Well, that was fun

So, on my last update, I was riding the bus to Keystone. I bought my lift pass a few days ago, so that allowed me to go straight to the River Run Gondola. The gondola carried us up to Dercum Mountain where you have the option to either continue on to the North Peak and the back bowls, or you can stay on the front side of the resort. I opted to continue back towards the North Peak and after a while of trail/lift hopping, I arrived. From Dercum, I mostly lost track of trail signs but here is a vague idea of where I was most of the day.

The red routes are runs that I happened to enjoy. The purple route indicates the snowcat shuttle and the hike along the Puma Bowl Ridge.

Once I arrived at the North Peak, I joined an EpicMix (the Vail resort system of tracking runs, vertical feet, etc.) Challenge. The challenge was to accrue 29,035 vertical feet in one day at a single resort. So off I went! Determined to complete the challenge, I sought out the steep and deep runs. Thankfully, there was about 3-5 inches of fresh powder blanketing the mountain, so that was a nice reprieve on the groomers.

The snowcat shuttle. The yellow basket holds skies and boards. If you look through the cab, you can see the heated main cabin that can seat 12 people.

Around 11:30 AM, I managed to coincide my run with the arrival of the snowcat shuttle at the North Peak. The shuttle ferries skiers and boarders a mile up to Wapiti Peak, where you can drop into either the North or South Bowls. I was the first to queue for the shuttle, so I got to ride in the heated cab with the driver. Once we got talking, we figured out that both of us knew where Anthony Lakes was! Turns out, the driver was from Portland. Who knew.

The desolate, windswept ridge joining the North and South Bowls. Admittedly, the weather could have been marginally better, but any day on the snow is a good day. Elevation: 12,354 ft.

Once we arrived near Wapiti Peak, the shuttle stopped and we gathered our gear. I chose the South (Puma) Bowl while the others from the shuttle had chosen the North Bowl. Solo once more, I hiked 1/2 a mile to the drop-in line where I felt, for a moment, as though I was suspended between heaven and earth. After strapping in and tightening my pack, I sighed a prayer and turned my board downward. What ensued next was pure, undiluted joy. The powder flew up in walls around me as I flew down the Wombat Chutes, throwing deep carves into the pristine snow. All too soon, the terrain started to flatten out, forcing me to traverse a catwalk down to the Outback Express chairlift.
In my joy following my descent through the Puma Bowl, I had forgotten all about lunch. Deciding it was no longer worth it to stop, I continued building on my EpicMix challenge. On my last run, I had boarded 31,000 vertical feet-effectively completing the challenge. I was completely exhausted. Truthfully, I got on the Swan Mountain Flyer bus and rode an extra 20 minutes before I could summon the energy to stumble off at Breck Station.

Once back at the Inn, I showered and took a power nap before making my way down to Michael’s Italian Restaurant along Main Street. The food was fantastic!

Baked tortellini and shrimp in a white cream sauce, garnished with roasted pine nuts. Positively delicious.

Feeling the need for caffeine, I meandered over to Starbucks and ordered a hot Caramel Macchiato- which I then savored on my trek back to the Inn. Tonight, it’s a happening place. Travelers from around the world congregate at the dining room table, in the overstuffed armchairs by the fire, and in the commons area off the living room. Everyone is recounting their day, the stories growing taller by the minute. I dislike that my stay here grows short for I am growing rather fond of this “home.”

Tomorrow, the plan is to board Arapahoe Basin (aka “The Legend”) starting at 9:15 AM. I bid thee all a good night!

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