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Blog Outdoor Sports

ADVENTURE TIME: COLORADO’S TOP 5 STEEP SKIING AREAS

Stacy Gold getting after it at A-Basin ski area in her best spring skiing attire.

My Five Favorite Ski Resorts in Colorado for Awesome Steep Skiing

While I enjoy all kinds of ski resorts and areas for a variety of reasons, if I can’t have fresh powder, and it’s not icy, give me steep skiing. Not steep groomers. I’m talking ungroomed, dangerous obstacles exist, 40+ degrees steep inbounds terrain.

Something about the sensation of the controlled fall really does it for me. Always has. Add in a little consequence for spice, and some packed powder for edge control, and I’m a happy skier.

I’ll admit it, I’ve only skied half of the 30 or so ski areas small and large in Colorado. But I’m now in my tenth season of living and skiing here (in two, five-year stints). And I’ve had a season ski pass twenty-eight of the last thirty years at resorts in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington. So, I feel I’ve got some pretty solid beta to share on where to find the best steeps to ski.

In no particular order here are my top five resorts for steep skiing in Colorado.

  1. Arapahoe Basin – A-Basin is smallish, and old school, and 73% black and double black diamond runs. I learned to ski steeps here back in the early nineties. To this day, I still love the way my stomach trades places with my heart every time I drop the big cornice on the backside. Or thread through the trees in the Alleys. If you care more about steep chutes than shopping and dining, A-Basin is for you. But get there early as the parking lots regularly fill up, especially on powder days and in the spring.

  2. Aspen – I’ll admit I’ve never skied Snowmass, but that’s because I can’t seem to leave the steeps at Aspen Mountain (Ajax) and Aspen Highlands. Especially Highlands. If you’re willing to hike the bowl you can enjoy one of the longest, steepest, bestest ski runs outside Jackson Hole (My home for four seasons). And if you prefer a high-end mountain resort with all the amenities, well, it doesn’t get much swankier than Aspen.

  3. Crested Butte – Yes, it’s a drive to the middle of nowhere to reach this resort, but it’s worth it if you like steep, rocky, rowdy slopes. Both the town and the terrain are a little rough around the edges, in the best possible way. I haven’t had the pleasure of skiing there since 1994, but I still have a warm spot for it in my heart. I’m making a plan to get back there this year.

  4. Telluride – Another resort I haven’t made it to since I lived in Colorado in the nineties because it is a haul from the Front Range. But I have fond memories of my trip to Telluride way back when, and the delightful steep skiing to be had. Forty-one percent of the trails there are advanced/expert. If you’re willing to do some hiking, the high alpine terrain is steeper than a cow’s face.

  5. Breckenridge – While this resort is better known for it’s historic mining town and family-friendly slopes, you can find plenty of sphincter-puckering steeps above the groomers. Take the t-bar to the top of Cucumber Bowl for some quick steep shots you can lap all day. Or, once they’re open later in the season, traverse/hike out into the high alpine bowls and get your billy goat on. I love these slopes because they’re so steep and relatively unskied bumps never form. In the spring their buttery faces beg for me to lay down sweet lines.

Honorable mention for steeps goes to little Eldora Mountain Resort outside Boulder, Colorado. The front side is all blue runs with a skosh of fun trees. The backside gets steeper. If you head far skier’s right of the Corona lift, the runs get downright rowdy. As steep, and treed, and bumped as anywhere I’ve ever skied. While there isn’t a ton of variety, and the conditions can trend toward bulletproof ice, hit it on a good day and you can definitely get your fix.

Got a favorite ski area for skiing steeps in Colorado that I didn’t mention? Disagree with my pics? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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Blog Outdoor Sports

Random Musings: Life Lessons from Outdoor Sports

Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Outdoor Sports

Oceana Falls. Tallulah Gorge
Photo by Wesley R. Bradley Boater unknown

Remember that kid in elementary school who was always picked last for any team sport? Whether it was kickball, soccer, volleyball or anything else, that kid was me. I’ll be the first to admit it was warranted—I sucked at team sports. I just didn’t have enough confidence to really go after the ball.

When I was eighteen, I stumbled into a job that literally changed everything—whitewater raft guide. Somehow, I was good at it. I had a knack for reading the water and finessing my boat onto the right line. Best of all, with raft guiding I wasn’t competing against someone else and always coming up short.

My first season as a raft guide put my entire life on a new and different (and arguably much better) course. Because of that job, and the people I met and worked with, the following spring I moved out West and learned to whitewater kayak, ski, and mountain bike.

Over the years I traveled all over the U.S. working as a raft guide on six different rivers in five states. My husband and I met whitewater kayaking. I got my start as a writer with an article published in Canoe & Kayak magazines, and worked as a kayaking sports model.

Being a guide opened a whole new view of the world, and gave me a way to live and work in some of the most beautiful places in the country. Along the way, I gained a ton of confidence in my strengths and abilities. Because, frankly, when you’ve skied a narrow, rocky chute, or paddled a Class V waterfall, interviewing for a job, finding a place to live, or paying the bills doesn’t seem nearly as challenging.

For years, I kept a poster in my office of the largest waterfall I ever ran (Oceana on Tallulah Gorge in N. Georgia, shown above, if you’re curious). Anytime I was scared of something, I reminded myself that if I could do that, I could do anything. Along the way, I realized these sports were teaching me a ton about how to live a happy and fulfilled life.

Here are 12 of the most powerful life lessons I’ve learned from decades of doing outdoor sports like skiing, rafting and mountain biking:

  1. You go where you look, so focus on where you want to go.
  2. If you don’t know where you want to go, you’re likely to end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
  3. You can do more than you ever thought possible. Seriously. Try it.
  4. Twenty-five years of practice will make others think you’re a natural at just about anything.
  5. It’s important to have a plan, and work that plan. It’s also important to have a plan B (and a plan C and plan D), just in case things don’t go the way you planned.
  6. If you think you’re going to screw up, you’re probably right.
  7. Be proactive, not reactive. You’ll get a lot farther with a lot less stress.
  8. Make sure the people around you have your back when things go sideways—because at some point they always will.
  9. Take lessons or find a mentor rather than teach yourself. Otherwise you’re just going to have to unlearn a bunch of bad habits, which is frustrating and a waste of time.
  10. No matter what you do for a living, or how much money you make, everyone takes a beat down eventually. Accept it, and do what you can to reduce the chances and severity, but don’t let that stop you.

What do you think? I’d love to know in the comments below.

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Blog Coming Soon Romance Novels

In Deep – Coming Soon

In Deep is Coming Soon to an e-Reader Near You

So, I’m beyond excited to announce that the latest in my series of short, steamy, contemporary ski romances is coming soon—likely Q4 (cue happy Snoopy dance). It is currently being edited by my awesome publisher, The Wild Rose Press  This is the second novelette I’ve set at Emerald Mountain Ski Area in Central Washington State, and it was a blast to write.

I love skiing, so needless to say, I love writing about skiing. Having spent a number of years ski-bumming around the Rockies in my twenties, I’ve seen loads of relationships form on the hill. Something about the extra euphoria, danger, and adrenaline, and makes a developing relationship more intriguing.

If you’ve read Just Friends, my first Emerald Mountain novelette, then you already know ski patrollers Max and Sophie. Their the main characters in In Deep. This is the story of how they ended up together.

Here’s the draft teaser blurb for ya…

Can they keep their jobs, and each other?

Sophie Tremore is trying to build a career in the male-dominated world of Ski Patrol. Hard to do when her new boss and former lover, Max Demford, keeps treating her like she’s incompetent—when he’s not ignoring her existence.

Emerald Mountain Ski Patrol Director Max Demford has been doing his best to avoid working with Sophie. His judgment is clouded by those eight, mind-blowing weeks two years ago. Ski patrol is dangerous enough, and no way could he handle it if another person he cares about gets hurt on the mountain.

Short-staffed, Max reluctantly agrees to train Sophie on avalanche control. Working together makes it harder to ignore the mutual attraction simmering below the surface. When Sophie gets caught in a slide, an adrenaline-filled day turns into a spectacular, sex-filled night they need to forget, or risk their careers.

Want to be the first to know when In Deep is coming out, and get the chance to get your hands on an ARC (Advanced Review Copy)? Join the Gold Club! You’ll also get the chance to win a copy of Just Friends and other good stuff.