Where to ski — and ride — now
January 2, 2016
Beaver Creek Mountain:
Centennial (Willy's Face)
The main lift out of Beaver Creek is the Centennial Express Lift. The trail beneath the "chondola" is well maintained throughout the season, as it is usually the first thing people see as they ride the chairlift or gondola for the first time. Riding up each morning, it is too hard to resist. It's fast. It's steep. It ends at the village. It's the go-to run every day at the Beav'.
Upper Stone Creek Chutes
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Located on the easternmost part of Beaver Creek, the Stone Creek Chutes are some of the most extreme terrain on the mountain. There are cliffs to huck and powder stashes in secret spots. It's as close to some of the Back Bowls in Vail that you'll get. But be careful: There are really only a few solid days to be back there, as coverage can be sketchy.
Royal Elk Glade
Grouse Mountain gets some of the best snow on the mountain, and Royal Elk Glade is for those who like to duck, dip and dodge through trees. It's a long, steep run that will have you ready for lunch sooner rather than later. As a double black diamond, it'll surely get your heart pumping and give you something to talk about at apres.
SHORTAGE OF SNOW
Rose Bowl has some of the steepest trails on the mountain, and nothing's better after a few days of no new snowfall than getting a fresh wax on the snowboard, picking up a grooming report and seeing Cataract is groomed. It's a great place to get a few laps in with little traffic.
This trail is easily accessible from Centennial Express Lift and is a fun, long, perfectly challenging run. The best part, though, is that it has snowguns that freshen up conditions throughout the week. So when it hasn't snowed for a few days, check out Gold Dust.
WITH THE BROS
Riding with friends is what it's all about. And when your group is all on the same skill level, that's when the magic happens. A small crew can easily rip through Thresher Glade up Strawberry Park Express Lift, often times staying within a few feet of one another all while taking individual lines. A little bit of snow helps, as it can get sticky in there.
WITH THE BEGINNERS
Red Buffalo, Red Buffalo, send the whole family over! The Cinch Express Lift is a great place for beginners and yields some of the best views the mountain has to offer. Red Buffalo is a leisurely cruise with classic views of the Gore Range that the whole gang can enjoy. This is also a go-to spot for opposite days, when the snowboarders don skis and skiers strap into snowboards.
Follow signs from the top of the Mountaintop Express Lift. Some of Vail's classic trails also pay tribute to the people who have played a role in making the mountain what it is today. Riva Ridge is a great everyday trail that honors the men of the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army who fought and died in World War II.
Located under the High Noon Express Lift, commonly called Chair 5.
On a powder day, skiers and snowboarders don't want their runs to end. Aptly named, Forever is a long run with a perfect pitch that's great on a powder day. The first time the run was skied that we know of was in powder conditions; local Pepi Gramshammer skied it before there was a chairlift, then had to hike back out. When he reached the top he said "that took forever," and the run was named.
Follow signs from the top of the Game Creek Express Lift. A similar run to Forever, Ricky's Ridge is also a great run on a powder day for its vast length and width. It's named after one of Vail's first ski instructors, Ricky Andenmatten, of Zermatt, Switzerland. Vail is known for its wide open bowls, and after experiencing Forever and Ricky's Ridge on a powder day you, too, will not be able to forget the large bowls on the mountain's back side.
SHORTAGE OF SNOW
Head west from the top of the Game Creek Express Lift. When the snow is scarce, the groomed runs are the place to be. A fun tour around Game Creek Bowl will lead you to the westernmost point on the mountain and the Lost Boy trail, a favorite among frequently groomed runs for its spectacular views to the west. It was named after 14-year-old Martin Koether, of Chicago, who got lost during a snowstorm and skied into not-yet-developed Game Creek Bowl in the spring of 1964. He used his Boy Scout skills to build a snow cave, where he spent the night in sub-freezing temperatures. The next morning, he walked into the Ski Patrol shack and told patrollers, "I'm the lost boy."
WITH YOUR GIRLS
Lindsey's (formerly International)
Follow signs from the bottom of the Avanti Express Lift. Lindsey Vonn has made great strides in introducing the sport of skiing to young girls through her lessons program at Vail, Ski Girls Rock. When you're out with your girls, you can pay tribute to her by skiing her run, Lindsey's. It's a challenging run, especially if it hasn't been groomed, but it's always a fun one.
WITH THE BEGINNERS
Bwana and Simba
Accessed from the Pride Express Lift, these runs rarely see crowds and can be a great place to take beginners who prefer a little extra space. The runs it accesses are in the Lionshead area and share the names of popular lions Vail Founder Pete Seibert used to publicize the original opening of Lionshead. Simba is Swahili for "lion"; Bwana is an East African term meaning "boss" or "master."