Reviewed by Jessica Higgins
Dec 04, 2008
The term “champagne powder” was coined in Steamboat Springs, and the town boasts more Winter Olympians (63) than anywhere else in the country. Coincidence? No, sirree. The two big hills (Mount Werner and Storm Peak) gather some of the fluffiest, most consistent snowfall in the state, like this year’s 105 inches in 11 days.
Mary Jane—named for a mining-era lady of the night—and its sister area, Winter Park, offer plenty of prospects for good skiing, including bumps and powder-filled bowls. Forming one of the closest major resorts to Denver, the two areas spread across five mountains and 3,078 acres. Add 3,060 feet of vertical, 30 feet of snowfall, and a direct train from Denver and it’s no wonder why the Front Range packs the place on Saturdays.
The experience is more heli-skiing than resort skiing, but instead of dropping $800, you ride an old double chairlift all day for $99.
Not much feels better than eddying-out early off of Colorado’s ultra-congested main ski artery, I-70. This is the first plus of skiing Loveland. The small to zilch lift lines—even during spring break—are a welcome change, along with the epic backcountry access, newly opened Tunnel Face (another nod to persistent poaching creating change), and no sign of Vail-tude. Not to mention the price for a day lift ticket is $40 cheaper than most other resorts. At Loveland, neon still thrives; you can still ski to your car, park free, and be alone at the top of the Wild Child chutes in the shake of a hat.
Quick Tip: Three separate on-mountain cabins can be rented out for private parties, or, if vacant, are the ideal locale to squirrel away a six-pack and some burgers for a 2 P.M. throw down.
Backcountry Access: Two gates exist, accessible from chairs 1 and 8. From chair 1, access Loveland Pass after a 15- to 20-minute hike. Follow the ridgeline skier’s left to the Mine Dumps which spills onto Highway 6. Check avalanche.state.co.us/ for current avy conditions.
8:00 A.M.. Since 1974, I-70 commuters have been tackling breakfast at The Happy Cooker located on 6th street in downtown Georgetown. There’s no reason not to start your day with a green chili potato boat or a waffle surprise. Surprise: It’s ice cream.
9 A.M.: First chair is 9 on weekdays, 8:30 on weekends. To get the softest, morning sun-touched snow, rev the legs up from the top of Ptarmigan Roost—one lift ride provides a two-mile cruise to the bottom.
10 A.M.: When you’re chomping at the powder bit, b-line it to Chair 1. The skier’s right trees through Avalanche Bowl into Zoom will hold snow all morning long.
11 A.M.: For a long run with consistent pitch and reliable snow conditions, Over The Rainbow from Chair 1 is it. Not to mention it’ll run you right to the parking lot to de-layer at the car.
1 P.M.: The Wedge doles-out top tier sandwiches and homemade kettle chips, or on a warm day grab a hot dog at the base area’s outdoor BBQ.
2 P.M.: Love Park in Bennett’s Bowl has jumps and rails for all ages and abilities. Spectators can grab a free taco and watch groms crush it during the Vert Alert series.
3 P.M.: Off-load left from Chair 9, traverse, and take a short hike out to the Porcupine Saddle. Here multiple steep, exposed, picturesque runs hold snow and will make Chair 6 travelers drool.
4 P.M.: Rub elbows with crusty nocturnal cat drivers and hip 20-somethings at the base area bar, the Rathskeller. On Tuesday’s the tacos are 50 cents and 16 oz PBR’s are $2.75.
7 P.M: For the best brie, wiener schnitzel, bohemian roast duck, and age 21+ chocolate moose you’ve ever had, don’t miss the New Prague Cafe in downtown Georgetown. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
10 P.M.: In Georgetown, the sparse nightlife happens at the Red Ram Bar and Grill—come early and stay late for ribs, whisky, and some local flare.
Overnight: Relax Euro-style with a complimentary glass of wine in a private hot tub overlooking the river at the Hotel Chateau Chamonix. Chocolate croissants are delivered to your door in the morning (from $170; hotelchateauchamonix.com)
Elevation: 13,010 feet Vertical Drop: 2,410 feet Snowfall: 400 inches Acres: 1,365 Info: www.skiloveland.com