Glory Days on the T-Bar

The Breckenridge Horseshoe T-Bar is our writer, Ellen Hollinshead, favorite lift in all of Colorado

Before the internet, webcams, cell phones, there was the radio. My daily ritual was to catch the first snow report on Krystal 93 and then simply look out the window to see if it conflicted. In those days, the early 90’s, we lived in a condo close to the base of 8 and therefore the most accurate snow totals were found on the deck chairs out on our porch.

These were my glory years, when I easily racked up a hundred days at Breckenridge along with my free-the-heel Peak 8 posse. Most locals skied Peak 8, because Peak 9 was often busier with all the base area lodging and easy terrain. A five minute walk in my telemark boots up Ski Hill Road to the base of 8, and I was quickly on my way to the Breckenridge Horseshoe T-Bar, my favorite lift in all of Colorado.

The T-Bar is not for everyone, especially for snowboarders who have trouble figuring out how to ride it (although there are many accomplished snowboarders out there). Even skiers of different heights can find it challenging. Couple that with the blustery winds that rip across the side of your face and turn the alpine bowls into slabby technical skiing or whiteout firm buff,  and the T-Bar quickly weeds out the faint of heart, which is why I loved it.

I could usually count on running into my buddies at the T-Bar, and we were easy to find since Laura, Sara and I all wore matching Patagonia one piece suits (warm and so comfortable – these need to make a comeback!) Sue and Dave worked late nights and usually showed up for the midday shift. But in those days, the mantra ‘there are no friends on a powder day’ was very true. We never waited for friends, too hard when there were rarely lift lines and if there were, yelling single was much easier back then since there weren’t metal barriers and a quick duck under a rope got you to the front of the line.

So many days like this one. Two inches on the radio, five more on my porch. The maze was empty, despite it being a weekend. All the alpine fast guys were already up there – CJ Mueller, Pup and Kopicky’s gang, and of course my tele skier tribe of Caren Mapes and Leslie Ross (competitive Tele skiers), Paul Parker (who wrote the book on telemarking), Bonnie and Connie – to name a few. We all knew each other, but socializing wasn’t the point, it was all about getting back on the T-Bar as fast as possible. 

My hubby, who had a morning TV show, would show up later in the day for a few ‘hikes’ up Imperial and Peak 7, (today all lift accessed.) And this was what he and I loved so much about the T-Bar. A half hour hike got you to the summit of Imperial, usually with no one else around, and then untouched powder down Whales Tail, to a short bootpack up to the 7 summit. One glorious run down Magic Carpet, and back to the T-Bar for more. 

The T-Bar and all the unique higher terrain hold a special place in my heart. I was incredibly lucky to have my glory days when I did – the right time, the right place, with all the right people.


Publishers Note: The T-Bar is still beloved and folks are willing to stand in line for hours to catch fresh tracks after patrol gives the all-clear! This was the joy everyone was feeling on the last day of the 2023/24 season.

A Last Cheer for the 2023/24 Season

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