Eldora: Wednesday, January 13

One of the cheapest ways to hit the slopes in Colorado is to go with a school group. As a teacher (even part-time), this option is still available to me.

The school outing at Eldora was set for Wednesday, January 13. For kids the price was an unbelievable $14(!) and for us adults it was a reasonable $31.50.

Eldora is not along the I-70 corridor, which is where Vail, Breckenridge, Copper, and my beloved Loveland are. Eldora is located NW of Boulder, just outside the funky little mountain town of Nederland. The drive there takes you through picturesque Boulder Canyon, with its ribbons of pine and mountain streams alongside it. There’s even the Ski N Ride, the bus that runs during the season from Boulder to Eldora.

We got to the parking lot at 9:30AM, tracked down our lift tickets, and beelined for the easy, green slopes. That’s right. Even though my partner in crime for the day (the art teacher) has been skiing since he was five, this was a group outing and the bulk of the group was starting at the beginning, on the green.

As long as there’s enough slope to a run, I don’t mind the greens. Easy terrain allows me to practice my turning techniques, giving me time to think about the weight and edge transfer in my turns. After a couple of rides up the triple EZ chair and a couple of runs down Bunnyfair, our group of six headed for bluer pastures, courtesy of the Cannondale lift.

The Cannondale lift promised more blue terrain like Jolly Jug, La Belle Dame, and runs that connected to the Indian Peaks lift, including Hornblower and Corona Traverse. Jolly Jug was great: wide, open terrain with few beyond our group crowding the run.

In fact, I have never seen a ski mountain with so few people on it. Here it was, another beautiful day in Colorado: clear blue skies, shining sun, glistening snow, comfortable skiing temps, and there were maybe hundreds of people on the hill.

The art teacher and I headed over to the Indian Peaks lift, which served more difficult terrain. I was having such a good day I was contemplating doing some blacks over at the Corona lift. I was feeling good, making smoother turns that I had in years, feeling confident about the runs in front of me, and overall just really enjoying the day. We got separated on Indian Peaks after a delightfully fun and uncrowded run from Hornblower to Lower Ambush. As it was early afternoon, the runs in the shade were getting iced up.

I separated from my teacher friend and ended up on the Lower Diamond Back run instead of the Lower Ambush Run. Snow here was more granular, and trees with broken limbs and patches of dirt were new obstacles. In my effort to avoid the trees and control my speed, I spun out of control, curled up into a ball, and rolled down the hill.

Icy shavings clung to my left side. I sat there in the icy shade for a minute or so, collected my breath, and headed back down to the base. After twenty minutes of hydrating and resting, I headed back up Cannondale for the comfort of Jolly Jug. When even that was too much for my lungs, burning things, and overall exhausted body, I made for the EZ lift, where I had started the beautiful day of playing in the Colorado Rockies. No blacks for me that day.

I made some technically correct turns and called it a day after four solid hours of snowboarding.

Lift ticket $31.50 with school group

Parking FREE