Ski-Bum Bliss In Vail

Feb 18, 2010
Outside Magazine

I recently went to Vail, Colorado, for a mini-vacation. I wanted to enjoy a nice day of beautiful vistas, blue skies, serene, wide-open slopes, and even an après beer in the sunshine that wasn’t a PBR. Basically, the opposite of my usual freeski urchin, storm chasing, all systems go modus operandi. 

A friend from Jackson Hole came with me, and I planned to show her where I used to ski in college as well as the Blue Sky Basin, maybe cruise around the front side where Olympic racers train. I wanted to top the trip off with a drop down a great backcountry line, for old times' sake.

But things didn’t go quite as planned. There wasn't much sun in the morning sky, nor was there much snow. That didn't change by the time we got to mid-mountain, nor as we dropped in to Sun-up Bowl for our first run. I hit the cat track in about ten turns, and I lost interest about nine turns before that.

Then, it got colder. And grayer. And the wind picked up. Then, it started really hammering snow, and visibility was suddenly zero. It turned into a big, fat, dumping, blowing, free-refills powder day. I didn't want to show my friend around anymore--I left her in front of a giant trail map at Two Elk Lodge and took off on my own. Call me cruel, but the snow was calling.  

The low visibility required keeping to the trees, which was just fine by me. It was a deep, smooth, face-shot afternoon, a totally unexpected turn of events that left me smiling. I skied powder, practically alone, until the lifts closed. I met up with my friend at our car, where we promptly drank a semi-frozen PBR. It felt like home. Maybe some things don’t need to change.

--Brigid Mander

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