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  • Meagan Butler

Ski Cooper: Leadville, Colorado

Long gondola lines? Parking for twenty dollars? Paying to park and shuttling to the base of the mountain? Carrying every bit of gear for what seems like a mile? Paying 35 dollars for a pizza and a beer? Fighting people for a spot to sit at lunch? Running into people on the runs? Sound like fun?

At Ski Cooper in Leadville, Colorado, not one of these aforementioned inconveniences apply. I am super familiar with all of the things that seem to make skiing a hassle, but, obviously, I still go through each one of them because of my love for skiing. This is Colorado after all, and Colorado girls ski. That isn’t to say that I actually like any of the inconveniences. I tolerate the yucky stuff to get a few hours in some fresh powder (or sadly even groomed corduroy).

A few weeks back, we decided that we had had it with the big resorts. We had been to Vail, Breckenridge, and Keystone and we wanted a day to just enjoy the slopes without all of the rigmarole. Sure, we had to drive close to two hours from our mountain house in Como, but the drive wasn’t a bad one. We went through Fairplay (Come on down to Southpark), through Buena Vista, past the Collegiate Peaks,  and through Historic Leadville. Just a fifteen minute drive from Leadville, we pulled into the Ski Cooper parking lot, and had one of the first spots at the base of the mountain. Whatthewhat? Needless to say, I was stoked.

I donned my Bronco gear (it was Super Bowl weekend, and duh, Broncos fan right here) and carried my stuff for almost three minutes to the first lift. I felt like this was a Super Bowl weekend miracle. Except the miracle continued. The longest lift line was five minutes. The runs were almost empty. I didn’t have to play frogger with the people dotting the slops on their butts with their snowboards or dodging yard-sales along the way. It was wide-open spaces the entire day. We had blue-bird skies, and warm temperatures. I was in skier heaven.

Now, Cooper doesn’t have the most rigorous of runs, and it’s not known for its fancy lodges and posh amenities, but I think its rustic charm is welcoming and endearing. We sat at the bar, enjoyed a Bloody Mary, and chatted up the bar tender. It was a chill day.

In addition to the ease of the day, and the pure enjoyment of the stress-and crowd-free ski, the cost was amazing. We have annual passes that we pay close to 600 dollars a season for. The Epic Local Pass gets us unrestricted access to Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Keystone, and 10 days at Beaver Creek and Vail. A daily pass at those resorts can run from 80 ish dollars to 135 or more. The day we went skiing, we took Pat’s daughter and rented all of her gear, paid for three lift tickets, and still came in under what it would have cost for just her ski pass for one day at one of the other big mountains. To us, that was an added bonus. We don’t usually ski at resorts outside our passes, since we pay to ski as much as we like, but, traveling to Cooper was well worth the cost for the ease and enjoyment of the day.

Try out Ski Cooper. You’ll be glad that you did!

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