I taught my wife, a blonde Midwest beauty, to ski when she was 20 — or rather, she allowed me to teach her. We always joke we don’t need any marriage counseling after those tear-filled seasons on the blue ice runs of Vermont — no appearances for us on Dr. Phil’s couches. And the heavenly runs we share now two decades later under bright bluebird skies in Colorado at spots like Keystone are all the sweeter after some, well, “intense” discussions in the dark redolent hardwoods back in the day.
So it wasn’t lightly that I bellied up to the task of teaching our 5-year-old son Logan to ski. “Labor of love” is right. Fortunately, your child learns to walk innately. Imagine trying to describe the mechanics of elemental mobility and coaching a mini person to put one foot in front of another. Now visualize trying to do this at 9,000 feet, in freezing temperatures, with long plastic sticks stuck to his feet. I always tell my buddies sans kids that in parenting every day is an epic. Life before children is emotional 2D, and now you are in 3D with corresponding highs and lows. When, last year, Logan made his first true glide in the fall line for just a few feet on the greenest baby bunny run, I felt a high that matched any of the deepest powder days ever bestowed on me.
Set yourself up for success is my mantra — parental and otherwise. These days, our favorite place to point the 105-cm skis of Master Logan is Keystone. This mountain is, in my humble opinion, the most kid friendly and user friendly resort around — admittedly, it’s a popular favorite and can get crowded. Tag that kid in neon to keep track of him in the crowd.
At Keystone you get close in free parking at River Run Village, and a pretty walk through the village, not a brutal schlep and bus ride from a remote parking lot that seems located in another time zone. If the crew needs a pit stop pre-ski (and when couldn’t Daddy use another coffee?), Inkspot and Spoon are excellent affordable choices within minutes of the gondola.
Which brings us to the next plus:
The gondola is a climate-controlled way to get you up plenty of vertical and regroup with the inevitable mitten, goggle, neckwarmer, God knows-what-else readjustment. A friend of mine’s mom said that, after a decade plus of being sherpa to her kid’s skis, she insisted that, as adults, they carry hers. Great idea, Logan buddy, can’t wait till 2022!
Actually, Keystone has cleverly addressed this with full sized cargo wagons distributed by smiling staff to help you haul kids and gear from the parking lot to the lifts. Guess who was the mule? Sadly, I got a bit of head rush from pulling the wagon. Good training for hiking the alpine bowls, I suppose.
The staff at Keystone makes a huge effort to embrace kids. Logan receives, and truly loves, multiple high fives from the lifties and ski patrol on every visit. His helmet is now proudly covered with stickers from the area, and each marks a day of priceless family bonding.
On the more watchful side, the mountain crew is genuinely on guard at every turn to help Junior up after a crash, give them a boost onto chairlifts, and we even had a ski patrol lift up an on trail sign that Logan had managed to bear hug/tbone … much to his/our delight.
Central to any kid-centric visit are the regular Kidtopia weekends with visits to the massive mountaintop snowfort, disco tubing, music, and arts and crafts events. If for some reason your kiddo resists bedtime (and when don’t they?) Keystone offers the largest night skiing operation in Colorado.
Another superlative is the Outpost Lodge — at 11,444 feet, it’s home to the country’s highest full service gourmet restaurant, the Alpenglow Stube, offering such delicacies as Colorado lamb with arugula pesto and venison in a cotes-du-rhone sauce. Yum.
Also for foodies, the Winter Wine Weekend is Feb. 17-18 with chef demos and tastings. Upcoming events include Keystone Winter Bluegrass Weekend, Feb. 2-4: With performances by Willy Porter and the Mealies, The Mossgatherers, The Pine Beatles, The Haunted Windchimes, The Steel Pennies and Finnders & Youngberg. (Doors open at 7 p.m.)
And if Mom needs a little “me time,” check out the Best Fest weekends with clinics with video analysis, nutrition advice, and women’s equipment information.
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