Working Out to Get to Work: Skinning up the Ski Slopes in Breckenridge, Colorado

Drying out the skins after a journey up Peak 9 in Breckenridge, Colorado

Drying out the skins after a journey up Peak 9 in Breckenridge, Colorado

Route: Top of Peak 10 via Sundown, in Breckenridge
Start: Beaver Run
End: 9 Restaurant
Season: Winter, silly

In winter I work on the mountain at Breckenridge, and the one thing I can never complain about is the view. Our shack sits halfway up Peak 9, with the town of Breckenridge, Colorado spreading out below. To the east, we have excellent views of Baldy and beyond.

With such amazing AT bindings, who wouldn't want to skin up the slopes of Breckenridge to get to work?

With such amazing AT bindings, who wouldn't want to skin up the slopes of Breckenridge to get to work?

It’s only last season that I began skiing, and when I got an AT setup this fall, I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be skinning to work. Some folks get to ride their bikes to work year-round, and I can’t say I’m not jealous.

Much as I’ve grown to enjoy skiing and winter hiking, there’s still nothing like pedaling to a destination in shorts. I suppose I’m just not a grizzled enough commuter to want to overcome ice patches, pedaling in the pitch-black mornings or putting on enough clothing to stay warm at 15 mph when it’s -5 out.

That’s the nice thing about skinning. (And winter running.) As cold as my fingers sometimes get, any bit of cold elsewhere can be remedied by moving just a little faster. And who knew it’s possible to soak a shirt through with sweat when the temperatures fall below zero?

Sure, it’s a little sweaty. But starting the day (and getting to work) with a skin always puts me in a better mood. Not entirely unlike commuting by bike, I get my end-of-day time going downhill … it’s just not as time-consuming as the ascent.

Views of Breckenridge from the NASTAR course ... not too shabby

Views of Breckenridge, Colorado from the Peak 9 NASTAR course ... not too shabby

The route up to the 9 Restaurant is pretty mellow. Heading straight up from Beaver Run, there’s one solid pitch above the NASTAR shack but it’s not very long. Going up Bonanza or one of the other runs to the south would be a good alternate route for avoiding that pitch altogether.

The real reward? No guilt about putting away a couple of 9 Restaurant breakfast burritos.

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