Nine Weeks a Ski Bum by Jim Kenney, PART SIX

edited November 2015 in NELSAP Forum
Nine Weeks a Ski Bum, PART SIX

By Jim Kenney

November 13, 2015

Lessons Learned

Getting with the flow of this trip took patience.  I not only had to get used to the demands of extended travel and rigorous skiing, but this was also occurring not long after the major life event of retirement.  I had to detach from the weekend warrior mode of skiing bell to bell.  I cut way back on caffeine and went to bed early.  As a family guy with four grown children I was used to eating with a gang and I did not like going out to restaurants alone.  I preferred eating in my motel room or doing fast food.  Interestingly, lift lines were pretty much a non-factor everywhere I went.  I just got out of the base areas quickly and things were great.  I also utilized singles lines.  This strategy worked even for Texas Spring Break Week in Summit County, CO.

Peak Six at Breck.


It took me a long time to dress successfully for Western skiing.  I had to go a little lighter than Eastern skiing, but keep layers handy just in case.  I watched weather reports carefully.  The mornings would often start cold, but go through a dramatic warm-up throughout the day.   And I had many intensely sunny days. Getting into a routine with respect to ski clothing and “pocket management” helped me remember my lift pass, phone, keys, wallet, sun block, etc.  Learning about bus routes and free parking lots took study, but it’s doable I didn’t pay to park for a ski day the entire trip.  I found local newspapers to be a valuable resource about transportation, special events, and good deals.  I also used online ski forums to gather ski intelligence data and connect with friends on the slopes.

I caught a free concert one night at Vail, this is the Barenaked Ladies.


Like a stereotypical thrifty senior, I brown bagged my lunch almost every ski day.  This led to some memorable on-slope picnics including cooking homemade chili dogs with friends at one of Vail’s free on-mountain BBQ grills, giggling through a peppermint schnapps laced lunch at The Canyons with two hilarious friends, and two beautiful solo lunches at or near the highest lift served points of Heavenly and Jackson Hole.  The best restaurant lunch I had during a ski day was at the Alpinehof Bistro located in the heart of the Jackson Hole base area next to the tram.  Their Austrian fare was delicious, reasonably priced, and most importantly this restaurant was virtually empty when it was hard to find a seat at other restaurants higher on the mountain. 

Jackson Hole scenery.


Although I ski a lot of black diamond terrain, I usually take it reasonably slow and careful.  I don’t do a lot of super high speed groomer skiing and I think that’s where a lot of recreational skiers have the most serious accidents.  The worst “wipeout” I had on the trip came at Kirkwood when I was daydreaming on a chair ride by myself.  I forgot to get off at the top of the lift.  As the chair began to circle back downhill I panicked and threw up the safety bar and jumped off.  The drop was about four feet and my skis did the splits.  It was momentarily somewhat painful, but there were no lasting effects.

Scratching my way down a glade called Needles Eye at Breckenridge.


My prime directive on this trip was to stay healthy, pace myself, and to still be skiing on the last day before my scheduled return.  Mission accomplished.  This sort of undertaking is a marathon, not a sprint.  And finally my last lesson:  it’s not just about the snow, it’s also about the people.  Invariably I found ski days shared with friends highly rewarding and those spent with my family the most rewarding of all.

My wifey has the patience of a saint.


List of ski days at different areas during the trip:  6 Beaver Creek, 5 Vail, 7 Breckenridge, 4 Kirkwood, 3 Jackson Hole, 2 The Canyons, 1 each Heavenly, and Park City, 9 Keystone, 5 Arapahoe Basin (I skied Keystone and A-Basin on the same day once).  I also cross country skied one day on a prepared track at the Raven Golf Course in Silverthorne and one day at Beaver Creek.

All photos by Jim Kenney




  • Well Jim what can we say , you are the envy of most of us geezer/ grandparents. Didn't want to mess up the order of your posts but wanted to thank you for a great Sat morning read(s).

    Thankful to have skied most of the areas you did with exception of Cal in years past but being I can't even hike a 2000' vert low altitude east coast mountain I don't think I'll ever copy your hike to 13-14k summit ski lines.

    Some day Lord willing I'd like to take the grandsons to my first Rockie hill skied- Keystone where their mother skied in '94. Yes Schoolmarm was our first run. Then a bluebird "light" wind day @ Loveland would give them ( and grampa) an easy going above treeline experience their mom did in '97. Then to Breck and a TBar run where we also skied in '94.(and myself in'98)

    Oh the memories!

    I'm sure the wife wouldn't let me go it alone so in 6 years I can let the eldest grandson do half the driving.

    I loved that Chateau Après in PC, although it seemed a firebox waiting to happen it gave my brother in law and I something to talk about 15 years later besides all the other " housing projects" we stayed at on western trips.

    Thanks again and now what do you do for an encore?
  • edited November 2015
    Chateau Après
    Feb 2000

    2592 x 1936 - 2M
    2592 x 1936 - 2M
  • Your pics and detailed experience are great! Well done!
  • Cisco, that's great that you beat me to the Chateau Apres Lodge!  Let me tell you, you could never fit in one of those cheap bunks in the dorm room!!  I'm 5'10, 170lbs and they were tight for me.  :-$

    Regarding encore...interesting question.  I truly feel I scratched a big itch and partially satisfied it.  I won't be doing a two month trip this winter.  More like mid-Atlantic day trips and a few one-weekers out west.  Also, my son the skier moved to Salt Lake City, so I will probably focus on UT to some extent.  A few years down the road I would like to relocate to a fine western ski location for entire winters.  Not sure if my wife would go for that though and I couldn't leave her that long.
  • Jim- Glad you enjoyed Summit County and the Vail Valley- my "Day Ski Areas". I'll be starting my season on Tuesday at Keystone as they now have top to bottom skiing (I don't do the WROD)
    I'm semi-retired so if you get out this way PM me- I'd love top make some turns with you.
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