Two weeks ago, we returned from a wonderful, six-day ski trip in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Over the years, we’ve enjoyed a number of memorable family ski vacations to Steamboat, Snowmass and Aspen in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. Another trip took us north of the border to Whistler, Canada, where we skied glaciers. But, this is the first time just hubby and I went on a ski trip together.
When my husband retired last fall, I knew the best ‘present’ I could give him was a ski trip out West. He loves to ski and is quite advanced. But, there’s limited opportunity within a few hours drive of Pittsburgh.
Originally, we had hoped two of his brothers and their wives would join us. That would have given my husband companions to ski more advanced, black diamond trails — something way beyond my skill set and comfort level.
When neither couple was able to come along, I worried that Mr. Buzz wouldn’t truly enjoy himself if he was limited to skiing with me on easy and intermediate terrain. But, you know what? Much to our surprise and amazement — I skied the best I ever had!
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Mile High Arrival
We were fortunate to have direct flights from Pittsburgh to Denver. Although, I could have done without the 4:15 AM wake-up in order to get to the airport in time! I did catch a little sleep on the flight. And, because of the time difference, it was still early in the morning when we landed in Colorado.
After picking up the rental car, it was a beautiful, clear day for the two-hour drive from the airport to Breckenridge. Since there had been a major snow event the day before, I was relieved the roads were in good condition. It also meant there would be lots of fresh powder on the slopes.
You may have been heard about the over 300, record-breaking number of avalanches they’ve had in Colorado recently? The snow has been falling since we left; accumulating over six feet and counting! So, we are very thankful for the weather and driving conditions during our ski trip.
After arriving in Breckenridge, we spent the first day acclimating to the time change and high altitude. We also explored the town and settled into our accommodations.
Our spacious studio was right at the mountain base; with a wall of windows and balcony view of the forest and peaks. It had a full-size kitchen, living area, large bath and cathedral ceiling. Best of all, it was ski-in, ski-out. All we had to do was take the elevator to the garage level, pick-up our ski equipment, and traverse the snow-covered bridge to board the Quicksilver SuperChair lift.
Behind Mr. Buzz is Peak 9 and the frozen pond adjacent to our lodging, a Marriott Vacation Club Resort.
After parking the car at the resort, we never needed it again until heading back to the airport. Everything was walkable in Breckenridge.
Behind me is the last of what once were 19 gold mining dredges in Breckenridge — now a restaurant and bar. Lower mountain ski slopes are seen in the background.
We started with a wonderful lunch at nearby Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant and Cantina, overlooking the Blue River. It was so good, we ate dinner there another evening.
Afterwards, we collected our ski lift tickets — actually plastic cards with microchips that slip into a jacket pocket. As you enter a lift line, a staffer scans the card right through your coat. Pretty niftie. We purchased three out of five-day ski passes online, ahead of time for a discount.
Next, we headed over to get our rental ski equipment — boots, skis and poles. It just didn’t make sense to pay airline baggage fees and schlepp our equipment from Pittsburgh. Located just steps from the resort elevator, it was super convenient to pick up and drop off our equipment everyday.
Hubby did an outstanding job figuring this all out ahead of time.
Finally, we walked the charming town for a quick orientation; heading to the grocery to pick up breakfast and snack foods. We also stopped in a gourmet cheese shop for a delicious sampler box for two.
For dinner, we headed to Swiss Haven for fondue, hot cider, and Belgium beers in one of the town’s charming Victorian buildings located in the historical district.
Travel Tip: It’s best to make dinner reservations in advance; even before arriving at Breck. Restaurants can be packed, particularly on weekends.
I confess to being apprehensive about this ski trip. It had been nearly two years since I’d skied, and I’m not getting any younger! Plus, I didn’t want to be a drag on hubby enjoying himself. Sweet, amazing guy that he is, spending time with me was more important than the number or difficulty of ski runs.
What a huge difference that rental equipment made! My skis and boots are nearly two decades old. I just don’t ski often enough to warrant purchasing new ones. Despite my old lady bunions, the rental boots were super comfortable — unlike mine at home. And the latest shorter, curved skis were much more manageable and responsive.
Best yet, the more in control and at ease I felt, the tighter curves and straighter lines I skied down the mountain — requiring less physical effort and strength to hold an edge.
Hitting the slopes early for “first tracks” on freshly groomed, “corduroy” trails makes for smoother, easier skiing — and shorter lines on the lifts. Although, it can be colder.
Hubby was practically giddy watching me improve and gain confidence. After one day on our ski trip, I went from low-level intermediate to solid, even high-level intermediate. Who’d thought?
Do you ski?
Rocky Mountain High
By mid-morning the second day, I was brimming with confidence and having a blast! Clear, sunny weather made for excellent visibility.
There are four peaks to ski at Breck (out of ten), and we worked our way from Peak 9 all the way over to Peak 6. My husband couldn’t believe it when I told him I wanted to take the upper Kensho lift to ski the bowl.
There, the elevation was over 12,300 feet! About halfway up that last lift, takes you above the alpine tree line. It’s just snow and cliffs up there. We could feel the effect of the high attitude in our lungs, and it was much windier up there — so much so, we had trouble staying in place to take this photograph.
Hydrating is key, along with avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
Here I am ready to take the Bliss route down into the bowl for the second time that morning. Geronimo!
As we headed down the mountain, trails diverged to the right and left through Aspen trees. It’s a wonderful, long run all the way back down to the base area.
Enjoy the View
Can you believe these breathtaking views?
On our last day of skiing, we returned and skied Reverie down the opposite side of the bowl. It was supposed to be the easier way down. But, I found it very windy, narrow and crowded with snowboarders. In fact, one of them sideswiped me from behind, running over my skis! I didn’t get hurt, but it was quite jarring and knocked me out of my skis.
Darn whippersnappers! One and done on that route!
I’m not sure what the best part of our ski trip was; the fun we had or how proud my husband was of me. He kept singing my praises to our sons who are expert skiers like their dad.
As I write this eldest son is skiing off-trail in Jackson Hole, Wyoming after an earlier ski trip to Vermont. Younger son is heading out to Park City, Utah on an annual holiday his pack of friends.
I use to be able to keep up to them when they were young. But, their lack of fear and love of speed quickly outpaced my skill level.
Here we are on our first family ski trip to Steamboat, Colorado many years ago when the boys were quite young — and I’m still wearing the same coat LOL!
See how I use vacation photographs as Ski Lodge Theme Decor in the Family Game Room.
You don’t have to be a skier to enjoy Colorado. Visiting the Rockies is great year-round for it’s natural beauty and bountiful activities to enjoy. Check out, Steamboat Springs Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival.
I’m so glad hubby took those pictures of me at the bowl, or I’m not sure anyone would have believed him — a picture is worth a thousand words!
Watch Out Below!
We did have one major mishap at the end of day two. After skiing the bowls and having lunch up on the mountain, we headed out for new blue terrain on Peaks 7 and 8.
I was bursting with confidence and mile high (pun intended)! I remember thinking the trail name, High Anxiety, didn’t sound like an intermediate run — it wasn’t. Next, I noticed the hill seemed awfully steep, but figured it was just getting late in the day and I was probably tired.
So, I stopped at the top of the next drop-off to catch my breath. That’s when I saw it. A steep hill, completely covered from left to right with moguls (big bumps or mounds of snow). There was no access between trees to another, easier trail. Steep terrain is difficult, but moguls for me are impossible.
Short of taking off my skis and attempting to walk down, there was no other exit.
Get Back Up on That Horse
I tried, really I did. Pretty quickly I fell and lost a ski and pole. Not hurt, but shaken and frightened. My husband retrieved the lost equipment and we struggled to get me back into the ski bindings on the steep incline. Hubby stayed with me every inch of the way, encouraging, coaching and at times physically supporting me.
He showed me how to kinda slide, skid at an angle to the mountain; about several yards at a time. It took awhile. My leg muscles and ankles were pretty much jello after that. Hubby kept blaming himself, but I’m not convinced it wasn’t me who made the wrong turn onto the black diamond trial.
This 1940’s skier is more vintage than me! Originally from my dad’s childhood Christmas tree platform, she’s part of the centerpiece in Downhill Dinner at Ski Cabin Winter Table.
I got back up on the horse — so to speak — and continued to ski several more slopes as we worked our way back to Peak 9’s base and our condo. As on most afternoons, I skied until about 2:30 in the afternoon. Hubby would spend another hour or so exploring more expert terrain; until the lifts closed at 4. Then, we’d both enjoy apres ski activities at our resort and in town.
Gold Mining Town
Breckenridge is known not only for its ski resort, but also for year-round alpine activities and a Gold Rush history. A free museum at the visitor’s center is well-worth a visit.
The Victorian core of the former mining town is preserved in the Breckenridge National Historic District.
Colorfully painted buildings from the 1880’s and ’90’s house shops, galleries, restaurants and bars.
After skiing two days in a row, we took off a day to explore the town and recharge.
In addition to the Victorian buildings, there are log cabins and cowboy Western facades up and down Main Street.
Snowshoes hang in the front window of my favorite shop in Breckenridge.
They reminded me of the ones in our lodge-theme decorated gameroom featured in, Welcome to the Apres-Ski Lodge Buffet.
If I had any remaining wall space, I would have loved to bring home several of these cute signs.
Apres Ski Dining
As gorgeous as the views were during the day, Breckenridge took on a magical quality in the evenings. Little white lights twinkled everywhere.
Dining options run the gamut. Craft beer choices are extensive and very popular. On Saturday and Sunday nights, places were packed. Many locals come to Breck for the weekend, or just to spend the day on a ski trip.
On Sunday night we dined at the Blue Stag Saloon, where Mr. Buzz had a bison and game stew. Another evening we headed down into the atmospheric Ollie’s Pub, and split a large burger and order of wings.
For out last evening, we decided to splurge. But, we were torn between two restaurants; both highly-rated for their food and vintage buildings. Twist was charming on the outside, with a hip, modern interior.
Instead, we ate across the street at Hearthstone, a Victorian manor with a romantic atmosphere.
I had Colorado lamb chops, while Mr. Buzz tried their famous elk. Hubby claims they have the best carrot cake he’s ever tasted. It might have had something to do with the fact it came with a bourbon milkshake shooter?
I hope you enjoyed this virtual ski trip to Breckenridge. We’d love to return in the summer months sometime. Have you ever been?
Winter 2020 Update: Be sure to see Terrific Telluride, Colorado Ski Vacation and Charming Old Telluride Mining Town in Winter.
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Well done Deb. So proud of you. Just wish our paths intersected.
Thanks E! Made me feel young again! Would have loved to hold your grandbaby in my arms. At least I get to see you, however briefly, soon.
Good job! I thought I migh try the less threatening “tubing” sometime soon with our kids.
Thanks Kristie! My initial goals were to just survive without breaking anything, LOL! Tubing is such fun. Any activity that you can do as a family builds lifelong memories. I remember a day when I could keep up with my sons on the slopes, but it didn’t last long! They had no fear, and I had plenty. The family joke was I saw four times as much mountain making wide S’s vs their straight line down the slope. I think I’ve cut it down to only twice as much.
Lovely post about one of our favorite towns! We retired to the suburbs of Denver, but we are not skiers. When we go up to Breck it is to take a sleigh ride, go tubing, or see the snow sculptures or ice castle. In summer we like to take the lift up to the peaks and hike. It’s fun just the same! We had a blizzard yesterday with high winds, but happily, we did well in our area and we were able to stay off the roads which were the hardest hit with blowing snow. It’s always an adventure to live here but we love it!
Hi Pat, and thanks for stopping by and sharing about living in Denver and visiting Breck. I definitely want to come back in the summer months! After all that snow and avalanches after we left, I couldn’t believe you had hurricane force winds yesterday! Gotta say, I’m glad we missed all that severe weather. Glad all is well with you.
I’ve never been skiing, so you seem very accomplished from my perspective! I applaud you stretching your abilities. Looks like you had an excellent time.
Many congrats to your hubby on his retirement!
Michelle, you’re very sweet to say that! Just trying to keep up with my guys. It’s actually easier to ski out west because of the powder vs ice on the East Coast. Additionally, it’s validated the value of working out at the gym — even though I drag myself every time! They are so right about how core strength contributes to good balance.
Love this recap, Debbie! As I mentioned to you previously, we had been to Breckenridge, and it was a great trip. Like you, we stayed at a ski in/ski out resort, and would be at the pool and hot tub alongside the lifts in the afternoon. I’ve watched that weather and commented to my husband it’s a good thing we didn’t plan a trip there for our anniversary this year (early March), or we would’ve been very sorry! Glad your trip worked out so well, and especially for your ability to do so well! Now you’ve got me wondering if we shouldn’t just donate our ski boots…..so heavy, so much room to pack, and if rentals are as good as you say, it may be worth letting ours go. I wondered about the snowboarders and how dangerous they may have made the slopes. How scary to have hit a black diamond by accident! I would’ve been going down on my butt!
Rita, I’ve been curious what you’d think of the post, knowing you had been to Breck yourself. Thanks for taking the time in the midst of your moving activities to check in. We passed on the pool and hot tub, as it was pretty cold and windy and I just couldn’t imagine the getting out all wet. You’re a heartier soul than me! I’m definitely getting rid of my skis and boots. Hubby will keep his for skiing local, but will definitely rent when flying is involved. He was really pleased with his rental equipment too. My sons do the same. I’ve never been comfortable around snowboarders, but part of that has always been my own more modest ability to stay out of the way LOL! Wouldn’t it be fun if we finally met while on trips to Breck or Grand Caymen?
I’ve only been once to Colorado to ski at Steamboat Springs, 8.5 years ago. I don’t know if I’ve skied since! My husband is better than me…. he hasn’t been skiing either since then–adding a second child and a house and life and a camper and a cat and a dog keep us busy– but my daughter wants to try skiing and my son wants to learn snowboarding— so I’m sure we’ll try again soon. We are near Ski Roundtop. We’ve been to Blue Knob years and years ago– that’s near you, right? We thought the snow was perfect and loved the “backwards” lodge set up.
Hi Liberty, thanks for stopping by! It’s nice getting acquainted. Our first ski trip out West was also to Steamboat, when our now adult sons were young. It was perfect for our young family. They had a kids ski camp and both took lessons. And, we all loved Steamboat’s “champagne’ powder and skiing the bowl. The boys loved the cowboy town vibe and wore their Stetson hats (my parents lived in Texas then) out to dinner every night. We went on a sleigh ride on a ranch out of town that I’ll always remember as magical. Another day, we rode snowmobiles across the Continental Divide and saw an entire herd of buffalo. Someday, I’d love to return with grandkids.
Blue Knob is in the center of the state and we haven’t been. We mostly go to Seven Springs, but only 1-2 times a year.
Hi Deb, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed following along on your ski trip to Breckenridge. My DH and I ski in New England (mostly New Hampshire) but have never been to Colorado. It looks beautiful! We didn’t get out skiing this year; hubby had shoulder surgery so now we’re both a little cautious about black diamonds! (Actually, I’m cautious about blue too!). So glad that you got back up on skiis and enjoyed it so much Have a great weekend! ~Cheryl
Cheryl, so happy to hear you enjoyed the ski trip. Sounds like you and your DH are pro’s. Sorry about your surgery, hope you’ll be back on skis next year. I’ve never skied in NE, but my son has been to Killington and Stowe, as they’re pretty accessible from NYC. My DH and I are thinking of making trips to both NE and Maine the next two falls to enjoy the foliage. So much beauty to see and explore.
Great photos! My husband is quite the skier and I remember him going to Breckenridge when we were in high school (I never went as I am NOT a skier).
Happy New Year Joanne! My understanding Breck is gorgeous, with lots to do in the summer and fall too. I’m going to risk life and limb again this year, but in Telluride, Colorado. My son and his girlfriend are joining us, so that’s a big part of the attraction. Plus, hubby will have our son to join him on more difficult, expert terrain. I’m thinking of looking for spa opportunities, LOL!
Wow, what a great trip! I haven’t skied in years but I still hold the memory of a ski trip to Vail with my then-boyfriend now-husband as one of my fondest. You did absolutely great, so happy for you. Your hubby seems like a real keeper lol Thanks for sharing your experience. xo Kathleen
Kathleen, Vail would be a very romantic trip! My son and his girlfriend are going to join us in Telluride this year for a week — not sure if it’d be as romantic with his parents sharing the same house LOL? Also hoping I haven’t reset my family’s expectations on my skill level too high. We had excellent weather and that certainly helped last year too.