Keystone Resort: “I Spy” a Dropped Pole, My Happy Place and a Yeti

Just 90 minutes from Denver, Keystone is renowned as the largest resort in Summit County with 3,148 acres of bowls, bumps, glades and groomers. Three years ago, I learned to “ski like a girl” at Keystone Resort’s Betty Fest ski clinic.

Girl’s weekend in boas

A couple of weekend ago, my family was invited for a media preview at Keystone.

Skating Keystone Lake

My, what a difference a few years make.

I have wanted to revisit Keystone since they instituted Kidtopia, an entire winter festival dedicated to kids that runs November 22 through March 24. Our itinerary included tubing at Adventure Point at the summit of Dercum Mountain, riding in a sleigh at Riperoo’s Village Park Parade, the Kidtopia Fireworks and skating at the new 7,200-square-foot outdoor Dercum Square Ice Rink.

But then it got cold. Really cold. Or, as my kids call it, “Canadian cold.” For uninitiated Americans, this means run-for-cover-kind-of-cold. And unfortunately, that is what we did so many of these items remain on our bucket list.

Though needing to return to Keystone again? Not a bad prospect.

Keystone Lake

Our kick-off event was at Keystone Lake. Their five-acre lake is touted as the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor skating rink in North America and is my happy place. When we arrived at Lakeside Village, we marveled at the ice sculptures that dotted the grounds.

But remember that arctic blast? Families were hunkered down at the activity center, playing arcade games and socializing as they drank hot chocolate and cookies. After about a half-hour, I queried, “So, is anyone going skating?”

Blank stares.

And then Hadley came to the rescue. “I want to go skating with you, Mommy.”

Blank stare back at her.

You see, we went skating with our friends at Evergreen Lake over Christmas break and she had a complete skating meltdown as she claimed to forget how to skate (never mind she has taken two sessions of lessons).

“Let’s go, then!” I would pretend like it had never happened, which is my parenting strategy in most situations.

The boys opted to stay indoors and I did not push the situation due to the extreme conditions. Only the most hearty Canucks and half-breeds could withstand it.

I was thrilled that the lake had loaner trainers (think: walkers for kids) and Hadley started pushing it around like an old lady. But within a few minutes, her confidence surged and she was gliding all around the lake like a champ, previous tantrum forgotten.

As for me, I repeatedly looped around the lake, relishing the freedom of the frigid air and cursing my parents for never encouraging me to become a speed skater (read: unrealized dreams). When we finally went indoors, I encountered Jamie.

“You look happier.”

“I am.” I had admittedly been a bit moody earlier that evening.

“I told everyone to just let you stay out there for a few hours and you’d be fine.”

He knows me so well.

Keystone’s Mountain

We have had countless ski instructors over the years who have fastidiously worked with my kids. Patiently strapping on their skis. Bending over backwards (literally) trying to help them navigate down the mountain. Instilling a love of the sport when all (our) hope was almost lost. To all of them, I say “THANK YOU!”

And I’m glad it wasn’t me.

Jamie and I are finally benefiting from the fruits of their labors as both kids are finally capable enough for us to ski together.

Our version of a family photo

The previous weekend at Winter Park, Bode skied his first blue (intermediate) run and wanted to keep the momentum going. But shortly after it started, it stopped on the high-speed Montezuma Quad. Jamie took off his glove and joked, “My goal is to not drop it.”

Hadley should have taken the hint because 38 seconds later, she accidentally dropped her pole from three stories in the air. If you’re not a skier, many runs directly until the lift are reserved for extreme terrain. This was the case but there was another complication: Tower 13 (where she dropped it) was a closed, roped-off area. Whoops.

“What are we going to do?” she wailed.
“We’ll figure something out,” I replied. It was about time she went extreme.

She was spared her initiation by fire (or snow) when we were advised to stop at the Snow Patrol building and file a report. It was my first visit, which I deem a good thing because usually they’re hosting injured folks on stretchers. Following the paperwork, they loaned her another pole. But the fun didn’t stop there. Every time we rode past Tower 13 on the lift, we played the very captivating game, “I spy” as we looked for her pole.

We sure know how to party.

Our plan was to check-out the conveyer-belt-serviced tubing and the Kidtopia Snow Fort at the top of Dercum Mountain but by 2 p.m., we were frozen so we only did a token stopover at the Snow Fort for the kids to crawl through the tunnels and climb on the turrets.

Hint: If you’re already an icicle, sitting on a throne of ice won’t help the situation. But it sure was fun and we’ve vowed to return during more agreeable climes.

Der Fondue Chessel

One of my favorite childhood traditions was fondue so I was delighted when I saw Der Fondue Chessel was on the itinerary. But there was a problem. The restaurant is perched atop Keystone’s North Peak Mountain and it was too cold to access at night. And so the resort pulled all the stops and recreated our fondue night out at the fine dining restaurant, Keystone Ranch. There was delicious fondue (duh).A Yeti and White Winter Wizard (duh).And what would a recreation of the Alps be without our very own polka band? At one point, they launched into the “Chicken Dance” and the children raced out to participate. As I snapped shots of them, I did a few token moves when, before I know it, someone grabbed me and started swinging me around. Fortunately, it was just a strange dude and not the Yeti.

Chalk that one up as “things I never thought I’d say in my lifetime.”

But at Keystone, you’ll sure have the time of your life.


Be sure to check-out my other Keystone write-up at Travel Mamas.


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