My favorite Peak 9: Spanning the spectrum of extremes
Peak 9 is probably Breck’s most unassuming peak. It is home to the resort’s gentlest terrain and the gliding ground for beginner skiers and riders. Pretty much every never-ever that steps foot on the mountain gets their start at Peak 9. But in addition to its wide open green slopes that, let’s face it, could accurately be described as “flat,” Peak 9 also shelters some of the steepest, most challenging terrain found not only at Breckenridge, but at any resort worldwide.
While some of Peak 9’s intermediate cruisers like Briar Rose fall unquestionably on the mildest side of a blue designation, they are typically way less crowded than blue runs on other peaks and it’s not uncommon to have the entire run to yourself. This is great news for any level of skier or rider wanting to test their switch riding skills on welcoming, forgiving terrain. Other Peak 9 attributes aimed at taking skiers and riders to the next level include the Highway 9 Terrain Park, where you can ease into freestyle moves without launching off the mini mountains or life-sized rainbow rails of Peak 8’s pro-level Freeway Terrain Park. The Highway 9 Park’s jumps are the perfect practice grounds for dialing in a trick or getting that first taste of replacing the solid ground under your moving board with thin air. For those who prefer to keep their boards on the snow at all times, Peak 9 is the place to ramp up your jetpacks. On the EpicMix racecourse, you can channel your inner Lindsey Vonn blazing through the gates at top speed, testing your time against your previous clock or going up against friends, family and anyone else in the Mix.
Make no mistake, there is a steady progression of steepness on Peak 9. From those plate-like greens and blues, the slope angle takes on a clear slant on blues like Columbia and Gold King. When freshly groomed, you pretty much can’t beat the wind-in-your-face exhilaration of sailing down the smooth steeps of American, Peerless or Volunteer.
And here’s where we get to Peak 9’s most winning characteristic – its double black offerings. Situated on the peak’s north-facing ridge, the lack of direct sun keeps the snow spongy and edgeable at the very least and at the very best, knee-deep in dry, delicious powder that poofs into your face with every jump turn. The runs under E-Chair are wall-steep in places. Let’s be clear that these trails, aptly bearing names like Devil’s Crotch, Inferno and Mine Shaft, are not for the feint-hearted or anyone wanting to notch a double black-rated trail onto their list of bragging rights (go to Imperial Bowl for that … it’s wider and easier to negotiate). No, the runs under E-Chair are steep and narrow, lined with trees and boulders, meaning that tight, masterfully controlled turns are crucial. If you lose your footing, you will lose a fair amount of vertical before you stop sliding, which is especially humbling if it happens on Tom’s Baby (named after a giant gold nugget discovered here during the mining days), directly under the chairlift.
A handful of trips down these runs and you’ve pretty much got your workout in for the day. If it’s not enough, there’s always the option of taking your penchant for tight turns up a notch … among the dense trees of the Windows, or hiking above and beyond The Mercury SuperChair to what is bound to be a magical blanket of untouched snow on The Back 9.
Yes, Peak 9 truly does have something for everyone, from the most benign expanses of broad learning grounds to the steepest, narrowest, tree runs. Whatever your preference, you’ll have no trouble finding a line to call your own here