Monday, January 15, 2018

The best resorts for winter fat bikes

Fat biking, a discipline of mountain biking suited for snow-packed trails, has taken ski towns across North America by grip. Utilizing tires as wide as four to five inches, fat bikes make it easier—and more fun—to cruise through winter’s elements. From pedaling on a brewery tour in Telluride to venturing on a two-wheeled wildlife safari in Jackson Hole, here’s the lowdown on the best ski resorts for fat biking.

Aspen, CO

The town of Aspen is the tip of the Roaring Fork Valley fat-biking iceberg. With plenty of bike paths and singletrack to cruise, not to mention gorgeous scenery like the Maroon Bells, the Aspen area offers plenty of rides for fat bikers. The Aspen Fat Bike Loop is a 4.5-miler just west of downtown that winds around the Aspen Nordic Center and Marolt Trails. If you’re looking to pack in the miles, the Rio Grande Trail, a 20-mile groomed multi-use path, connects the historic towns of Basalt and Aspen.

Breckenridge, CO

Three days a week—Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays—fat bikers can cruise most of Gold Run Nordic Center’s 30k of green, blue and dark blue Nordic trails. The rest of the week, the center’s easy to intermediate singletrack snowshoe trails are open to fat bikers. Fat bike rentals are available onsite. For a guided experience, take a tour of downtown Breckenridge and the extensive trail network surrounding it.

Crested Butte, CO

New this winter, Crested Butte Mountain Resort offers on-mountain fat biking during non-lift hours. As one of summer’s top mountain biking destinations, it is no surprise the resort was one of the first to allow fat biking on ski trails. Crested Butte is also home to the Borealis Fat Bike World Championships in January.

Jackson Hole, WY

Gorgeous scenery makes Jackson Hole a natural choice for fat biking, where you can take a half- or full-day wildlife or Grand Teton National Park tour. In January, Jackson Hole hosts the Global Fat Bike Summit and Festival, complete with demos, clinics, races and more.

Steamboat Springs, CO

In Steamboat Springs, fat bikers have a vast selection of trails to pedal, including on BLM land, at Lake Catamount Touring Center and throughout Routt County. During non-lift hours, fat bikers can shred Steamboat resort’s ski trails.

Telluride, CO

Voted No. 1 for scenery by SKI magazine, Telluride is best explored by bike. Whether you’re after a leisurely cruise along the valley floor to Telluride Brewing Company or a challenging high-alpine ride, Telluride has fat-biking options for every taste and ability. For a self-guided adventure, check out Jurassic Trail, Alta Lakes Road or the Meadows in Mountain Village.

Top North America resorts to learn to ski

January is Learn to Ski Month, so there’s no better time to start thinking about where you’d like to experience your first ski vacation. We’ve compiled a list of North America’s best resorts for first timers thanks to their specialized learning programs, state-of-the-art facilities, accessibility and unique beginner experiences. After a lesson or two with one of the highly trained instructors at the top ski and snowboard schools listed below, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying years of wintertime bliss.
  1. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado

    With four ski areas—Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk—accessible in one resort destination and on one lift ticket, Aspen Snowmass is the perfect place to go on your first ski vacation. Offering a wide variety of terrain options, Aspen Snowmass is a great ski resort to bring along friends and family members that might have previous skiing or snowboarding experience. While you’re learning the basics, they can try out a new resort each day.
    Boasting excellent kid, teen, adult and adaptive learning programs, Snowmass and Buttermilk are where beginners will want to learn to ski
  2. Snowmass

    Kids love learning at Snowmass thanks to the gentle beginner areas, like Fanny Hill and Elk Camp, ski school characters and state-of-the-art facilities. The Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center is a 25,000-square-foot, forest-themed facility that provides a basecamp for hot chocolate breaks, lunch, playtime, arts and crafts and childcare. The little ones tend to learn quickly, and before long they will be able to make turns and stop. Then it’s time to head up the lifts and explore Snowmass’ uber-fun beginner tree trails.
    Aspen Snowmass’ Beginner’s Magic makes learning to ski a comfortable and enjoyable experience for adults, too. Knowledgeable rental staff members fit you with proper, comfortable equipment, and there’s an after-skiing shoe service so you don’t have to walk around in your ski boots when you’re done with your lesson. Atop the Elk Camp Gondola at Elk Camp Meadows, professional instructors will teach you the fundamental techniques, how to operate your equipment and mountain awareness—all while you enjoy spectacular alpine views.
    Schlepping ski gear and walking in ski boots can be one of the most challenging—and frustrating—aspects when learning to ski. Beginners love Snowmass because 95 percent of the resort’s lodging is located slopeside—it’s easy to get on and off the slopes.
    Where to stay: For a convenient ski in ski out location, tons of services and amenities and easy access to ski-school meeting areas, book your stay at Crestwood Condominiums.
  3. Buttermilk

    Buttermilk offers excellent green runs for Level 2 and 3 beginners, and the base area’s magic carpet and beginner lifts deliver skiers and snowboarders to a gentle, dedicated learning zone for first-timers. Kids and parents alike will be impressed with Buttermilk’s new Hideout Children’s Center. This innovative 7,500-square-foot facility features custom-designed play features like a playroom and lookout tower and will inspire a love of mountain adventure in children.
    Few resorts can boast beginner trails that yield views of Colorado’s famed 14,000-plus-foot peaks, so one of the highlights of learning to ski at Buttermilk is the chance to see Pyramid Peak from the Cliffhouse Lodge. Beginners at Buttermilk can even ski or snowboard next to the world-famous 22-foot-high, 500-foot-long X Games Superpipe and the monstrous jumps that make up the Slopestyle Course.
    Where to stay: For ski in ski out access to Buttermilk’s beginner-friendly slopes and convenience to the Hideout, an award-winning children’s ski school facility, stay at the Inn at Aspen.
  4. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

    A big part of skiing is enjoying mountain culture; downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado provides a true Western experience that first-timers won’t soon forget. Even if you don’t fall in love with skiing immediately, you will fall in love with Steamboat’s gorgeous Rocky Mountain views and idyllic cowboy atmosphere.
    There’s no shortage of crème-de-la-crème professional ski instructors at Steamboat. The Steamboat SnowSports School is comprised of certified Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors, winter Olympians, national team members and more than 550 instructors trained in the latest on-snow teaching techniques.
    Steamboat offers excellent programs for all ages, including adaptive learning, and beginner areas feature magic carpets and gentle, flat slopes with a seven to 10 percent grade. The resort has gone to great lengths to enhance the beginner experience by implementing terrain shaping, a new trend in the industry that helps first-timers learn how to control their speed and make turns with snow features. The gentle-grade slopes have small hills and banks that will naturally turn the beginner’s skis or board and help them slow down.
    Steamboat understands that adults learning to ski have different needs than children and offers two adult-learning zones: the Promenade and Ski Time Square.
    The resort lodging is mainly situated ski in, ski out, which is a nice feature for beginner skiers looking to make getting on and off the mountain as easy as possible.
    Where to stay: For slopeside location and high-touch hotel amenities and services, make Sheraton Steamboat Resort your beginner basecamp.
  5. Beaver Creek, Colorado

    Beaver Creek’s Ski and Snowboard School enjoys a reputation of one of North America’s top learning programs thanks to their video analysis program as well as a world-class, slopeside children’s beginner facility, The Ranch, which features a dedicated learning area with a dedicated gondola. Children’s ski and snowboard instructors are hand-selected for their patience and personality. The resort even customizes the learning terrain to facilitate the correct body movements.
    When it’s time to leave the learning zone and explore Beaver Creek’s high-alpine green slopes, you can also rest assured that you’re in good hands when learning to ski. Beaver Creek is the recipient of the National Ski Area Association’s Best Overall Safety Award.
    Where to stay: For easy access to ski school and the beginner gondola, plus five-star hotel services and amenities, nothing can compete with Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.
  6. Big Sky Resort, Montana

    Combine spectacular mountain scenery and 882 acres of beginner skiing with next to no crowds and you’ve got a first-timer’s paradise. Montana’s Big Sky Resort base area offers a magic carpet and poma lift for smoothing out the basics under the tutelage a certified Professional Ski Instructor.
  7. Deer Valley Resort, Utah

    From its complimentary ski valet and parking shuttle to plush lodges and world-class on-mountain restaurants, Deer Valley Resort is all about personalized attention for every guest.
    So it should come as little surprise that the resort goes above and beyond to make beginners feel comfortable when learning. Nearly 30 percent of Deer Valley’s perfectly manicured slopes are green runs. Every green run is marked “slow skiing” and the resort limits the number of lift tickets sold daily, so beginners don’t have to worry about crowds of more advanced skiers zooming by.
    Deer Valley ski school instructors provide an incredible, customized experience in both their acclaimed private lessons and “Max 4” lessons, which never exceed four people, so you can learn the basics at your own pace.
    Where to stay: If you have children learning to ski, being close to the ski-school center is key and why we recommend the St. Regis Deer Valley, which just a quick funicular ride away from Snow Park Lodge.
  8. Copper Mountain, Colorado

    Offering a designated learning area with gentle slopes, a magic carpet and beginner lift, Copper Mountain provides a private, divided setting for beginners. The learning area is ideally situated between the East Village and Center Village base areas, which makes it easy to access on foot no matter where you’re staying. The Copper Ski & Ride School provides private and group lessons for any age, ability level or interest.
    Copper Mountain is one of the world’s best destinations for beginner freestyle skiers or snowboarders, too. Woodward, Copper’s acclaimed freestyle programs and training facility, which includes indoor ramps, foam pits and trampolines, provide beginners with a safe and confidence-building setting and highly knowledgeable instructors. Many of these instructors have even coached Olympic freestyle and X Games athletes.
    When it’s time to leave the learning area and head up the chairlift to explore Copper’s green trails, beginners can do so comfortably, as the resort’s black, blue and green runs are naturally divided, which means beginners have a zone all to themselves. The Union Creek, Kokomo and Lumberjack chairlifts exclusively access green runs. Beginners can even ski or snowboard at elevations around 12,000 feet from the Rendevous chairlift and enjoy green trails all the way back to the base village.
    Where to stay: Make it a cinch to get to ski school in the morning and say in the Burning Stones Neighborhood, which is less than 250 yards from the chairlifts and morning meet-up spot.
  9. Okemo, Vermont

    Renowned as a family favorite of East Coast skiers, Okemo offers a lot for beginners to love. Okemo is accessible from several major Eastern hubs, including Boston and New York City.
    The new Jackson Gore Base Area lodge offers a Learning Center and beginner-friendly trails. Once the basics have been ticked off, beginners can enjoy 32 percent of Okemo’s terrain. Beginner skiers can even experience one of Okemo’s newest updates: a heated, six-person bubble chairlift will keep the New England cold out while transporting skiers to the Summit Lodge, where there are many green runs to enjoy.

Hiking in Bear Country

  Bears are reclusive and would just as soon not meet you or any other humans. You just have to let them know you're in the neighborhood and behave like a well-mannered guest using a bit of common sense. There are very few bear attacks and those occur only in territory inhabited by bears, so bear danger for hikers is very low.

Bear Aware

  Since you are a visitor, you should be aware of how to behave in bear country. Bears are always looking for food and instinctively try to get the most food for the least amount of work. Some common steps to take in bear country:
  • Educate everyone in your party about the procedures to follow when a bear is seen. Make sure they understand that this is serious business so they don't do stupid things at the wrong time.
  • Keep your eyes open for signs of bears. Footprints, droppings, trampled vegetation, clawed up tree trunks, overturned rocks, ripped up rotting logs.
  • Invest in some bear spray before entering bear country. Know how and when to use it.
  • Hike in groups. This gives you people to talk to, making noise is important to warn bears of your approach.
  • Feel the wind. If you are hiking into the wind, your scent will not reach bears ahead of you and the chances of encounter are higher. Be aware and consider making more warning noise.
  • Feel the land. Hiking across open meadows, ridges, or hillsides provides the opportunity for spotting bears at a distance. Hiking in gullies, thick forests, or along streams masks noise and scent and increases possibility of encounters.
  • Dispose of garbage in bear-proof containers, if they are available.
  • Hang all food, garbage, and smellable items in secure bear bags. Locate two trees about 200 feet from your campsite and at least 20 feet apart. Hang your smellables between them at least 12 feet up.
  • Never eat or even bring smellables into your tent. This includes toothpaste, perfume, snacks, gum, ... anything with an odor. This also includes the clothes you cooked in - put on different clothes for sleeping.
  • Cook at least 200 feet downwind from your tent. Even better, stop and cook your meal a mile before stopping to camp. Don't even open your food or garbage bag in camp.
  • Clean all dishes immediately. Do your washing 200 feet from camp.
  • Make sure you leave a spotless campsite. Remove all reason for a bear to visit this location looking for food.

When You See a Bear

  If you notice a bear at a distance, stay calm and assess your situation. Give the bear a wide privacy space - make a very wide 300 foot detour or go back the way you came and take a different route. If the bear is close when you first notice it, the situation requires more immediate evaluation and action:
  • Gather your group close together and make sure everyone understands there is a bear present.
  • Get your bear spray out if you have it. Otherwise, be ready with hiking sticks for protection.
  • Talk in a calm voice so the bear hears you and your group hears you.
  • Have your group slowly back away, the same direction from which you came if possible. But, don't run away.
  • Be ready for a 'bluff' charge where the bear lunges but then stops. The bear is trying to scare you off. Continue to back away calmly without losing your cool and turning to run.
If the bear continues to follow you, at some point you will come to the conclusion that the bear is considering you as prey. You need to convince the bear that you are not easy prey and will be a tough fight.
  • Stop and stand your ground with whatever weapon you have available - hiking stick, branch, or rocks.
  • Face the bear and look directly at it.
  • Shout loudly and look as big and threatening as you can. Stamp your feet and take a step towards the bear, with the intend of causing it to back away.
  • Use your bear spray if the bear is close enough
  • If the bear actually attacks and makes contact with you, then you are fighting for your life. Try to hit its eyes, nose, and face so it feels pain and stops the attack.

When Bears Attack

Bear attacks are rare, very rare. Historically, there is about 1 death from wild bear attack every 2 or 3 years in the United States - see list of bear deaths - but that number has grown to 1 per year during the past 15 years. Here's a few graphs. They show Black bear, Brown bear, and Combined data by decade for the past 65 years through 2014. Canada and Alaska are most dangerous.
You are more likely to die from a bee sting. You are more likely to die in a car accident on the way to your hike. You are more likely to get struck by lightning. Most bear encounters happen when the bear's natural behavior of avoidance changes to aggression because:
  • You surprised the bear and you are considered a threat - when hiking alone, you tend to be more quiet and can accidentally sneak up on a bear. By hiking in groups and carrying on conversations, you will alert animals to your presence. You don't need to yell, whistle, or ring bells, but don't be silent.
  • You are considered a threat to young cubs or food - accidentally getting between a bear and her young is a bad situation. Whenever you see a bear, assume that there are young around or the bear is feeding. Don't go any closer and keep your eyes open for cubs.
  • The bear is used to people and has lost its natural fear - in heavily trafficked areas, bears may become accustomed to people. Just take a drive through Yellowstone and you'll understand. These calm bears seem docile and cute, causing people to throw all their sense out the window and get close for a picture. They sometimes get more than they bargained for.
  • Your dog provoked the bear - keep your dog on a leash.

Training Bears

Every time you visit bear country, you are training the bears that live there. You are leaving an impact through your smell, tracks, sound, and sight.
You leave an impact and the bears relate that impact to some experience. If you just pass on through, and leave little impact, humans will remain a mystery to the bear. This is the best kind of training you can do. Unfortunately, many sloppy, lazy humans train bears in the wrong way. By leaving granola bar crumbs on a picnic table or half a peanut butter sandwich in a trash can, bears learn that these are great places for easy meals.
Every encounter reinforces in the bear that humans are a food source and not a threat. This causes the bears to become more aggressive and approach humans for food. Ultimately, this leads to the death of the bear because someone will get hurt or the bear will get a bad reputation and will be destroyed.

Bear Bags and Canisters

  To keep your food away from bears (and other critters), there are a few common methods available:
  • Bear Bag - Hang your food, garbage, and other smellable items from a tree branch. See one efficient way to hang your bag.
  • Bear Canister - Place food, garbage, and smellables in a container that bears can not breach. Most are heavy, hard-sided plastic cans, but Ursack makes a lightweight bag.
    When hiking in certain regulated areas, make sure your canister is on the land agency's approved list or you could get a hefty fine.
  • Food Vaults - some established campsites include metal boxes embedded in cement into which you place your food, garbage, and smellables. This keeps it safe from larger animals, but mice and chipmunks can usually get in. Still put your food inside protection, such as a plastic tupperware, when using a food vault.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Here’s a recap of these 10 common mountain bike maintenance mistakes.

1. Over-tightening bolts: If you’re worried about your bars or seatpost slipping, but don’t want to make this mistake, simply apply some sort of fiber grip paste to the contact areas of the clamp.
2. Using worn-out Allen keys: Just don’t do it. Worn out Allen keys can cause serious damage to your bolts, so make sure you keep an eye on the condition of your tools.
3. Over-spraying lube: Again, just don’t do it. Instead be really careful when spraying lube on your chain, if any gets on your disc brake rotor, you can be in serious trouble.
4. Internal cable routing: Anyone who has a bike with internal cable routing has experienced this headache. But there are a number of crafty hacks to help you retain your sanity next time you need to change your cables.

5. Not greasing pedal axles
: We regularly see people struggling to remove their pedals from their bike. To avoid this and save your knuckles, lightly grease your pedal axles before fitting them on your bike.

6. Washing your bike upside down
: You really want to avoid this whenever possible. But if you are going to do this, make sure you don’t spray water near your headset.
7. Forgetting your order of assembly: When removing any parts from your bike, lay them on your work bench in the order you removed them from your bike.

8. Stiff axles
: People often struggle to fit their axles back into their wheels, especially if they are maxles. Make sure you regularly clean and grease your axles as you would with any other part on your bike.

9. Using the wrong grease
: Before applying grease or lubrication to any part of your bike, make sure it’s fit for purpose. The lubricant you want for your suspension is not going to be the same as for other parts of your bike.

10. Poorly adjusted limit screws
: If your gears have stopped working smoothly, always use the barrel adjustor before you change the settings on your limit screws.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Hiking Benefits

Sure you know that hiking is good exercise and its a great way to get in touch with nature, but there's just a ton of other benefits to hiking. When you go on a hiking tour, you help make the world a better place!
  • Weight Loss

     - Hiking is a super way to lose excess pounds. Obesity is now an epidemic in the United States according to the surgeon general - that's bad! 64% of adults are overweight and more than 30% are considered obese. Our sedentary lives, stuck in offices, in front of computers, surfing this miserable internet is killing us off. Move your body, burn off some calories, and lose weight.
  • Prevent Heart Disease

     - Over 2500 Americans die every day from cardiovascular diseases. While you've read this far, someone died and by the time you read this entire page 5 more will be dead. A regular walking routine greatly reduces your chances of heart problems. Study after study after study show that regular, light exercise increases your odds immensely.
  • Decrease Cholesterol

     - Hiking and walking increase the HDL good cholesterol which helps get rid of the bad cholesterol. This in turn reduces your chances of heart problems.
  • Lower Blood Pressure

     - Going on a short hike of 30 minutes every other day is all it takes. Lower blood pressure means better overall health.
  • Reduce Stress and Depression

     - Your body's natural drugs like endorphins and adrenaline are released when hiking and these chemicals have a natural positive effect on your stress levels.
  • Stronger Longer

     - As you age, you do not need to experience a decline in physical activity. By staying active, your muscles stay strong. As you get older, your body will weaken, but regular hiking helps minimize that.
  • Prevent Osteoporosis

     - Hiking helps increase bone density and strength, helping prevent the calcium loss and chance of broken bones from this disease.
  • Better Air

     - Hiking to church, the store, school, or a local restaurant reduces the pollution from your car which makes the air better for everyone.
  • Prevent Diabetes

     - Hiking can reduce the amount of insulin a Type I diabetic. A Type II diabetic can reverse the course of the diabetes with exercise, diet, and weight loss.
  • Improve Arthritis

     - A regular exercise program can benefit most people that have been diagnosed with and treated for arthritis. Walking may be the best exercise as it strengthens muscles and improves support.
  • Relief from Back Pain

     - Sitting at a computer or desk too long can cause back pain. People that walk commonly report significant decreases in back pain. Hiking puts much less stress on your body than running or aerobics and helps build core body strength.
  • All Body Exercise

     - Hiking is an aerobic exercise that improves overall physical fitness, using leg muscles, core body muscles, and lungs. You set the pace and length that is a comfortable challenge for your body.
  • Experience Nature

     - Hikers explore natural settings that can only be reached on foot, leaving the hectic urban life and pollution behind for awhile.
  • Self Confidence

     - As more advanced hikes are completed, a hiker understands that he is capable of even larger feats. Making your way through foul weather or rugged terrain builds your confidence in what you can do.
  • Basis of Much More

     - By mastering hiking skills, you expand your horizons to mountaineering, backpacking, rock climbing and other outdoor wilderness activities.
  • Year Round

     - You can continue to hike any time of the year. It is a great activity that can be done in all seasons so a single hiking tour can have many different looks as the seasons change.
  • Escape and Refreshment

     - the psychological effects of spending time in natural surroundings is positive and strong. Time spent on the trail will renew you for better performance in your job and life back in the real world.

6 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Next Ski Day Alone

Singles line allows more time for this.
Skiing and riding with your buddies can be one of the most rewarding activities out there, as few things match the stoke shared when high-fiving at the bottom after a run of hip-high blower pow, or once your friend finally lands that elusive backflip. But many people get sucked into the routine of always accompanying someone else, missing out on the benefits of taking a solo day. Here are six reasons why you should go at it alone next time:
1. Self-Accountability
If you woke up after 11:00, got to the mountain at 12:30, and all the freshies vanished -the only person to blame- is yourself. Committing to a solitary day puts you completely in control, and therefore at fault. Since no one can hold you back with their lost gear and missed alarms, try getting out much earlier than you normally would. When Im alone, I always go for first chair. It makes my riding day feel that much longer, and well, first tracks. Need I say more? Set the alarm for 6:30 am, and get moving.
2. Go Where You Want
When youre riding alone, you get to call the shots. Whoops, you were feeling it on that last lap and accidentally skipped the chair you were supposed to take? Since youre a single, instead of missing five phone calls from your now-seething friends who thought you were dead, you just hopped on another lift. No big deal.
Or, you just had the best run of your life, but your companion despises moguls, so they are making you move on. Nope, this time its all you, so repeat it as many times as you want. When Im solo, I dont even make a plan. I just float down, following what I feel like doing at that exact moment and seeing where the fall line takes me.
3. Try Something New
Nobody likes being the last one to the chair and making everyone wait for them. This competitive environment, as subtle as it may be, discourages riders from trying things that would normally slow them down. If I dont have to keep up with someone, Im experimenting. Im working on my butters, perfecting my carves, or better yet, Im riding switch. Its unbelievable how much you can progress when you arent going hyper speed down a groomer, and instead attempt to nail that nose press 15 times on a run.

4. Break When You Want
Riding alone means you control the clock. Instead of busting down that mogul field and risking a bad fall because you can barely keep your fatigued legs upright, sit at the top, and wait until you are ready. And dont be afraid to go into the lodge to use the bathroom, rather than risking frostbite just so your friends dont have to wait as long. Or stop to grab a drink of water before you pass out, guilt-free. These are all boons of riding alone.
5. New Perspective
When youre looking for your friends tracks like a heat seeking missile, you happen to miss a lot of other features and lines. Without someone leading, you might find a sweet new side hit on your favorite run that you never noticed or you might stare out and revel in pristine mountain wilderness that surrounds all the Colorado resorts. Im always surprised at how differently I look at my environment and at the new ways I ride the mountain when focal point isnt fixed on following my friends.
6. Singles Line
Debatably the best part of being alone is the coveted singles line. Slip beyond the crowd and exponentially cut your wait time, attracting the eyes of the envious onlookers. The most crowded of days feels much less so when you do not have to stand in line. Another plus - riding the lift can be beyond therapeutic when your only job is enjoying the vista- and not listening to your friend complain about their cold toes.
Singles line allows more time for this.
Solo days feel completely different from a normal outing with friends. Less waiting, no guilt, and you get to dictate where and when. Give it a try next time, because it will provide you with a new way of enjoying the mountains.

Reasons to Spend A Weekend at Cooper

Cooper is an unpretentious outpost and the perfect place to learn to ski and ride.
Each winter, our family spends one to two weekends at Cooper. Compare Coopers stats to some of the behemoth resorts down the road, and its easy to overlook Coopers unassuming 400 acres. Yet this storied ski hill set on Tennessee Pass has much to recommend it.

Perfect Learning Space
For starters, Cooper is the perfect place to learn to ski and ride. My daughter took a snowboard lesson at Cooper last season while my sons were competing in a ski race. The instructors are low-key and the price is right. For $99, she had an all-day group lesson, lift ticket and a lunch of chicken fingers.
She only had three kids in her group, which made it practically semi-private. And she got to throw snowballs at the director of the ski school. Compare that price to the more than $200 price tag for a kids group lesson at mega destination resorts and you can see its a bargain.
The wide apron that spreads out in the learning zone is long and tilted at just the perfect angle. You can see it all right from the top floor of the lodge. While we sat sipping coffee, my husband and I could watch my daughter making her heelside turns. Toeside turns? Another day.
Ultimately everyone was happy thanks to the snowboard lesson. The boys had their race; my husband and I had our skiing and spectating, and Anya had a homespun combo of TLC, instruction, and generally fun and silliness that only a snowboard instructor can deliver.

History Lessons
During World War II, Cooper was the training site for the 10th Mountain Division, which was based at nearby Camp Hale. We stopped by the 10th Mountain Division memorial at the entrance to the ski area to read about the soldiers who cut the first tails at Cooper for training, their pivotal role in World War II and eventually the impact that many of those soldiers had on the ski industry when they came back to Colorado after the war. It gave us the opportunity to add a teachable moment to a day of on-snow learning.
Close-In Parking
Its refreshing that you can pull into the lot at Cooper, unload your gear and walk to the lift. No shuttle bus. No $25 parking fee. Its the kind of lot that people ski through to their cars at days end. I, for one, think its unwise to ski over parking lot snow, all speckled with gravel, but somehow it warms my heart to see others doing it.
Here, Kitty
Granted, you wont find Crested Butte or Telluride style steeps and cliff drops here. The terrain at Cooper is defined by modest pitches. However, most visitors here seem to stick to the groomers. We have always found pockets of untracked snow in the trees.
Cooper also has a snowcat operation that runs on Chicago Ridge, 2,600 acres of powder skiing in bowls and glades that span the Continental Divide above the mountains lift-served trails. Accessed by the snowcat, runs drop 1,400 feet on 30-degree slopes. Its some very whoop-worthy, affordable, unpretentious snowcat-accessed powder skiing.

Leadvilles Close By
Weve always stayed in Leadville, just down the road from Cooper. This mountain town has its own brand of unpretentious charm. Every winter, they bring in tons of snow and snowcats to cover Harrison Avenue, Leadvilles main drag. The temporary strip of snow plays host a ski-joring competition, where horses pull cowboys on skis at high speeds down the street. The skiers then launch off jumps built along the way. That, my friends, is extreme skiing.
Here you can also dive into an enormous prime rib under an 1800s pressed tin ceiling at Quincys. A great big steaknot sushi or French cuisineis the perfect capper to a day spent at Cooper.