Back in September I got a text from my brother asking me if I was planning to snowboard in the upcoming season. Since I was going to be back in Colorado this year would be my first chance since 2011 to really by able to go snowboarding. I said I was planning to go and he told me that I should get a season pass soon then. There was a Keystone/A-basin season pass that was only $300 at the early rate. This seemed like a pretty good deal so I got it and started looking forward to the upcoming season.
We got our first chance to go snowboarding in December right before Christmas. They hadn’t gotten a lot of snow yet so not all of the runs were open, but it’s a huge mountain and since I had never been it was a good time to start checking things out. It’s definitely a busy mountain and it doesn’t help when you go while everyone is out on winter break. After only snowboarding twice in the last 4 years in was nice to find out that I actually still know what I’m doing and could still make it down a black diamond without too much difficulty.
Since then we’ve had a few chances to go and every time has been a good experience. I’ve heard a few people say that they think Keystone is too busy or too touristy, but I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s one of the closer mountains, it’s huge, and it’s really easy to get away from the crowds.
There has only been one day this season that we’ve gone that the snow was really stellar, but that day was probably one of the best I’ve ever experienced. I’m off on Wednesdays so Donny took a day off and we headed up the mountain. No traffic driving up, parked quickly and up close, and got right on every lift. If that wasn’t enough it started snowing soon after we got there so the snow just got better and better throughout the day. It’s not often that you get to make your own lines at a place like Keystone so it was a pretty amazing day.
We had a chance to go up again on a Wednesday and this solidified that this is my favorite time to go. It’s been warm here and there hasn’t been a lot of snow in the mountains. Keystone had gotten about 3 inches of snow the day before we went, but it was easy to tell that there was still ice underneath. This meant that every run was super fast. I usually like to go pretty fast, but when I knew my speed was coming from barely covered ice I was a little more worried about my ability to stop. Fortunately I made it through the day without any issues on the ice and actually had less trouble this time then I’ve had on a couple of other trips up the mountain. We did manage to find some snow that was actually pretty good and we were able to spend some time enjoying that. Even if the snow wasn’t the best it was a beautiful day, blue skies, tons of sun, and less wind than I expected. Always nice to be able to take advantage of those beautiful Colorado days and enjoy some time spent on my snowboard.
The best way I’ve figured out to do Keystone this season is to basically head straight to The Outpost. It’s basically the farthest back you can get on the mountain short of taking one of the snowcats out into one of the back bowls. This really decreases the number of people that you see out on the mountain. There are also a lot of fun black diamond runs in the trees and since trees are my favorite this, in my opinion, is the best place to be. I’m still not super familiar with Keystone and since a lot of these runs seem to run together it’s tricky to tell what I’m actually on sometimes, but this doesn’t really matter one way or the other. We usually end up going on Wolverine quite a bit and going over into Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (I think, that’s where it gets a little unclear). This a a great spot to be since there are a lot of routes to choose from. The same goes for when you go the opposite direction off the lift and head towards The Wolf Den. Again there are several runs over here that sort of run together and since it’s in the trees you can’t really tell where you are until you get to the bottom and everything runs back in to Coyote Caper. This side was where we found better snow when the rest of the mountain was pretty crunchy. I think it’s a little more shaded on this side and that with the trees seemed to maintain the snow a bit better. I could spend my whole day basically split between these couple of runs since there are really several runs that you can move across and when you’re moving through the trees it’s easy to find good variability and to take different lines each trip down. Even on busy days I usually only see a few people while I’m going down these runs, so if you don’t like crowds it’s pretty easy to get away from them.
Back to my mention of that season pass being worth it. I paid $300 for the 2015-2016 season with a few blackout days (less than 10 days total). A regular day pass at Keystone? $130. Getting a season pass seems like you would have to go a lot to make it worth it, but if you buy it early enough you can go just a couple of times and it’s more than worth it.
I’m definitely ready for spring at this point, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more snow in the mountains to take a couple more trips up before my snowboard gets put away until next season.