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Hot air is still flowing, bathing suits have yet to be packed away and sunglasses are still covering eyes. Despite our natural propensity to stay in summer mode as long nature permits, we must realize ski season has begun.
THE SNOW IS FALLING. Yes, believe it or not, it is. You may be distracted by football tailgates and early midterms, but if you picked your head up out of the textbooks, or your lips off the red solo cup, you would see a little bit of white powder located on some of the taller mountains near Boulder. Breckenridge has accumulated five inches in the past seven days, and Vail eight.
Snow, of course, is a crystal clear indicator that the season has begun. But there are other signs that aren’t too obvious to a new Boulderite or Coloradan. For one, passes are on sale!
Do I get the Epic Local or do I get the Rocky Mountain, you may be wondering? When passes go up on sale, shred season is here. If you go to CU-Boulder, peer pressure will most likely get to you, and you will end up buying the Epic Local pass.
Some may say getting the Epic Pass is basic, but if being basic constitutes skiing out-of-state in places such as Whistler, Park City and Stowe sure, you’re basic. Venturing out of the state of Colorado is something that helps expand your ski horizons. It also makes you appreciate skiing more because it gives you the opportunity to travel with purpose.
I was lucky enough to experience out-of-state skiing myself, because I ended up driving twenty-six hours to and from Whistler, just to send it. It was well worth the death-defying drive on ice covered roads to Canada.
Though these out-of-state amenities are heavenly, with the Epic Local Pass you also have unlimited days at local mountains like Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge. In addition, you’re gifted ten free days at Vail and Beaver Creek.
Having access to unlimited days at Keystone is something that should make you do a double take when deciding which pass to buy. Keystone has a world class terrain park with a constant place in the global top-ten. Area 51, as it is called, has so many options, whether you enjoy throwing triple corks, grinding on rails or just hitting jumps. There are five different sections, each with a different size: extra-small, small, two mediums and large. In addition, Keystone has night skiing, something that you MUST try once while you are in Colorado.
What’s cooler than skiing when only the moon is out? Not much.
Aside from Keystone’s godly terrain park, you can’t forget about the unlimited days at Arapahoe Basin you get with the Epic Local Pass. Popularly known as A-Bay, it is the only mountain that is open from October to July. Yes, July. If you and your homies want to kickback, have some burgers and drinks while also getting a few runs in, then this is the spot. Pull up to the “beach,” the nickname for the space in front of the lifts where everyone hangs out, post up with your barbecue and cooler, and enjoy the half-ski, half-chill day.
A-bay is one of, if not the most, laid back ski mountains in the country. They frequently have themed ski days where they encourage you to dress up funny. It’s the type of place where if it’s warm out, and you feel like skiing in a bikini or onesie, you are more than welcome to. Personally, I have skied in the latter.
The Epic Pass is also for those who want the luxury of skiing with any skier they come across on campus. This pass is practically owned by every girl and guy that shreds. Finding a ski buddy doesn’t take much work when you have this, just ask the magic question, “Want a ride up to the mountain,” and boom! You will have plenty of people to tear up the powder with.
Juxtaposed to the Epic Local is the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, which gives you unlimted access to Winter Park, Eldora and Copper Mountain. It gives you very limited access internationally, but to countries very far away such as Japan and New Zealand.
Want to ski alone? Or with the same one or two people every time? Then this pass is for you. Sure, you may seem adventurous at first for being one of only one-hundred people on campus with this pass, but at the end of the day you’re faced with the same crowds, and the same amount of traffic to get to the slopes. This pass is great if you’re the type of person who wants to get a few runs in before class at Eldora and don’t care about good mountain quality.
The Rocky Mountain Super Pass is good for both park snowboarders and skiers. As a park snowboarder you have unlimited access to Copper Mountain’s unreal terrain park, which bests Area 51 annually on terrain park ratings. As a skier, you get access to Winter Park, which has Mary Jane. Unlike myself, most skiers love moguls, and Mary Jane will give you a plethora of them.
Still don’t believe ski season is upon us? Well just ask the CU Ski and Snowboard Club, Boulder Freeride. Freeride just hosted their annual Rail Jam this past Thursday. The members got together outside the UMC, plopped a rail covered with snow adjacent to the fountain, and shredded. You could virtual smell ski season. Laughs were had, snow was flying everywhere and skis were sliding on snow. For backcountry and resort snowboarders, these things are what the season is all about.
If snow on the mountains, discussions of which pass to buy and college students grinding on rails in the middle of campus isn’t enough to convince you, maybe Craigslist will. Skis, helmets, boots and jackets – basically anything ski-related – is currently being posted for sale like wildfire. Equipment is being sold at second to none rates, because everyone is either trying to stock up or get rid of their stuff before opening day.
Although Craigslist is a great outlet to buy cheaper items, both Boulder Ski Deals and Boulder Freeride’s Facebook page are spectacular as well. Boulder Ski Deals has the best of the best items at great prices because they know college students bank accounts aren’t in the six figures. Boulder Freeride’s Facebook page, on the other hand, is awesome for finding used, and sometimes brand-new, equipment. All members in the group go to CU, which means picking up items is easier than skiing down the bunny hill.
Personally, as a college ski-bum, there is not much of an offseason. So, if you haven’t noticed, winter is coming – but ski season is already here.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Mitchell Milbauer at email@example.com.