Loveland: Thursday, March 12, 2010

Back to Loveland to break my three-week involuntary snowboard fast. Boy did I break it. With aplomb.

I took advantage of a STEAL, $15 lift tickets courtesy of the folks over at 95.7 The Party! This radio station has been hosting monthly Hooky Days on Thursdays, and I and two of my fellow snowsports enthusiasts, Jer and Geo, headed up to puff through the five inches of powder that was reported that morning.

Now here’s the beauty of America: Geo does not live in Colorado but has a five-mountain pass. On our way to pick up Jer, (who was waiting at the dinosaur parking lots in Morrison, just a mile down the road from Red Rocks), Geo revealed that he hadn’t printed out the necessary coupon to redeem for his $15 lift ticket. Armed with his fancy phone, we found a Kinkos and printed out the ticket for $1.12. A ten-minute detour, at most.

When we arrived at Loveland about an hour later, the parking lot was almost full of other $15 coupon holders. We rocked out to some James Brown as we geared up for a day on the hill.

Even though the parking lot was full and the snow conditions were excellent, the only line that day was the one to get lift tickets. I laughed as I heard complaining. For $15, you are not allowed to complain about standing in line for 10 minutes while you trade beer money for ski money.

We warmed up on the usual Chair 1, Geo on the board and Jer on her skis. We veered left toward the end of Mambo onto Chair 6, which is where the powder was hidden. We swished through the gambling runs: Keno, Blackjack, and Roulette. The snow right under Chair 6 at the top was untracked, and we went for it, audience be damned.

The powder was there, the light was flat, and the wind was unfortunately also present. The long lift ride up Chair 2 was uncomfortable and cold. But the two-mile easy-to-intermediate run down to the bottom warmed us up.

Not a lot of stopping that day.

Now, I’m fairly familiar with Loveland and find my way around without referring to a trail map – which I like, nay, need to do in unfamiliar territory. So Jer and I went out blind (Geo was out hucking off the Ridge at the top of Chair 9 – God Bless You, kid) to Dealer’s Choice. Dealer’s Choice was a powder dream, and I was flummoxed as to why. Why have so few people skied or boarded down this trail?

Because it flattens out. Way out. Like get off your board out.

So we earned beers. Coors was doing a special, in coordination with the lift ticket deal, for $2.50.

After 3.5 hours of non-stop powder (OK, some spots were icy, but I can count them on one hand), we called it a REALLY GOOD day.

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As a semi-professional adventurer, I am constantly thinking about my next vacation. On the heels of my breakthrough day at Sol Vista on Thursday, I was tossing around the idea of an extended road trip to Utah and Idaho to snowboard.

Because my trust won’t kick in, until, well ever, I Googled in search of the ever-elusive discount life ticket.  Time well spent, as the internet revealed some of its secrets to me today. I found amazing deals on lift tickets.

Liftopia.com is by far the best.  Tickets at nearby A Basin (another high altitude resort just down the street from Loveland) are running at about 50% off. I purchased a lift ticket for this Wednesday for $24.99.  Other than free, that’s the best bargain I’ve ever had the pleasure of almost using.  Liftopia reminds me of travel sites in that it allows you to view days and prices a week at a time. So, if your days are flexible, you can choose the cheapest day. Which I was able to do.

Maisondeski.com does more than just provide discount lift coupons. It also has rental info, weather info, lodging, maps, and ski shop hours for its brick and mortar establishment in Idaho, Springs, CO.  It’s just a stone’s throw from the aforementioned A Basin and Loveland. It offers the usual 10% discount, which, when the regular price is upwards of $60, doesn’t seem like a bargain at all.

Discountlifttickets.net has the best domain name, Google-y speaking. But the deals usually hover again around 10%, and I can get better than that with my Gems card.

skifreedeals.com is being offered by those purveyors of petroleum, Shell gasoline. Now, the Shell gas station near my house just happens to abut the highway so it’s about ten cents more than I usually like to pay. But when I spent $10 at Shell, I got a voucher for a two-for-one deal at any of the following resorts: Winter Park, Copper, Powderhorn, and Monarch.

I’ve skied everywhere but Powderhorn, and I’ll be enjoying major discounts there and Monarch with my Colorado Gems card. So, I’ll probably use it at Winter Park, whose lift tickets this year are selling at NINETY-TWO DOLLARS.

Ridiculous, I know.

Stay tuned for an update on Wednesday’s outing at A Basin.