It started with a playful question via email: “If I ski first chair at Beaver Creek and last chair at Park City, what kind of Epic Mix pin do I get for that?”
Epic Mix pins. The Vail Resorts equivalent of participation trophies, boy scout badges, and pieces of flare. These pins track various ‘accomplishments’ an attendee achieves on (most) Vail Resorts mountains. We laughed at the idea, but as the email chain grew longer and longer, we realized it wasn’t all that crazy.
“You wouldn’t even have to set a land-speed record either since there’s night skiing at PCMR!”
Indeed there is. But why just ski Beaver Creek and Park City in one day when there are four other Epic resorts along the way? Destination Experts Matt Danitz, Damian D’Apolito, and Leo Dunn (Triple D) decided it was too Epic not to attempt. Every season Vail Resorts offers the much anticipated Epic Season Pass. This pass includes unlimited access to 12 of the best ski resorts around the world. Five of those sit in Colorado with another in neighboring Utah. Those six mountains were the target for what would become widely known on social media as #THEepicrun.
On paper, it was doable. Though, not without extensive planning. We needed to ski one run at each resort to make it count. With time being such a factor, we needed to research and find the easiest chair lift to access and quickest run to take back to the bottom of each mountain. Our 25+ combined years of industry experience served us well in mapping the routes. The biggest challenge would be parking. Resorts aren’t built to accommodate the single-run skiers, typically. Nevertheless, #THEepicrun would be attempted on March 16, 2015. Our venture received the complete support of our family at VacationRoost. They arranged a mini-van for us to use and some GoPro cameras to record the experience. You know, because no one would believe us otherwise.
We knew the first mountain would be simple enough. First chair was at 8:30am. For parking we used the underground garage at Arapahoe Lodge in River Run Village. It was a quick 50 yards to the River Run Gondola where we were easily the first ones in line. The liftie working chatted us up and we told him of the Epic day planned. He laughed and gave us a “sure you guys are” kind of look. It was the same look we’d been getting from anyone else who was willing to listen to us the past few days.
With that vote of confidence, we hopped on the River Run Gondola and got off at the midway point. A liftie hollered at us to keep going up. Sorry, brah, we have other mountains to get to. It was nothing but crisp corduroy down the River Run…run. It was quite a site to see the line for the gondola still as long as we left it. I’m sure it was even more of a site to see three skiers zip down the mountain at 8:34am and run as quickly as their ski boots would let them back to the Arapahoe Lodge parking structure. 1/6
First chair for A-basin was 9:00. We didn’t anticipate getting out of Keystone so early, so we were ahead of schedule. It’s a quick 10 minute drive between the resorts. Damian got us there in five (all traffic laws were reasonably obeyed during #THEepicrun). We were surprised to get to A-basin a good 10 minutes before first chair. As expected, though, there were some eager folks ahead of us. We needed to settle for fourth chair this time around.
9:00 hit and we jumped on the Black Mountain Express lift. It was already strange having skied Keystone before then. It had gone so quickly that we were looking forward to enjoying this run a little more. At the top we turned left and took extreme power turns down the High Noon run. It was short lived, but well lived. Another set of fresh tracks from Triple D. 2/6
The ride from A-basin to Breckenridge was about 20 minutes. This gave us a chance to reflect on what we’d already accomplished so early in the day. We were very much ahead of schedule and feeling good. That is, until we got stuck behind a bus on the single lane Swan Mountain Road.
The beauty of Lake Dillon was not enough to distract from the fact that the bus full of undoubtedly non-Colorado natives (Triple D members may or may not be natives themselves) was putting us behind schedule. There was nothing to be done but wait. In our slow moving solitude, a question arose:
“Did we ever figure out parking for Breckenridge?”
No. No we hadn’t. Ideas had been floating around during the planning process, but nothing solidified. We knew Peak 9 would be the best shot at getting in and out of Breckenridge the quickest, but there was no temporary parking in the area. This was when our industry experience would pay off. We reached out to the folks at Beaver Run Resort. They knew us well and were more than willing to give us a hand. Just as we pulled into Breckenridge, we got the go ahead to use their employee parking lot. It was a quick ski-boot run through Beaver Run Resort and we were in line for the Beaver Run Super Chair.
Standing in line, we ran into a fellow co-worker (who was supposed to be at work and shall not be named) by sheer coincidence. Goes to show how small the big ski community is. He got a kick out of our attempt at #THEepicrun and even posed for some pics.
We were excited for the upcoming ski run. Keystone and A-basin were enjoyable, but brief. The Beaver Run Super Chair pretty much takes you to the top of Peak 9. It was the perfect day for cruising down the Columbine and Sundown runs. With time still an issue, Damian used his amazing ski racing skills to get down ahead of the rest of us. It was perfect timing as we rushed to the curbside and he was pulling up with the mini-van……the rear door wide open. 3/6
Ah, Vail. The crown jewel of the Rockies. The resort so sweet, they named Vail Resorts after her. Or was it the other way around? Regardless, Vail is widely known as having some of the best and most open terrain in the state. The drive went well with Damian doing what he does and getting us there in under 45 minutes.
Parking had been much better arranged than in Breckenridge. The folks at Destination Resorts were kind, as always, and let us park at the Landmark Condos. We had some stairs and an escalator to navigate through Lionshead Village, but before we knew it we were riding the Born Free Express Lift up the mountain and into history.
The Preserve and Born Free runs made for some nice turns on the way down. I may or may not have done a sick daffy grab off a six foot box on the way down. The run had gone so quick that it finally gave us a chance to take a brief stop and grab some Nature Valley bars, which you can’t go five feet in Vail without running into. We weren’t there for a long time, just a good time. 4/6
The Beav is one of the best kept secrets in Colorado. Close enough to Denver to frequent, but far enough that you can often be the only one on a run. It was 15 minutes from Vail and our last stop before the trek to Utah. We wanted to enjoy this one especially.
We’d gotten the scoop from one of our fellow Destination Experts that parking in Beaver Creek Village would be the best way to go. You can go in and out of the parking garage in no time and the proximity to the lifts is the best. I don’t know if it was the three mountains I’d just skied or the six Nature Valley bars I’d eaten, but I was feeling good.
That was, until we arrive at the Village. Turns out one of the best kept secrets in Colorado had an event going on and parking was at a premium. The two garages in the Village were at capacity. Not good. It was decision time for Triple D. Do we go to Bachelor Gulch Village? Arrowhead Village? We couldn’t, there was not time. As we drove around we made an executive decision to park at The Chapel at the top of the Village. Chapel parking isn’t for skiers, obviously. But I figured we were fine since Damian kept saying all morning that we were “On a mission from God.”
As quickly as we could, we threw on our gear and hightailed it to the Strawberry Park Express. We could see the mini-van as we rode up the lift. All it would take is one tow truck and #THEepicrun would be over. Oh yeah, and we would be hours from home with no way to get there.
The worry faded at the top of the lift when we feasted our eyes on the President Ford’s run below. It was the best snow of the day yet. We were happier than a ripper in freshies as we carved down the run. At that point we didn’t care about #THEepicrun or the mini-van that likely wouldn’t be there when we got back. It was just us and the mountain.
Luckily, the van was still there. 12:03pm. Seven hours to Park City. 5/6
The drive from Beaver Creek to Park City gave us a long moment to reflect on what we’d accomplished. Five mountains in half a day was something we were sure few had accomplished. It had been one long adrenaline rush that could never be replicated.
Night skiing in at Park City Mountain Resort ended at 8:00pm. We were on schedule and feeling good about our chances. A couple stops along the way and we were rolling past the beautiful Jordanelle Reservoir and into Park City, Utah around 6:30pm.
Our great nemesis known as parking was not an issue at Park City Mountain Resort, especially for night skiing. We figured most in town were already enjoying the smorgasbord of bars and restaurants in nearby Old Town Park City.
We walked through Mountain Village with our heads held high. They would sing songs about us one day. Perhaps a statue or two. At the very least, an Epic Mix pin (Triple D pin?). We clicked in and took deep breathes. “We did it, boys.”
I imagine our ride up the Payday lift was much similar to the feeling an Oscar winner has when their name is called and they approach the stage. It was a slow walk of extreme gratification and accomplishment. It was as though the bro-brahs shredding the gnar beneath us knew they were in the presence of greatness.
After some photos and autographs at the top, we took our victory lap down the Payday run and then, appropriately, King’s Crown. We took the most powerful of power turns yet. The lights of night skiing shone down on us like spotlights from the heavens. We were the modern day Galileo, Lewis & Clark, and Magellan all rolled into one. Not heroes. Legends.
In the blink of an eye it was over. We met a fellow Destination Expert at Butcher’s Chop House & Bar in Old Town Park City and shared tales of danger and adventure over some of the best steaks ever eaten. It had been an Epic Day, indeed. 6/6 Safe Travels,
Destination Expert Leo Dunn