Copper Mountain is skiing’s perfection of that great American invention, drive thru everything, from burgers to banking. At Copper you just pull off the i-70 freeway and you’re practically on the snow.
Copper Mountain’s combination of convenience and ease of use has been its signature since inception in 1972. That goes from the virtually drive-in/ski-out freeway location, half an hour closer to Denver than Vail, to the award winning trail layout that, innovatively for the time, neatly separated different levels into distinct green, blue and black zones.
These can be seen on the spread images below, which I captured looking down from the ridge above Breckenridge after hiking up from Peak 6 there.
In the top foto is the black diamond terrain, and the bowl that offers free cat access on weekends to its far side (the lifts get you to the right hand side). In the bottom foto the intermediate runs are on the left, the green runs on the right.
Early development was strong, the resort being one of the first to install high speed quad lifts, and with convenient slopeside or close to slope condos, a small self-contained village centre, and (briefly) North America’s only Club Med winter facility, it got quite popular with Aussies too. The Summit County combined pass and free bus to ski Breck, Keystone and Copper was a great incentive then, but Vail Resorts took the first two out of the equation with the Epic Pass.
Plus not much happened, the competition from Canada and then Japan took away a lot of the Aussie market, and it’s off the radar now unless you are using the Woodward at Copper training facility. We went back in January, after a 20 year plus gap, for the SIA Ski Tests (see last issue) and found the terrain mix and snow perfect for ski testing and all round riding. The advantages of terrain separation remain, cruisier skiers can potter along at their own pace while the gung-ho can go play in the bowls and bumps. The free cat skiing friday-sunday extends those options, but off the lifts and/or with a little hike the terrain is tasty enough.
The lift network, upgraded after Intrawest took over in 1997, kept everything moving at SIA, even with a horde of North American ski and snowboard industry reps testing the biggest selection of new gear you are likely to see on snow anywhere, so the original functionality remains. Intrawest came on board with a $500m redevelopment plan, which was partially implemented, adding better lifts, upmarket condos like The Cirque, and completing the Centre Village. It remains small though, with a handful of restaurants and aprés options. The slopeside value is excellent, deals like kids ski free to 12 years and long stay accommodation discounts like stay 10 nights and get 50% off lifts, making it a very competitive family option. If you have kids into freestyle woodward’s programs are second to none.
“We don’t send huge numbers there, but the feedback from clients is pretty much 100% positive” says Travelplan’s Ben Cardenas.
Despite the drive-in convenience you don’t need a vehicle; just shuttle up from Denver. Shopping is limited to a tiny grocery store, but the Summit Stage free bus into Frisco solves that problem to stock up if self-catering.
There are some super cheap deals to ski it from Travelplan at the moment, like 50% off lifts and up to 33% off accommodation. That translates to from $AUD 1,349 per person 4 share for 10 nights accommodation at Burning Stone in a 2 Bedroom Standard (33% OFF), plus 9 day Copper Mountain lift pass (50% OFF) and local taxes. Based on 4 adults. Book by Oct 1. Details www.travelplan.com.au