Keystone, the first place I ever skied in Colorado, is also the first place I felt the effects of altitude sickness. When I got to the top of Dercum Mountain, 11,640ft. and bent over to buckle my boots I got one of the craziest head rushes imaginable. Once that passed I dropped in to Mozart or Mineshaft, I can’t remember which, but I do remember realizing why people come from all corners of the world to ski Colorado snow. When people ask me where to ski I recommend Keystone Resort.
Keystone is a great way to get into Colorado and see what all the fuss is about. The place is grand in size, spanning six peaks, three of which are serviced by a Cat, or your own two feet. Keystone recently opened the Independence Bowl and is now offering guided tours, which must be reserved in advance. A day of cat skiing goes for the tune of $240 but includes everything, soup to nuts, actually, lift ticket to lunch. There is still an immense amount of lift-serviced terrain to explore when the upper bowls aren’t open.
Start your day out by riding up the River Run Gondola, or if you're not one to be bothered by the cold, the Summit Express, both of which run parallel to each other. I usually go for the one with the line that will test my patience the least, assuming there is one. If it’s a groomer day, take a run on the front side, there are a ton of long, winding blues to warm up on, enjoy the corduroy while there is some. If it’s a powder day I recommend starting the day off with a nice little hike up to The Windows, which offers a variety of killer glade runs.
From there it's time to venture up North Peak via the Santiago Express Quad. This lift services primarily black diamond runs that charge down the fall line. Ambush and Powder Cap are perfect examples. If you’re thinking about a chili bread bowl, Labontes Cabin back at the base of North Peak is a great option.
If you’ve seen any ski movies from Level 1 or Poor Boyz Productions in the past few years you have definitely seen some of the impressive Area 51 Terrain Park. The A-51 Terrain Park was also pick by Transworld Snowboarding as one of the top 10 parks to hit. So if the park is your scene, Keystone is a must on your hit list.
If you’re traveling with the family or beginners, there is a great variety of green and blue trails to select from on the front side of Dercum Mountain. If you have kids and they’re just starting out I’d recommend Camp Keystone, where the kids not only learn how to ski and snowboard, but also have the opportunity to get involved in a ton of awesome activities.
Night skiing? You got it. Keystone has some of the only night skiing available in the area. Maybe you made it up to the mountains after a long day of work in the city and want to squeeze in a few runs before Saturday morning. Maybe you just haven’t night skied and want to try, which I highly recommend. It’s just fun and different, and if it’s available in the Rockies, why not?
9,280’ in River Run Village is the place for Après, happy hour is three to six. Excellent Nachos.