by Tracy Greenhalgh

REI and Copper Mountain are at the top of my list of endorphin-inducing places.  REI for getting me outfitted, prepped and excited for my outdoor shenanigans, and Copper Mountain for being my ultimate outdoor playground. Lucky for us they’ve joined forces this season to create some unique and fun adventures to give us even more ways to play on the mountain and make our brains happy.

Recently I had the opportunity to join the REI Rendezvous Snowshoe Happy Hour, one of their many intriguing adventure offerings, after a fantastic day of skiing.

Eight of us gathered at the REI Adventure Station located in Center Village's Camp Hale Outfitters for informal introductions and an overview to the day’s adventure, led by Matt Hickethier and Oran Allen, our friendly and expert guides for the next couple of hours.

“Our goal is to make the mountain lifestyle experience accessible to anyone – from avid skiers and boarders to those who’ve never seen a ski run, ridden on a lift or been to the top of a mountain in the wintertime.  We provide fun, engaging opportunities to elevate your experience here at Copper,” says Matt, the REI Activity Center Manager at Copper Mountain.

Matt and Oran quickly noticed that some of our pants weren’t waterproof, so they provided us with easy to attach REI gaiters (which are now on my wish list) to keep us dry and toasty. They also provided us with a complimentary neck gaiter to keep, which came in handy as the puffy white snowflakes and wind started to dance on the mountain. They handed us our snowshoes and trekking poles to carry and we headed over to American Flyer to load onto the lift.

Once we gathered at the top of the lift Oran and Matt gave us instructions for buckling our snowshoes, adjusting our poles, and how to get the best gait alignment.  Soon we trudged down the edge of Coppertone, tucking into the trees for a quick hike through a pristine forest. For a minute it felt like we were deep in the backcountry and I wanted to stay a bit longer. We wended our way through the lovely woods then up and over to Rendezvous lift, which whisked us up to enjoy our alpine après happy hour.

Just in time for our arrival the clouds and snow broke a bit and the sun rays glittered on Ten Mile Range. We hiked down to R-Deck and peered over Sunset Ridge. One man from our group had never been on a chairlift before and you could literally hear his breath catch in wonder as he glimpsed the stunning mountain view at the top of the lift. I’ve been up here countless times, but the raw beauty is never wasted on me either.

We rounded up onto the cozy deck where a server waited to lavish drinks and hors d’oeuvres on us. It was cold and blustery, but our guides quickly started making hot chocolate (in mugs we got to take home) and gave us each blankets to keep us warm and happy. They even offered extra coats and hats. The gorgeous views, ample wine and beer choices, and cheese, cracker and fruit plate sent us straight into happy hour mode, elevated and content.

Our snow cat to Center Village soon arrived. After a few photo opportunities, we piled into the warm red taxi, where our cheeks turned rosy and our jackets came off.  I’d been up Tucker Mountain on the snow cat before, but I’d never gone straight down the mountain on one.  It was a rush, and the soothing motion was relaxing. We all laughed and bantered with our new friends after a fun-filled day of adventure.

“From now through summer we’re offering lots of adventure on the mountain.  We’ve got plenty more snowshoe and fat tire bike trips through mid- April (check out the Snowshoe and Hot Chocolate Extravaganza and the Copper Peak Snowshoe Ascent). After that, our robust summer plan will offer summit hikes on mountain, guided hiking, biking navigation, outdoor development skills, and overnight campouts,” says Matt.

To add more endorphins to your stay at Copper Mountain, call the REI Adventure Station at 970-968-3123 or book online here.

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An overview of one of REI's newest adventures at Copper: a happy hour at the top of the Rendezvous lift
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