Great start to the editors’ Colorado tour in Winter Park

7th February 2015, by Chris Gill

Fresh snow under blue skies in Winter Park on Thursday

Fresh snow under blue skies in Winter Park on Thursday

Mr Watts and I flew to Denver on Wednesday morning for a short tour of Colorado resorts, starting with Winter Park. Since then we’ve enjoyed two excellent days skiing fresh snow under blue skies.

Denver was cloudy when we arrived, and the mountains to the west looked dark. Would we meet snow on the drive over the 3450m Berthoud Pass. Well, yes we would: serious snow and swirling winds – not fun in the dark.

We were glad we had forked out the ludicrously high extra cost of a 4WD car with snow tyres. We had booked an SUV, but had been unable to confirm what exactly that meant; it turned out to mean a fake 2WD SUV on summer tyres. Beware.

We were billeted in the excellent little Vasquez Creek Inn, in downtown Winter Park, where we also enjoyed a very good first night dinner in the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Volario’s, before retiring early for the usual patchy first night’s sleep.

Thursday dawned sunny, but at altitude it was windy, keeping three of the resort’s six sectors closed for the day. A fourth – the high, steep Cirque – wasn’t yet ready to open following the new snowfall.

So we were limited to the two main sectors, Winter Park mountain and Mary Jane. We gave our guide the challenge of rebutting one of our main criticisms of the resort – that the skiing on these main sectors in particular is either easy cruising or stiff black mogul fields which are never groomed.

Essentially the criticism stands. But there are one or two blue-black runs that are groomed weekly, and the wisdom of this arrangement was clear to us – we enjoyed shin-deep fresh snow on an essentially smooth base.

The sector that we were itching to get to following the snowfall was Parsenn Bowl, which has vast amounts of blue and blue-black lightly wooded terrain, some groomed some not. Happily, on Friday morning its Panoramic Express chair opened, and we were among the first to ride it, enjoying run after run in largely untracked snow.

Now it’s off to renew acquaintance with Steamboat, 100 miles to the north, which slid off our agenda some years ago but is set to make a comeback in the next edition of WTSS. The immediate forecast is more sun, but with more snow on the way.

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