Take it easy, go green and don’t forget the margaritas
Not all of us can or, more importantly, want to be a guy named Hans glamorously swoshing his way down a 60-degree face of fresh powder. In fact, there are a few of us who would rather skip the skiing and proceed directly to apres.
The good news is, there’s plenty of room for everybody at Beaver Creek and Vail. Nearly a third of the Beav and the front side of Vail is beginner-friendly green.
So for the novice visiting for the holiday or for people who just want to point the ski tips to the side and have a mellow day, here’s where to go.
Start with Beaver Creek. The beautiful thing here is that if you can get down Haymeadow, the bunny slope served by Lift 1, you can easily ski all the way from top to the mountain’s base.
Take Centennial (Lift 6) followed by the Birds of Prey (Lift 8) to the summit. Once you’re up there, you’ve got a wide variety of laid-back greens from which to choose.
When you get off the lift, take a left turn and there are fun runs like Red Buffalo, Powell, Piney, Booth Gardens and Mystic Island. A favorite of mine is Powell to Booth Gardens and then down to Spruce Saddle via Cinch. The green portion of Centennial as well as Flat Tops makes for good cruising.
At the end of you day, all you need to to do is take Cinch all the way down to the base. Our recommendation for apres is a margarita at your favorite establishment. For an even more mellow apres, try two margaritas. Your mileage may vary.
For more leisurely skiing check out Bachelor Gulch, which opened Thursday. If you’re staying in Beaver Creek, take Strawberry Park (Lift 12) and ride Primrose into Bachelor Gulch. There, you can cruise on runs like Sawbuck, Second Chance and Maverick.
Getting back to Beaver Creek is now easier with the construction of a green version of Intertwine last year. That also means that when Arrowhead opens Dec. 15, beginner skiers will be able to cruise from Arrowhead all the way to Beaver Creek and back.
Arrowhead is easily the best-kept secret when it comes to local’s knowledge. You can park close to the Arrow Bahn Express Lift. Piece of Cake and Little Brave (formerly known as Smooth Moss, if you have an old map) is the tranquil way down. From Arrowhead, you can also cut over on Bear Paw, Roughlock or Everkrisp to Bachelor Gulch.
Two other things about the Arrowhead/Bachelor Gulch strategy. While Beaver Creek can be packed on weekends, Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch are generally much, more wide-open. Also, if you’re thinking about making the jump to blues, the intermediate runs here are the place to do it.
Vail’s front side has plenty of fun greens as well. Check out the practice area near Eagle’s Nest by taking the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Owl’s Roost, Practice Parkway and Ledges are nice rides.
After a little time on Minnie’s Lift (No. 9), take Cub’s Way over to the Avanti Lift (No. 2). From there, The Meadows or Overeasy are good ways to get to Mid-Vail. Off of the Mountaintop Express, Ramshorn and Swingsville are mellow options. Swingsville is regularly picked by the Yellow Jackets as a go-slow zone, if you want to get away from those choosing to turn Vail into the their own version of a Warren Miller flick.
Venturing further east, if you’re at Patrol Headquarters, take the Timberline Catwalk down to Sourdough Lift (No. 14). There, you’ve got Sourdough, Boomer, Tin Pants and Flap Jack.
Vail has plenty of catwalks to get you down at the end of the day. And, yes, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Bring on the margaritas at apres.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.