A couple weeks ago, I filled the world in on my winter quest: fulfillment of my 10-day pass to my local ski area, Sunlight Mountain Resort. And with it, my progress as an athlete, my love-but-mostly-hate relationship with the cold months of the year, and as a snowboarder trying to remember the basics from lessons over 15 years ago.
Welcome to my 10-day snowboard diary.
Here’s how the second day of 10 went for us.
Day two: 1/30/21
If you caught my first post, you’ll notice that day one was almost an entire month apart from day two. We really took our time returning to the slopes, for several reasons.
Mostly though, it came down to cases of weekend we-don’t-want-to-leave-our-cozy-bed blues.
After the last time, we realized how important it was for us to park closer to the entrance, to avoid many steep stair cases in our boots lugging our heavy equipment, tired and cranky before ever making it on the lift. The key to this is arriving right when Sunlight opens, to get coveted parking. The crowded parking lot is in rare form this season: because of COVID, the normal bus shuttle isn’t running, which means many more cars. Plus, rates from nearby resorts like Aspen and Snowmass have gone up significantly (probably to account for their losses at the end of last season), encouraging more locals to go to affordable Sunlight instead. Plus, there’s not a lot of traveling going on—people are staying home and skiing to get out. It’s a perfect storm for crowded weekends.
All of that to say: if we don’t get up early and ready to go, we won’t go. So that took us a while.
Let’s just say, it was worth the wait!
Our second day on the slopes was amazing. We felt ready, energized, and in an especially great mood when we got prime-time parking in the first lot. (Entry was great, but the end of the day was even better when we got to literally ski out to the parking lot. So dang nice.)
Though the lifts still felt fairly busy and sometimes slow, the mountain itself felt almost spotless in certain areas. It was so clear compared to our last trip, which was a huge relief and took a significant chunk of stress out of the equation for us.
On the slopes
We decided to do one warm-up run, a full up and down on the Tercero lift (which is the beginner’s/ski school option). My board needs to be waxed and was a little sticky and I was feeling slow, but other than that, it felt great to be back out there. Getting off the lift felt a lot less stressful too, and that feeling continued throughout the day.
After our first run, we went back up Tercero and then rode to Primo, the lift that takes riders all the way up to the top (you can’t get to this lift without going up Tercero first. It’s very interesting!). At the top, there are a lot of different spots to go, especially for advanced riders—they have a whole eastern expansion of advanced terrain. This lift is often full of people, because Sunlight caters to advanced, skiing-from-birth athletes just as much as they do to families.
Lucky for us, there are also tons of easy green runs and several medium blues that go from the top too. On our second run, we went for our tried-and-true favorite, Ute, which wasn’t open during our last visit.
It was so damn fun. We were the only ones on the entire trail. It was amazing, and we were having a blast with the green to ourselves.
The next run, we did the exact same thing. It was so fun. After we had that under our belts, Chad suggested we kick it up a notch and go for a blue run. He chose one called Rebel, or something like that.
Well, this one was pretty hard. First, I got stuck on a catwalk and had to skate myself out (very frustrating and taxing on my legs). Second, things got super steep super fast. Then, moguls (giant bumps everywhere) appeared. We got through them, but my knees and calves were dead at the end. That felt like the biggest workout of my life, but we felt really good about ourselves that we made it through without major incident. Note, this felt much harder than an intermediate run, lol.
After the hard run, we had one more in us. We went down Ute, our classic favorite, and had a great time until the end.
At the end of almost all of my favorite runs, Ute included, there’s this part that is just crazy tricky for snowboarders. If you don’t have enough momentum, you get stuck. Even when I think I’ve done everything right, I get stuck. Then I try to use my momentum to play the angles to my advantage, and I get stuck even worse.
This time, with my board in need of a wax, I had no shot. I got stuck every time, and it sucked. Often when I got stuck, I momentarily lost balance, and fell. This happened like four times, randomly falling. Then I had to figure out how to get up and skate my board; my legs and calves were killing me, and Chad even tried to pull me out, letting me hold on to his poles. It was funny but frustrating, and I vowed that by the end of the season I’d figure it out.
Last time, I mentioned that I wanted to improve my fitness to improve my time. I started off my fitness goals incredibly strong for most of the month, and fell off the wagon about a week and a half before we went skiing. And I think that that initial spurt was incredibly helpful. My pants fit better, I was able to get up a little easier, and I felt like I had better leg stamina. I hope to get even better before next time, though a week isn’t necessarily a lot of time to prepare.
Despite the falling and a lot of calf and leg and foot pain at the end, this trip was amazing. I’d wager to call it one of our best yet, only rivaling last spring’s gifted visit to Sunlight, which included complimentary passes in exchange for coverage and a beautiful 50 degree day.
This week, I’m getting my board waxed and I’m looking forward to yet another day on the slopes, better than the last. I’ll aim for more photos and less words for the next post. 🙂