Grandfather and granddaughter share a ride to the summit of Arapahoe Basin, an unexpectedly good choice for family skiing.
Grandfather and granddaughter share a ride to the summit of Arapahoe Basin, an unexpectedly good choice for family skiing. (Chryss Cada, The Denver Post)

Ageless Ski Truth No. 1: It's never easy to get your boots on.

On a recent day at Arapahoe Basin (arapahoebasin.com), I dropped off my 6-, 9- and 73-year olds at the lodge before parking the car. Gone for only a few minutes (all parking at A-Basin is a short walk from the base), I returned to find my 6-year-old frantically screaming, "Mama! I can't buckle my boots"; my 9-year-old is trying to get into her boots by hopping up and down on a snowbank; and the 73-year-old is nowhere in sight. It turns out he was inside getting help with — what else—his boots.

It wasn't the last time we would lose Grandpa that day.

On the first run, big sister left Grandpa on the cliff of a black run while she came shooting out of its narrow, boulder-riddled exit chute. In the afternoon, Grandpa ditched us for a couple of cruisers and gentle bump runs.

Luckily the resort's Lost and Found handles lost grandpas and other family members.

Which brings us to Ageless Ski Truth No. 2: If there are different ability levels in your group, you won't be a group for long.

I've found the key to mastering the intergenerational ski trip is to go to a resort where there are runs for a variety of ability levels all leading to the same end point.

A-Basin, known primarily for the challenges of Pallavicini, the East Wall and the Montezuma Bowl, is surprisingly well-suited to skiing with your family.


Advertisement

All the runs on the front side lead down to the base lodge and the Black Mountain Express. My daughters found a couple of fun intermediate runs through the trees and some wide cruisers to practice their parallel turns. I satisfied my thrill issues by taking the Pallavicini lift to some of the steepest terrain in the state and ended up right back at the bottom. As long as you set a place and amount of time to wait for each other between runs, everybody gets what they want from their ski day.

Speaking of keeping everybody happy brings us to Ageless Ski Truth No. 3: Never underestimate the importance of lunch.

Vail is my youngest daughter's favorite place to ski not because of the world-class terrain or the European feel, but because of the baked potatoes they serve at Eagle's Nest. Grandpa and I end up at Loveland a lot not only because it's a shorter drive from the Front Range, but also because he loves their green chile and I'm a fan of the in-house bakery.

Opened in 2007, A-Basin's Black Mountain Lodge is now my favorite on-mountain dining experience — but that could just be the waffle fries talking. Once the girls got past the whole-roasted-pig-wearing-ski-goggles displayed at the grill, we all found something yummy for lunch.

By the time we pulled into our driveway back in Fort Collins I was congratulating myself on pulling off a complicated ski day where everybody had a good time. Then I opened the hatch and realized we had left the girls' skis at the hill.

Luckily, I have a connection at A-Basin's Lost and Found.

Chryss Cada is a freelance writer and an adjunct professor of journalism at Colorado State University. Visit her at chryss.com.