Not as cold as some of last year's trips, but I was happy for my parka and the layers beneath.
Loveland ski area. It is notable in that it's both relatively close to Denver and offers a separate, dedicated newbie area featuring excellent green and blue runs with dedicated lifts and a free shuttle circulating between the bunny area and the main ski area, which is vastly larger.
Mrs. Newleaf, pictured in a purple jacket in the medium distance, is a beginning skier and has been for too many years because she has irregular feet and has literally never worn a pair of ski boots which did not cause active discomfort to outright pain. Enter a custom ski boot fitter. Normally engaged by high level athletes, they can also help those who simply have 'bad' feet relative to normal ski boots. They make a series of 5 measurements of each foot and calf before using those to inform the fit of a 'stock' boot.
In Mrs. Newleaf's case, that wasn't good enough and she had to order full on custom boots. These are far from inexpensive, but like a properly fitting bike, absolutely essential if one is to meaningfully participate in the sport. Her custom boots made yesterday literally the first time Mrs. Newleaf has ever gotten in a day of skiing without active discomfort at best, day-ending pain at worst.
I am fortunate: I can rent whatever boots are available in my size and be generally okay with them. Yesterday's first try at rental boots were slightly too small and would have eventually caused discomfort but not pain. The second set I tried fit perfectly. I've seen Mrs. Newleaf sit with more than one very patient rental clerk and go through 5-8pr of boots without ever finding a pair which fit comfortably. If such describes your experience with ski boots, it may be worth looking up a ski boot fitter. Doing so appears to have been a game changer for Mrs. Newleaf.
The snow was incredible. So much fresh powder! Better still, Mrs. Newleaf got to actually focus on her technique instead of the pain caused by her ski boots. It's hard to overstate how awesome that is for someone who has tried for years to engage in the sport with that as a headwind.
For my part, I love to ski and am pretty good at it but between the expense and Colorado's utterly, fearsomely disgusting ski traffic, I'm just as happy to hit the saddle as the slopes. Skiing is awesome, but even on week days, the density of traffic on the sole Interstate leading into the mountains doubles the usual drive time. At best, assuming excellent weather, dry roads, etc. Let it begin snowing, much less enough to bring out the plows and chain laws, and it's easy indeed to see drive times triple, or worse. On weekends of course, the traffic gets bad. Not kidding: last year at another resort, I talked to a guy who had left the resort the year before at 3am on a Sunday in order to make an 8am flight out of Denver. He missed it, despite the fact that it's normally 2hrs by car between the resort and the Denver airport.
That's Interstate 70 on the right in the distance, leading into the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel. That is an engineering marvel in its own right. Note the parking lot for the main Loveland ski area in the distance, below and to the right of the Eisenhower tunnel entrance.
Better from the cycling standpoint, note the left-most road which winds through the trees: this is US route 6 to Loveland Pass at 11,990ft. The road is shared primarily by HazMat trucks which are prohibited from transiting the Eisenhower tunnel under normal circumstances, and cyclists, plus a few tourists. Cyclists are similarly prohibited from transiting the tunnel, for reasons which are annoyingly obvious for any cyclist who does so in a car. It would be terrifying at best: two lanes, tons of traffic, high speeds, no shoulder at all. Cyclists are permitted on parts of I-70 where there are no other options, but not through the tunnel.
The skiing sure is sweet, though.
This was what you call a 'Bluebird Day'. Cold, but totally gorgeous.
There's US 6 in the distance again. Do you hear that? It's the sound of the road calling out to me. I loved skiing here, but kept looking wistfully at US 6 and thinking of the ascent and subsequent payoff every time the road came into view. As I was skiing the bunny area with Mrs. Newleaf, this happened a lot.
Shin-deep, virgin powder. It was sublime to ski into this and watch the skis vanish altogether along with all sound associated with 'normal' skiing.
There are skis in the foreground beneath the still perfect blanket of snow, believe it or not. What an amazing day.