post was supposed to be about running. I had known that I’ll be off to Denver, Colorado for a conference in November. The plan was to do a couple of runs in Denver, explore the downtown and write up a route or two on the blog. Things have not gone according to plan though, and I wasn’t able to do any running; however, I managed to sneak out to the nearby Rocky Mountains and do 1.5 days of skiing on the preceding weekend. Hence, for a change here’s a post about skiing.

Denver and Rocky Mountains

Denver is nicknamed the ‘Mile High City’. Indeed, it lies at such altitude, just on the edge of the imposing, 3000-mile-long, Rocky Mountains. Thanks to a major international airport, Denver is a great base for exploration of the mountains: in the Summer for hiking and in the Winter for skiing.

November is a kind of a transitional month: one year there could be hardly any snow, while another year the mountains are snowed under and all the resorts are fully up and running. Knowing that I would visit Denver in November, I assumed that with a high likelihood I should be able to do some skiing on the weekend before the conference. A few weeks beforehand I knew that, although there hadn’t been any major snowfall, the resorts had been producing snow and getting ready to welcome skiers.

2 months before the trip I had done some research on where in the mountains I could stay for a couple of nights. My selection criteria were quite simple: maximum 2-3 hour drive from Denver International Airport and proximity of a few skiing resorts, that are known to open relatively early in the season. I quickly decided on Keystone, located less than 2 hours from the airport. Keystone boasts its own Keystone Resort, plus within 20-minute drive there are also two other resorts: Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Ski Area.

View from Keystone to the nearby ski pistes

Keystone Resort

Keystone Resort, with its 20 lifts and 135 runs is a sizeable and impressive resort. If all the pistes and lifts were opened, I would have had a whale of a time. Unfortunately, when I was there just 1 piste was open. It was quite long (2.2 miles) and enjoyable, even though it wasn’t technically challenging. Queues to the high-speed 6-seater chair lift were very reasonable, so I had a satisfactory skiing experience with 19 runs. My track below :).

That’s how 19 runs on the same piste look. Elevation in metres above sea level.

Interesting fact: the skiing pistes at Keystone Resort are located quite high. Keystone itself lies at 2800 metres above sea level, while the top lit station lies at  3782 metres.

Keystone Resort

Arapahoe Basin

The second day I had just a few hours to explore Arapahoe Basin (aka A-Basin), which lies even higher than Keystone (between 3286 and 3978 metres above sea level). The resort is smaller than Keystone, but well-known for offering one of the longest skiing seasons in the Rockies. Not this time though, because just 2 lifts were running and 1 piste was open (in fact, 1 piste from the top to the mid station followed by a fork of 3 pistes to the bottom station). My experience at A-Basin turned out to be much worse than at Keystone. The lift queues were horrendous (15-20 minutes each time) and the lifts were quite dated, hence not offering a lot of capacity. I assume, that if all the lifts and pistes were open, my experience would have been a lot better. Comparing A-Basin with Keystone, Keystone wins for me anyway.

Arapahoe Basin

To finish off this post here’s a short compilation of my runs at Keystone and A-Basin. Enjoy!

All the best,

Marcin

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