Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug. I was the bug at Copper. Some cosmic confluence of forces turned me and my skis into rock magnets when I skied Copper Saturday. I hit more rocks and fell more times than I have in years. All morning I was skiing like I had my boots on the wrong feet. To add insult to injury, I was skiing with a friend, Maja Russer, I’d met several years ago when she won a heliski week with CMH and I tagged along to write the story. Maja’s a very accomplished skier and Copper’s Events Coordinator. To her credit, she never laughed and never hesitated to take me places that would’ve challenged me on a good day.
Good thing too. Copper is my kind of mountain. That’s probably because it reminds me more of Whistler than anywhere else I’ve ever skied. Aside from the obvious Intrawest influence at its base — which is predictably beautiful if a bit familiar — the comforting appeal of Copper lies in its four alpine bowls. Copper Bowl, Union Bowl, Spaulding Bowl and Resolution Bowl made me feel right at home on the mountain. They dish up sharp ridges, steep to easy entry points, heart-pounding pitches and oodles of soft, powdery turns on their expansive faces. And each has its own unique character and personality and each, in turn, leads skiers and boarders deeper into new territory far away from the more crowded and less challenging front side.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the front side of Copper. But like most ski resorts and every national park, the further you get from the parking, the fewer people you encounter and the more interesting things you find. There are lots of interesting things on Copper.
Snuggled tight against I-70, Copper has three access points: East Village, The Village at Copper, and Union Creek. If black’s not your favourite colour, stay away from the East Village. You can access a network of blue runs from the top of the Super Bee six-pack that leaves from there but virtually all the runs that come back down to East Village are high-spirited blacks including a claustrophobic double black romp through the trees in Free Fall Glade. Beginners beware.
If you’re just learning the delicate interplay of gravity, balance and speed — if skiing’s a trek to the edges of the unknown — stick to the Village or Union Creek. It’s easy to be green when you ride out of either of these bases, with gentle, meandering runs plentiful from the top of every chair.
Ditto true-blue intermediates. There’s a vigourous swath of blue runs that all take advantage of the fall line and rolling terrain features off the Timberline Express, American Eagle and Super Bee.