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by ambassador Maria Brunori
Ahh, Summit County, Colorado; nestled in the mountains about 90 minutes West of Denver, it's a county filled with mountains, chill vibes, and good people. Home to four different ski resorts and currently the place that I, myself, call home. Summit County is an adventure lover’s paradise. From biking, hiking, camping, and climbing in the summer to skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and more in the winter, it is difficult to be unhappy when you are here. In this Shred Spot, we are going to focus on the winter scene of Summit County and all of the aspects that make it an incredible place to visit, and an even greater place to live.
Each of the resorts in Summit have unique qualities about them, making them rad hills all for different reasons. You have Breckenridge Ski Resort, Keystone Resort, Arapahoe Basin, and Copper Mountain.
Breckenridge Ski Resort, located in Breckenridge, CO, is a good place test your skills, mentally and physically, if you are a thrill-seeker looking to find that perfect, yet extreme terrain. The Lake Chutes are classified as “Extreme Terrain” and should be ridden only by those who have much experience and control while skiing or snowboarding. In order to get to the Lake Chutes, you must take the Imperial Express lift on Peak 8, which is actually the tallest lift in North America, with the unloading area sitting at 12,998 ft. above sea level. Once you unload from the chair, you then have about a 10 minute hike up a 45 degree slope before you make it to the top. When you make it to the top, be sure that you have a hold of your gear, because it gets pretty windy up there and it will easily get windswept.
My friend, Bobby, sister, Carissa, and Dad, Rich
at the top of the Imperial Express Lift
After you catch your breath from the short, but difficult hike, take a look around. Now, being over 13,000 ft. above sea level, you can see Summit County with a completely new perspective. In front of you, you will see the town of Breckenridge, Lake Dillon, Keystone Resort, and the mountains that surround you. When you turn around, you will see Copper Mountain from a birds-eye view.
Now, it’s time to drop! Be sure that you have a plan, look at your lines before you drop, check to see the obstacles that might be in your way, such as boulders and other skiers, and get ready for a run of your life!
Another unique thing about Breckenridge is the Winter Dew Tour in December. In 2016, it was December 8-11. Slopestyle, Pipe, and, new this year, a Team Challenge all take place on the mountain. Then, right on Main Street in the Town of Breckenridge, a Streetstyle competition goes down.
Dew Tour is a chance to meet your favorite riders, watch pros throwing down, and get inspired to push yourself harder. It’s definitely a fun time that you don’t want to miss when visiting Breckenridge in December.
Now, onto the next mountain! Keystone Resort, located in Keystone, CO, is known for being the largest ski resort Summit County has to offer. Whether you want to cruise through glades or rip through the park, Keystone has some of the best of both these worlds.
First, let’s talk about The Outback at Keystone. To get to The Outback, you have to take the old-school Outpost Gondola from Adventure Point to North Peak. From there, you make your way to the Outback Express chair, where you will find intermediate and expert terrain. To really get those intense turns in, you can hike up about a mile to the top of Wapiti Peak and ride Outer Limits, North Bowl, or South Bowl. Expect wide open terrain that turns into incredible glades. However, be sure that you know your limits and don’t ride alone. The Buddy System and knowledge of your abilities and the conditions are important when riding The Outback. It may not be “backcountry” but you should still be aware of what you’re getting into.
Another favorite spot at Keystone is A51, Keystone Resort’s Terrain Park. With basic, beginner features, progressing all the way up to their Pro Jump Line, A51 has more than 100 features in total and also has its own park lift. Within A51, there are rail gardens, small, medium, large, and pro-sized jumps, and a half pipe. If you are in Summit County and want to learn to ride park, A51 is the place to go. Whether you are starting out, or are a professional skier or rider practicing for your next big event, A51 has features for your ability and comfort levels.
Finally, one of the most unique features that Keystone Resort has to offer: they are the only mountain in Summit County to provide night riding for its customers. With the River Run Gondola and Peru Lift running, skiers and riders have access to over ten trails varying from beginner to expert terrain. This gives tourists a change to get some extra runs in and locals who work during the day the opportunity to make some turns.
Next up on the list of Summit County Ski Resorts- Arapahoe Basin, also known as “The Basin,” “A-Basin,” or “A-Bay.” The Basin is known for being the first resort in Summit (and often the nation) to open in October and the last to close in June. With the early and late season riding, it gives the residents of Colorado a place to get that winter itch out. Recently, The Basin has proposed an expansion project to add more lifts and tree runs to the resort, while also clearing out trails in expert terrain areas.
Although the expansion project is exciting news, let's talk about the fun that's already there, shall we? For starters, the East Wall is an area on the mountain filled with natural features such as quarter pipes, rock jibs, and more. Then, if you make your way up and over to the Zuma lift on the backside of the mountain, you will find one of the best spots in the area to spend your powder days. The terrain is limited to black diamonds, double diamonds, and expert terrain, and the backside of the Basin has an insane amount of tree runs that are typically pretty open, making it a fun cruise whether you are on a board or skis. One of my personal favorite aspects of the Basin is when it’s getting close to closing time at the end of the season and a pond appears at the top of the mountain. As long as you huck it, you will make it across fine. Even if you don't want to risk it, it’s a spectacle to watch: people dressed in funny outfits attempt to make it to the other side of the pond. Most of the attempts lead to soggy boots and wet clothes.
Last on our list of resorts in Summit County is Copper Mountain. Located down I-70 W, heading toward Vail Pass, Copper is a family friendly resort that always has some exciting events going on and usually isn’t as crowded as some of the other resorts in Summit.
One of the most well-known aspects of Copper Mountain is Woodward Copper. “The Barn” in a Woodward Copper indoor facility that has everything from bowls to trampolines, and even a drop-in that is used with Parkskis and Parkboards - leading to two and four foot jumps that send you straight into a giant foam pit. Along with the indoor facility, Woodward creates an insane terrain park at Copper during the season, consisting of various ability levels. They also offer a hike park in the summer that is used by their summer camps and open to the public on weekends, with a setup change regularly. Woodward Copper is a program to help with progression in extreme sports such as snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, BMX, cheerleading, and more. They even have programs to teach about filming these extreme sports. Be sure to check out Woodward Copper’s summer camp program that lets campers stay at Copper for a week to learn more about their interests, train with coaches, and gain confidence to progress in what they love.
Along with Woodward, I also talked to Kelly Vance, SheShreds.co's social media marketing manager, about her insight on Copper Mountain and what she thinks are some of the best aspects that Copper has to offer:
“For freeride terrain, Copper has several good bowls with steeps/cornices and wide open powder - most notable and unique is the Tucker Mountain Cat, which is a free cat ride up to some hikeable steeps. For families, people also like that the "family friendly/slow skiing" area is well separated from the rest of the mountain, just as a result of the layout of the terrain. This keeps the slow moving kids and tourist families in a safe area, and keeps the lifts servicing more extreme terrain uncrowded.”
Also, don’t forget to check out the different events that Copper Mountain puts on during the summer and winter months- Mac & Cheese Fest, Copper Mountain Music Festival, Copper Mountain Chubby Chili Pepper and Whiskey Fest, Rev Tour, U.S. Grand Prix, Subaru Winterfest, USASA Rocky Mountain Series: Slopestyle and Halfpipe Competitions, WinterBike, and more!
So, there you have it- the incredible resorts of Summit County, Colorado! If you ever have the opportunity, I hope you get a chance to visit at least one of these resorts and all of what Summit County has to offer. Whether it’s for a day or for a year, visit this unique and beautiful place on the map- you won’t be disappointed.