My First Time Shredding The Gnar: Keystone, Colorado

Be that as one of my life goal’s is becoming as close to being a Colorado native as possible, I think today marks my next big step towards that aspiration. I’ve got Chacos, I wear my Patagonia fleece, and today I shredded the gnar for the first time ever. Coloradoan lifestyle here I come!

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I’ve never really skied before–except a few times as a young kid and just once last year in Galena, Illinois. So its safe to say I’m a Type 1 skier.

Today was amazing–I was so excited to have the opportunity to go skiing and I’ve been looking forward to it for a few weeks now. For someone who gets nervous participating in new athletic activities (especially something as intense as skiing) I loved it!

I woke up around five to gather all my belongings (you can check out my list of must-haves for snowshoeing here which was what I wore today plus ski goggles). I picked up my sister and  friend and we left FoCo at 6 am. It takes about two hours to drive to Keystone, Colorado, the first hour on the highway, the second completely secluded in the mountains. I was lucky enough to see buffalo, elk, and rams grazing in prairies alongside the road. By the end of the drive, we were seeing frozen waterfalls and were on top of mountains. Although, the last few miles of the car ride were a little too edgy for my liking (as in no guardrails and giant drop-offs), we made it safely to the ski resort. Parking was free, although we were in a far lot in comparison to our ski base so we had to take a shuttle.

If there is one thing I dreaded today, it was renting equipment and getting a pass for the day. Besides the long lines and rushing around, skiing equipment is expensive (I was able to snag 25% off my rental gear for a total of $45, helmet included). I was given ski boots, the ski’s, poles, and a helmet. But the real costs of skiing come from day passes. Its originally $146 for the day at Keystone, not something I am ever willing to hand over for a few hours of fun #sorrynotsorry. But my friend used her Buddy Passes on my sister and I so the pass only came out to $80 (a steal in the skiing world). The day of fun was an investment of $120 plus gas money, so its not something to decide lightly on a whim. This whole process of renting, running place to place, and finally getting to the base took two whole hours, a rather large disappointment. It turns out that this weekend is very popular at many of the Colorado ski resorts due to Presidents Day on Monday, something no one in my group had even considered. All in all, skiing can be a hassle and expensive, but once you get past that its a great winter sport to try!

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My bank account may only allow me to go once a year or so, but I think thats what makes it that much better for me. I couldn’t wait to get out there and finally being able to really made me realize how lucky I was. Its not something everyone can just go do on a random Saturday, and for me, most of Colorado’s ski resorts are just within two hours of my college hometown. I’m so incredibly grateful for that.

Although I wish I could’ve gotten to be more of a tourist in the picturesque town of Keystone, I only had the day. Walking through the resort was like walking through Disney in a winter wonderland theme. There were cute little shops, twinkly lights, and snowy bridges to take you from place to place. Thousands of skis lined up against the walls of the stores, hot chocolate was the drink of choice, and everyone was bustling about from place to place in snow pants. It was as cute as it sounds, I hope to go back and take pictures sometime this year!

So there I was, taking the gondola up to the summit of the mountain, nervous and excited all at the same time. I mean, compared to Galena, this place was huge! Hundreds of times larger, at least. We started out on the training trail, meant for the most novice skiers, and it even includes a magic carpet to get back up the small hill. (Pro tip: Lean as far forward as you can when getting on that thing, otherwise you might fall.) The snow was much softer than at Chestnut Mountain where I had experienced fake snow (considerably ice) the year before.

The weather was as perfect as it could get–40 degrees and the sun was shining with blue skies. When I had looked up the weather for today it had actually been cloudy and 30’s all day, but by a twist of fate it was gorgeous outside. I never once felt cold nor was there much wind at all to ever affect us. It really couldn’t have been any better.

And before I knew it, I was going down my first of many green trail runs that day. It took us about an hour to get through the four miles of the trail (mostly because we were beginners and we were going slow). But the runs are so amazingly long and spread wide. I never felt too uncomfortable about running into another skier or off the trail. Everything is clearly marked at Keystone, and there are plenty of ski patrol officers around in case an emergency should arise or if you just have a question.

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Soon, we were heading back up on a chairlift to the summit, for a nice lunch and great view. I had begun to feel dizzy and lightheaded (something that isn’t too uncommon for me when I stand for long periods of time, but had never happened during physical activity before). I drank plenty of water, thinking it may be ski sickness or altitude sickness, and took some Advil to relieve the pain. The next time we went out, I was feeling much better and much more confident. The next few runs were a huge improvement from where I had started that day, and I really appreciated all the nice strangers who asked if I was okay every single time I fell down. I could feel myself improving in turns, using the edges of my skis, and how to go about dealing with steeper slopes. Although it could be frustrating at times, I thoroughly enjoyed learning the trails, learning how to use my skis, and learning how much of a workout it is.

My legs were burning by the last run, enough to where I had to stop and break multiple times as my friends waited for me. I was so tired after the long day, and I wanted to enjoy it, but my legs were shaking so badly I wanted to be at the bottom already. Leg day: check. Skiing is an intense, cardio activity that can take it out of you after a few hours. Its okay to take breaks, rehydrate, and stretch your feet a little bit before heading back out for another run.

The day was officially over, and I found myself thinking of a nice, hot shower and hot chocolate when I got home. I had had an awesome time learning how to really ski and I couldn’t believe how far I had come in just a few hours. Time had flown by. We barely had done four runs in four hours, thats how long they go and how much fun you’re having. But at the same time, it feels like its been weeks since we were on our way there.

Skiing at Keystone is definitely an experience I’ll never forget and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to try it out.

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If I have any tips for future beginner skiers and what to expect, its this:

  • The best way to learn to ski is to just hop on a beginner’s run
  • The bunny hill is only your friend the first time, its useless after that
  • You’re going to fall down, its okay everyone does it
  • Make sure your boots are comfortable, if they aren’t they will ruin your day
    • Pro Tip: Your toes may seem crunched into the front of the boots when you are standing up straight, but when you lean forward like you do when you are skiing it does move backwards and won’t feel squeezed in anymore
  • Have a map on  you at all times
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself, its supposed to be fun
  • Take lots of pictures (or videos) if you can
  • Look for special deals on rental gear and discount pass days
  • Cherish every moment

I probably exclaimed about a hundred times how dope, how lit, and how cool I was to be “shredding the gnar”. But I can’t help being so excited about my first time skiing and it brings nothing but a smile to my face remembering everything that happened today.

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“Ski” you later,

themountainsarecalling

 

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