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Summit County Questions

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

The flights to SLC from Buffalo aren't yet looking good price/time-wise, and the group might want a change of pace after two years going to Utah... The next best I figure logistically would be Colorado... especially if we make the trek down to Detroit where we can fly direct on numerous airlines.  


We are advanced skiers and boarders (definitely not experts).  As such, on our first and only visit to Colorado (in '05) we liked Vail and Keystone but did not like the low vert of the lifts at Breckenridge and did not like the uber-posh feel of Beaver Creek (the snow was the worst of the four too by a good margin, and the layout wasn't the best either)... valet parking... really????? 


That said here are my questions...


  1. I think one day at Vail would be in order.  I figure we could cough up the mega-price of a one-day pass, because it was the fave last time.  If they lowered ticket prices, I think we'd be good there for 4 days of our 5, but the prices are just too high, even if you go multi-day.  After that, I'd hook into a bunch of 2 for 1 coupons I've seen in floating around in past years for Copper and Winter Park, probably with a day at Loveland too.  All that said, does Copper and Winter Park serve up a lot more fun for an advanced group than Breck... especially in the lift/run length dept.
  2. I think we'd shoot for an early arrival on day 1 and go for a half day somewhere... possibly Loveland or Keystone for the night skiing... is that good?  
  3. On the last day (when we fly out), I think I read Winter Park is best for I-70 traffic avoidance... is that right?  If we had a 7:00pm flight at DEN, what time would be safe in leaving WP?  2pm?
  4. Last time, we stayed at Breckenridge, and the altitude was felt by pretty all of us to varying degrees.  I'd definitely like to stay lower if it will help. Would Georgetown work as a base since it's about 1000ft lower?  What about Idaho Springs which is 2000ft lower... (too far)?  Would a place in Dillon or Silverthorne help vs Breckenridge given they are only about 500-750ft lower than Breck?  Any other ideas?



Any other suggestions would be appreciated too!  That said, if Southwest added the morning flight they had last year for BUF-SLC and/or dropped the prices back down, we'll probably be back in Utah.wink.gif



post #2 of 10

Some comments from a Eastern skier that spends 3 weeks in Summit County each winter.


A condo in Dillon, Silverthorne or Frisco is a good choice if you are going to ski different resorts.  Much less expensive than staying right at a resort.  You can ski all the Summit County areas and its a fairly short drive to Vail and BC.  Not worth the extra drive from Georgetown or Idaho Springs each day just to reduce the altitude a bit.   


Copper is a very nice area and much better deals compared to the Vail Resorts.  Breckenridge is definitely worth reconsidering.  The terrain on Peak 8, particularly the upper bowls, is amazing.  Keystone is great for long intermediate/advanced groomers and the trees on the Outback.  Night skiing is OK for a warmup on Day 1, but limited to a handful of runs on the front side.  Loveland is a good choice for a warmup on Day 1 if you can get there in time for a 1/2 day.  And don't miss A-Basin, especially if you liked Alta in Utah. 


I70 traffic can be awful, but primarily in the morning out of Denver on Saturday and Sunday, and afternoons on Sunday heading back to Denver.  That said, an accident or bad weather can mess things up at any time.  Allow lots of extra time.  I always ski my last day and then drive to Denver to spend the night in a motel off I70 to catch an early flight out the next day.  



post #3 of 10

When someone says Summit County I think Abasin, even if you think "Alta is for skiers..............................who don't have a snowbird pass" biggrin.gif


Originally Posted by JimH View Post

  And don't miss A-Basin, especially if you liked Alta in Utah. 

If getting acclimated is a concern maybe spend your first night in Denver and get a bit of a head start on it. I didn't get sick but it took me two days to acclimate.


post #4 of 10

1. I am guessing that you will enjoy Copper quite a bit -- but I'm not sure you want to ski both there and Winter Park. It's not the easiest drive -- not terrible, either, but you have to go through the tunnel and then up and over Berthoud Pass. If there is weather or an accident, it could be a huge PITA. In good conditions, you're looking at an hour drive, probably? Not sure. Personally, I would save WP for its own trip. Or, going one day in good weather ON A WEEKDAY would probably work out fine.


2. That would work, most likely, but if you have altitude issues, you might save that day to acclimate a bit.


3. If you want to ski Loveland, do it the last day. WP avoids the tunnel traffic, but not the Georgetown-Idaho Springs traffic. Loveland is just closer, and there is no Berthoud Pass to worry about. If you are flying out on a weekday and weather is good, and things go fairly perfectly, I would leave LL by 1:30 (WP earlier than that) . You'll probably be early, but lots can happen on I-70. Plus, you will also hit Denver late-afternoon traffic, which can be snarly. If you are flying out on a weekend, I would leave LL about 12:30, maybe 1. With weather, about noon. 


4. Yes, staying lower (even in Frisco or Dillon) will help a little bit. I base this on my niece and nephew, preemie twins who lived in Breck and who (according to the doctor) had to be on supplemental oxygen a couple of weeks longer than if they were just down the hill even 800 ft. If you are really worried about altitude, and really want to ski Vail, Vail is about 8200 ft. Look at your trip as a whole, and maybe save money in other places (use Vail's bus rather than renting a car, don't stay in the village but maybe East Vail or somewhere else on the bus route), book lodging and tickets together, etc., and you might find that just staying in one spot (and feeling healthier) saves some money over lots of driving around everywhere. 

post #5 of 10

The OP said they were advanced, definitely not expert, skiers and boarders.  And given they didn't like Breck, I suspect they would not enjoy A-Basin.  There is a ton of excellent terrain at Breck, but it is expert skiing, and requires skiing the top of the mountain (Imperial, T-Bar, and E-Chair).  If they didn't find that last time, then perhaps they didn't know where to look, or perhaps it was above their head.  In any case, if you ain't skiing the Pali, the East Wall, and the steeps of Montezuma, then the Basin is ok, but not great (IMHO).  You'd be much better off at Keystone, Breck, Copper, WP, Loveland, etc., where you'll have more terrain to choose from.


Staying in Georgetown or Idaho Springs would definitely put you at lower elevation, but you'll wind up fighting traffic each morning to Summit County.  And it's still a bit of a haul.  If you really want to stay at lower elevation, why not stay in Vail, at BC, or in Avon?  Then you'd be headed counter traffic each day.  Or stay the first night or two on the far side of Vail Pass, then move to Summit County to allow a bit more acclimation?


As to traffic back on Sunday, there are various choke points that affect the flow.  The first is the tunnel.  Skiing Loveland (or the Basin, if you come back via Loveland Pass) avoids that.  Next is the downhill slide through to Empire, where US 40 merges and causes a huge backup.  Skiing Winter Park avoids that, although you do then have to deal with Berthoud Pass.  Once past Empire, it'll be slow going for the next 10 miles to Floyd Hill, but the highway becomes 3 lanes at that point and opens up. One alternative is to ski Breckenridge Sunday and return via 285 through Fairplay.  It'll add an hour to your commute, but it generally is more dependable than I-70.  Unless the weather is horrendous, you'd be able to ski until 2 or 2:30 and hit the airport with sufficient time to catch a 7 PM flight.



post #6 of 10

Know what you mean about altitude.  It degrades my sleep even after 4/5 nights above 9K, although Diamox can help.  Moderate priced Georgetown Mtn Inn would work although the elevation is still 8500' and not very resortsy.  Avon might be good for the Vail part of trip, elev 7400'.  If you visit Loveland on tail end of trip I could recommend the Quality Inn Suites at the Evergreen exit off 70, about 35 miles East of Loveland and probably about 7300' above sea level.  Commute wasn't too bad and decent motel for the price.

post #7 of 10

a.  Yes, definitely add Copper to your itinerary.  Personally, I don't think Winter Park is worth the drive.  If I was going to get in the car for an hour, I'd spend some more time and either go to Steamboat if it was having a big powder day or drive all the way to Snowmass or Monarch.  


b.  Loveland or Keystone are good choices for a half day.  A Basin too.  (Arrive over Loveland Pass.)


c.   I would think WP could be even worse than Summit Co.  I wouldn't want to be on the other side of Berthoud Pass if I had to catch a flight.  Go ski Loveland instead.  Or go crazy and ski Eldora.


d.  Two ideas.  First, staying a night in Denver can really help.  Arrive, spend a night there, then come up to Summit County.  Second, a lot of people who have "altitude" problems actually just have dehydration issues.  Have headaches?  Got a bloody nose?  You're probably just dehydrated because the humidity is A LOT less than what you're used to.  Drink lots of water.  Try to avoid caffeine drinks in the morning.  A small aspirin regime before you arrive can help as well - maybe one aspirin every six hours the day you're traveling and arrive.  (disclaimer - IANAD - I am not a doctor.  This advice just comes from some wilderness first aid training and seems to have worked for a few friends who had issues.)

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the advice everyone... this site is a credit to the internet!


Some thoughts:


  1. When we were at Breckenridge, the Imperial Chair wasn't there yet.  We did take the T-bar up, but it seemed the wind blew the snow off all the stuff about the treeline... same with the E-chair.  It was like being on a slippery chalkboard or something.  The fact that most of the lifts are in the 1200' vert range really disappointed us.  There are plenty of 1200' hills here in the East which are within driving distance, especially since we can leave on a whim if powder is in the forecast... No sense putting up with the hassles of flying and the uncertainty of what conditions will be to go there. I've never been to A-Basin, but it looks like it's similarily "small" in the lift length range. From the trail map, Copper looks to have a good selection of 2000'+ vert runs so that will suit us.
  2. For day one it looks like if we could hit a couple of hours of Keystone day skiing, topped off with an hour or so of night skiing, that'd be a decent first day, especially since we'll be acclimatizing.
  3. Looks like the last day would be Loveland day. Thanks guys!
  4. One of the biggest thing that hurt us last time was that we got absolutely blasted as soon as we got there, watching the Super Bowl. That was mistake 1... However, the thing that got me worst was bleeding and inflamed sinuses due to the dry air- coupled with my 'then' undiagnosed sleep apnea- all made worse by the thin air.  As soon as I would doze off, I'd wake up choking because of the lack of air.  Closer to the end, I was dousing the floors of my room with water to increase the humidity, but the damage to my sinuses was already done, and my nasal passages were pretty much blocked. Is there a better solution than soaking the floors in the bedroom? frown.gif  Does anyone know the what the best no frills place in the Silverthorne/Dillon area would be... with 'lower altitude' being better? 


So if Colorado is the plan, it looks like Day 1 at Keystone, Day 2/3 would be at Copper/Vail, Day 4 would be a judgement call, and Day 5 would be Loveland... (still so much time though! smile.gif)


post #9 of 10

I live in Summit and the only times I avoid I-70 to Denver is Sunday afternoon and during a storm- storms can't be avoided, but you if you can avoid flying out Sunday night, you will probably get a better priced ticket and hit less traffic.


I really like Copper, but Vail is good also (and well suited for your group)- sometimes it is cheaper to buy a multi-day tix at the Keystone or Breck site and it usually gives you some days at Vail (but LL, Copper, etc will probably still be cheaper).  If there is a chance to extend your trip past 5 days or make it back for a second trip, the A-Basin bonus pass can work well for around $369.

post #10 of 10

As a former Boulder resident, I second the idea of Loveland on the last day if you need to catch a flight. It greatly reduces your risk of being upstream from a major problem, and as I recall you can even see if it looks like a traffic jam is starting and you can adjust your departure time accordingly. A-Basin is not ideal for the last day, because if there is a problem in the tunnel then the road over the pass gets clogged.


Last time I was there (March) I almost missed the red-eye flight after skiing Copper because an overturned gasoline tractor-trailer had closed both directions of I-70 on the western slope below the tunnel. Loveland Pass road was a parking lot.




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