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Stratton intermediate skier in Vail - Need Guidance from those who have skied both

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I (40 years old) learnt skiing last year at Stratton - a couple of lessons and then grinding it out first on greens till it clicked and then blues and finally a couple of black runs (Upper Standard, Upper Tamarack). Skied about 20 days last year.  Did chicken out on the two places where Polar bear is a bit steep (felt like fall off) where i sideslipped my way down those two parts.


The Ski I used all season was the Rossi S86 162 cm (I am 5" 11', 185-190 pounds with moderate althleticism)


We are going to Vail the week before Christmas. Given the Flaton reputation and my abilities, at Vail, I am planning to start with the greens and then go with the Easy blues and then go to the harder blues (if I am ok with the easy blues first)


Q1:  WHich blue Ski runs I should do? which should I stay away from until I have mastered the easy blues?


Q2: Do I need a longer ski (I have a super s7 195 cm bought in a sale at end of season, but think thats mostly towards the end of the week and only if it snows a lot), If so any suggestions (but only if you think the s86 doesn't cut it.


Q3: Are there any runs in the bowls I could try given above skill level (or is that a pipe dream)? Was hoping to do some powder skiing if it snows and try the SUPER S7


Q4: If I take a lesson, am I better off taking the group lesson (all day) or the Max 3 lesson


and lastly


Q5:  Is the ultimate 4 worth it  (for my 5 yr old son who skiied in the stratton seasonal program for 20 days last year scan ski the Stratton greens and the lower standard (blue run) or should I stick to the 6 pack prepaid (which costs half the ultimate 4)? What run should I do with him on the first day (we reach there around 2 pm ish so will have time to catch a couple of runs that day before the ski school the next day



Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 8


Been skiing Stratton since ’78 and had the epic pass for the last two seasons. So I’ll give it a go – point for point – no BS.


  1. Blues at both Vail & Stratton are almost the same level. Vail is known as an intermediate paradise and it is definitely true. It also have harder stuff but that is another story. So you are going to have a good time. Just stay off the Black stuff and you will be fine.  Initial terrain selection will depend on where you start your day. Lionshead side of the hill have tons of greens & blues (almost no black). Since your son is 5 and in school , you will probably start him at Golden Peak. In that case go up chair 6 and hook up to chair 11 (Northwoods). The Northwoods trail is a nice wide blue run off 11. From top of 11 you can take timberline catwalk to Chair 14. Sourdough (14) is a short lift with really nice groomed green runs. Also from top of 11 you can go towards chair 4 (Mountaintop) and find quite a few good blue runs like Whistle pig, EXpresso & Cappuccino. There is nothing on the Vail blues that looks like the first drop @ Polar Bear – so don’t worry – just go skiing.  
  2. The S86 162 cm is a bit short for your height & weight but not your ability level. You will be fine. In fact the S7 195 cm may be too long a ski for your ability level. The S86 will be fine.
  3. You are in luck – Vail generally have a groomed blue trail to the bottom of every open chair in their back bowls. So you’ll be fine – just stay on the yellow brick road. However, if it dumps – Take a lesson. You’ll need it. I know from experience Stratton pack down all the fresh snow prior to opening a trail to the general public. So I know you don’t have any powder experience. Instead of re-inventing the wheel – buy a consultant that know what a wheel looks like.       
  4. If you are the sociable type – take the group lesson. If you are the typical type A control freak New Yorker – go for the semi-private one.
  5. Don’t do flights, car rentals, Lodging and/or tickets/passes. My boss does all that. I’m just the driver & porter – Not allow to deal with real live humans. If you want a few run at the end of day – go ski Lionshead.


Have a good time – I know you will. Vail is really laid back & mellow in terms of skiing. Relating to your experience on Polar Bear – Stay away from the Vail Blacks and you’ll be fine.     

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks very helpful.  That's very encouraging. 

post #4 of 8

Good info from KingGrump.  The difference between eastern and western skiing is overblown.  At least on the green and blue groomers.  If you can handle the blues in Vermont on a frozen grannular day, the western blues are a piece of cake.  The generally softer packed powder conditions makes everyone a hero.  The blacks and double blacks are a somewhat different story.  Somewhat different skills needed to handle the steeper bowls and glades compare to the icy bumps that make up most eastern expert terrain.   

post #5 of 8

Agreed, good advice.  I will add that Vail has free mountain tours tailored to all different levels.  Went on one with my sone when he was an intermediate skier.  It was a wonderful way to learn the lay of the land and was fun skiing with a group of people.  We all grabbed lunch together at 2 Elks afterward.


If you like Stratton you will love Vail!

post #6 of 8

Above advice is all good. If you can ski blues at Stratton in east coast conditions Vail blues will be a piece of cake. For something a little different try China Bowl. You will be able to handle it unless there is a lot of snow.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies and the vote of confidence. I am likley to be there for 10 days, depending on how well i am doing on the blues, which are the one or two easiest black runs (its relative, i guess) i could venture on?



post #8 of 8


I grew up in the East, and still live there unfortunately.  Almost all of my skiing each year is in Colorado, Vail specifically.  You will have no problems and I imagine will love the terrain.  I've always felt that the skiing is easier out West since the conditions are so much better, wider trails, less crowded, etc.  As for some of the recommendations, Whistlepig is a great blue bump run but might not be up your alley, Northwoods can be fun but a bit of a Kamikaze downhill later in the day, Blue Ox off of highline is groomed sometimes, also NorthStar and even Gandy Dancer when groomed would be good tougher trails, Poppyfields in back is huge and always groomed, The safest taste of off-piste terrain is probably Faro/Ouzo in Game Creek, they are short and pretty mellow, they face the sun so the snow softens up, plus easy in and out if you don't like it.  A bit tougher in back would be Wow, after the initial narrower bumped section it opens up to huge bowl, usually more crud and chop then formed bumps, but a pretty long trail overall.  The mountain tour is a great idea.  And I can't recommend getting lessons enough, that's why I married a former Beavercreek instructor.  Enjoy.    

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