TR: Loveland Ski Area (CO) - 2/23/2008
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scootertig
February 25, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
(I hope someone finds this useful... Before we went, I wasn't able to find any info on the place other than that it was a nice "locals" type of ski area... I'm glad we took the gamble!)

I'll spare you all the gory details of our days at Beaver Creek and Vail... Well, that's not entirely true... Here's my advice - if you're at Vail, bust your buns to get to Blue Sky Basin as early as possible, and you won't be sorry. We got to run laps in the China Bowl while we were waiting for Blue Sky to open and literally had the place to ourselves for a while (on a Wednesday morning), and got to ride behind the groomers on the freshest of fresh corderoy. Then, when we were bored with that, Blue Sky was ready for us. It's a ton of fun. We skied in Blue Sky Basin all three days at Vail, and probably spent a total of less than 30 minutes in lift lines the whole time we were back there (Chair 11 is an entirely different story). Get there, get there early, and get out when it gets busy.

With that out of the way, I figured I'd get on to the actual "important" trip report: Loveland Ski Area. I've got a real soft spot for the smaller ski hills (although at a base elevation of 10,600 ft, and a vertical of over 2400 ft, I don't know if Loveland really counts as "little"!), and since it seems that nobody writes TR's on the smaller areas, I figured I'd step up.

We left our rented townhouse in Vail (rented through vrbo.com, and I can't recommend that method highly enough) on Saturday morning to ski Loveland on the way back to Denver, figuring that it would help us avoid the weekend throng at Vail, and let us have a shorter drive back after we were done. It was snowing when we left Vail, which made it hard to leave, but we had a plan, and were going to stick to it.

When we got to Loveland, we got one member of our party set up with rental skis (the shop was MOBBED by 10 o'clock... Luckily, we were there at 9:20), and went to wait for him in the lodge. While we were there, we grabbed a quick breakfast, and got our first taste of what was in front of us. The breakfast sandwich I had was of the standard ham/egg/cheese variety, and set me back about $5. Not bad, by skiing prices. It was tasty enough, but more importantly, was getting me set for a hard day of skiing.

Appropriately fed, we set out on the first chair ride of the day. There was NO line at all (around 9:45 at this point - chairs had been running for over an hour, but we couldn't get out of Vail in time to catch first chair). It had been spitting snow a bit, but it was really starting to pick up. Having heard the horror stories of the wind at Loveland, I was glad to have my mask with me, but the wind wasn't as bad as I'd expected. It was definitely cold, though, so the mask stayed on...



The view from the top was, initially, uninspiring. It was snowing so hard we could barely see!



We decided to persevere, though, and quickly realized that the snow was in fantastic shape. They claimed to have groomed a few of the trails, but it wasn't the type of grooming we'd seen the previous few days at Vail. Instead, it was more like "making sure that there were no logs on the runs" grooming. Coupled with the snow that was falling all day, it meant a little more work was needed to ski it, but it was also a bit more fun.

The most striking thing about Loveland is the rather lunar-like atmosphere once you're above treeline. The snow was scoured off in some places, and you could see grass poking through the snow. The runs above treeline aren't so much "trails" as "general guesses at direction through the bowl" which gave it a rather barren, desolate feel. We actually only skied off of chair 4 once, and found that we were enjoying the stuff below treeline a lot more.



There are no high-speed lifts of any kind at Loveland. We rode mostly the double chair (chair 6), but 1 and 2 are triples.



The runs below treeline tended to be nice and wide, but not of the "interstate freeway" feel that I get at some of the local areas. The trees are skiable on either side of the trail, and I actually became much more confident with following tracks into the trees while we were skiing Blue Sky at Vail. That came in handy again at Loveland!



Speaking of interstate, Loveland actually straddles I-70 right at the Eisenhower Tunnel. We never bothered to go over to the other side of the interstate, but it was still weird to see that as you're headed up and down the hill.



I should mention that Loveland technically has two ski areas - Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley. The Valley is a beginner/intermediate area that is a little bit down the road from the Basin. We were at the Basin, and didn't make the trip to the valley, which only has blue and green runs (we only skied blue and green, but didn't feel like we needed to make the trip). There's a shuttle bus that runs between the two sub-areas, and it looks like there is a chairlift that used to make the connection, but doesn't run anymore.

We really only skied about 12-15 of the runs, but did them over and over and over again, because we were having so much fun. It was a little weird after having skied at Vail for several days, and having had a good sense of the layout of the mountain, to try to learn Loveland so quickly. Thanks to the weird visibility (snow) and the layout there, we were sort of lost at first, but eventually got it straightened out.

The snow was off and on all day, and bright blue skies filled the spaces in between showers. It seemed like we could literally go from total sunshine to near-whiteout conditions within minutes.





One thing that I saw there that I'd never encountered before, is that they have 2 lifts that "intersect". Chair 6 runs under Chair 2, which is a little freaky.



(and look down past our skis to see the cable for the chair below us)



It was funny - we stopped quickly for a snack at around 1:30, and instead of using the ski racks that were in front of the lodge area, people just left their skis and poles on the snow, apparently secure that nobody would try to take them. It was like a mini-ski parking lot. So, we figured, when in Rome...



Chair 1 serves some really nice blue runs, and some of the blacks on the south side of I-70. I thought we'd get up the nerve to try one of them, but we didn't... Too many bumps! Even the blue runs off of that chair were bumped up by the end of the day, but they were fun, and not scary. The way we watched people crush the bumps under the chair was a little intimidating - there were some REALLY good skiers there that day!



We skied until they shut down the lifts at 4, and never waited in line at all. Then, we headed to the Rathskellar for a few tasty beverages (For those of you interested in such things, I had Tommyknocker's Cocoa Porter, and Boulder's Hazed and Infused, while my comrades drank Dale's Pale Ale).

Loveland was a great place to ski for a day, and I think it's a place I could ski for at least a few days in a row without getting bored. The skiers seemed to be very good, and they've really got a little of everything in terms of terrain. They've got nice easy greens, fun blue runs that get bumped up, steep, bumpy blacks, and some really scary double-blacks from the top that made me cry a little inside to watch people ski them. While we were there, some people were hiking up even further than the lift would take them, and we saw a few scary tumbles when they dropped in. I don't know that I'll need to seek that level of risk for a long, long time.

Overall, I'd recommend Loveland to anyone looking for a great day of skiing, without all (or any!) of the extra stuff (hotels, shops, etc) that you'd find at a resort. It's a ski area, and nothing else. For $54 for a lift ticket ($46 if you buy it at King Sooper's, but their ticketing machine was broken the day we were there), you get way more bang for your buck than at the bigger, glitzier places.

I'd go back in a heartbeat, and since it's less than an hour outside of Denver, it's a great on-the-way type of stop. I only wish I'd gotten to try their BBQ stand while we were there...



aaron
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
February 25, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Thanks, scootertig,
Great report. Like many of us heading into the Colorado mountains to ski, we have seen Loveland, thought of stopping, and then kept on up I70 toward the better known areas. Your trip convinced me that the next time I am out that way I should do as you did and stop there either on the way west, or back to Denver. Of the areas along I70, I've hit Copper, Breck, Keystone, Vail and Winterpark. Still have to get to Arapahoe, Loveland and Beaver Creek. And the one Colorado area that I really want to ski, Steamboat, albeit it not in the I70 corridor.
The Colonel \:\)
Bodyflight.net
February 25, 2008
Member since 02/19/2008 🔗
28 posts
This COULDN'T have come at a better time! Thanks a TON! We've been eying Loveland & doing research all day today on it for a quick 4 day trip in 3 weeks! This is just what we were hoping it was, no frills and great skiing.
GRK
February 25, 2008
Member since 12/19/2007 🔗
404 posts
Bodyflight

There is a blurb in the Dec 2007 of SKI about Loveland. Echoes weather conditions as reported above and says it is "not for the faint of heart"...they do not mention blue and green mentioned by Scootertig so the report was kind of limited...not Scootertigs report, I mean the SKI report.
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wojo
February 26, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
312 posts
I skied Loveland after a business trip to Colorado Springs. I would had the choice of a night flight back to Dulles or spending the night and skiing somewhere then taking a early evening flight.

What a great trip. 16 inches of powder, lots of fun. I vividly remember skiing til the last second, last run was down through the parking lot to my car! Made it to Denver airport with 15 minutes to spare. I agree with everyhing Scooterig says. I spent the morning above the trees dropping in for some nice bowl runs. After a late lunch the altitude and out of shape factor kicked in and we spent the rest of the day doing cruisers.

No lift lines, good snow, great access . . . PRICELESS
Roger Z
February 26, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Scootertig- I've been to Loveland twice and most recently wrote a spot about it on a larger TR covering Loveland, Breck and Copper. You're right, it's a great hill, small by CO standards but large for us.

The reason we don't write big reports about Loveland and other local places is because we DON'T WANT THE SECRET TO GET OUT! I'm going to ask Scott to remove this whole discussion thread-repeat after me "This is not the ski area you are looking for. Move along, have a good day." \:D

(jk about Scott removing the thread)

ps- I'm planning on writing a TR- after the "T", of course- in a couple weeks about a CO hill even more local than Loveland. Hopefully I'll bring the camera along for once.
oldensign - DCSki Columnist
February 26, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
Ahhh your making me cry!!! I am trapped in week long trip to Vail ( the only place my points would work for free lodging). I have been bothering those going with me; That it is ok to stay in Vail and ski elsewhere. They are not bitting. But you are adding fuel to my fire with this great TR. Good work!!!
scootertig
February 26, 2008
Member since 02/19/2006 🔗
365 posts
Oldensign - you get zero pity points from me. According to the snow reports, you've had 16 inches of fresh snow in the last two days. I didn't see that much the entire week we were there...



aaron
songfta
February 27, 2008
Member since 05/10/2004 🔗
44 posts
Loveland is an underrated resort, for sure. They get a lot of snow, and offer a lot of features that are lacking at other Colorado resorts: a more slower, genial pace to things; lower prices; and some really great off-piste skiing above timberline. There's a lot of good challenge that, while not as vertically endowed as some other Rocky Mountain areas, is still plenty challenging.

As far as the "parking lot of skis," that's a very typical thing in the west: leave 'em at the ready so you have a little downtime as possible during breaks. And at the more laid back resorts, like Loveland, using the racks is strictly optional (not to mention the fact that their racks are in an area where there isn't any snow due to cleared sidewalks - leaving skis on the snow makes things simpler).
MadMonk
February 27, 2008
Member since 12/27/2004 🔗
235 posts
Thanks for the TR. You answered a trivia question for me as until now I thought only Park City had intersecting lifts.
JohnL
February 27, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
 Quote:
You answered a trivia question for me as until now I thought only Park City had intersecting lifts.


Blue Knob has the same thing; in some spots the two lifts share the same lift pole. The top of The Knob is a bit dizzying; four lifts end within 50 or so yards of each other.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
February 27, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
840 posts
 Originally Posted By: MadMonk
Thanks for the TR. You answered a trivia question for me as until now I thought only Park City had intersecting lifts.


Breckenridge, CO
Ober Gatlinburg, TN

likely many others.
k_alice
February 27, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Re intersecting lifts:

Also Les Arcs 2000, France.
jimmy
February 27, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Blue Knob, PA
Roger Z
February 28, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Breck gets bonus points for having both a chairlift and a poma that pivot halfway up.
k_alice
February 28, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
Breck gets bonus points for having both a chairlift and a poma that pivot halfway up.


OK, so why are surface lifts referred to as "poma?" Poma makes all kinds of ski lifts, including detachable high-speeds, right?

Brits call them "buttons" and in France they're called "teleski" or "tire-fesses." Literally, "butt-pulls."
JohnL
February 28, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
 Quote:
OK, so why are surface lifts referred to as "poma?" Poma makes all kinds of ski lifts, including detachable high-speeds, right?


I'll confess that I've never heard of all surface lifts being referred to as "poma". There are a variety of surface lifts, which most people I know refer to by their type or by an off-color nickname if their legs are tired. Nowadays, the "poma" type is the most common type of surface lift. It has a circular platter at the end of a long pole; you slip the platter between your legs. (Top of China Bowl at Vail, top of Powder Mountain are examples that come to mind.) You also have the T-bar (inverted T that carries up two riders, found at Breckenridge Peak 7?), J-bar (T-Bar for one) and rope tows (does Seven Springs still have one?). Any other types I'm missing?

The Poma company may very well have been the dominant (or sole) manufacturer of the platter or poma type lift back when this type of lift was more common. Kinda like how many refer to tissues as "Kleenex". There are plenty of manufacturers of chairlifts, hence a different story.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
February 28, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
840 posts
 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
Breck gets bonus points for having both a chairlift and a poma that pivot halfway up.


yeah, and the chair that pivots is also the one that goes over the C chair and you can get on, but not off, at the pivot. The terrain above the pivot is nasty bump runs with really good skiers launching big jumps. the poma is a T. they also have a platter.
JohnL
February 28, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
 Quote:
I'll confess that I've never heard of all surface lifts being referred to as "poma".


Except for Roger Z. ;\)

The lift he's referring to is a T-Bar. It can be a nasty dogleg, depending upon who you are riding up with.
Roger Z
February 28, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
OOOOH SNAP! You're right, it was a t-bar. I rode it four times, three of which were with other people. They weren't sitting on my lap, so....

...I was thinking poma from Copper. They say the first thing that goes in old age is your memory. Sheesh.

Oh and John you missed a good POMA (for real this time, not a T-Bar): the one that takes you to the top of Lake Louise. It's reputed to be the steepest surface lift in the world. You haven't lived until you've stopped on the pitch. Yee haw.
nakedskier
February 28, 2008
Member since 02/3/2005 🔗
91 posts
It really is amazing how many day trippers from D-town actually pass through the tunnel and by-pass Loveland. I have been there on a Saturday, powder day no less, and no lines! If you are looking for a ski area with no lines, EVER, go to Loveland.

I also think it's a treat to say that if you have skied Loveland, you have skied on top of the Eisenhower Tunnel!

If you are flying into Denver to go skiing, REI also has a discount ticket machine. It's also one of their flagship stores so definitely not to be missed.
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