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by The Daily Telegraph, August 10, 2016
Breckenridge has a lot going for it, but some of the flaws we list above are non-trivial. The Imperial Express may be North America’s highest lift, but it was only in 2014 that editor Gill finally got to ski it for the first time, all his previous visits having been spoiled by high winds. And on his first visit [cough] years ago, he was knocked out for 24 hours by altitude sickness. If you can, go first to a lower resort for a couple of nights – Steamboat, Aspen or Vail – to cut the risk of sickness.
With the small but worthwhile addition of Peak 6 for 2014, there are now five linked sectors to ski. Even so, if you are keen on piste mileage and variety you’ll find Breck a bit limited for a week’s stay – plan to visit other resorts (covered by the lift pass) by car or bus too.
Breckenridge was founded in 1859 and became a booming gold-mining town. Old clapboard buildings line much of Main Street, and the streets nearby have been well renovated. Small shopping malls and other buildings have been added in similar style. But there are some (rather out-of-place) modern buildings too, especially around the base of Peak 9.
The resort is in the same ownership as Vail, Beaver Creek and Keystone. A multi-day lift ticket includes days at all these plus Arapahoe Basin. All of them plus Copper Mountain can be reached by bus (free to Keystone and A- Basin).
+ Slopes have something for all abilities – good for mixed groups
+ Cute Victorian Main Street, with mainly sympathetic new buildings
+ Plenty of lively bars and restaurants
+ Shared lift pass covering four other worthwhile resorts nearby
+ Efficient lifts mean few queues
+ Some slope-side accommodation
We don't like
– Tougher slopes at the top very prone to closure by high winds
– Groomed trails not very extensive, with few long runs
– Lack of good central hotels
– Main Street is a thoroughfare, and always busy with traffic
– Risk of altitude sickness if going directly to 2925m from low altitude
The town centre is lively in the evening – particularly at weekends – with lots of people strolling around the shops on their way to or from the 100-plus restaurants and bars in and around the busy main street. Christmas lights and decorations remain throughout the season, giving the town a festive air. This is enhanced by festivals such as Ullr Fest – honouring the Norse God of Winter – and snow sculpture championships.
There are a lot of slope-side lodgings, including smart recent developments at the bases of Peaks 7 and 8. But there is also some inconveniently distant from both Main Street and the lift base stations. Hotels and condos are spread over a wide area and linked by regular, free shuttle-buses (less frequent in the evening – it’s worth staying close to Main Street if you plan to spend much time there).
This is high country; on a clear day above the treeline there are extensive views of Colorado’s highest summits – many of which reach over 4000m.
Where to Ski and Snowboard 2016
This guide is taken from Where to Ski and Snowboard, written by Dave Watts and Chris Gill.
Click here to buy a discounted copy of the book
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