23. November 2018 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 51: Breckenridge Ski Area, The Walt Disney World of Skiing · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Breckenridge selfie, with her impatient family. I didn’t get any better mountain photos than this.

Yep – first non-Instagram post in a very long time. I’m sad to announce that I had to remove about 80% of my Instagram posts today due to a server upgrade that destroyed the links to the IG posts. That’s okay. You can see the original Instagram posts here. Everything since about August is still in place.

We Vollmers have been living in Colorado Springs for FIVE years and had never skied at Breckenridge…until yesterday.

“Whaaaaat? Really? Why not?”

Yes, we’ve spent time in Breckenridge before. Heck, we came this close to buying a timeshare in a condo up there, mainly as an investment. Jacob had been bitter for almost 3 years about not getting to ski the mountain in January 2016.

A large part of the never-skiing-there issue was cost. I’ve pontificated that Breckenridge is the Walt Disney World of skiing: most of the guests have flown in from around the world, staying in lodging nearby, and shopping and dining on the economy. Pricing for just about everything there is tailored to someone who is there for a week or more, skiing for several days at a time.

Even for our military family, a day of skiing at Breckenridge is $99 per person (same with Vail and Beavercreek), and there were no military season pass promotions available. Meanwhile, we could ski at just about every other Colorado resort with very agreeable season pass prices, complete with reciprocity with other resorts all over the Rockies.

Between the kids being younger, not wanting to fight the “I-70 Resorts” traffic, and being hesitant to mix our skiing with the vacationers, we had opted for the Monarch Mountain season passes each season since the 2014-2015 season. Monarch has been awesome to us

Until 2018. The Epic family of resorts announced a $99 per person season pass deal for active and retired military members…and their families! What an amazing deal! You’d better believe we’re on board with that! We didn’t waste any time ordering the passes, uploading the photos, and receiving passes in the mail ready to go. Not only do these passes include Breckenridge, but they include the entire family of Epic mountain resorts: Vail, Beavercreek, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Killington, and (as of this month) Crested Butte — the latter being one of our family’s favorite mountains!

First Outing of the Season

Luckily for us, the snow at the resorts this year started nice and early, so we were able to take a day trip on Thanksgiving day. Save the Turkey for Black Friday. I’m a little sad to miss the parades on TV, but heck, I’d rather be outside. We really truly didn’t know whether the ski resorts would be completely empty…or absolute madhouses.

Taking a day trip to these resorts involves a very early start. So the boys were awakened almost an hour earlier than they usually awaken for school, and we piled into the car at 6:30am for the 2-hour drive west. The boys were pretty tired from having slept late each day for the previous 5 days of their Thanksgiving break. They were in and out of sleep the whole time.

We arrived at about 8:40am and found some prime parking. Wow! This is great!

Then we found the kiosk where you pay for the up-close parking. $12 to park right next to the gondola that takes you up to the base area…

We didn’t know what to expect up at the base area, so we decided to take our backpacks with boots and helmets and find storage or locker space at the base lodge area.

Arriving as early as we did, we were pleased with how short the gondola line was: we hopped right on. Unlike other resorts with gondola service (“gondolas” are the completely-enclosed lifts) which have racks for your skis on the exterior, these particular cabins accommodate your skis on the interior.

An “inside the gondola” selfie. Jacob’s sporting his never-been-used skis, ready to go!

We make it to the top of the gondola route, which is the “Peak 8” base area.

We started our day at Breckenridge at the Peak 8 base area, which is near the center of this image. You can see that there are Peaks 6-10 shown on this map…there’s no way you can ski everything in a day. Or 5 days.

We didn’t know what to expect, and we were grateful for the non-crowded conditions so we could explore a bit. We didn’t see a picnic room to stash our gear (which we took advantage of at Monarch and Cooper mountains). So we checked out the rental lockers. We can stuff our gear into a large locker for $19. However, the locker payment system was broken so instead we opted for a basket rental.

Whoa — I hadn’t seen the basket system in many years. Because of the better security with a basket, they cost well over $20 for the day. The kind woman charged us $19 for a large basket and piled all of our shoes and ski backpacks into it.

Mountain Conditions

The mountain is magnificent! There was a 30″ base to work with, but due to the early conditions, many of the trails were still closed. About 1/2 of the lifts were open, with about 1/3 of the trails available — most of which were at Peaks 8 and 9. I can see why Breckenridge is a top choice for vacationing tourists. The lower parts have plenty of beginner’s terrain, the ski school is top-notch, and their lift line management is very well-done. The employees I interacted with were all incredibly polite and knowledgeable.

Since Jacob had brand-new skis, and Timmy’s season rental had to accommodate his having grown about 5″ this past year, we started out slowly. We met up with some friends for a few runs and had lunch with them (I’ll address lunch in a moment). We enjoyed most of the intermediate trails, and the occasional black diamonds.

After lunch we wandered over to Peak 9 and explored that part of the mountain. Since this was our first ski day of the season, all four of us were pretty wiped out by 3pm. We were on the road home by 3:30pm, and could eat dinner at home (since it was Thanksgiving, we weren’t sure we could just stop at any restaurant for dinner).

Meals and Gear

I didn’t pack a lunch for the family for our day trip. Usually I do, but not knowing what kind of locker/storage space was available, we opted to just eat at the lodge cafeteria instead.

The good news? The food choices are very good and seemed to be very high quality.

The bad news? You’re going to pay Walt Disney World prices for your lunches. $16 for a burger and chips, $8-9 for a beer. I got a “chicken shwarma” lunch that was very very good: $16. You could get snacks too — but those were going to be way marked up. Our family spent nearly $80 on lunch.

Monarch Mountain, and many other places, have storage areas where you can stash your lunch coolers from home. Monarch calls theirs a “picnic room”. You could also store your shoes and gear on racks in the picnic space. Heck, Monarch will even let you plug in a slow cooker so you can have hot homemade chili for lunch! It’s an open location, meaning, sure, you risk theft of your lunch cooker or slow cooker, but that never, ever happened to our family. For one thing, we never brought anything remarkable: ham, cheese, bread, mayo. Tossed into a cooler. Simple, cheap, and quick. The boys usually want to get back onto the slopes pretty quickly so it’s nice to not have to wait in lines.

So far we haven’t found a setup like this at Breckenridge. I tried to Google around to see if some discussion forums mention a picnic area, but so far, no.

Just the same, Dave and I told the boys that on our next day trip (probably in the next couple weekends), we plan to bring our own lunches.


Breckenridge is a gorgeous mountain, the skiing is awesome! Thanksgiving Day wasn’t crowded at all — we didn’t wait more than 5 minutes for a lift line.

But things there are designed for vacationer…less for the locals. Bring your credit cards.

Our Epic pass is good for Vail, Beavercreek, Crested Butte, and Keystone also. I hope we have the time to explore those mountains later this season…and keep a sensible budget while doing so.



01. February 2016 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 46: Breckenridge on a Budget · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

I know, it’s been a while! I’m here, really, but with my full time work and the kids’ activities, I have had to re-prioritize my blogging. This also goes for GeekMom, where my writing is now at a bare minimum (despite having ideas for posts all the time), but I still do editor duty every few weeks.

I have numerous things to write about here on the home front, including a stunning ride on the Royal Gorge Railroad back in December but for now I want to share what a fun weekend our family had in Breckenridge. We didn’t ski (I’ll explain in a minute) but we found many other things to enjoy without spending much money.

Breckenridge Ski Resort is like the Walt Disney World of skiing. Tourists come in from all around the world for some amazing skiing, and the town of Breckenridge keeps up with that tourism industry with premier shopping, restaurants, and lodging options for their guests. More »

24. August 2015 · Comments Off on Utah Discoveries 11: Alta Ski Area · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , , ,
This was a shot I took in between snow showers at the top of the one of the numerous mountain peaks at Alta Ski Area.

This was a shot I took in between snow showers at the top of the one of the numerous mountain peaks at Alta Ski Area: Sugarloaf Peak (just over 11,000′). Note how much snow there was here compared to at Park City 48 hours prior, just one canyon south.

For our last day in Utah, we decided to make the trek over to Alta Ski Area, which is one canyon south of Park City. It seems so simple, but in reality, what we had to do was take a route that was a 270 degree loop that was ~40 miles to visit a resort only 10 miles away from our condo. It was about a one hour drive.

Please note that Alta Ski Area is a ski only resort. Snowboards are not allowed. I know that for many families this might be a show-stopper.

We are very happy that we elected to visit Alta during our Utah trip. It was some of the best skiing we’d ever experienced. We weren’t sure about making the trip over to the next canyon, for fear of being disappointed. More »

05. May 2015 · Comments Off on Utah Discoveries 7: Skiing at Park City Resort · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,
It was so warm, Dave could ski in shorts!

It was so warm, Dave could ski in shorts…well, sort of…

On our first full day in Park City, we decided to check out the Park City Ski Resort, which was just a couple blocks from our condo. We took advantage of a military deal for the resort, although being one of the Vail Resorts, it was still pretty costly, even for end-of-season conditions.

It was quite warm, with highs in the 60s and blue sunny skies.

As a consequence, there weren’t many trails open, and we had numerous detours. We’re grateful the boys were skilled enough to negotiate some of the detours.

Skiing at Park City at the end of March was like skiing on the East Coast. Icy. Jacob and Timmy are obviously spoiled rotten skiing in Colorado because they had a very hard time with the changed snow conditions. They didn’t have the best day. More »

20. February 2015 · Comments Off on Timmy’s (Almost) GoPro Action at Copper Mountain · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last weekend we spent some time skiing. My dear friend Megan and her son Aidan came into town for the President’s Day weekend and we skied for two days. Timmy took advantage of the beautiful skiing weather to take some video with his new camera mounted to his ski helmet.

I’ll share with you right here the favorite of the three we’ve put on YouTube, which is on the Main Vein trail at Copper Mountain, and will link you to the other two.

TDV Camera: Copper Mountain
TDV Camera: Monarch Mountain

There is about 30 minutes of footage total; we’ve only edited/shared about 7 minutes of it so far.

I promise we will aim the camera a bit higher next time.


12. February 2015 · Comments Off on Note to Self: Snowboarding is Not the Same as Skiing! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

I was as unsteady as I look here. Despite numerous warnings, I got on a snowboard and guess what? It wasn’t that bad!

This past Saturday at Monarch Mountain, with our sponsor cadet’s persuasion, I got on a snowboard for the first time.

I’ve been skiing since about age 18, gaining most of my experience during the two winters Dave and I were stationed in Korea. In fact, many of the resorts where we skied between 1998-2000 will be venues for the 2018 Winter Olympics! After over a decade of hiatus from 2000 – 2012 while the kids were little (skiing just once in those 10 years), we are skiing routinely now and the whole family truly enjoys it. More »

21. December 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 43: Ski Copper (Not Cooper) · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
My boys on the ski lift!

My boys on the ski lift!

Earlier this month our family took advantage of a local Boy Scouting promotion called “Scout Family Day” at Copper Mountain Resort. A day lift ticket, breakfast, and lunch all for $32 per person!

I had to clarify that this is “Copper” and not “Cooper” because I wrote about Ski Cooper last season. Ironically, the two resorts are very close to each other. More »

Standing at the top the Red Lady lift. The lifts at Crested Butte are named after former Colorado mines.

Standing at the top the Red Lady lift. The lifts at Crested Butte are named after former Colorado mines.

Our family took a Spring Break trip at the end of March to Crested Butte, Colorado. It’s home to Mt. Crested Butte Ski Resort, which is a family-friendly, classic ski resort, a far departure from the day-tripper-friendly ski mountains we’d been visiting this season. Enjoy the pictures I took with my brand new iPhone 5S’s kick-butt camera!

More »

18. March 2014 · Comments Off on Chugging Right Along: Baseball, Skiing, and Scouts · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,
Timmy the catcher...again.

Timmy the catcher…again. His new coach’s son is also a catcher and his coach works hard on training them on techniques.

Yep, I’ve been scarce. I’ve been spending more time on my Facebook fan page than here, because I can pop up quick discussion items and engage with friends and fans that way.

That’s because baseball has started at the Vollmer house. And as the boys get older, their practice schedules become more intense. And as the practice becomes more intense, we are making more investments of time and protective equipment for them: new slider pants for Jacob, impact-resistant sports goggles for Timmy, a new catcher’s mitt for Timmy, a wheeled baseball bag for Jacob… More »

26. January 2014 · Comments Off on Colorado Discoveries 29: Ski Cooper (Not Copper) · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
The snow, the views, and the lack of crowds makes Ski Cooper (not Copper) a local favorite!

The snow, the views, and the lack of crowds makes Ski Cooper (not Copper) a local favorite!

Our family took two day trips over two consecutive weekends to Ski Cooper, a small resort just north of Leadville, Colorado. The lift tickets are very inexpensive, there were never lift lines, and we took advantage of the boys getting to take two full days of lessons through the resort’s “Panda Patrol” program.

I have to make clear here — such as what I put in the title — that we did not go to Copper Mountain, which is often what Google hands back to you when you Google anything like “skiing cooper” or something like that. Copper is a much bigger, more vacation-resort-type of ski area, but is only about 20 miles north of Cooper. That’s not where we went. More »