I've always said, a winter isn't a real winter until I take a ski trip out West. This year I really lucked out, not only did I get to head to Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek in Colorado for a few days skiing with some awesome friends, but I also was there for probably 2 or 3 of the best days they have experienced all season. Fresh powder on Day 1 at Beaver Creek meant that I spent most of the morning remembering how to ski powder, as it had been a few years. By the afternoon I was loving the glades with all of the hidden powder stashes.
Day 2 at Vail meant yet more fresh powder and an unbelievable day at an amazing mountain. Favorite trails of the day: Lover's Leap, the Glades between Cloud Nine and Steep and Deep (a completely deserted paradise in the trees), and the Shangri-La Glade. For those that have never skied at Vail, picture this: the front side of the mountain is 7 miles long. You then take a lift up the front side and you have the entire backside of the mountain to ski. Ski down the back bowls and take another lift up the next mountain (BlueSky). For those of you on the East Coast that think Killington is big, Vail is 5,000+ acres compared to less than 700 for Killington. WOW. Even the trail map has to be split up into essentially three maps: front side map and the backside/Bluesky map.
Day 3 was back at Beaver Creek. No fresh powder today, but I got up early and hit some perfect groomed trails. It was so smooth that I'm pretty sure I hit speeds I've never hit before on skis. Once the crowds started to arrive I headed to the Rose Bowl and started to do laps on the Stone Creek Chutes. The snow was amazing and this was some of the steepest and most challenging terrain I've ever skied down. It was labeled as "Extreme Terrain", one step past a double diamond. I liked the sign that described it as "any place within the ski area boundary that contains cliffs with a minimum twenty foot rise over a fifteen foot run, and slopes with a minimum fifty degree average pitch over a one-hundred foot run". Unfortunately the pictures just don't do it justice, but when every turn you take snow goes whizzing by you down the hill in front of you, you know it's steep.
Video of me heading down Stone Creek Chutes:
Here are some of the pictures I took on my iPhone (not as nice quality as my usual SLR pictures):