Breckenridge Mountain Tour

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The miners who named the vaulting crests of the Ten Mile Range did so by the numbers. Thus the four peaks that cradle Breckenridge's terrain carry unromantic, yet precise, designations. Peaks 7, 8, 9 and 10 spread about a mile apart, each with its distinct topography and appeal. A Breckenridge day begins at two diverse points. At the base of Peak 9, the QuickSilver Super 6 and Beaver Run Superchair move a steady stream of skiers. At the Peak 8 base, nearly a thousand feet upslope on the other end of the complex, two superchairs and two doubles scatter skiers. Access by auto is nettlesome. (Most parking is in massive downtown lots serviced by shuttle buses.) Once on the mountain, skiers enjoy a seemingly limitless selection of terrain-more than 2,000 acres, one-third of it contained in massive bowls above treeline. The route to most of these double-black delights travels through Peak 8, via the Rocky Mountain Superchair for a traverse to the venerable T-bar. Three of the bowls, Horseshoe, Contest and Cucumber, spread out beneath the 12,141-foot apex of the T-bar. Accessing Imperial Bowl, Lake Chutes and the chutes and gullies off Peak 7 requires a 30-minute hike. Skiers with ambition climb to 12,988 feet at the top of Imperial, where views are breathtaking. The thrills continue in the steep gully separating Peaks 8 and 9, an echo of bump runs with names like Mine Shaft and Mach 1. If the handles sound scary, believe it. The lower slopes, however, are swathed in green and blue, the latter often an exaggeration because every trail map needs some. The best intermediate trails are Doublejack, Centennial and Crystal on Peak 10, along with Claimjumper, Northstar and Duke's on Peak 8. Breckenridge is heaven for learners. Forgiving terrain spreads across the lower slopes of Peaks 8 and 9, all with comfy access via quad or six-pack.