The Perfect Ski Bum Destination
By Scotty Talbut
All photos Andrew Fawcett
Summit County, Colorado is not only home to 23,538 people, but as it lies in the Southern Rockies is also home to four great ski resorts – Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin . All offer plenty of variety with Breckenridge and Keystone , having two of the best terrain parks in the US, while Keystone also has the largest night operation in Colorado.
Arapahoe, or A-Basin as it’s known, is one of the most laid-back, hardcore resorts in Colorado, and has plenty of steep chutes and with a bit of effort you can find stashes of pow days after a storm and easily access the back country. Copper also has its fair share of chutes and bowls and is the longterm home of the US Freesking Open, a huge event that continues to push our sport.
Dom hand dragging new heights.
All this makes Summit County the perfect destination for an extended ski holiday and the perfect place for a bunch of Aussie ski bums to call home for a winter? Johnny Lipzker, Damien Thompson and I all did the hard grind after the Australian winter, working tirelessly to bank every penny so immigration guards at LA International would think we all had enough money to survive the six months. To further support our case as legitimate ski bums, we shuffled money around through each other’s bank accounts so we could print off bank account balances that read $6700 – just the proof you need when the questions start at customs:
“How are you going to support yourself for the time you are here?”
“Check out my bank account, mate. I’m loaded.”After arriving in the US it was another eight hours of flying, collecting bags, walking and sitting on a bus until we reached Frisco, our final destination. Typically for skiers, our bags were oversized and overweight, not too much of a problem until we got off the bus in Frisco at 2.30am.
It was snowing heavily, the temp was -22c and there wasn’t a taxi in sight. Not a lot happens in Frisco after midnight.
We looked at the map and the house we had rented online was 4.5kms away. It had been 36 hours since we left Melbourne and as we hauled our 55kgs bags through a foot of fresh snow it was the thought of tomorrow’s fresh pow they kept us going.
Dom grabbing what he loves, Switch 5 High Mute.
LIVING THE DREAMWe eventually made it to our humble abode, which happened to look a whole lot better on craigslist (the online classifieds site, rockies.craigslist.org) – than it did when we were standing inside it. How the hell did they make it look so good, we thought? However, with a roof over our heads we were happy and all slept soundly with the thoughts of not a whole lot more other than skiing – ‘living the dream’. That dream being four months of skiing everyday and never having to clock on at Dominos to make it happen.
Having so many resorts and little towns all in such close proximity to one other makes Summit County a great destination, whether you’re hitting some rails at the local high school, hitting parks at Breck or shredding the pow with the hippies of yesteryear at A-Basin.
So, living the dream or being a ski bum…it doesn’t really matter, ’cause right now, it is post-season in Oz and we are back on the grind, saving up to do it all again.
- keystone.snow.com; 877.625.1556
- Lift Ticket: $89 (multi-day rate, discounted if purchased online)
- Summit: 12,408 feet
- Skiable Acres: 3,148
- Vertical: 3,128 feet
Annual Snowfall: 230 inches
- Tip: The North and South bowls provide some of the better terrain at
Keystone, and because of the hike/$5 cat ride, they rarely get tracked
out. You can bet on finding stashes a few days after a storm. When you
have had plenty of the steeps and pow, head into Area 51, Keystone’s
renowned terrain park, consistently ranked in the top 10 of best
terrain parks in the US.
- Breckenridge.snow.com, 970.473.5000
- Lift Ticket: $86 (07-08)
- Summit: 12,998 feet
- Skiable Acres: 2,358
- Vertical: 3,398 feet
- Annual Snowfall: 300 inches
- Tip: To escape the crowd head up the Breck connect to the Colorado
Superexpress. From there, traverse to Chair 6, which is a great powder
stash for tree skiing then head up Imperial, which tops out at 12,840
feet. From there, do the quick hike to the summit and drop into
- Arapahoebasin.com, 1-888-ARAPAHOE
- Lift Ticket: $TBD
- Summit: 13,050 feet
- Skiable Acres: 900
- Vertical: 2,257 feet
- Annual Snowfall: 367 inches
- Tip: The new Montezuma offers some of the best lift-accessed terrain
in Summit County. If you are heading into the back country off
Mountain Goat Traverse, bring your beacon.
- Coppercolorado.com, 800.458.8386
- Lift Ticket: $83 (07-08)
- Summit: 12,313 feet
- Skiable Acres: 2,465
- Vertical: 2,601 feet
- Annual Snowfall: 282 inches
- Tip: Two things to do in Copper – (1)take Storm King to the top. If
Spalding is open, hit the chutes on the skier’s left for steeps; if it
is closed head into Upper enchanted; (2) use the free cat skiing.
Click on any image to open gallery.