DO NOT under any circumstances buy lift tickets at the mountains. Discounted tickets for Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin were available at our hotel and at most ski shops throughout the area. The savings can be considerable. For example, a one-day ticket for Breckenridge is $63 at the mountain; Keystone is $61. The discounted rate is $55. For more skiing, prices are even better. Tickets good for three days of skiing out of five are $135, or $45 a day, and may be used at Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe. You can even use the multi-day ticket one of the three days at the obscenely overpriced Vail ($71 for a one day ticket) or Beaver Creek ($67).
We ski out west each year, but forgot how the Summit County altitude affects us. When you ski the Salt Lake City areas, at the end of the day you head down to the city, elevation about 4500'. If you ski Lake Tahoe, in the evening you come down to 6500'. But if you ski Summit County and stay in Frisco, you come down to 9100' overnight... and this can be a hardship for people who live near sea level! You don't have as much oxygen available at this altitude to fully recharge your body. It's clearly not as much of an issue for folks who live in Denver, but simply turning over in bed occasionally had us gasping for breath.
Frisco was selected one of the best towns for ski bums by Ski Magazine. We took that to mean that prices for food and lodging would be more affordable than other places and there'd be plenty of skiing available. Well, I guess that's true. We also expected there'd be an active night life. There isn't... but it's available 8 miles down the road in Breckenridge.
We were last in Frisco 12 years ago, and the town has changed. Where it used to be a slightly raggy Western town with one main street, a lot of the run down buildings are gone, replaced with generic Western ski town buildings. They're newer and cleaner, but the essential character, the comfortable funkyness of Frisco, is gone. Route 9 off I-70 is showing some unattractive suburban strip malling, too.
But we came to ski, planning to bounce around to a couple of mountains. We'd feel pretty dumb to have a pricey slope-side condo at Keystone then start half our days by strapping skis onto the roofrack and driving away. Better to economize by staying in Frisco and drive out each morning to wherever we felt like going.
Unfortunately, our trip followed a major storm which limited our options. Loveland had problems with power, as avalances took out electric lines to the area. We also stayed away from Arapahoe Basin, since so much of the skiing is above timberline and we needed the protection of the trees. Breckenridge and Keystone were both worth skiing more than once though!