written by The Editors | photography by Johnny Greenham
- Click image for slideshow. photo by Johnny Greenham Click image for slideshow. photo by Johnny Greenham
Six years ago, a band of 20-something East Coast transplants sat in a Boulder backyard nursing craft beers and pondering the local smorgasbord of spring sports. Conversation centered on one question. What can we do in a day?
But that's a loaded question in Boulder, where various Front Range Freaks (watch the Peter Mortimer film of that same name; senderfilms.com) climb multi-pitch routes in Eldorado Canyon after running off-road half marathons and boating Class V whitewater. Or take the guys last year who rode their bikes from town to Longs Peak, climbed and skied the 14er, then descended back to town. That's about 9,000 feet of climbing and 100 miles round-trip.
No, the goal wasn't to outdo anybody. Impossible here. The goal was simply to pack in the fun. Which, despite the unequivocal disdain the Eastern Slope is held in by residents of hip mountain towns everywhere, isn't hard to do on the Front Range. Mountain's VP of Sales Rob Hudson was the ringleader of the crew, and spring supplied that touch of genius. Ski season stretches through May and June on the Continental Divide, where resorts perch at 11,000 feet. Meanwhile, the Front Range, 6,000 feet below, is awash in sunshine and 60–80 degree days. The singletrack crowning ridges and meandering through open country is typically rideable every month of the year. The same is true of the rock-walled canyons lining the foothills west of Boulder, which soak up the morning sun, drawing climbers from the gyms.
All of this lies along a drive that clocks in under two hours from point A to B. Hudson and friends devised the 999 to take advantage. Light out early to catch first chair at Loveland, then tick off nine ski laps, nine miles on the mountain bike, and nine holes of golf. Yeah, golf. He's a friggin' sales guy. Anyway, he's come to his senses and subbed in climbing for golf. After all, not everyone on the masthead can rock salmon-colored golf pants like our resident pro spokesmodel. Nor would we want to.
Ski: Ski season runs right into summer at Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin, both within a 90-minute drive of Boulder. A late start lets the sun soften snow into corn and sets the pace for a relaxed day of spring skiing. Pack the grill and bring a few beverages, then tailgate under the afternoon sun in Loveland's parking lots. Spring break goes deep at A-Basin's Beach, where the dress code runs to neon onesies and bikinis. If you get carried away, join the tent city at forest's edge and do it again the next day.
Mountain bike: Trails melt out early at the lower elevations of the Front Range. Couple this with more daylight hours, and you can add a bike ride to your ski day. Dry singletrack abounds in Golden, a 30-minute drive from Loveland. Early in the season, head for Dakota Ridge, a technical trail with views of snow-capped peaks and the Red Rocks amphitheater. As warm spring days build up, trails clear in the shady pine forest of the Apex Park network off Heritage Square. Long ascents pay off with rollicking downhills. Ready to climb? Try Chimney Gulch off Highway 6, which links with Apex for longer outings.
Climb: Climbing west from Boulder on Flagstaff Road, pull off for a short walk to sandstone boulder problems. There are hundreds of options, from the popular Monkey Traverse (V3) to Over Yourself (V10). Drive up Boulder Canyon and you'll see climbers heading north and south from the road. It's minutes to the crag either way, due to the high concentration of sport climbs on granite canyon walls. To the south, Tyrolian traverses cross the creek surging with snowmelt. A 20-minute drive from Boulder takes you to Eldorado Canyon State Park, a hive of trad climbing where temps hit 60 degrees in spring. There's easy access to climbs like The Bastille (routes 5.7 to 5.12); scramble farther for multi-pitch classics like Rosy Crucifixion and The Naked Edge.
Neptune Mountaineering: Mountaineering artifacts decorate this ski and climb shop that's outfitted Boulder for 37 years. neptunemountaineering.com
Boulder CycleSport: Head to the South Boulder location for top-notch service, bike repairs, gear, and local knowledge. bouldercyclesport.com
Boulder Rock Club/Colorado Mountain School: These experts in climbing, mountaineering, and backcountry skiing offer classes in the basics and guides for all levels. totalclimbing.com
Loveland Sports Shop: With Masterfit University bootfitters, race-certified gear, and a fully stocked demo shop, Loveland has answers for all your ski needs. skiloveland.com
From the Spring 2012 Issue