By Mike Ryan
You could always get up earlier, as if we don’t get up early enough as it is. Of course, if you can ski weekdays you avoid the lines, but we’re not talking to you.
(1) Get Back
If you hit the mountain when the lifts open you usually have a good two hours before the big crowds hit. If you’re at a resort like Keystone that has back mountains or Vail with their back bowls, head straight there. It’s tempting to enjoy the fresh corduroy right when you get up, but be strong, the hordes are coming and you can beat them to the back.
(2) Stay Back
It takes quite a while for the crowds to get to the back areas because, for one: they aren’t as smart as you and for two: they didn’t read these tips. An added bonus: the beginners and hacks couldn’t make it that far back until noon if they tried, and they are trying, believe me.
(3) Time Your Drinking
Let’s see, if the lifts open at 8:30 and it takes two hours for the crowds to infiltrate your runs, guess what time it is? That’s right: it’s beer-thirty. It’s no coincidence that most mountain bars open at 10:30; these people know what they’re doing. After shredding fresh powder and hopefully first tracks, a nice frosty mug of beer awaits, especially if you’re at a back lodge like the Outpost at Keystone (say “Hi” to Marty, he’s been bartending there for probably longer than you’ve been breathing) or Two-Elks at the top of China Bowl at Vail.
(4) Lunch is for Wimps
By the time your break is over, the snow-plowing crowd is ready for lunch. This is your next chance to avoid lines. Always ski through lunch; you’re not going to be able to find a table anyway and the lines for food move painfully slow. Besides that, you’re wasting valuable, non-crowded slope-time.
(5) Late Lunch Anyone
The crowds have thinned and you can actually find a table after 1 o-clock. If you come any earlier, the line at the bar is as long as at the grill so what good is that?
(6) What? It’s Beer Thirty Again?
After a late lunch, the front has thinned because the flat-landers are worn out and calling it a day. Sure a lot of folks are headed down for the day so the lower runs may get crowded but the lifts going up should have no lines. Just make sure you get last call at the top, because that run at the end of the day after a cold one, when the mountain has been cleared of human obstacles is the best.