The question springs to mind atop Keystone Resort’s Independence Bowl. Sure, it would have been sensible to start the 2017-18 season at a smaller eastern hill. With my new Epic Pass stashed in my left glove’s zip pocket there are several I could have picked. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
My gelatinous desk-job quads and lack of big-mountain prep make the 250 vertical metres of Colorado powder below me almost as daunting as they are thrilling. Almost, but not quite: Excitement inches ahead of trepidation during the snowcat ride up, then takes full control midway through my first turn.
Five heady descents later I spot the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Snow Fort” as Keystone Adventure Tours’ cat-ski excursion returns to the top of Dercum Mountain. Suddenly I miss the brood back home, and the feeling lingers as I ski past the H&H Mining Camp, one of six Kids’ Adventure Zones where bridges and tunnels turn the slopes into a snowy playground.
An hour’s drive west of Denver, Keystone bolsters its family-oriented reputation with the annual Kidtopia festival, 3,000-plus condos in five slopeside villages, and wintry superlatives such as the turreted snow fort, a five-acre skating lake billed as the largest in the U.S., and a six-lane tube park that, at 3,548 metres above sea level, is said to be the loftiest on Earth. All signs point to a stellar 2018-19 season, with the resort opening early — on Nov. 7 — for the first time in nearly a decade thanks to nearly four feet of snow since the middle of October.
By the time I arrive at the Keystone Ranch for dinner, I’m pining more for my spouse than for my offspring. Housed in a 1930s log cabin with a soaring stone fireplace, the steakhouse and lounge is about as cosy and romantic as it gets. And on this evening, there isn’t a chicken finger in sight.
As the ski season unfolds, it starts to resemble a “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel in which I am both decision-maker and protagonist. But instead of turning to Page 47 and being transformed into a newt — or some such bizarre fictional outcome — my Epic Pass compels me to hop planes to Colorado, Vermont and British Columbia, where I am transformed into a snow-clad, grinning blur.
To find out how the rest of my inaugural Epic winter unfolded, check out the story in the Globe and Mail...