So, with some furious searching online, we looked for availability at ski resorts that were off the beaten-I-70 path. To our glee, we found some at Crested Butte, which is in the central-western part of the state, and west of the Continental Divide (which usually translates into more snow!) So, after making sure we found "lodging" for Chamberlain for the weekend, we booked our stay at the Grand Lodge in Mt. Crested Butte (technically, the name of the "town" at the base of the ski area; the town of Crested Butte is 3 miles away.) Now, all there was to do was prepping and packing, all the while keeping it a surprise for Chloe until we picked her up from school on Friday with the Explorer loaded up with luggage and ski gear.
Friday afternoon came, and our plan worked wonderfully. Peggy and I went to Chloe's Valentine's Day party at her school, after which we all walked to the car, with Chloe complaining the entire time about just wanting to go home. But when she opened the door to the car and saw all of the stuff, her eyes got big and asked "What's THIS?!?" When we told her that we planned a mini-vacation at a ski resort (one that has an indoor/outdoor pool, of course) she was no longer interested in going home right away.
It's about a 5 hour drive from Boulder to Crested Butte, and we did a little over half of it done during daylight. One of the areas that stuck out was the South Park basin (yes, it is tangentially related to the animated cartoon.) Here we saw a herd of approx. 75-100 elk, and were viewing vast pasture lands situated below snow-covered peaks on all sides. Another part of the drive that was great was as we dropped down into Buena Vista... the views of Mt. Princeton and some of the other Collegiate Peaks were amazing. After dinner in Buena Vista, the rest of the drive took place at night, including the climb and descent over snowy Monarch Pass. We arrived at our hotel at around 8:30p.
Saturday and Sunday were spent either skiing, hanging out in the outdoor pool and hot tub, or heading into town (i.e. Crested Butte) for dinner. Skiing on Saturday was OK... snow was coming down, but the light on the trails was pretty "flat" making it difficult to pick up terrain and contrast at times. During one run on my own, I think I was spared certain injury when a guy in front of me right over a 5 foot drop-off from an access road that bisected the trail. I'm assuming he didn't see it, for he went flailing. Lucky for me, because I definitely didn't see it, but his mishap gave me those precious seconds to turn slightly and slide down the embankment sideways, just barely being able to keep the skis snow-side down.
Sunday, though, was perfect: new snow, sun, clear-blue skies, and no wind. (I actually got a little sunburn on my neck!) The story of the day, though, was Chloe... her ski lessons were definitely paying off. We spent most of Saturday on Beginner/Green trails, occasionally taking an easier Intermediate/Blue. On Sunday, though, after 2 warm up runs on some Greens, she was actively seeking out some more Blues! She negotiated her way down some sections that were by far steeper and longer than anything she had done at Eldora. We skied from 9a - 4p, and were secretly hoping for an overnight snowstorm that would prevent us from leaving on Monday.
(Pictures amidst the text above, top to bottom: Chloe at the top of Paradise Bowl; Peggy and Chloe at the top of Paradise Bowl; a view from the deck of the Paradise Warming Hut; Chloe and I enjoying lunch outside; Peggy and Chloe taking a lift back up the mountain; a view of Crested Butte peak (l); one of the many views available from the ski area.)
*** A note about pictures: As is the case with all pictures in this blog, click on them to view a larger version. ***
A close up of The Shredder
Chloe kicking back at an outdoor rest stop.
Another spectacular view.
Chloe with Crested Butte peak in the background.
A view of Mt. Crested Butte (the base-area town) and surrounding mountains.
Family picture at dinner after a day in the sun and snow
A view of Mt. Princeton (2nd peak from the right) and other Sawatch Range peaks.
A close up of Mt. Princeton (center peak; 14,197 ft.)
Another video of Chloe