For the past 18 years, my husband has been telling me men are better drivers than women. I honestly didn’t expect to finally prove him wrong, 14,000 feet up a Colorado mountain, as he crashed a $10,000 snowmobile into a bridge.
We had up until then been enjoying the most spectacular tour through glittering white peaks. But the crunching sound of shattering plastic silenced even the Huskies!
I’m an understanding wife, so I refused to the let the $300 repair bill ruin our trip to Breckenridge.
I’e always wanted to ski in the States, but Colorado is a long flight away and a big investment when we have some wonderful European destinations on our doorstep.
But from the moment I made my way down that first sweeping wide open run, I was converted. The snow was so light and fluffy: the softest powder imaginable.
Breckenridge is a Colorado town at the base of the Rocky Mountains. It’s easy to get to from Denver Airport, and hiring a Jeep Wrangler is a really fun way to travel.
The town is perhaps not as well-known as its more upmarket neighbour Vail – both of which boast flourishing Jewish communities – but it should be. Walking down Maine Street, with its colourful buildings from the 1800s, clapboard shopfronts and swing door saloons, was a bit like being on the set of a Wild West movie.
It was hardly surprising the kids adopted a “yee-haw” shriek every time they bombed another run.
Without doubt, the biggest difference between a European and North America ski holiday is the altitude.
Breckenridge sits at 2,926 metres above sea level – and that’s before you’ve even got on a chairlift.
The first few days we found it hard to sleep while we acclimatised, and while it never got so bad that we had to use the Oxygen Bar in the hotel, we did pause for breath more than once during the short walk back from town. Those spin classes I did in training were a complete waste of time!
The ski area is right in town and if you stay at the DoubleTree Hilton, the lifts are just across the road – always handy when you are with children who moan that they can’t carry their own skis.
There are five areas to ski, numbered from six to 10, and they hold plenty of great pistes for all abilities, from the wide, rolling runs of Peak 7 to the more advanced Peak 8.
The Imperial Express lift is the highest in North America, taking you up to 3,961m. If you have the energy, you can even hike to the peak. Suffice to say, we didn’t!
The pistes range from backcountry bowls to gentle groomers and they are all brilliantly laid out and mapped.
Our ski pass enabled us to spend a day in Vail, but it was snowing so heavily you couldn’t see a foot in front of you. Plus, I got caught under a chair lift and the whole system had to be shut down, so it was hardly my greatest moment.
From what we did see, Vail has a bit more of the glamour about it and the ski area is vast – spread across some 5,000 acres. You really only get the smallest of tasters in one day.
What I loved more about ‘Breck’ in comparison was the empty slopes. There was hardly a soul on them. Forget looking over your shoulder for manic snow boarders whizzing past you, the only people I had to watch out for were my two boys, who were insistent on beating their own speed record.
The Americans have an incredibly efficient lift system too. There’s no hanging around waiting for your friends so you can all get on the same chair. You go when you’re told by the ski patrollers and you share with whoever you get.
Of course, this is the States, so most rides are spent with overly chatty strangers who drool over your English accent. It’s all part of the experience – just like the cold!
Daily temperatures peaked at -9°C and our comfortable hotel made it hard to leave our nice, warm beds. Two super kings as standard in every room made even sharing with the kids bearable.
A full breakfast is available (at extra cost), but it made just as much sense to grab a coffee and a toasted bagel on the go and be among the first on the chairlifts.
The great thing about just going B&B is the variety. It was lovely to wrap up every night and meander through the snow into Breck for typical American fayre, and Maine Street twinkles as though it’s Chanukah every night of the year.
Eric’s offers great family meals out, but if it’s a bit more of a grown-up meal you fancy, try Twist, set in a building from the 1880s.
Holidays always make memories and these were pretty special, but if there’s one thing my boys will take home from Colorado, it’s the fact that mum is definitely a better driver than dad!
Charlotte stayed at DoubleTree Hilton in Breckenridge (www.hilton.com), where a double room costs $259 (£201) per night, and hired a car with Hertz, which offers seven days car hire from £209 (www.hertz.co.uk). With an Epic Day Pass (www.epicpass.com), guests can ski world-class resorts for as low as $106 (£82) for one day of skiing at any of the company’s US resorts.