We're in Winter Park in Colorado where the snow's super cold, the pistes are perfect, the moguls are magnificent and the sidecountry's AWESOME
Deciding to fly to Colorado for 10 days skiing at the end of February was the second best decision we've made - the best decision being the one we made five years ago to spend every winter skiing...
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- Published 25th February 2019
- Elaine Deed
'Probably the best piste skiing I've done for a long time.' After a day and a half skiing in Winter Park, Gavin was the most enthusiastic I've ever heard him about piste skiing. But then we'd just been on first lifts on a Monday morning doing perfect 'groomers', lapping the empty pistes.
In truth, we don't do it much, piste skiing, that is. We're more touring and backcountry kind of skiers but when the pistes are wide with long pitches, bordered by trees and consist of impeccably groomed cold snow and are practically empty of skiers or snowboarders as in Winter Park on a Monday, end of February, what's not to love?
Deciding to fly to Colorado for 10 days skiing at the end of February was the second best decision we've made - the best decision being the one we took five years ago to spend every winter skiing. Not only have we just left the French pistes and sidecountry being shredded by most of France, Eastern Europe and the UK on half term holiday but we also escaped during a particularly dry period of no fresh snow and too warm temperatures for classic spring touring.
So whereas this time last week it was impossible to ski any distance off piste in the France Alps without the fear of hitting wind affected crud, today we took the Vasquez Cirque double black diamond ungroomed backcountry area via a gate stating 'extreme terrain experience' required (main image) and dropped in to the steep pitch for deep and light cold powder.
Of course, the fact that Denver is only an hour and a half's drive away (on a good traffic day) or one hour forty minutes via the magnificent Amtrak/Winter Park train that snakes from the mile high city up through the scenic Rockies, means that weekend warriors wipe out the powder stashes with the vigour of Sitting Bull attacking Colonel Custer and his 7th Cavalry. This can mean that the obvious sidecountry powder such as among the trees in all the scenic forests that make Winter Park such a picture postcard resort, is pretty quickly skied out before the next top up of snow.
So as well as doing the classic mogul field pistes that make some of Winter Park's classic runs such an extreme knee-flexing test, you can also, by doing sidecountry through the forests, attempt bumps but with trees on top, which is an added tree-hugging avoidance challenge.
But snow at this time in Colorado is rarely far away - and more's due end of this week. We've both been riding Rossignol Soul 7 HDs hired from the Mountain Adventure Centre, with our downhill boots, featuring all-new Air Tip 2.0 and Carbon Alloy Matrix technologies. At 106mm underfoot they've proved to be a great all mountain freeride ski, fun on the pistes as well as the powder. But with pistes like these and powder that's so cold, it'd be hard not to enjoy the ride whatever the ski.