by Paul Maraschiello


I arrived at the Denver International Airport and picked up my rental car and headed off for Breckenridge. I hadn't skied Breckenridge for a few years and was really looking forward to my visit. Breckenridge with it's real western town at the base of the mountain has always been one of my favorites.

I was staying at a condo at the Highland Greens Lodge, just four miles from the Breckenridge Ski Area. This turned out to be a very nice one-bedroom condo convenient to town. With a king-size bed and fold-out couch, this condo sleeps four and was very nicely furnished and had a nice kitchenette. There was even an elevator to take me up to my room. The property is reasonablely priced ($164 - $379 Holiday) and a very good value, especially if you plan on doing your own cooking. For reservations, call TOLL FREE: (877) 324-7928. The property management company, Wildernest Lodging manages properties in Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper, A-Basin, Loveland and Vail.

I had a good night sleep and then headed for the slopes. I drove to the parking lot at the outskirts of town and was delighted to see that they had installed a gondola from the parking lot to the slopes. The bad news is that you now have to pay $10.00 to park in that lot. It seems that they moved the free parking at the Gold Rush Lot and lot further out at the Overflow Lot off airport road. I passed the sign coming in but never checked it out. If you park there, you will need to take the shuttle to the slopes.

The new gondola is really long and takes you past where they are building condos that will have their own stop on the gondola route. I met some very nice people on the gondola and the ride was very enjoyable. The gondola lets you off at the base of the mountain near the main base lodge at Peak 8.

The lift lines were short for a Saturday at the Colorado and Rocky Mountain Superchairs but I got into the singles line anyway and was on the chair in no time at all. After one run, I noticed that I could walk out of one of my bindings, so I took it into the ski rental shop at the base of the mountain and they checked it all out for me and tightened it up and I was back on the slopes enjoying the e4xcellent snow. I spent the morning skiing all the trails off the Rock Mountain and Colorado chairs and then went in for lunch at the restaurant on the top of the mountain and enjoyed the view. A couple I rode up the chair with recommended the chili and they were correct, it was very good and as luck would have it, they were looking for a seat when I was having lunch and I had the pleasure of their company during lunch.

After finishing my chili, I headed back to the slopes and made a few more runs. I worked my way over the Peak 9 and then did a couple of expert runs on Peak 10. By 3 pm, I was tired, the snow was getting skied off and I was ready to call it a day. There was a rock band playing in the base lodge and after a cup of hot chocolate, I headed back to the gondola for te ride back to my car. I was joined by a local who had the widest skis I had ever seen. These big powder skis looked like WATER SKIS, so I assumed he was an extreme skier and I was correct.

I went back to my condo and relaxed for a while before heading back into town for a little dinner. I drove around a little and found a parking place. The town of Breckenridge, Colorado is a quaint Victorian Old Western town in the heart of the Colorado Rockies that has retained it's charm. I was in the mood for Italian and when I notices the crowd in Fatty's Pizzeria on Ridge St., I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be a good choice. The prices are very reasonable, the crowd was friendly and the food was pretty good. After dinner, I was tired, so I went back to my condo and was soon asleep. I had not gotten to bed until 4 am, my time, so the rest was welcome.

I was up early the next day and headed back to the slopes. $10 was a reasonable price to pay to park so near the gondola, so I parked in the same place and did it all over again. I checked out some of the trails I had skied before and made it to some new trails too. They had received about four inches of new snow, so I was in heaven. The snow was great and like butter. I cruised up and down all the trails on the front of the mountain and ventured down some that I had never skied before.

The Base Elevation: 9,600 feet and the Summit Elevation is 12,998 feet with a Vertical Rise of 3,398 feet. There are 28 Lifts (not counting the gondola) with 2 high-speed 6-passenger SuperChairs, 7 high-speed quad lifts, 1 triple lift, 6 double lifts, 4 surface lifts, and 8 carpet lifts.

Breckenridge boasts some of the best learning terrain anywhere. Skiers and riders will find most beginner trails (15%) located off Chair 7 on Peak 8, including a portion the 3.5 mile Four O' Clock run, the longest trail at Breckenridge, and the Quicksilver Super6 and A lifts on Peak 9. With 33% intermediate trails, this is a great place for an intermediate skier. Peak 7 has seven new rolling more difficult runs, accessed by a six-passenger SuperChair. Claimjumper is located on Peak 8 in addition to Northstar and Crescendo. Two high-speed SuperChairs on Peak 9 access more than ten intermediate trails for non-stop skiing and riding.

Duke's Run on Peak 8 was one of my favorites and offers a winning combination of small bumps and groomed terrain. If you take the T-Bar up to Pika, Ptarmigan, White Crown and Forget-Me-Not, there are wide-open bowls and stunning views. Peak 9's Peerless also had small bumps. Chair 6 also had it's share of moguls. I took a quick ride up the Falcon SuperChair on Peak 10 and found some steep groomers and deep bump runs. I passed on the legendary glades of The Burn.

On Peak 7, I found steep terrain without trees and a 45-degree pitch. On Peak 8, the view from Horseshoe Bowl was breathtaking. People were hiking to Imperial Bowl and Lake Chutes that has between 10 and 80 feet of cornice, rocks to jump but I passed. There is a lot of tree skiing at Peak 9 and the South Side of Peak 10 sports big fat bumps, hidden kickers and glades with very few other skiers.

I had lunch at 10 Mile Station and sat with a man and his young daughter. They were sleeping in their car, so I told them about the Leadville Hostel and their really cheap ($17 a night) rates. I have a feeling that they just might check it out. I enjoyed my burger and the pleasant conversation with a couple of other ski bums.

As you can see, Breckenridge has plenty for every level of skiers. This is a HUGE mountain that will take you more than a weekend to ski all the trails. I've never skied Breck after a huge dump. As an Eastern skier, I was very happy with the new snow even though I did not get the chance to ski and deep powder.