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How bad is this Xmas for Utah? - Page 2

post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

 

The bar is much lower for local skiing.  It's a daytrip, no lodging cost, airfares, etc.  The more $ I'm putting up in advance the higher my expectation needs to be that skiing will be worth it.  Christmas week usually fails that common sense test because costs are at maximum and it's early enough in the season that the risk of inadequate snow is much more than it will be mid-January and later, especially if you want to ski steep ungroomed terrain.

 

There were quite a few of these slow start seasons back in the late 80's/early 90's.   We've been mostly spoiled over the past decade.  Early season is overrated, late season is underrated.  More people need to spend their ski vacation $ accordingly.  Just say no to Christmas week and do your family skiing during February (some Northeast states) and/or spring breaks as I did for 15+ years with kids.



You bring up some good points here. Early season skiing is always a crap shoot, and this year is no different. I guess I just figured people would be factoring that in when they shelled out the money for a X-Mas vacation. Although, I am more of a roll with it kind of person, so even if the skiing is abysmal, I'm confident I can rustle up a good time no matter what.

 

As far as the bar being higher for ski trips, kind of like you said, how often will you actually clear that bar for steep ungroomed terrain around X-Mas? I just used my local hill as an example because I do live in an area that attracts a lot of destination skiers, and the skiing is far from push the abort button bad.

post #32 of 38

I was in Utah during a similar Christmas week in 1986-87 (12 inches snow at Alta in Dec. 1986).   BCC will be the least crowded. 

Quote:
Alta is skiing well. Snowbird stole a large chunk of my ptex.

That was my experience that Christmas week.

 

27 inches natural snow at Park City means it will be 100% manmade.   It is currently 21% open.  This is a recipe for very unpleasant skiing if it's crowded. In 1986  some of the people there fled to the Cottonwood areas.  Snowbasin (30% open) and Powder Mt. (7% open) are good crowd escapes but currently skiing is unlikely any better than the Park City group.

 

Quote:
I do live in an area that attracts a lot of destination skiers, and the skiing is far from push the abort button bad.

Percents open: Breck 32%, Vail 27%, Copper 21%,  Loveland 17%, Keystone 13%, Winter Park 11%, A-Basin 9%.   Sounds a lot like Park City to me.   I would not want to be any of these places come Dec. 26 when the thundering hordes arrive.

 

Quote:
I guess I just figured people would be factoring that in when they shelled out the money for a X-Mas vacation.

Sadly, no.  And most of the places above will be near 100% open when they close in mid-April due to lack of destination skiers.

 

Quote:
how often will you actually clear that bar for steep ungroomed terrain around X-Mas?

Probably 3/4 of the time at Whistler and Altabird.   2/3 at Jackson I'd guess.  Less than half at most Colorado areas for true steeps (a lot less at A-Basin and Crested Butte).  The Sierra is feast or famine: loaded with snow and a deep base last year, almost a complete wipeout this year.  Alta is far from what's normal this year but not a wipeout.  Whistler reports full operation as of last weekend.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 12/19/11 at 11:16pm
post #33 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

I was in Utah during a similar Christmas week in 1986-87 (12 inches snow at Alta in Dec. 1986).   BCC will be the least crowded. 

That was my experience that Christmas week.

 

27 inches natural snow at Park City means it will be 100% manmade.   It is currently 21% open.  This is a recipe for very unpleasant skiing if it's crowded. In 1986  some of the people there fled to the Cottonwood areas.  Snowbasin (30% open) and Powder Mt. (7% open) are good crowd escapes but currently skiing is unlikely any better than the Park City group.

 

Percents open: Breck 32%, Vail 27%, Copper 21%,  Loveland 17%, Keystone 13%, Winter Park 11%, A-Basin 9%.   Sounds a lot like Park City to me.   I would not want to be any of these places come Dec. 26 when the thundering hordes arrive.

 

Sadly, no.  And most of the places above will be near 100% open when they close in mid-April due to lack of destination skiers.

 

Probably 3/4 of the time at Whistler and Altabird.   2/3 at Jackson I'd guess.  Less than half at most Colorado areas for true steeps (a lot less at A-Basin and Crested Butte).  The Sierra is feast or famine: loaded with snow and a deep base last year, almost a complete wipeout this year.  Alta is far from what's normal this year but not a wipeout.  Whistler reports full operation as of last weekend.



I'm surprised you put the odds so high at Jackson and so low for Colorado. I thought I read in some other threads that the prevailing wisdom with Jackson was that it wasn't a particularly good bet for early season skiing (I only mention this because I'm headed there for the first time in the second week of Jan, and my expectations are very low for conditions). I definitely could be wrong, my memory ain't what it used to be.

 

Those percents open do look ugly, but that can change pretty fast.

 

I guess I'm wired differently than some in that good, bad, or ugly conditions, I'm still having a good time on a Christmas vacation. I'm a pretty avid fisherman, and I've had some trips where we just got unmercifully dumped on with rain all week, but I still had a blast. At the end of the day, I was on a vacation with close friends and family, and that mattered more to me than how many fish I caught. I apply that same logic to ski trips (and I do venture beyond the Front Range). I can't think back on a single trip that was a total bust.

post #34 of 38

 

Quote:
I'm surprised you put the odds so high at Jackson and so low for Colorado.

Jackson averages 372 inches mid-mountain with 58% of the snow in the first half of the season.  Only a few places in Colorado are over 300 and snow is more evenly distributed by month. March is the highest average snow month at many Colorado areas, and the dropoff in April snowfall vs. winter months is the least of any ski region. 

 

I've just done a systematic review of 11 years of my season progress reports to find average percents of terrain open at this time of year for selected areas:
Alta 92%, Snowbird 80%, Whistler 72%, Jackson 69%.     For steep mountains in Colorado and New Mexico we have Crested Butte 50% (with North Face open by Christmas about 15% of seasons), Taos 42%.   For Front Range Colorado I have an old database which gives me 18 years for A-Basin, average 33% open.  

 

That same database has lots of other Colorado areas which look better because of not so many steeps, and Jackson-like snowfall in this first group:  Vail 81%, Steamboat 77%,  Winter Park 66%, Loveland 65%.   Finally, Keystone 56%, Breckenridge 55%, Copper 44%.

Quote:
I guess I'm wired differently than some in that good, bad, or ugly conditions, I'm still having a good time on a Christmas vacation.

I completely agree that once I'm committed I usually try to make the best of it.  In the worst case scenarios I have occasionally fled my original destination to someplace better or postponed to later in the season.  But most people do not have unlimited $ and vacation time.  Thus spending the time and $ at Christmas IS taking those resources away from an alternative time when the cost will be lower and the skiing most likely better.  Hopefully the data above will inform advanced skiers in particular in planning trips in future seasons.  Note also that when an area is say, 70% open, the 30% that isn't is usually what's most important to the experts.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 12/20/11 at 4:30pm
post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

 

Jackson averages 372 inches mid-mountain with 58% of the snow in the first half of the season.  Only a few places in Colorado are over 300 and snow is more evenly distributed by month. March is the highest average snow month at many Colorado areas, and the dropoff in April snowfall vs. winter months is the least of any ski region. 

 

I've just done a systematic review of 11 years of my season progress reports to find average percents of terrain open at this time of year for selected areas:
Alta 92%, Snowbird 80%, Whistler 72%, Jackson 69%.     For steep mountains in Colorado and New Mexico we have Crested Butte 50% (with North Face open by Christmas about 15% of seasons), Taos 42%.   For Front Range Colorado I have an old database which gives me 18 years for A-Basin, average 33% open.  

 

That same database has lots of other Colorado areas which look better because of not so many steeps, and Jackson-like snowfall in this first group:  Vail 81%, Steamboat 77%,  Winter Park 66%, Loveland 65%.   Finally, Keystone 56%, Breckenridge 55%, Copper 44%.

I completely agree that once I'm committed I usually try to make the best of it.  In the worst case scenarios I have occasionally fled my original destination to someplace better or postponed to later in the season.  But most people do not have unlimited $ and vacation time.  Thus spending the time and $ at Christmas IS taking those resources away from an alternative time when the cost will be lower and the skiing most likely better.  Hopefully the data above will inform advanced skiers in particular in planning trips in future seasons.  Note also that when an area is say, 70% open, the 30% that isn't is usually what's most important to the experts.


 

Thanks for all that info. Maybe I'll raise the bar of expectations a tad for my mid January Jackson Hole trip (oodles of time for more snowfall there though).

 

I didn't mean to slightly hijack this thread, but I'm kinda happy I did. Learned a lot here. Kinda why I love this place, such a great wealth of info.

 

 

post #36 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
Thanks for all the info Tony, it's valuable and appreciated, but Yes & NO. 
First of all, anyone who is planning a ski trip for Christmas is doing it for one reason - it's Christmas!  For whatever reason they have the time off and want to spend that time in the mountains, getting their almost guaranteed White Christmas we might say.  And for whatever reason they already accept the extra bucks and crowds included in the deal.  Probably very few of them are planning a balls out experts trip (usually guys only), but instead are going to the mtns for a nice family time or they just want to be somewhere besides their own town for the Holidays.  It's Holidays first, skiing second. 
Hopefully, though they will look at those stats you posted and try to get somewhere that at least has a good chance of being mostly open.  The last place i would want to be is a couple thousand miles away from my immediate or extended family for Christmas, but it apparently is a very popular time to go skiing for that very reason. 

 

post #37 of 38

A Christmas update from Park City: Skiing is surprisingly good, considering.  Most of the blue groomers are open at PCMR and Deer Valley because of extensive snowmaking. The temperatures have been below freezing pretty much for the last six weeks and the guns have laid down a lot of snow. They have done an exceptional job of moving the guns and grooming, so the snow quality is very close to natural. It's best to hit it early, before the crowds come out, and have fun cruising the corduroy. None of the back bowls at PCMR are open yet, for good reason, although it's not unusual for them to open until after Christmas. Alta has all lifts open, and the groomers are excellent. Have not risked my skis off trail, perhaps another hardier soul can chime in. Weather is clear, sunny and cold throughout the Wasatch. Here's Alta's weather report. "Chance of snow" doesn't sound promising, but in the Cottonwoods it often means likely.

 Those are the resorts I have first hand knowledge of.  Merry Christmas!

 

 

Here's a crummy phone shot of the superpipe at PCMR.

 

PCMRSuperpipe.jpg

post #38 of 38

Ive skied the Canyons twice and Park City yesterday (Christmas). PCMR was great on all the groomers. To me no difference at all between that and natural stuff. Canyons was great also with everything from Tombstone to Super Condor open. Not all the runs but a lot of area to ski. Great time overall and I actually prefer it this way to the pouring snow while tracking the family around the slopes. If this is the slowest start in Utah in a while I guess that means the following Christmas' will be great. I usually come here in late Jan. Only depressing part was to see areas where there is little or no snow coverage while your on the lifts. 

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