Breckenridge Ski Resort is big. With five peaks and over 2,900 acres of skiable terrain, visiting the resort for the first time — or even the 100th time — can sometimes feel overwhelming.
The sense of uneasiness can easily be amplified with the presence of crowds that visit during major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
With everyone on the mountain just wanting to maximize their holiday away from home and work, Breckenridge Ski Resort skier services senior director Kyle Murphy has several tips and tricks for folks wanting to have the ideal visit to Breckenridge.
Plan ahead before heading to the mountain
There is so much to do throughout the town of Breckenridge and across the slopes at Breckenridge Ski Resort that Murphy says it is pivotal to plan before heading out to the door in the morning.
Like other ski resorts, Breckenridge’s five peaks offer a different experience on each one with Peak 9 being home to easier terrain while Peak 6 is mostly made up of intermediate features.
While drivers familiarize themselves with a map of a city before driving through it for the first time, skiers and riders need to look at a map of the resort in order to find the best places to ski and ride throughout the day that coincide with their ability level.
“It is important to familiarize yourself with the layout of the resort, layout of the base areas, layout of the terrain,” Murphy said. “I would recommend guests download the My Epic App.”
Murphy also recommends that guests do as much as possible before actually stepping foot on the mountain. Whether that means purchasing lift tickets, picking up rental gear or making sure equipment fits properly, completing these tasks the night or day before the trip will expedite how long it takes to get on the mountain.
The process of completing several necessary tasks the day before a ski day also allows guests to be able to speak face to face with ski area employees who are knowledgeable about the mountain and can offer tips or advice for an enjoyable day.
Patience is your friend
Everyone has seen it at some point. While standing at the base of a ski area, hordes of people are making tight turns down the mountain, coming feet from one another before drifting to the bottom of the run to wait in the start of the lift queue.
After spending hard-earned money on the ski trip, waiting in line and weaving through other guests is the last thing most people want to do, but with the holidays being one of the busiest times of year at ski areas, it is often the reality of the trip.
Instead of growing frustrated by the amount of people also trying to also enjoy the slopes throughout the holidays, Murphy recommends practicing patience while also getting out on the mountain as early as possible to beat the major crowds later in the day.
“Get here early,” Murphy said. “We open at 8:30, and depending on the day, some of our lifts may open slightly earlier. We have a lot of terrain, and by getting out here early you can definitely get some runs to yourself.”
Murphy also highlighted that although the lift lines appear long, the teams at Breckenridge make sure the mazes move at as steady of a pace as possible throughout the day to prevent people from standing for too long before getting back on the slopes.
“We are incredibly focused at improving efficiency at our resort and getting people up and out of the base area as quickly as possible,” Murphy said. “Even when some of our mazes are full, those wait times are usually quite small. We do a good job at keeping people moving.”
Inevitably, most guests will encounter a few runs with guests filling the run from one side to the other. Instead of losing patience or zooming past less-experienced skiers, Murphy encourages people to remember that every day is someone’s very first time on the mountain and you were once in those shoes too.
“We are here to have fun, and we all have to start somewhere,” Murphy said. “It is important to be patient and recognize that the holidays is a time where we get to introduce so many people to our resort, our mountain and the sport that we love.”
Well-tuned gear is fundamental to the experience
Another aspect of a ski trip that can drastically shape the experience is the condition of the gear one brings to the mountain. Whether renting or dusting off old gear from the back of the garage, it is important to take notice if the gear has recently been tuned or not.
Without freshly cut edges, skis and snowboards can slide right out from under one’s feet causing dicey situations which could lead to minor to major injuries.
“Like any sport, equipment is incredibly important,” Murphy said. “It is not just a fresh wax or a tune to the board, it is also equipment that meets your needs, meets what you are trying to do and the experience you are trying to have.”
Take a class, save a friend
One of the biggest mistakes holiday-time guests make is neglecting the mountain’s ski school. Instead of taking a full-day or half-day lesson, individuals will rely on a friend to teach them how to ski or ride.
Not only does this put a lot of strain on the foundation of the relationship, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. Ski school allows guests to quickly bypass the line and have a learning experience that is tailored specifically to their current skill level.
“Over the holiday period, ski and snowboard school is a great way to cut the line,” Murphy said. “Our staff are highly trained professionals who do this day in and day out. It is what they are passionate about. They are truly able to cater their lesson to the needs of the guest.”
Murphy also shattered the myth that ski and ride school is only for beginners. While the majority of ski school focuses on beginner terrain, Breckenridge has many learning options including classes that explore Horseshoe Bowl and the Six Senses.
“Your vacation is supposed to be fun and stress free,” Murphy said. “Trying to teach anything to friends and family is not always a fun thing for anybody. We are here in the ski and snowboard school to take care of that for you.”
Come dressed for the occasion and the high altitude
The last thing Breckenridge recommends while heading out to the mountain during the busy holiday period is coming dressed for the occasion and prepared for the high altitude.
Like most ski resorts, Breckenridge’s weather can change at a moment’s notice. One minute it may be sunny and warm, and the next the wind could be blowing in a winter storm.
Due to the dramatic shifts in mountain conditions, Murphy and senior communications manager Sara Lococo recommend coming dressed in layers that can easily be stripped and then reapplied if the weather chooses to change again.
“Equipment also applies to goggles, helmet — what your outerwear is,” Murphy said. “It is important that we push and stress that people know the weather conditions. Know what it is going to look like that day and then make the proper adjustments to what you are skiing on out there.
Lococo also emphasized the importance of recognizing the change in altitude for most people visiting Breckenridge. Sitting well above 9,000 feet, the change in altitude should not be taken lightly and guests should drink water, eat and take it easy if they need to throughout their visit.
“We are at 9,600 feet at the base of town, and that is pretty high altitude compared to where most people are traveling in from,” Lococo said. “Just know to take it easy on your first day, drink a lot of water and know how you are feeling and what your body is telling you. Altitude can impact people in different ways.”
For more tips on how to enjoy Breckenridge Ski Resort throughout the holidays and winter season, visit Breckenridge.com.
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