This is my 5th winter skiing Vail and I’ll admit that I often just use my same-old, tried-and-true paths around the mountain…over and over again. Do they work? Absolutely. Do I have fun? Always. But everyone needs to change up their routine now and then.
So it was with some excitement that I decided to try out the newest addition to EpicMix, Guide. EpicMix Guide got its start in December of 2014 at a number of Vail Resorts mountains: Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons in Park City, Utah, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and, of course, Vail.
The premise behind this element of the free EpicMix App is to customize routes around the mountain for guests based on their desired terrain type, starting location and length of time. Its main goal is to act as a local expert, helping skiers and riders navigate terrain that may be new to them.
For me, it was a fun way to rediscover the mountain I’ve skied day after day from a different perspective.
My morning started at Gondola One in Vail Village. Since my ski buddy for the day was on the EpicMix app, I walked through the empty singles line straight into a cabin and started up the hill. I could have planned ahead and created Guides at home to save to my EpicMix account, but instead I decided to create one on the fly on the way up the Gondola.
I logged into One’s free wifi and started inputting my information; I had a couple of hours before I had to be at work on that overcast morning with no new snow, so I figured a quick cruise on groomers was the name of the game.
Using that information as well as the latest Vail grooming report, Guide quickly offered up “Pickeroon Explorer”; 2 laps in Game Creek Bowl followed by a fun front side route back to the Vail Village base area. Looked like a perfect morning to me, so I pressed “Start” to begin the journey.
After riding up Wildwood Express Lift (#3), I pulled out Guide to double check my path and then skated over to Lost Boy. After a great warmup down Dealer’s Choice, it was time to get my Hollywood on under Game Creek Express Lift (#7) on Showboat. Honestly, I’m a little chairlift-audience-shy, so without Guide I probably wouldn’t have done Showboat that morning. I’m so glad I did, though, because the groomers had laid down a nice blanket of corduroy.
The Guide then brought me from the top of Game Creek Express down to Pickeroon, cutting left onto Pika to end up on Lodgepole – a route that would be especially welcome to intermediate snowboarders who often get stuck on their way to Lodgepole on the more regularly used Eagle’s Nest Ridge. This was particularly impressive to me because it shows that the Guides not only take you to your favorite parts of the mountain, but also show you fun and less-traveled ways of getting there. By circumventing the more regularly traveled catwalks and runs, Guide shows you new areas while seamlessly maneuvering you around parts of the mountain that can get congested on busier days.
This hugely beneficial aspect of Guide is no accident; it was built with the help of each resorts’ most experienced ski and snowboard instructors. So not only are you getting to know great runs with each Guide, you are learning Instructors’ secret ways around the mountain.
Happy and refreshed from my morning jaunt, I clicked off my skis, took a moment to end my Guide and, of course, let my Twitter followers know about my awesome accomplishment.
I’m excited to mix more Guides into my days on the mountain, not only to get on terrain that is outside of my regular routine, but also to ostensibly pick the brains of Vail’s Instructors – all for free, of course.
Activate your free EpicMix account at www.epicmix.com
Writer Kari Mohr grew up in San Diego, taking ski trips to whatever mountains her family could get to in their well-worn Winnebago over school breaks. She now lives in Vail, dividing her winters between skiing, snowboarding, hanging out with her husband and son, and doing the social media for Vail Mountain.