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My father and I flew out to Denver Thursday the 6th and spent our first
night in a hotel in Golden, Colorado.  Friday morning it was off to A-Basin
for day 1, and to meet up with Matt Duffy.  There was an accident in a
tunnel before Idaho Springs on I-70 so we missed the meeting time with
Matt; but evidently so did he as he was doing some laps up on Loveland Pass
with his dog.  Matt left a note at the Exibition lift for me so we ended up
meeting at the base of Pali at 11am.  Skied all over A-Basin and it was
great to have a local guide.  I had a blast over in the trees off Pali,
especially 3rd Alley.  The terrain up there is simply amazing, and with 7
inches of fresh pow, I couldn't have asked for better conditions.  Even on
the beginner slopes, Matt had some winding, tree shots that were a blast.
Arapahoe Basin is a great mountain and has a cool retro feel to it.  Very
similar in attitude to Alta and its nice to be able to park right next to
the lifts and not have to ride a resort shuttle from some distant lot.

At about 3pm we decided to give Loveland Pass a try.  My dad was getting
tired and said he wouldn't mind driving the shuttle.  So Duffy, his dog
Winter, and I took one run down the pass.  I was simply amazed at the vast
amount of powder that was there for the taking, especially considering how
accessible it was.  I remember traversing a little bit so that we could
have runs where we did not have to cross another track...and I also
remember telling Matt that it is 'ok' if we have to cross a track here or
there, but I guess skiing that stuff all the time spoils you so why not
find a line down where you do not have to cross a track? ;) Loveland Pass
is really like cat-skiing, but with a car.  I'd recommend it to anyone that
if you go out there, give it a try.

That night Matt came over and joined us in our Best Western hot tub and
then he showed us nice spot for dinner at the Dillon Dam Brewery.  Matt,
did you ever look into those $1 beer nights?

Saturday it was off to Beaver Creek.  I was pleasently surprised with the
terrain we found here.  Grouse Mountain Lift and the trails it accesses are
exellent, unrelenting, steep bump runs.  While most of the other lifts had
lines building, we walked onto the high speed GML quad all day.  One of the
patrollers we road up with said that happened all the time, the type of
people that ski Beaver Creek are normally not great expert skiers, but
retired cruising types.  Also, there was an amazing amount of powder left
lying around on the edges of bump runs and in the trees.  It had been at
least 4 days since it last snowed up there and in some instances the amount
of pow left was unbelievable.  I'd recommend the Beav to anyone that is
staying in the Vail region and is looking for powder after Vail gets skied
out; you just have to put up with parking in Avon and riding a shuttle 4
miles up to the ski area.

The next 4 days were spent at Vail.  We had lodging lined up with a friend
of my father.  This friend's family happened to be one of the original
investors in Vail and they had one of the original houses on the mountain
at the base of the Vista Bahn express as well as lifetime seasons passes.
There were 14 people from the Albany, NY region staying in the house last
week, and it could easily have fit another 6.  I do not even want to
contemplate how much money the house was worth.

The skiing at Vail was great spring skiing, but since the place is
absolutely massive, we found powder in some of the sheltered north facing
trees of Blue Sky Basin. At this point we were skiing with a bunch of other
people from the Albany area that had been invited out there.  The Back
Bowls were huge, and great to experience, but the conditions actually were
not that great.  They face south and were just getting baked by sun and
warm temps all day long and then would freeze at night.  They were really
only skiable after about 10am and then by 2pm were slush.  Blue Sky Basin
was where the powder was.  A trail called Steep and Deep had no false
advertising, and then we discovered some tight(by western standards) trees
that had a steady pitch for at least a mile down further off of a trail
called Heavy Metal.  They were completely untracked, northfacing and
sheltered by huge pines.  Here we were skiing laps off a high speed quad
down knee deep pow at America's busiest resort. Check out Blue Sky Basin if
you go to Vail.

The third day, I borrowed a beacon and shovel from someone and a bunch of
us headed into the backcountry off of blue sky basin.  The trail map says
it is a wildlife area, but there are access gates and well worn paths off
of both peaks.  At the top of any lift back there you can easily spot
backcountry runs that all funnel back into obvious drainages back to the
lifts.  We hiked one ridgeline for about an hour before arriving at a
cornice and a great powder field that lowered into mellow glades.  Sorry
about not having names for these runs, but I do not know the names of the
runs we skied.  Just traverse and poke around the boundries if your up
skiing at Blue Sky Basin.  There really was no avalanche danger in these
areas, but we had the beacons and shovels just in case.

On the frontside of vail,I loved the bump runs off the Northwoods Express.
Prima to Pronto and Prima Cornice were loads of fun.  Prima Cornice for the
first 500 feet is a definate no fall zone with lines that thread through a
rock field up top and then into tight trees before opening up into a great
bump run.

Also check out Hairbag Alley in the Northwoods area for a natural halfpipe
down a creek bed which is sheltered from the sun so the snow stays soft
during those long spring days.

I know I'm forgetting a lot, but I figured I'd post something especially
for those of you that might be going out that way later this year or next
year.  Vail is highly developed but the skiing is top notch.  I was never
dissapointed at all last week with any conditions or mountains we
encountered.

Colorado passed my powder test with flyin colors.

-Scott

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