Colorado may be ski and snowboard central, but how exactly do you choose where to go when you want to get out and shred? Here are the goods on the best resort passes to help make that decision even easier.
$749 • Snow.com/epic-pass
WHAT YOU GET: You buy the freedom to ski pretty much anywhere you damn please. The full epic offers unlimited (no blackout) skiing and riding
at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado. Plus, the same at Canyons and Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, California; Afton Alps, Minnesota; and Mt. Brighton, Michigan.
Bonus: Five days at Niskeo, Japan and five days at Verbier, Switzerland, and Les 3 Vallées, France.
Best For: Front Rangers who are faithful to these resorts. People who want to travel.
Other Options: The Epic Local ($569) won’t take you around the globe but it does give unlimited days at Breckenridge, Keystone, Afton Alps, Mt.
Brighton and Arapahoe Basin. Plus time at Park City, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood and 10 non-holiday days at Vail and Beaver Creek.
$379 • SkiLoveland.com
What You Get: The most for your money.
Bonus: You also get three days at Crested Butte, three days at Durango Mountain Resort, three days at Monarch. Plus, retail discounts.
Best For: Front Rangers especially, but anyone who wants to spend the winter avoiding the tunnel and traveling around the state seeking adventure.
This is the type of deal that makes skiing affordable for anyone and it gets you on iconic mountains.
Other Options: Loveland’s Four Packs ring in at $129, but you can’t buy them at the area. Check for sales in your neighborhood or buy them online.
$429 • SkiMonarch.com
What You Get: The world. Monarch began the multiple-resorts pass phenomenon and the core resort’s season pass gives you a ton of options.
Bonus: Ok, ready? This pass gives you — Three free days at Loveland and Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado; Angel Fire and Red River in New Mexico; and Mount Bohemia in Michigan. One free day at Silverton, Colorado; Cataloochee, North Carolina; Sierra at Tahoe and China Peak, California; Indian Head, Michigan; Snowy Range, Wyoming; Mt. Crescent, Iowa; Snow Creek, Missouri; Labrador Mountain, New York; and Masella, Spain. Half-price at Ski Cooper, Sunlight and Powderhorn, Colorado; Alta, Utah; and Arizona Snowbowl, Arizona. A
free day when you buy lodging at Grand Targhee, Wyoming, and Revelstoke and Red Mountain, British Columbia. And if you feel like packing up and
moving to Europe, the pass is good for unlimited days at Hochkossen, Kampenwand, Wendelstein, Oberaundorf, and Hochfellen in Germany and
Best For: A big winter of travel.
Other Options: Not necessary.
ELDORA SUPER VALUE PASS
$289 • Eldora.com
What You Get: Eldora is on the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus this year, but Front Rangers who have another pass but still want the option of
avoiding I-70 will like this option that has blackout date restrictions.
Bonus: Kids 5 and under get a $25 season pass.
Best For: Front Rangers looking for some time at the local hill.
Other Options: A full alpine pass is $399.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN SUPER PASS PLUS
$549 • SkiColorado.com
What You Get: Three of the state’s best resorts at a good deal with unlimited days at Copper, Eldora and Winter Park/Mary Jane.
Bonus: Six days at Steamboat, three at Crested Butte and seven at Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand (if the ski bug hits you in summer). Plus, it gives
you discounted friend-and-family tickets at the resorts. That’s a lot for your cash.
Best For: Colorado natives who love and want these classic hills. Front Rangers who need an Eldora Pass, but also want some serious days up at the big resorts, too.
Other Options: At $459, the regular Super Pass gives you unlimited skiing at Winter Park and Copper (plus seven days in New Zealand).
THE MOUNTAIN COLLECTIVE
$389 • MountainCollective.com
What You Get: Two days at Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; two Alta or Snowbird, Utah; Mammoth, California; Whistler, British Columbia; Lake Louise/Sunshine Village/Norquay, Alberta; and at Squaw or Alpine Meadows, California.
Best For: The best bro trip ever.
Other Options: Got $4,950 to burn and want guaranteed powder? The Mountain Collective’s Mystery Powder Quest will take you to Aspen for two days and then jet you off for two more days at whichever resort has the most pow. Plus, you get a pass.
My coaching colleagues and I don’t just do laps in the park—we ride it all at a high level and look for the best locations to experience every discipline of the sport. What follows is a list of my best mountain recommendations—with input from friends, industry veterans and long-time Rocky Mountain locals—based on the best terrain choices for each category of riding.
Yes, carving. Michelle Juneau, CAO, International and Domestic Sales Manager for Bomber Industries, describes Buttermilk’s appeal: “The trails are often empty which is ideal for laying out arcs and trench-digging fun. There’s a reason the carving community has nicknamed it ‘Buttersmooth’.”
TREES: Eagle Wind Territory, Winter Park
I love this spot for the natural snow cover… from Heaven not from hoses,” says Earl Saline, director of educational programming for the NSAA. “The conditions are always different, the variety spans knee-deep freshies to moguls. Tree riding here is hands-down one of my best go-to stashes.”
PARK AND PIPE: Copper, Breckenridge, Buttermilk
It’s a three-way tie here and all are home to a multitude of major professional and amateur ski and snowboard competitions, including the X-Games, Dew Tour, USSA Grand Prix, USASA Nationals, etc. Need I say more?
I first visited Silverton in 2007 and was blown away with the atmosphere, consistent deep snow and fairly easy access to challenging terrain. I follow their posts and storm alerts all season long; they get snow and lots of it. Every experienced rider should visit this Mountain.
STEEPS: Arapahoe Basin
Lowell Hart, founder of one the world’s first snowboard schools in 1985 and an Instructor/Trainer for Vail Resorts (30+ years riding) has this to say about A-Basin: “You definitely want to bring your A-game (no pun intended) as a fall here can result in a long slide through a rocky chute. The East Wall offers a rare opportunity to experience demanding, big-mountain terrain, all within the resort boundaries.”
Tree runs, then park hits, some moguls and finish it off with carving cruisers; yes, you can do it all in one day. Sure, Breck has its individual shortcomings, but it’s rare to get this level of terrain variety and still be at the same mountain. Eric Zerowin, Breckenridge Ski & Ride School Staff Trainer makes a case for his home mountain: “It’s really cool that you can get off the Imperial Chair at 12,840, hike to 12,998 then start your run at the top of an open bowl, take a quick left and bounce through Contest Bowl, carve a groomer on the way to finishing your run in one of the World’s best terrain parks (or halfpipe). And you haven’t even left Peak 8 yet.” •
—Jeff “Coach Jb” Brier is a current 2x USASA National Boardercross Champion, an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, and a fully Certified AASI and USASA Snowboard Coach. He specializes in training mountain athletes at Peak Performance Personal Training, in Denver Colorado.
Five Things You Must Do This Winter
Hike Mirkwood Bowl
If you are still new to the backcountry game or just want to rack up some lift served vertical, Monarch’s Mirkwood Basin delivers the goods. It’s a short hike to steeps and a quick cat road back to the lift. A nice line goes from Orcs at the top down into trees that hold soft snow and open into short chutes. The good? It’s controlled by patrol so you don’t need to worry about avy gear and training. The bad? You have to share. skimonarch.com
That’s right, El Duderino, bowling. What better to do after a long session on the slopes than knock down some pins? The Mine Shaft Bowling Alley is a cozy little spot inside the One Ski Hill Place resort where you can channel your inner Lebowski… just beware of the nihilists. It’s not open to the public, but that just keeps out the riff raff if you book yourself a little getaway at the resort.
Party at the Basin
There is no more hallowed Colorado ski tradition than roasting brats and drinking beers in the parking lot while you lap Pallavacini (best to let the beers chill until you are done skiing, of course). But how many of you have actually done it? No matter if you are a virgin or a regular on the Basin beach, we suggest you book early to reserve your party spot in the lot. Prices start at $100 in the early season and go up to $175 in spring. arapahoebasin.com
If you could only pick one run in the state to lap over and over on a powder day, what would it be? We choose the hike up Highlands Bowl. It’s the closest you can get to riding in the backcountry with all the safety of ski-patrol-controlled slopes. Plus, the bowl often holds deep, soft snow days after storms, or has snow blow in when other spots are bony. aspensnowmass.com/aspen-highlands
What’s the closest powder fix to the streets of downtown Denver? Why Powder Addiction of course. The cat skiing operation based out of Jones Pass delivers the goods without a drive through the tunnel or over Berthoud Pass. Seats on the beast run from $300-$400 per day depending on the time of year, but that’s well worth it for 12,000 verts of face shots. We suggest you team up and rent out the whole cat with friends for a discount. powderaddiction.com