Loveland isn't one of those Colorado resorts that you hear a lot about. Unlike Aspen and Vail, it is not considered a "destination resort." In other words, Loveland is more a resort for the hardcore locals, than, say, French tourists. As one local said, "This isn't a resort for people who get the sniffles when they ski." Its smaller size, the easier access from the greater-Denver area, and The Ridge, the highest lift-serviced area in the Northern Hemisphere, make it a perennial favorite for Coloradans, and made it the perfect destination for me last Monday.
It was sunny but crispy-cold as I headed up Chair #1 from the Basin base area. Skiing west across the mountain, I eventually made my way over to Loveland's Chair #9 -- the world's highest quad chair -- which would take me to the top of The Ridge.
Braving the ridiculous wind that blew across the mountain's face, I arrived at the top of the Continental Divide and following the example of my guide Scott, popped off my skis and hiked forty feet up the ridgeline to the ski area's boundary. I immediately gained an amazing perspective on the area as Scott pointed out each of the Summit County resorts in order from east to west: A-Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, and Vail. Also of interest, there looked to be a kicker of a storm moving its way toward us.
Unable to feel my fingers from the frigid wind, I decided it was time to ride the Divide. I clicked into my boards and headed for The Ridge. The Ridge is a collection of drops into super-steep powder-filled bowl runs. I twice hucked my way down Patrol Bowl, stopping several times along the way to look up and appreciate the severity of the terrain I had just covered.
I made my way over a good part of the mountain, but there seemed to be so much more to explore: glade skiing in West Ropes, interesting-looking backcountry terrain, and some tough diamonds off Chair #8. "Those sections alone should be reason enough to come back," said Scott. He wouldn't have to ask me twice.