There are plenty of things that make skiing at Beaver Creek Resort different from pretty much anywhere I have ever skied. As soon as I walk into the ski village, I am greeted by the resort’s staff in an extremely friendly manner. The friendliness of the staff reminds me of the few times I had visited high priced golf resorts, and was greeted by staff offering to wipe down my clubs after a round of golf. In a away, right from the get-go I feel like I am not at a typical ski resort, but somewhat of a country club of ski resorts.
After this, as is the case with most other resorts, I walk through a ski village to get to the lifts. However, at Beaver Creek, this walk involves getting on a series of elevators, something I have yet to see anywhere else I have ever skied.
In addition to the elevators, Starbucks coffee and other amenities in the village, every day at 3:00 P.M., cookies are brought out to guests at the main village — for free! In fact, on days that are less busy, staff will come out with trays of cookies and often hand guests two cookies at a time! Last time I visited this resort, I ended up eating 4 cookies!
It’s easy to build up an appetite for those cookies here. In addition to the standard type of ski runs that one finds at many of the other mountains in the area, the resort has some interesting areas that are both unique and challenging.
First off, some of the steepest terrain can be found here, particularly for “groomed” trails. I use the term “groomed” loosely here, as when most people think of a groomed ski trail, they think of one that had been groomed recently, often with marks from the recent grooming.
(Note: This particular image was taken at Keystone Resort)
This is some of the easiest terrain to ski on, a there are no small obstacles to take a skier off course, and the snow has been churned up by the groomers to make stopping relatively easier. However, once the snow is pushed away, either by numerous skiers making turns on the trail, or by strong winds, the conditions become much more challenging, as they can get icy, making stopping more difficult. This seems to be the case every time I go to the steepest part of Beaver Creek ski resort; areas called Grouse Mountain and Birds of Prey.
Birds of Prey is where the 2015 World Championships were held. I had heard that this was the fastest ski trail in the State of Colorado, and that they actually purposely make the trail icier for competition. I knew it would be scary to ski here, but I wanted to have the experience of actually skiing on a trail that professional skiers compete on.
The trail certainly was icy (or “race surfaced”)! I actually fell three times trying to get down this course, and apparently, although I could hardly imagine skiing on a surface any icier than this one, it wasn’t even as icy as it is during an actual competition. I would later be reminded, by the friendly staff at one of the ski lifts that of the 36 contestants that entered the World Championships here, only 15 finished, the other 21 fell in some sort of way!
Due to it’s relatively lower base, at 7400′, Beaver Creek Resort is home to a significant amount of aspen glades. By this I mean skiing through the trees, as can be done at pretty much any major ski resort worldwide, but rather than skiing through the pine and evergreen trees that are common at elevations from 9,000 to 12,000 feet (which is where a lot of the skiing at the other Central Colorado resorts is done), skiing through Aspen trees, which are more common at elevations closer to 8,000 feet. Skiing in the Aspens offers a somewhat different tree skiing experience, primarily due to Aspen trees having significantly less branches.
Discussion of Beaver Creek can be somewhat polarizing (although there is something polarizing about every resort in Central Colorado). Beaver Creek is slightly farther away from Denver than Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Vail. This means that the resort can often be slightly less crowded, but also means that most people who decide to visit this resort must consciously decide to drive past those other resorts. Some people find the interesting experience, the unique amenities, cookies and special treatment worth the extra travel (and extra money). Others don’t.
As an EPIC Season Pass holder, the money does not factor into the equation. It is pretty much only the travel and opportunity cost. Every time I come to Beaver Creek, I process the experience hoping to come to some kind of major interesting revelation about what makes some people chose the activities they do when they do. In the end, all I actually end up thinking about is how much different the experience is than the experience I get at other resorts in the area, even Vail which is known to be a pretty fancy place in it’s own respect.
When I think about the people I ski with on a regular basis, I see a spectrum of attitudes, related to skiing, as there is with any activity. On one side, there are the people who like to find something they like and stick to it. These are the people who would be content to buy a pass to one resort, find their one favorite neighborhood bar, or have a standard order at a specific restaurant that they order every time. These are the people who just want to enjoy the activity, and, know something they already enjoy, so feel no need to keep searching for something else. On the other side are people who are always looking for variety, and always looking to mix things up. People on this side of the spectrum can get bored going to the same places repeatedly even if they are incredible experiences. In reality, almost everyone fits somewhere between these two extremes I describe. I wonder, though, if for some people, particularly those who live in the area and ski somewhere in Central Colorado almost every weekend, if visiting Beaver Creek is a way to mix things up, doing something different, and ensuring that we get that variety in our experiences. That may be what motivates many people to drive by Keystone, drive by Copper Mountain, and finally drive by Vail and come here to Beaver Creek.