Good tidings from Colorado

14th December 2009, by Editor Watts

Father Christmas turned out on Copper Mountain to hand out good tidings and free sweets

Father Christmas turned out on Copper Mountain to hand out good tidings and free sweets

Editor Dave Watts arrived in Colorado on Tuesday and has had some great and some not-so-great skiing since. He reports:

Colorado has had a slow start to the season, with no significant snowfalls before I arrived with a group of 25 Daily Mail Ski magazine readers on Tuesday. Thankfully it was snowing as we drove along the I70 towards Vail. Wednesday dawned with a mixture of sun and clouds and only a small part of the front face of Vail mountain was open. But the snow on the trails that were open was dry and powdery and we had an enjoyable day.

Thursday we went to Beaver Creek. Again, only a small proportion of the terrain was open but we had some delightful high-speed cruising on deserted trails and under sunny skies. Beaver Creek has always been deserted on my visits – and I love being able to ski at warp speed there on perfectly groomed runs without any danger of collisions. We even managed to bag some untracked powder when they opened the newly renamed President Ford run in the Strawberry Park area.

Friday we had a great day with Copper Mountain’s top instructors on the limited terrain they were able to open. But it was enough to keep us amused for the day. And we were able to witness the qualifying round for a major half-pipe snowboarding competition, with Olympic hopefuls putting in stunning displays flying high above the 22ft walls.

Saturday saw us back in Vail after light snow had fallen during the night. First thing, we enjoyed a couple of delightful groomed runs with an inch of powder on the surface. But then the hordes arrived from Denver – this was the first weekend of the season with half-decent snow. And with only a small proportion of the terrain open it meant long lift queues – 35 minutes for the Northwoods Express by mid-morning. The queues and crowds were just as bad for the mountain restaurants (sorry, self-service cafeterias – why do people paying £400 for a week’s lift pass put up with cattle shed conditions like that; the places are a million miles from Zermatt’s civilised mountain huts).

Off to Breckenridge for Sunday – another report soon.

Lift queues at mid-Vail at lunchtime on Saturday

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