Loveland: Friday, January 22

A few inches of fresh snow greeted us when we arrived at the usual time of 10:30AM at the base of Loveland. Even though the hour was late and the weather in the very agreeable mid-20s, we still parked fairly close to the base of the mountain.  One of the things I enjoy most about Loveland is not only its closeness to Denver (about 50 miles, depending on exactly where you live), but the closeness of the parking lot, the day lodge, the everything. Loveland is so great because it’s cheap (for skiing, anyway), close, convenient, big (enough, with 1500 skiable acres), and no-nonsense.

You can have an epic day at Loveland, and on this particular Friday I almost did.

Our routine at Loveland is the same. Warm-up on Chair 1.  In my last post, I wrote about how I was waiting patiently, this year, for that day when I felt comfortable and confident with ratcheting my boots ratcheted onto a board. Today was that day.

In fact, one of the scariest things about snowboarding for me still is getting off the lift with one leg not strapped and with no clue on how to dig either edge in to slow myself down.  Getting off the lift is particularly tricky with those old double-chair lifts, where the ramp off the lift is usually steep and short, meaning you pick up speed really quickly off the lift. It’s tricky, and I sometimes still fall getting off these lifts.

I owe my confidence in today’s outing to the snowboard videos I’ve been watching all week. I know I need a return-to-basics day, as I’m playing hit or miss with my weight shifting on the mountains, and I’m getting too much lift, particularly on my right leg on my turns to my heel side. Today, I vowed to myself, I was going to trust the fall line of the mountain (something I picked up from mountain biking), and work on my technique.

I was gliding, effortlessly moving from toe to heel side, connecting my turns smoothly. (I’m usually a brute on the snowboard, forcing my turns and relying on the well-developed muscles in my thighs to save me. Not today.).

We headed down Richard’s Run, and I got quite a few minutes ahead of B. Now, because she’s damned determined to learn how to improve her telemarking, she’s markedly slower than I am on a snowboard. But ten minutes had elapsed, and Richard’s Run is not that long.

I waited patiently at Chair 2, our next usual stop in our warm-up, for what seemed like 15 minutes. I convinced myself she had already gone up, so I boarded the lift. Chair 2, which warns newbies “This is not a beginner lift, the way down is over 2 miles!”, takes at least ten minutes. I knew if I stayed on Chair 2 runs I would catch up with B.

And then I spotted here. She was walking alongside the trees, skis and poles over her shoulder.  I told I’d be right down (but that would take at least 20 minutes). She had a loose bindings and would need to tighten it.  I screamed down the runs of Chair 2, found little pockets of powder off the trails on skier’s right from the top of the chair, and we set about getting her binding fixed in the repair shop, plainly but nicely labeled by the folks at Loveland.

I had appropriate tools at the car, but why walk five minutes when you don’t have to?

One more reason to love Loveland – they allow free use of tools in the shop.  In other words, they don’t charge you five to ten bucks to tighten a screw. They figure if you know what’s wrong and can fix it yourself, you have earned the right to fix it for free.  I know of places in Tahoe and along the I-70 corridor in Colorado where you’re nickel and dimed, and the repair shop is no exception.

Fully tightened, we walked the 10 yards over to Chair 2 and set about making some more turns.  This time we headed over to Chair 6, which is about halfway down the mountain.  We tried to do the South Chutes, on skier’s left from the the top of Chair 2, but at a 36-inch base, there just wasn’t enough snow.

We found pockets of powder along Chair 6, mostly right next to the trees. I turned slowly and deliberately, going with the fall line instead of fighting it. Gravity always wins, and I’ve got to start trusting my abilities or I will never get better at this sport. I will stay in intermediate land forever.

The day was almost epic for two main reasons: 1. Not enough powder (i.e., ego snow, or hero snow) and 2. The flat light that covered the mountain when the skies clouded over and it began snowing very lightly. Flat light scares me, because the crevices, icy patches, and other obstacles are difficult to see.

We frolicked in the powder, stayed on Chair 6 for a few more runs, and abandoned our plans to hit Chair 8, which is my favorite part of the mountain. Chair 8 is accessible via a catwalk off Chair 4 and offers awesome glade and mini-bowl fun. But the route back from Chair 8 is hairy and exhausting, so we ditched that plan on concentrated on smooth turns in pockets of powder.

Almost epic.

Although we did miss out on A-Basin’s twofer Tuesday in the month of January (not enough snow to justify even a $32.50 lift ticket, even though it’s literally right down the street from Loveland), tomorrow (Thursday, January 28, we are hitting the free day at Sol Vista that comes with our Colorado Gems Pass.)

There’s not much snow at Sol Vista (less than 20 inches), but FREE is FREE.

Lift ticket $29.50 with Colorado Gems Card

Parking FREE