by Mikaela Ruland
I fell in love with skiing on the slopes of Copper Mountain. I wasn’t even old enough to properly walk, but there I was on my tiny skis, in my puffy purple snowsuit, wobbling down the bunny hills between my dad’s legs, attached to him by neon pink leashes.
In 1996, the K&L lifts (now Kokomo and Lumberjack) were painted that throwback orange that wasn’t a throwback at that point. The only thing at the bottom of the B1 Lift (which wasn’t yet Super Bee) was the Double Diamond Restaurant. The C Lift that accessed Green Acres was free, letting me learn without a lift ticket.
I was raised on Copper Mountain.
It was on the slopes under K&L where I first looked backed and realized my dad had taken off my leashes. It was on the slopes of Timberline Express where my parents first let my sister and I ride the chairlift by ourselves. Rosi’s Run was my first black and Resolution, my first experience at skiing a bowl.
From the tiny tyke wobbling on miniature skis to double diamond frequenter, Copper has held my hand and my heart the entire way.
From spending entire days trying to photograph my dad coming off a lip on Bouncer to spraying my mom as she sunbathed in the chairs next to the T-Rex Grill; from truly enjoying fresh pow for the first time in the Enchanted Forest to cat skiing on Tucker Mountain, some of my favorite memories growing up happened at Copper.
While the chairs may now be high speed and i70 traffic worse than we could have ever imagined, Copper Mountain has held on to the little things that make it so special.
Copper is a mountain for the whole family. Growing up, my dad, mom, sister and I could all ride the same chair and each end up skiing what suited us best: my dad would come down a black mogul run, my mom and sister would ski a blue-green and I would pop in and out of the trees, following little trails, catching tiny amounts of air.
It is so easy to ski (or board!) Copper Mountain with any and all levels of experience. I love Copper because I can access any type of terrain from almost any lift. No getting stuck poling on catwalks or accidentally getting less experienced friends into troublesome terrain.
Besides being friendly for every level, Copper has maintained that homey, small-resort vibe. The T-Rex Grill still pumps out that classic rock I remember my dad jamming out to in the lift line when I was a kid. Every time we’ve popped into Flyer’s Soup Shack in the last three years, it’s been the same guy serving chili and beer. The bar tenders don’t even blink if you come in at ten am requesting a round of Jager shots because you might have already dislocated something, instead they just ask if you want it on a shot-ski.
Copper’s the same family friendly mountain it was twenty years ago when I first learned to ski. I still drive up at the crack of dawn with my dad on Saturday mornings, listening to Black Sabbath and from the chairlift we hoot and holler at little tykes attempting mogul runs; after all that was me not so long ago. We go in search of powder in our favorite bowls before crossing all the way from Timberline Express to Super Bee in one run, because after twenty years at one mountain, you don’t need a trail map. We finish the day with beers at JJ’s, asking hopefully if they’ve decided to put their epic nachos back on the menu.
In twenty years I’ve gone from a sippy cup to a pint glass, leashes to clocking 60mph on Ski Tracks, but it’s still the same mountain under my feet. I wouldn’t have it any other way.