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Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Ski Cooper. Nine miles west of Leadville, Ski Cooper is one of those undiscovered boutique ski areas in the Rockies. It has 400 acres skiable via lift and another 2,400 acres of backcountry powder accessible by snowcat. The 26 groomed runs are perfect for beginning or intermediate skiers. U.S. 24, Leadville, CO, 80461. 719/486-3684 or 800/707-6114. www.skicooper.com. Late Nov.-early Apr., daily 9-4.
1,200-foot vertical drop; 400 skiable acres; 30% beginner, 40% more difficult, 30% advanced; 5 lifts; 1 triple chair, 1 double chair, 3 surface lifts.
Lessons and Programs
Ski Cooper Ski School. The Ski Cooper Ski School covers the gamut for skiers and snowboarders. A "Never Ever" two-hour group lesson with magic carpet lift ticket and rental gear is $50. You can also book private lessons, race and telemark clinics, and lessons for your children, which can be extended as part of the all-day child-care programs. Lessons for handicapped skiers are available by appointment.
Ski Cooper has a number of options for children, including their popular Panda Patrol for children ages 5 to 12. A full-day package (from 10 am to 3 pm) includes a group ski lesson, equipment rental, lunch, and full mountain lift ticket for $80. The Panda Cubs program caters to four-year-olds and provides a two-hour lesson, lift ticket, rental package, lunch, and afternoon daycare for $77. Leadville, CO. 719/486-2277.
Chicago Ridge Snowcat Tours. Chicago Ridge Snowcat Tours are for expert backcountry skiers who want the off-piste adventure of scripting their signature across acres of untracked powder. Tickets are $275, but you'll get your fill of phat snow. The terrain has tree glades and open bowls. You must be over 18 (or be accompanied by an adult) and fit; the runs are up to 10,000 feet long, and some vertical drops top 1,400 feet. Wide powder skis are available for rent for those who really want to float. Leadville, CO. 719/486-2277. www.skicooper.com/snow-cat-skiing.
At $42 for a full-day lift ticket, you'll be hard-pressed to find cheaper powder. Vacationers should still shop around for discounted rates at King Soopers and Safeway stores.
Rental packages (skis, boots, and poles) start at $15 per day, among the cheapest in the state. Snowboarding packages start at $25. Performance packages and backcountry ski gear rentals are also available and start at $25.
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