A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Skiing Beaver Creek in Colorado

February 23, 2020
Emilie Phillips

We started our vacation with a day of lift serve skiing at Beaver Creek Resort. We thought it prudent, before skiing up to our backcountry hut, to spend a day at lower elevation. We stayed the night in Avon at 7,400′. In the morning, it was pouring buckets of snow. The locals complained the snow was too wet. But to us and the other folks on the shuttle bus, it looked great. The shuttle bus filled up before it was half way around town. I had my nose in someone else’s pack, and my ski boots jammed between other people’s hard plastic boots. Dealing with getting tickets was a bit of a hassle, but once we rode the lift to higher elevation, the snow was great.

Snowing hard

My mom, though, wasn’t enjoying it. She had slept poorly and felt like she was coming down with the flu. This would make it the third winter vacation in a row where someone in the family had languished in bed sick (Tyson in Yellowstone, and my Dad in Big Sky). Mom perked up a little after breakfast, but not enough to want to spend $200 on a day of skiing. My parents ended up deciding to ski the high elevation McCoy Nordic center at Beaver Creek. They would do a light day while Tyson, Isaac, and I hit the steep terrain.

The Nordic center worked out well for my parents. The trail map was terrible, but they found some good groomed trails for kick and glide, and some open meadows for turns. They only saw one other person out there, also on light Telemark gear. The Beaver Creek website said the area would be converted to alpine trails for 2021, but that doesn’t seem to have happened yet.

Cross country skiing double blacks is hard

Meanwhile, Tyson, Isaac and I headed up to the 11,440′ summit. Now, remember that Tyson and Isaac were on modern shaped skis, active bindings, and plastic Telemark boots. Whereas I was on compromise half cross country, half Telemark skis, and no poles either because of my thumb. Tyson and Isaac headed straight for the black diamonds. I did my best to keep up. I must have looked like the stereotypical wife dragged onto too hard a trail. I kept wondering why I had brought a knife to a gun fight. My skis were too long to even fit around the moguls. However, the powder was really nice, and I had fun all the same. Tyson and Isaac split off to look at one double black diamond bowl but decided it was too steep for them.

We had enough signal to text my parents and coordinate meeting for lunch at Mamie’s Mountain Grill. The grill sits between the nordic area and the alpine trails. To get there, it looked like we needed to take two lifts up and two runs down, staying left. We started up the Rose Bowl Express at 11:45. By 1pm, we finally arrived at the end of the Primrose catwalk, which should have been right next to the grill. Instead, the grill was well up the hill. The only option was to descend to the bottom of the mountain and take another lift back up. Tyson was sure if we descended, we would get stuck at the bottom of a trail and he would starve to death. When we finally got to the grill at 1:20pm, my parents were putting their jackets on to depart. Moral of the story (and from what my parents saw on the nordic map), don’t trust Beaver Creek’s maps.

Aspen glade

After lunch, we went our separate ways. It was late enough that we all planned to making our way down to the base lodges. Amazingly, Tyson, Isaac and I popped out of a long glade onto the final blue trail at the same time as my parents reached the other side by a cat walk traverse. We had a great finish together.

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GPS Track

This is Tyson, Emilie, and Isaac’s track.