Beaver Creek — Mountain layout
Mountain Layout -Skiing
If theres one characteristic that sets Beaver Creek apart from other mountain resorts, its the extent to which its slopes are groomed. An enthusiastic fleet of snowcats patrols the mountainside 20 out of every 24 hours, looking for an opportunity to plow over a chunk of ice or a patch of powder. As a result, half of the mountain gets buffed every day. To ski at Beaver Creek is “to ski on corduroy.” If you
e an expert or advanced skier, don let this scare you away. Beaver Creek leaves your terrain alone, so youll find plenty of challenge. Other distinguishing features: a conspicuous absence of lift lines and copious snowmaking abilities.
When Beaver Creek opened in 1980, its first runs were mostly beginner and intermediate. Some still think of it—mistakenly—as a cruiser mountain. Not so: Advanced skiers and experts should spend at least a day here, maybe more. Our advice is to choose a weekend, when the lines can climb over the 15–20-minute barrier at Vail, yet are nonexistent here.
Whats surprising is the amount of truly tough stuff. The Birds of Prey runs rival anything Vail offers—all long, steep and mogul-studded. If you want to feel like a world-class racer, the downhill course, one of the most difficult in the world, is groomed as often as possible for a long and super-fast double-diamond cruiser. While somewhat shorter, Ripsaw and Cataract in Rose Bowl, and Loco in Larkspur Bowl, are equally challenging. New for 06/07 east of Rose Bowl are Stone Creek Chutes scooped out of short but steep pitches of up to 45 degrees. Grouse Mountain is strictly for black-diamond types, no matter what the trail map may suggest. Only in spring, when slushier snow slows skiers down, should such runs as Screech Owl, Falcon Park and Royal Elk Glades be attempted by thrill-seeking advanced skiers.
Beaver Creek is an excellent resort for intermediates at every level. For those intermediates bordering on advanced, the runs under the Centennial Express lift are long and have a moderately steep pitch—enough to be exciting, but not the kind to scare you out of your bindings. If you can catch these runs after a grooming, the black-diamond-designated sections are definitely within the abilities of upper-intermediates. Centennial, the main run in this area, is not the best choice for a warm-up if the resort hasn had snow in a while. Its in the shade early in the morning, and everyone uses it, so the surface can get skied off and a bit slick (but its a super run under good conditions). Harrier, to the skiers left of Centennial, is a locals favorite where youll often find yourself skiing solo. Don miss Harrier when its been groomed. Another great intermediate route from Centennial Express is Redtail to the Larkspur Lift, then descend down Larkspur Bowl.
Early in the morning, the runs under the Strawberry Park lift are in the sun. We recommend Pitchfork for your warm-up, and a couple of the runs in the Bachelor Gulch area for a follow-up. Bachelor Gulchs runs are shorter and gentler than the ones above Beaver Creek Village—perfect for those in the middle of the intermediate ability range. Arrowhead is another good choice for intermediates, though its southerly exposure means thin snow at the tail end of dry spells. (By the way, Arrowheads one black-diamond run, Real McCoy, is not that tough—unless the moguls have had a chance to build.)
The easiest runs are at the top, accessed by the Centennial Express and Birds of Prey Express lifts. Once you reach the top, head over to Red Buffalo, Mystic Island and the other runs in the Slow Zone. Ride the Drink of Water lift again and again, because this area has no intermediate or expert runs where faster skiers will zip past you at high speeds. Flattops, Piney and Powell, to the other side of the Birds of Prey lift, are wide and gentle. A bonus is you get to see the same magnificent summit view that everyone else does. You get back to Beaver Creek Village on a long, clearly marked beginner run (its really a cat track) called Cinch. One thing beginners should watch out for: Beaver Creek has sudden shifts from beginner to expert terrain. The trails are well-marked, but when you
For first-timers, Beaver Creeks learning area is at the base, served by two lifts.