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Published: February 5th 2017
Our first four weeks of snowboarding has come to an end. It feels like it has gone by in a flash but at the same time feels like forever ago that we opened the door to our studio apartment with trepidation (surrounded by a million, noisy college students all trying to check in!)
During our time in Breck we've had so many different conditions which just goes to show how quickly weather in the mountains can change.
In our first week we had tons of snow but in complete contrast, week two got off to a sunny start. We were back to snowboarding on groomers and could see the lovely scenery for pretty much the first time since we'd arrived. We were doing 50km days and still making it back down the mountain mid afternoon - much more typical behaviour than our 'part timer' ways of the first week!
Half way through week two we took the free shuttle bus to another resort called Keystone which is about 45 minutes away. It's a much smaller, purpose built (read Fisher Price) resort with some more challengingly graded slopes than Breck. From the top of the mountain you could see
the slopes of Breckenridge! We had a great day there and had planned to go back at least once more (best laid plans!!)
The following day the snow started again so we spent the remainder of the week at Breck despite plans to visit another of the neighbouring resorts. Just as we'd remembered how to ride groomers we were back to Powder days!
Week three started out with 14 inch (about 36cm) of snow in three days. It was getting to the point where we were taking it for granted! In Europe when you get snow it's the equivalent of being a kid on Xmas eve. Here it's just been a case of 'oh, it's snowing, AGAIN'. Knowing the resort meant we could really take advantage of the powder and go on some exciting adventures, lead by Paul. This meant that I spent a lot of time digging myself out of powder in the trees - happy days!!
Things got very challenging towards the end of week three. I think it was the equivalent of the mid week lull when you're away for a week. Your body starts to protest at what you're doing to it and
getting out of bed gets harder each day. On top of all that we had the coldest conditions we have ever experienced. Breck is famed for the wind, to the point where locals call it Breckenwind. With the wind chill we had temperatures of minus 36 celcius at the top of the mountain. Even at mid mountain it was hard going and somehow I managed to get early to intermediate stages of frostbite on my face one morning on our warm up run (sorry mum - it's all cleared up now!) We went in very early that day!
That weekend we treated ourselves to a two day weekend to recharge our batteries and wait out the cold weather. Luckily it coincided with the international ice sculpture festival so we had plenty to keep us busy!
Our final week was epic and action packed. Thankfully the weather warmed up (almost an alarming amount!) and we had four days of sunshine. This meant we could confidently book a day trip to Vail - one of the most famous resorts in the US. Although covered in our lift pass the free bus does not go there so we had to invest
$90 on a transfer. Obviously we wanted a blizzard free, warmish day to take the trip and week four was our first opportunity to do this.
We were a little underwhelmed by Vail initially. Although the village itself is super cute (modelled on an Austrian resort) and the scenery is spectacular, the runs were crowded. There were also lots of (busy) traverses, which as a snowboarder are a bit of a chore. After a couple of hours we managed to find some pretty awesome runs through the trees and lost the crowds so our final impression of Vail was a positive one.
The following day we managed to grab a space (we'd been on a wait list) for 'first tracks' something that runs once a week for season pass holders. Basically it means you get access to the mountain one hour before the general riff raff. The theory being if there is fresh snow you will be making the very first tracks in the snow. This meant we were on a chair lift at 7.30am (as the sun was rising) and even though there hadn't been fresh snow it was still an amazing experience. Riding down the mountain
with only the rat-racks for company - simply awesome. Throw in a free breakfast at one of the mountain restaurants and it made for a pretty special start to the day!
The next day we hopped on the free bus to Arapahoe Basin. Yet another resort covered by our lift pass and the free bus. This was definitely our least successful day away from Breck. Even windier than Breck and far more exposed meant that most of the snow has literally been blown off the mountain. It was like riding on ice - not remotely fun and definitely not worth the two hour return trip!
Our penultimate day was spent back in Breck and the snow was back - yippee. It pretty much snowed all day but the vis held out and we had one of our longest days snowboarding so far. The only thing that brought us down the mountain was 62mph winds!
The sunshine was back for our final day and we had fresh snow to play in. We went back to all our favourite powder runs for a final time before going back to our room to pack everything ready for the next exciting
chapter of our trip.
We are both really sad to be leaving Breckenridge. We've had such a wonderful time, met some really lovely people and had phenomenal conditions. But it's hard to be sad for long when in just a few hours we will be in another state, in another resort, checking into another condo with trepidation (but hopefully no college kids this time!)
Bye bye Breck and thanks for all the snow!
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