Ah, Colorado. It’s a dream destination for skiers around the country and the world, and for good reason.
But all those mountains and all the beauty have really brought the crowds. Combine the fervor with legalized marijuana, treacherous mountain roads, frequent storms, and a high-altitude environment that begins when you get off the airplane, and, well, you have a recipe for serious calamity.
As a Colorado resident who grew up in the flatter lands of Wisconsin, I have witnessed good times and bad. If you’d like to really muck up a good time and wind up miserable, the methods below should put your worst foot forward. Obviously, avoid these if you want to have fun while skiing, partying, and experiencing Colorado in all its weirdness and glory.
Yes, weed is legal in Colorado. But be warned, the stuff is strong these days and a single “magic” chocolate bar can be enough to get an elephant baked. If you choose to use, take it easy and talk to a salesperson at the pot shop to learn about the responsible dose, lest you spend a day wigging out in a hotel room while your buddies get fresh tracks. Final note: Smoking pot in public, at ski areas, and driving stoned are still illegal. Consider yourself warned.
2) Don’t drink water
You’re a hardy Midwesterner, right, and Breckenridge is ONLY at 9,000 feet. Wrong. Many people are knocked off their feet by altitude, and there’s no way to know if you’ll be one of them until you are there. Drink lots of water at altitude to stave off the sickness. Try to get plenty of rest and eat well, and don’t drink in excess. If you know you are susceptible to altitude sickness, visit a doctor before your trip and ask for a prescription for Diamox. It can help.
3) Head straight for an expert run
Even if you reckon you’re a pretty decent skier or rider, you may want to try a few moderate runs before you jump into expert terrain in the Rockies. The lines are steeper, the obstacles real, and the consequences of a mistake can be a lot more significant than at that little bump in Wisconsin. Get used to the terrain before you get in over your head.
Should you hit the big bowls (heyooo!) once you’re confident you can do so safely? For sure! That’s what skiing and riding are all about. Just be sure to work your way up, especially if you are new to the sport or region.
4) Drag your spouse/friend/kid down a double-diamond
You’ll see this nearly every time you ski. Some skier in jeans, standing there in the middle of an endlessly long bump run. Next to them, their spouse carrying their skis and cursing/crying as they fall their way down the expert-level run.
Don’t do it. Trust me, it won’t lead to a fun evening on the town and could lead to actual, avoidable injuries. If you just have to hit that super duper double diamond that’s out of your skill range, do it on your own. At least your spouse might be sympathetic when you limp into the lodge later.
5) Expect to get to the airport in two hours from Summit County
You MIGHT be able to get from Summit County to DIA in two hours. Might. But if you’re staying in Summit County (or passing through from Vail or Aspen), don’t be surprised if it takes much, much longer, especially on Sunday afternoons. Plan accordingly, and don’t miss your flight. You want your last memories to be happy turns instead of a nightmare at the airport.
Bonus — Ski in jeans
Recently, states bordering Colorado filed a lawsuit against the state because they claim the legalized marijuana is making it across their boarders. Colorado residents contend that the state should sue Kansas, Nebraska and Texas for the horror of skiers in jeans.
Unless you really rip, and it’s a balmy spring day and you are also wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sombrero, skip the jeans. They are horrible for skiing, and you’ll look like an idiot. Avoid winding up on Jerry Of The Day, and buy yourself some decent ski pants.