Denver father-son trio completes 28 days at 28 Colorado ski resorts with A-Basin
Follow the marathon
To keep he and his boys motivated, JB Bissell kept a blog to cover every lift, every powder day and every traffic jam on the winter-long journey to ski all 28 Colorado ski areas. It only helps he’s also a writer. Head to http://byjbbissell/the-skiing to read more about each stop along the way.
On April 24 at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, JB Bissell and his boys celebrated the end of a long and snowy journey. For the first time since clipping in at 3 years old, Bissell skied at least one full day at all 28 ski areas in Colorado, from the Bissell’s familiar stomping grounds of Keystone Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort to brand-new terrain at Durango and Crested Butte.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said JB Bissell, a Denver local and freelance writer who documented the entire season through his blog. “People who live in Colorado get a little stuck skiing the same place over and over. I grew up here and wanted to see more.”
The best part: That final day of spring slush at A-Basin was also JB Bissell’s birthday — a fitting end to a season-long journey some 15 years in the making. His boys, 13-year-old Dade and 12-year-old Roan, were more than willing to load the car before sunrise and return after sundown in the name of exploring their state with Dad.
“I thought the boys would get tired of it after a while,” JB Bissell said. “One of the things I did to save money was make sandwiches for lunch and that can get old after a while, eating the same sandwich every day. The driving can also be long and drawn out, but they bought into the idea of this is our adventure and the adventure takes driving.”
To make sure they were doing things the right way, Dad set a few ground rules for his boys. First, the trio wouldn’t miss a day of school to complete the checklist, meaning just about every weekend this season required a long drive from Denver to their destination of choice. Second, they would spend a full day at every mountain, rather than double or triple-dip to speed things up. It was all about the experience, and the chance to dig their skis into every last mountain was the reward for four- and five-hour drives.
“I’m not a first-chair-to-last-chair type of guy — I like to enjoy my time — but I told the boys that we should always feel like we skied the area,” JB Bissell said. “I wanted us to get the full experience and that sometimes made it tough. It was difficult.”
The adventure started in luscious powder at Keystone the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. Then, they started making the long drives to far-off areas: Wolf Creek after Thanksgiving, the Aspen-area resorts soon after, the Telluride area after that. Some areas were completely brand-new to the crew, like Durango, but they were able to find something they enjoyed with every trip.
“Every mountain we found something that stood out,” JB Bissell said. “It was very cool. My wife didn’t ski everywhere with us, but she went to a lot of them, and she made the comment one time about how cool it is to drive around my home state and see places I’ve never seen, like Durango.”
As the season wore on, the crew stuck with their plan even when things weren’t easy. They skied every Saturday and Sunday in January except for the AFC Championship game — Bissell was at Sports Authority Field at Mile High watching the Broncos beat the Patriots — but had to miss long stretches during Christmas break and spring break. Come March they were back at it in force with day trips, hitting up Vail, a family favorite, and a slew of other Interstate-70 mountains.
Surprisingly, the Bissell’s rarely dealt with traffic and sketchy conditions — except for the trip to Vail. It was a powder Wednesday, and so Dad decided to break one of his ground rules and take the boys out of school. Luckily, school was canceled anyway, but it didn’t make the five-hour drive through snarled Denver traffic any easier.
“We powered through it, got up there, skied, and they didn’t even complain about that,” JB Bissell said. “They really bought into the idea that all of this — the driving, the hotels, getting up early for the next place — was part of the whole adventure.”
Bissell and his boys found something to enjoy at every resort, but their trip to Silverton stands out as a highlight.
“That is easily a top-five experience of my life, just because I did it with my boys,” Bissell said. “The entire experience is incredible. You realize that this is what skiing should be. That made for a huge weekend.”
And a huge season.
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