Fresh Powder and Fresh Cookies

18 06 2009

Published in the Winter 2009 Colorado Visitors Guide; by Claire Fisher

As a seven-year Colorado resident, I have done the ski shuffle many times: Waking up at 6am on a Saturday, grabbing coffee and bagel and trekking to the mountains, watching my car’s fresh tracks in the rearview mirror. But, this day we had gotten wind of a storm — and the promise of fresh powder — the night before, which prompted myself and a friend to skip work the next day, drive to Beaver Creek and rent a condo for the night.

Beaver Creek is not your typical ski resort. It’s like a mystical land out of a fairytale. It has heated walkways, escalators up to the base, moving walks between areas of the village, an unusually chipper staff and a man who plays a 10-foot horn year-round. This luxury means you’re “not exactly roughing it” (which happens to be the Beaver Creek Resort’s marketing slogan), but it does have some of the best bumps, shortest lift lines and steepest terrain in the central mountains. Nearly trumping all of that, however, are the free, fresh-baked cookies served at the bottom of the lift. It’s like Grandma’s house with an alpine backdrop.

The mountain is sprinkled with luxury cabins from which a lucky few can ski straight out onto the slopes. I was one of those fortunate people on this epic day, and I schussed directly to the first chair from my condo (actually, I took the moving walk). As I gazed at the slope beneath the lift and picked my route, I wondered what I’d be doing this fine Friday if I lived in any other state and concluded that whatever it was, it could never compare.

At the top of the Cinch Express lift, at the summit, my friend spotted something you only hear about in après-ski bars — an untouched run along the trees. For a weekend warrior, it is a bit shocking (and thrilling) to see a trail without any scars from previous skiers. We giddily slid over the morning powder, beckoning us like a smooth lake of foam from a Colorado beer. As we made our turns, letting out giggles of glee, we skied deeper and deeper into the woods.

Skiing along in my reverie, the mountain fell completely silent. Just then, it started to snow, and I could almost hear each snowflake hit its soft cushion. This is what the best ski days in Colorado are all about: an unspoiled run in the woods with good friends, a glorious powdery descent. Oh, and the promise of fresh cookies afterward. (download pdf with pretty pictures)

www.colorado.com





19″ in Beaver Creek

13 12 2008

In case you were wondering, I got mine. I’ve decided that this year I am fully dedicated to storm hunting. A crew of about 8 people and I got a place in Breckenridge for the weekend. It slept 10 and was a block from Main Street for $149 a night. And it was nice. Deals are flowing this year, so if you’re anything like me and you want to make sure your in the mountains on the weekends in case a storm hits, check out: www.gobrecknow.com.

We chose Breck because the town is adorable and always a good time. However, I have passes at Copper, Winter Park and A-Basin, so you have to commit to a little commute. I think it’s worth it — Copper’s dead at night.
Saturday at Copper:
The snow was really soft and the trees had deep powder. However, the entire mountain isn’t open so it’s hard to make your way around the hill without the fear of poaching. Hopefully this will work itself out in the next couple weeks so you can ski care-free. After this storm, I can’t imagine any part of this mountain will stay closed for much longer.


My crew.

Sunday at Copper: Confusion was upon my group as we awoke at 7 am to check the snow reports. Resort TV that airs in Summit County claimed that Copper received 3”. Another reliable source, The North Face IPhone application, claimed 8, but the resort only claimed 3 as well. In actuality, they probably received between 8 and 12 in some places. Why would the resort under-sell themselves? Was it a typo? 3s and 8s do look alike. About mid-day I received my daily Copper Snow Report claiming 8. It was too late. I already made the executive decision to “hit up” Beaver Creek, who claimed 14″ in every snow reporting media – which to me meant it was a sure thing.

Beaver Creek this weekend: Got 19″ total. Sunday was my second ski day of the year. My legs were burning beyond burning. It was between 0 and 10 degrees all day. But the snow, as it tends to be at Beaver Creek, was phenomenal. We reached Stickline, a glade run off the Centennial Express lift, just as four ski patrollers auspiciously dropped the rope on it. I can’t really explain what this meant it words — but if you’ve ever stood alone in the trees with snow up to your waist, I’m sure you could imagine. You can find out more about why I LOVE Beaver Creek in my article in the Winter Colorado Visitor’s Guide —  www.colorado.com. And it has nothing to do with the free, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies at the base.

Women, are you sick of freezing extremities?
Me too – which is better, mittens or gloves? Thin socks or layers? Tight base-layer or loose? Glove liners or hand warmers? I feel like no matter what I do, I can’t keep the circulation going in my finger and toes! Let me know your thoughts and recommendations! HERE

For snow reports on your IPhone: search on the ITunes library for The North Face and download the snow application. It lists all resort reports and resort maps. One more reason IPhones are the coolest.





The Un-Powder Days of Denver

3 12 2008

I have failed as the weekend adventure examiner. I haven’t been able to write because I’ve been bombarded by emails – 5 new inches here, 6 more there, 6-12 on Thursday, 32 at the top of Loveland. I’m not saying I don’t want it to snow… after all, snow will only benefit the overall season by creating a decent base. But here’s the thing, it is so overwhelming when you know there is powder to be had, and you can’t touch it. I can’t even turn on my blackberry because every two minutes I get a message from Copper, Winter Park, A-Basin, Steamboat, Taos, that says “MORE POWDER!”

And then there are my friends, all who are planning to “hit it up” this weekend – they won’t shut up.

There are no friends on a powder day. But it seems there is family. I will be traveling to California this weekend, just in time to get the beginning of the chilly rains of winter, and just late enough that getting in a bathing suit is completely out of the question. Hurray for me.

Last weekend, I spent my time playing touch football in Albuquerque with my 11 year old cousins – which was awesome – but that blackberry wouldn’t stop blinking. I wanted to tell you all about this slide-proof trail up on Berthoud Pass, which is up to my knees with fluff. But alas, I am writing about my weekend adventures yearning to be on skis.

Here’s my checklist for how to get through those un-powder days – the ones where you envy those jerks living up in Summit, skiing A-Basin in the morning before work:

  • Go see a movie. There are some really good ones out right now, like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It’s a holocaust movie, so it will certainly take your mind off your powder-woes (and make you feel guilty for griping).
  • Plan a trip for the following weekend – the one you can actually make it to the mountains. There are some great deals early season in Copper and Winter Park. Plus, if you come then, I’ll have some people to hang out with!
  • Cut off all ties with ski-bum friends. At least for the week.
  • Buy gear on WhiskyMilitia.com. It comes in about four days, so there’s four days of anticipation to help you pass the time.
  • Research the Acai Berry. It’s supposedly this super food that makes you lose weight. Oprah and Rachel Ray endorsed it, so you know it’s good. This research will take up at least three hours – you won’t believe what they’re saying. Finally, a miracle pill to make you lose weight! (Can you say tapeworm?)

Denver. You are so far from the powder, it hurts. Why do I have to have a job?! A family?! Responsibilities?! Because I like expensive Pinot Noir, that’s why.

For more people I hate: Teton Gravity Video
Credit: Thanks for the video HeyItsDaver on YouTube! (whoever you are…)
Email Me.You know you want to.




Avalanche and Backcountry Prep

19 11 2008

Don’t be a dummy. There’s a reason Colorado has the highest death-by-avalanche rate in the world. Now I’m not saying it’s because we’re a bunch of dummies, but by sheer volume of backcountry skiers in Colorado, surely we will win the title. However, preparation and the right gear increase your chances of surviving. DUH. But did you know that 3 out of 4 people die from being buried? Having a beacon significantly increases your chances of being found. Mostly, knowledge increases your chances of never getting caught in one to begin with.

What to buy: You know the tools:  probe, beacon, shovel. But did you ever think about what you’re friends are carrying? Your tools can be the best on the market, but it’s your ski-partners’ tools that are saving your life. Don’t skimp. Buy the good stuff. You don’t want that cheapo shovel you bought at a garage sale to be the reason you lost your best friend.

Get over it: Beacons are expensive and rarely go on sale. However, REI is having a sale Nov. 21-December 1 on the Backcountry Access Tracker Transceiver for $229 (originally $289). So there you go, on a silver platter. Don’t worry, I’ve already got mine.

Back to School: There are as many free avalanche courses in Colorado as there are dumb enough people not taking them.

Want to learn more? Then read a book! (these can be found at REI also)
Backcountry Skiing Berthoud Pass by Jonathan Lipp
Staying Alive by Bruce Tremper
Now, I am not a backcountry expert. This is my inaugural year. I’m buying skins, randonees, AT gear, and taking the courses. And I’m still scared. I’ll let you know how this all plays out for me this year, so stay tuned!





Ski Magazine

18 06 2007

In 2005-2006, I had a fabulous internship with Ski Magazine. Being an ambitious CU Boulder student (no seriously), I was chomping at the bit to get my name published in the coveted rag. I was studying Journalism at the time and was being groomed for the news room. But I said nay. I wanted the life that came with glossy print and color photos, and all the free ski gear.

I finally got my chance to prove that I had what it took when they assigned me to write an article for the Mountain Life Design section in the June 2006 issue. Ski_Magazine. So I didn’t get to write about the best powder ever, while trying out the seasons hottest women’s fat skis, but I did get published in a 450,000 circ. magazine that has sat on my grandfathers night stand since 1960.