“Do you know where the sushi restaurant is?” Taylor, the PR manager at Colorado’s Copper Mountain Resort, asks, handing me a coffee. “To go ice skating you just go to the sushi restaurant and then… ”
She trails off when she sees my smirk. “What?”
“Oh,” I say, still grinning, “I know where the ice skating place is already. It’s a frozen lake. I’ve walked by it like 12 times. But I love that everyone here always gives directions to everything.”
Taylor laughs. “I’ve noticed that too. Maybe we do it because we all came from other cities where you actually did need help finding things.”
I’ve only been at Copper Mountain for half a day, but I’ve already been given directions to places I can easily find without any aid at least five times. This probably happens in part because the people who work on the property are exceedingly friendly (they have good reason to be, every employee I meet seems to find time to ski during any given workday), and because travel writers are — as a whole — a pretty hopeless bunch (never have you met so many people with the word “travel” in their job titles who are unable to read a map). Still, it’s funny to be given such detailed directions to places that are all within a few hundred feet of each other. After enough people do it — “Do you know where the sports bar is?” “Can you find the whiskey lounge?” — it starts to seem like an elaborate prank.
Especially, considering that you can see at least 80% of Copper Mountain’s Center Village from any given condo window.
“Well then,” Taylor says, invoking the most popular phrase on the mountain, “you ready to get a few turns in?”
“Absolutely,” I say. And side by side we walk from the rental shop (which is next door to my condo) to the nearest patch of snow, which is — I count it — four steps away. Four steps. Then we strap on our boards and glide a few more feet onto the lift. In a matter of seconds, we’re in a gondola headed up the mountain.
“This is what a ski trip should be,” I say to Taylor. “Me not having to deal with any hassles and carving turns until my legs buckle.”
As she tosses me a courtesy laugh, I realize that my words just encapsulated my ideal mountain weekend. All fun; no worries. Here’s how I pursued that mantra over the next three days:
To get to Copper — as Taylor and all the other cool locals call it — I flew to Denver and hopped in a shuttle. In a somewhat similar vein to locals giving me directions to places literally 30 steps from my rented condo, our shuttle driver started the ride with a helpful, if perhaps unneeded, announcement, “The road is currently closed from snow and the snow is still falling, so it could be a long night, folks.”
What he didn’t mention was that roads open and close on the way to the famous Denver ski resorts (Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, and Keystone) all the time. Sometimes multiple times in the span of a few hours. The plows are constantly running and plenty of interested parties have money riding on people actually arriving at their destinations. Not knowing this, I took our shuttle driver at his word. When he stopped at a gas station, I bought two slices of greasy pizza, two taquitos that had been under a warmer just long enough to have lost every ounce of flavor they’d ever contained, and a large bag of Gardettos Rye Chips (which are a joy and I have no regrets about eating).
When my seatmate made a comment about all the food (they’re very into healthy living in Colorado), I said, “He said to prepare for a long night!” I’d assumed we’d basically be sleeping in the van.
“Oh,” my seatmate said, “they reopened the roads already. We’ll be there in an hour.”
All told, I arrived (very full) at Copper Mountain about three hours after leaving the airport. The shuttle had wifi and a phone charging station, so I’d basically just had a night at the movies — watching Triple Frontier on my phone while eating cheap pizza.
Once the shuttle arrived it was about thirty feet to the door of the building that my condo was in. The ski and snowboard rentals were actually in the ground floor of the same building, so I got that out of the way before checking in. It was 8 pm by this point, but everyone helping me was still intensely friendly. When I commented on it, the 19-year-old behind the rental counter said — verbatim — “I got a lot of turns in today and it’s gonna be shacking snow tonight, so what do I have to complain about?”
Needless to say, I was very into the whole vibe. It’s easy to tease the phrase “shacking snow” until some super cool Coloradan says it to you while sounding perfectly natural.