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When the U.S. Army was training the ski troopers who would help take down Hitler’s Germany, it chose an 11,700-foot hill near Leadville. Today that hill is known as Ski Cooper, one of Colorado’s most family-friendly ski areas. It’s not very large, just 400 acres, with 4 chairs, so parents can let the kids ski on their own. There aren’t steep chutes or epic cliff jumps, but skiers also won’t encounter long lift lines or steep prices. Without crowds, the all-natural snow takes longer to get tracked out as well. This is how skiing used to be.
“I won’t lie. Ski Cooper has always bored me. I consider myself an expert skier, and there just isn’t the terrain to satisfy my itch. Then in January 2016, I booked a seat on the Chicago Ridge snowcat. It hadn’t snowed in more than a week, but we still had a day of incredible fresh tracks over and over again, on the kind of backcountry terrain that made me feel like a skier in a Warren Miller film. I’m still smiling nine months later.”
Recommended season(s): December to March.
—R. Scott Rappold