Three days, one natural hot springs and two ski resorts in the Colorado Rockies – but not an (available) single ski bunny in sight.
istone_hun / 123RF Photo
Skiing has to be one of the craziest endeavors known to mankind. Who was the first idiot to think of attaching wooden planks to their feet and careening down a snow mountain?
The whole thing is just preposterous, which is probably why I simply love skiing, it defies logic and good judgment. Wearing a pair of skis, I can be as crazy and careless as I want and no body blinks an eye, not even my therapist. Put me on a ski hill and I’m like a 5-year-old at Disneyland, I can’t stop giggling.
My latest ski adventure was in mid-January. After four grueling days in a United Airlines flight simulator for my annual pilot exam, I decided to reward myself with a Colorado Rockies ski trip. The plan was to rent a car in Denver and spend three days slope-hoping at two different ski resorts: Breckenridge and Aspen. From Aspen, I’d catch a direct flight home to Los Angeles.
The first stop was Breckenridge, about 2 hours from Denver, it’s the perfect place for locals to do a day trip and be home by dinner time. That also means that skiing at Breckenridge, on a weekend, is like shopping at Best Buy the day after Thanksgiving. It requires strategy and Zen-like patience to maximize ski time and minimize lift-line waiting time.
Breckenridge also has its fair share of snowboard hot-doggers who will whiz by you at breakneck speeds. You can hear them coming but can’t really see them until after they zip by. Snow boards carve up the hill differently from skiers, creating undesirable ridges. I grew up in Montreal back in the days when skiing was au courant, so I may be a bit of a ski purist, but there’s no denying the boarders are here to stay so ski snobs are best off just accepting them.
Compared to posh ski resorts like Aspen, Breckenridge is a family oriented resort with plenty of chili dogs, kid friendly hills and daycare. But no ski trip is really cheap – it’s more like expensive, really expensive and outrageously expensive. At Breckenridge, lift tickets are $110, a sliver of pizza is $10 and equipment rental close to $40.
Despite being a ski aficionado, I long ago gave up owning my own. I like being mobile without the cumbersome equipment. Plus no maintenance required and I get to sample the latest technology. Every year it seems there’s a “new and improved “ski equipment concept being pushed by ski marketers: one year it’s fat skis, another it’s long skis and yet another it’s no skis (yes, you ski on a modified boot).
My next stop was Glenwood Springs, famous for its natural hot springs. I checked into the Hotel Colorado, perfectly located because it’s right across the street from the springs. You can just put on a terry cloth robe, dash across, and jump in. After a couple days skiing, there’s nothing like a hot soak with a canopy of stars overhead. It’s a fun place to regain control of your ski legs after a hard day on the slopes.
The mineral springs cost $15 per day and are open until 10 pm. But if you arrive an hour before closing time, it’s only $10 and one hour is plenty of time to relax and enjoy the hot springs.
I arrived in Aspen close to noon, just in time to ski a half day and then fly out to LAX in the evening. It’s hard not to like Aspen: great runs, good food, too far for the Denver day trippers and beautifully maintained.
My only real complaint was finding a place to park. I must have been in a holding pattern for 45 minutes and Aspen city meters demand a jaw-dropping $11 for four hours. But it is Aspen, where private jets fly in and out, and money flows like beer from a tap.
I did notice a certain attitude on display. On my first run I stood in the singles line to catch the quad lift, upon asking if I could join a group of three I was abruptly denied. When riding up the hill in a gondola, a gentleman of a certain age and his very young female companion were sitting opposite each other. He started to rub her leg, so I took my foot out of my boot and requested the same. If looks could kill! I guess my sense of humor wasn’t appreciated.
I flew home a happy man, without injury or too many bruises. My hopes of meeting a beautiful ski bunny didn’t materialize, I thought it might be because I didn’t have enough cash to attract that kind of talent. But in all fairness to the bunnies, maybe it’s because it was a special weekend in Aspen – something that happens once a year and just happened to be going on the weekend I was there: “Gay Ski Week.”
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