When Does Keystone Open?
Keystone Resort opens on Friday Nov. 2. It is listed at #26 in SKI Magazine Top 50 Resorts list for 2012...and that is way too low. No fault to the magazine, they publish the list every year and have to move things around. In their blurb, they pointed out that almost 50% of terrain is black, double black, or more extreme than that, and this is one of the reasons that Keystone is so great. For a resort that is known for its family friendly groomers, to think that half of it is expert terrain is surprising. For a seasoned vet of Keystone, though, upon pondering, it makes sense.
The intermediate groomers are so long, so curvy, so meandering, and so well marked that the front side of the mountain is all about comfort. It's about knowing where you are, not worrying that you are going to happen upon a craggy precipice with no way out. It's the family side of Keystone, and a side that, because the groomers are so interesting, is a section of a resort that an adrenaline junky like me wouldn't normally enjoy, but I truly love it. Especially on weekdays. I'll see some of my top speeds on an empty blue run at Keystone.
This family feel of the front side is so prevalent that I often forget that heading into the Outback alone is not a great idea. There is a lot of terrain back there, and should something go wrong, I'd have to hope for someone to happen by to help, which, given the size of the crowds back there, might not happen.
It's an endorsement, not a gripe. Keystone truly offers everything to everyone because they have miles (literally) of groomers, plus intense advanced tree runs where you might not see another soul until you collapse into the chair and thank the lift op.
The yin, the hidden side that frolicking families may never know about, is the expansive acreage of tree runs and wide open bowls that leave the feel of the full service resort behind. Cats take you close to the summit and, if you have it in you, you can keep hiking, as the peak awaits. It's a very aptly named Outback, because it is way out, and way back. The peaks are extreme, and so are many of the tree runs.
The yang is the front side. Gondola cars zoom thousands of revelers up the hill, as equal amounts slide down. The resort can be a bit crowded during peak hours on the weekend, but the off I70 location of Keystone helps to keep the mad mobs away. I am a person who trains in the off season to maximize stamina, and the runs at Keystone are still too long for me to just cruise continuously down (see Schoolmarm).
I like to mention the terrain parks in these articles, though I'm not a park guy. The A 51 park is huge and varied. It has everything from small to insane. Jibs, hucks, kickers, rainbows, boxes, you want it, they have it.
Have fun at Keystone this year!