Skiers and snowboarders who don’t frequent Breckenridge Ski Resort (breckenridge.com)—or haven’t been here in a while—shall be forgiven for thinking it has little to offer a hard-charging powder hound. The lower slopes are mellow, yes, and if you come on a predictably busy day (most weekends during ski season), you may find yourself sharing the mountain with 20,000 other people hell-bent on shredding pow, just like you. However, you could argue that no resort in America has done more to improve its menu of challenging terrain over the past 10 years than Breck. Fuel up for a big day on said terrain with the log-size breakfast burrito at Cuppa Joe (118 S Ridge St., 970-453-3938); if you can’t finish it, rest assured you’re not the first as you stash the leftovers in your jacket pocket for a midmorning snack. Start with a few fast groomers on Peak 10, then make your way to the Lake Chutes off the Imperial Express quad (short, steep hike at 12,900 feet required), and steel yourself for a trip down Crazy Ivan and a pounding heart at the bottom. Hit Whale’s Tail on your way over to the new-last-season Peak 6 terrain, which spans more than a mile on the Tenmile Range’s leeward crest. Hike 270 vertical feet to the summit and skate over to Serenity Bowl, or if you’re feeling frisky just keep creeping out onto the cornice until you find something steep enough. Hit Quandary Grille for great après-ski deals (505 S Main St., 970-547-5969, quandarygrille.com), replenish your muscles with a heaping steak dinner at Salt Creek (110 E Lincoln Ave., 970-453-4949, saltcreekbreck.com), and finish with a cocktail (or three) at the Motherloaded Tavern, which often features live music during the winter (103 S Main St., 970-453-2572, motherloadedtavern.com).
Pack up the car—or catch the free Summit Stage bus (summitstage.com)—and head to Arapahoe Basin (arapahoebasin.com), known as The Legend for a reason. If your legs are still sleeping (and/or aching) from Day 1, wake/warm them up with a top-to-bottom cruiser from the Lenawee triple to the A-frame base lodge. Most of A-Basin’s best terrain faces north, which keeps the snow cold and soft. For a fine example of this happy fact, spend the morning exploring Pallavicini face and the Alleys, where trees and steeps happily coexist, then splurge for the Slalom Slope Salmon or Legend Burger at the resort’s Black Mountain Lodge for lunch. Depending on how much snow has fallen and what time of year it is, the hike to North Pole could be open; if it is, go there and behold one of the coolest inbounds couloir zones in Colorado. The après scene at A-Basin’s recently renovated 6th Alley Bar and Grill is a must (as is the locally famous bacon Bloody Mary), and if you’re looking for fun and fuel later on your way back to I-70, drop by the Dillon Dam Brewery (100 Little Dam St., 970-262-7777, dambrewery.com) just off of Route 6, where ladies drink (half-pints) free every Thursday night from 9 to 11.
After two days of pillaging the county’s best inbounds steeps, you’ll appreciate the tucked-away splendor of Mayflower Gulch, a backcountry stash off of Highway 91 south of Copper Mountain. Bring cross-country skis, snowshoes, or a light touring setup—if needed, you can rent AT and backcountry safety gear (beacon, probe, shovel) at Wilderness Sports (wildernesssports.com) in Dillon or Mountain Outfitters (mtnoutfitters.com) in Breck—and climb up an old, mostly flat road from the trailhead into a cathedral-esque alpine cirque. Snap a photo of the jagged ridge between Fletcher and Atlantic peaks, two of the 100 tallest mountains in Colorado, and mosey among the old mining cabins and relics scattered across the meadow, some of which comprised a boardinghouse for the Boston Mine a century ago. Beware steeper avalanche slopes encircling the gulch, and stay well clear of their lower flanks at all times. If it’s a comfortable day, stomp out a picnic platform and enjoy lunch with one of the best views in the world. Celebrate your natural high among people who understand the feeling: the local crew at the Moose Jaw (208 Main St., 970-668-3931, moosejawfrisco.com), an authentic Summit County watering hole in Frisco with a following as timeless as the establishment itself. If your afternoon turns into your evening, as it often does at the Moose Jaw, order the Jaw Burger. Or stroll down Main Street to restore those lost carbs with a scrumptious pizza at the Boatyard (304 Main St., 970-668-4728, boatyardamericangrill.com).