Well, I just got back from my trip, and wanted to give a quick report of my experiences.
Loveland: So they got some fresh snow the weekend before I showed up, and there was still plenty of fun to be had a day or two later. Snowed again (4-6"?) Thursday night, so we skied it again on Friday, and had an amazing day lapping the bowls and short tree runs. I just love how absolutely wide open the terrain is there. Although it doesn't boast the acreage that some of the other local resorts offer, there is still more than enough to keep skiers of any skill level busy for days. From the beginners of the group to my girlfriend and I, we all had a fantastic time here. Oh yeah, and no lift lines.
A-Basin: After a great snow Monday night, we hit up A-Basin on a wonderful bluebird Tuesday. Hooooooly moly. We had SO much fun there! Montezuma Bowl was great, and although we didn't make it in time for first tracks, we were only like 6th tracks. Haha. With a short hike around the rim of the bowl (and a little pole whacking of the cornice), there was some amazing skiing to be had. Although a trivial issue to some, one of my favorite things about LL and A-Basin is their parking situation. At A-Basin, I was in the second row, and at the end of the day, just skied up to the row my car was in, and was done. I also absolutely loved the vibe at this place! With the exception of a line only a few people deep at the base, no lift lines here, either.
As Mr. Barnes put it, "Both are legends, where the raw, unadulterated spirit of skiing remains alive and well." So true.
Copper Mountain: We spent Wednesday at Copper, and sadly, it mostly mirrored my previous experiences there. Even getting there early, the parking situation was not fun. We were meeting up with some friends, so decided to use the free parking lot. The shuttle dropped us off at a convenient spot, but apparently doesn't pick up at the same spot (thankfully they sent a shuttle to us since there were so many mistakenly waiting there), so at the end of the day, we waited almost half an hour for the shuttle, which then had to make a ton of stops before finally dropping us off. Not the most fun experience after a day of hard skiing from open to close.
Many of the lift lines were insane. Especially the American Flyer, American Eagle, and Timberline lifts. Once we got away from those lifts, things were much better. I did, however, appreciate the excellent lift management and the lifties' service. They were all really cool, even with putting up with insane crowds all days, so kudos to them. All of the frontside runs I found were super icey, hard-packed, and generally the worst conditions I encountered all week. It would appear that Copper is a bit over-zealous with their grooming, and likes to shave off all the powder they can find on the front side. Maybe I'm wrong in my assumption, but it just appeared that way after seeing how little A-Basin & LL groomed, and how much great snow those places still had. Thankfully, I finally went to the back bowls, and THAT'S where the good skiing is at Copper. Stunning views, and with a very long hike toward Copper Peak, found plenty of untracked snow. So lesson learned, if you go to Copper, get away from the groomers as fast as you can, and get to the backside stat. No lift lines, no crowds, and great skiing. Glad I made it back there to change my opinion about the place (just a bit). It's still way down on my hierarchy, though. I still have the same complaints, but at least I found some things I love about the place.
Sadly, we didn't make it to Keystone or Breck, but that's because we had SO much fun at Loveland and A-Basin, that we just had to go back for more. With our Colorado Gems Cards, we got 2 for 1 passes to Loveland, and $10 off at A-Basin. Very nice.
One of the things I noticed, was how utterly friendly all the locals and workers were. The lifties at all mountains were wonderful. The customer service at every place we went to was stellar, and we even made a few new friends while we were there. What an amazing week, and as always, it was so sad to leave, and get back to 90+ degree heat. Thanks Colorado!