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What's the appeal of skiing a mega resort rather than some smaller ski areas? - Page 4

post #91 of 120

Both. On  my first visit to Aspen (I skied all 4 locations) I stayed in Carbondale and had to go to Sunlight to check it out. Both small and large areas have an appeal...it's ALL good!

post #92 of 120


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

I'm not trying to backhand make an argument, but it will probably come out that way because I love the experience of skiing at smaller ski areas. I genuinely want to get some discussion as to why people choose to ski where they do.

 

I'm an economist, and I find myself drawn to asking the "why" questions trying to understand human behavior, and I'm not really sure I understand the motivation people have for spending extra $$$ to ski at at lot of the mega-resorts. To me, I've come to the realization that its just not worth the extra money. I wonder both in terms of the day skier and the person taking a long ski vacation from somewhere else.

 

A little bit of my background that probably colors my viewpoint- I've been Colorado skiing for 30 years. I grew up in Colorado Springs, which means as a kid I skied a LOT of Summit County, Winter Park, and Monarch.  As a kid, I liked skiing places with High-speed lifts, but that was when I was also skiing 95% groomed runs, and IMPORTANTLY, wasn't buying my lift tickets. I also think the crowds were less in the 1980's-1990 as well.

 

Virtually all of my skiing exposure is to Colorado, which is also probably important. I understand in a lot of other areas, the mega resorts may very well have the best snow, terrain etc., which certainly seems to change the nature of the argument.

 

...

 

So, I'm just trying to figure out why it seems so many people see things the other way, and are willing to put up with $100 lfit tickets (or $1000 season passes vs. $300 season passes) $20 parking to ride a 30 minute shuttle to the lifts, $10 beers, etc. To me, the skiing experience is in many/most ways WORSE at a larger resort, let alone the huge monetary difference.

 

To define the argument, I consider small ski areas places like Loveland, Monarch, Arapahoe Basin, Wolf Creek, Sunlight, Eldora, Powderhorn, etc. Less than 2000 acres, largely without high speed lifts, limited or no base development.

 

I consider a large ski area to be places like Vail, the Aspen areas, Breck, Keystone, Winter Park, Steamboat, Telluride. Characterized by large mountains, gondolas and high-speed lifts, large base developments, and in many cases the airport that would not be there if the ski area didn't exist.

 

So, in looking at it by category, I come up with the following categories, and my feelings as to which offers the better skiing experience.

 

Snow amount/quality:

 

Terrain:

 

Speed of lifts/lift lines: 

 

Quality of grooming:

 

Food:

 

Apres Ski:

 

Lodging:

 

Ease of actually day skiing there (or skiing there without on-mountain accomodations): Big edge to the little places. At Sunlight, we gripe when we have to walk more than 75 feet to get to the lodge from the parking lot.  Ski resorts that don't even offer free parking piss me off enormously. I don't enjoy having to take a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the mountain, but accept it. However, a ski area that makes me walk 1/2 mile in ski boots carrying my gear through their bullshit Swiss Village AFTER I GET OFF THE BUS makes me want to punch the developer in the dick until they need serious medical attention. Seriosly, fuck you.

 

Access:

 

So.. What do people think? For those that have a strong preference for big or small, why?

 


Big Difference between 'Small' hill and 'Local'. Most of what I remember of Summit County can hardly be called 'small' relative to terrain - at least not relative to many Midwestern/NE/Mid-Atlantic hills.

You should fall on your knees and worship your parents for having settled in Col Sprgs.

 

Being content during a single day skiing opens a lot more possibilities than a 3+ day trip.

Everyone's idea of fun and skiing contentment is different. For some doing a whole morning, or even day, running gates on one slope is way kool. Forsome hitting a couple of terrain park trails is a whole day of fun.

 

If the minimum you have to drive is 3 hrs one way and can expect rush hr traffic on the way home - is it better to do that drive for one day to a 'small' hill'  or drive 6+ hrs for 2 days at a much bigger hill ... ?

 

hopefully you're anger about how a ski area handles itself is being well managed, or medicated.

you really don;t have to go to an area you 'hate'...

for others, the positives they find there might out weigh whatever they see as negatives.

 

skiing has never been 'cheap' (except when you're young and don;t mind sleeping in a bunk house of 30-40 other bunks for $3 a night - spaghetti dinner included - or curlin up in your sleeping bag in back of the V-Dub)

many of us have to find the Yin Yang balance of Bean-counter and Zen-master of the hill.

 

it's way better to find the 'stoke' in the place you CAN be; than be pissed off at $8 lockers at Mammoth, or the rich folk at the Beav...

 

post #93 of 120

Yes I'm looking forward to it, I sure hope mother nature is agreeable in april.  Thank for the link, good read and video.

post #94 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post


Good point!

 

Colorado is somewhat unique that many of its mega resorts happened to have lame terrain, with the exception of Aspen. Major mega resort with great terrain outside of CO:  Big Sky, Squaw Valley, Whistler etc (besides already mentioned: Jackson Hole and Snowbird).
 

 



I can see calling the terrain lame compared to Jackson Hole or Snowbird/Alta but which CO mega resorts are you comparing to Aspen?  Vail, Steamboat, Crested Butte, Winter Park, Telluride, the 4 Summit Resorts all have terrain equal to or better than Aspen.  I love Aspen but there is nothing particularly great about the terrain.

post #95 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chraya View Post



I can see calling the terrain lame compared to Jackson Hole or Snowbird/Alta but which CO mega resorts are you comparing to Aspen?  Vail, Steamboat, Crested Butte, Winter Park, Telluride, the 4 Summit Resorts all have terrain equal to or better than Aspen.  I love Aspen but there is nothing particularly great about the terrain.


Seriously? I am assuming by terrain, we are saying two seperate things. When I (and I suspect the person that posted this), talk about terrain, what I mean is expert/extreme terrain. 40-50+* pitches (sustained, not 50 vertical feet), cliff bands/drops, cornice drops, steep and tight trees, etc.

 

If you mean terrain in the sense of "how many groomed blue runs the mountain has," I guess your argument makes sense.

 

If you are really arguing that Summit County, Steamboat, Vail, etc. have extreme terrain similar to the Aspen resorts, sorry, I think you are dead wrong.

 

I'll give Crested Butte and Telluride a pass, as depending on what you are looking for, they can certainly dish it.

 

Aspen has Highlands Bowl, giant, 1500 vertical feet of 40-50* pitches, add in as much trees as you want to have. Or Temerity, or the who High Alpine/Cirque aree, with as many cliff drops as you want. 

 

Keystone? Hah hah hah.

 

Steamboat basically marks anything not regularly groomed as black runs on its trail maps, and almost all of the mountain has a terribly mild pitch. Yeah, they have tree skiing, but many other places (Sunlight!) have trees with actual pitch. The only part of the mountain with decent steeps is the Christmas Tree Bowl/Chutes area.  Whee 200 vertical feet and you are back to skiing "black" runs that have a 15* pitch.

 

Breck is certainly better in terms of terrain than the above, but is still a distinct class behind what can be had at the Aspen resorts (or Crested Butte, or Telluride, Or A-Basin). Hell, a lot of Loveland I would put on par with Breck in terms of difficulty.  Maybe even Monarch, but I probably won't try to defend that one.

 

Vail? Yawn.  Sure, there are plenty of wicked cliff bands outside the gates. In the ski area itself, the pitch is very mild. The back bowls are very, very tame.

 

Winter Park? Epic Moguls. Cirque is decent, but still tame. Parsenn is basically like skiing the groomed bowl sections of Loveland. Its a mountain that a technically profiecient skier will enjoy, but its hard to get pushed there.

 

Again, I'm forced to conclude that the largest, most visited ski areas in Colorado did not became that way because of the terrain they offer, as many of them have very, very mild terrain.  Its not about the skiing, imo, or at least the hardcore terrain, or else Aspen, Telluride, Crested Butte, and Silverton would be seeing all the visits Summit/Winter Park/Vail gets, and Sunlight would get quadruple the skier visits.


 

 

post #96 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moreoutdoor View Post


 


Big Difference between 'Small' hill and 'Local'. Most of what I remember of Summit County can hardly be called 'small' relative to terrain - at least not relative to many Midwestern/NE/Mid-Atlantic hills.

You should fall on your knees and worship your parents for having settled in Col Sprgs.

 

Don't I know it! I feel even better now that I've been able to live in Rifle (Western Slope, about an hour NW of Aspen), and get a 1/2 trip to one of my favorite areas (Sunlight), the Aspen areas and Powderhorn within an hour (although I have yet to ski Powderhorn as they don't really offer ticket deals), 1 1/2 to Vail, 2 to Steamboat, etc. Against the traffic too! I recognize that I'm lucky, and I get to be picky about something that many people don't have the luxury to.

 

If the minimum you have to drive is 3 hrs one way and can expect rush hr traffic on the way home - is it better to do that drive for one day to a 'small' hill'  or drive 6+ hrs for 2 days at a much bigger hill ... ?

 

It depends on the quality of skiing you get. When I lived in Colorado Springs, and it was a 2 1/2 hour drive to Summit, or a 3 hour drive to Monarch, I almost always chose Monarch, because the skiing was/is BETTER, in my opinion. Better snow, less people skiing it, better experience, less hassle. Its not about lift ticket prices, that's just icing on the cake. When you factor in all of the other costs associated with skiing, a $300 season pass vs. a $500 season pass is just not that big of a deal. I keep choosing the small area season pass because the skiing is better.  It amazes me that people spend millions to buy into places like the Yellowstone Club, when what they are really buying is a skiing experience like being at Sunlight on a Tuesday.

 

hopefully you're anger about how a ski area handles itself is being well managed, or medicated.

you really don;t have to go to an area you 'hate'...

for others, the positives they find there might out weigh whatever they see as negatives.

 

I don't have to go to ski areas I hate, which is why I haven't skied at Vail, Breck, Keystone in YEARS.  Every few years, I get a free or reduced ticket, and I go to one of them, and usually I shake my head and wonder why I bothered putting up with all of the pay to park, hike 1/2 miles in ski boots, ride shuttles, wait in line, skied out by 9:45 AM BULLSHIT rather than ski at the awesome "local" hills around here instead. I sincerely doubt anybody has waited 30 minutes for a chair at the Peak 8 base and thought "This is a positive!"

 

skiing has never been 'cheap' (except when you're young and don;t mind sleeping in a bunk house of 30-40 other bunks for $3 a night - spaghetti dinner included - or curlin up in your sleeping bag in back of the V-Dub)

many of us have to find the Yin Yang balance of Bean-counter and Zen-master of the hill.

 

Nope, its never been cheap. I'm trying to understand why people pay more for what to me seem like substandard experiences. 

 

it's way better to find the 'stoke' in the place you CAN be; than be pissed off at $8 lockers at Mammoth, or the rich folk at the Beav...

 

Hey, I agree.



 

 

post #97 of 120

My local hill has only two drag lifts and a fall height of 175m, a few groomed runs, a small park and a bit of tree skiing. But I ski there a great deal. It's just down the road and I can ski there after work. I know every member of staff by name. When I set a course for the race programme I know every lump and bump of the hill, I can have it all planned out before I even get there. I get great discount in the shop and I can take anything off the demo rack and give it a try. I help out in the ski school if they need me. I've stood at the lift for a morning when they were short handed. Sometimes I get a free coffee in the restaurant. It's where I taught my children to ski, where I watched them race for the first time. It's where I broke my leg.

 

The skiing is pretty ordinary to be honest. But it's my hill, it's a part of me. I love it.

 

Choice of skiing area is, for some people, at least partly an emotional choice :-)

post #98 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post


Seriously? I am assuming by terrain, we are saying two seperate things. When I (and I suspect the person that posted this), talk about terrain, what I mean is expert/extreme terrain. 40-50+* pitches (sustained, not 50 vertical feet), cliff bands/drops, cornice drops, steep and tight trees, etc.

 

If you mean terrain in the sense of "how many groomed blue runs the mountain has," I guess your argument makes sense.

 

If you are really arguing that Summit County, Steamboat, Vail, etc. have extreme terrain similar to the Aspen resorts, sorry, I think you are dead wrong.

 

I'll give Crested Butte and Telluride a pass, as depending on what you are looking for, they can certainly dish it.

 

Aspen has Highlands Bowl, giant, 1500 vertical feet of 40-50* pitches, add in as much trees as you want to have. Or Temerity, or the who High Alpine/Cirque aree, with as many cliff drops as you want. 

 

Keystone? Hah hah hah.

 

Steamboat basically marks anything not regularly groomed as black runs on its trail maps, and almost all of the mountain has a terribly mild pitch. Yeah, they have tree skiing, but many other places (Sunlight!) have trees with actual pitch. The only part of the mountain with decent steeps is the Christmas Tree Bowl/Chutes area.  Whee 200 vertical feet and you are back to skiing "black" runs that have a 15* pitch.

 

Breck is certainly better in terms of terrain than the above, but is still a distinct class behind what can be had at the Aspen resorts (or Crested Butte, or Telluride, Or A-Basin). Hell, a lot of Loveland I would put on par with Breck in terms of difficulty.  Maybe even Monarch, but I probably won't try to defend that one.

 

Vail? Yawn.  Sure, there are plenty of wicked cliff bands outside the gates. In the ski area itself, the pitch is very mild. The back bowls are very, very tame.

 

Winter Park? Epic Moguls. Cirque is decent, but still tame. Parsenn is basically like skiing the groomed bowl sections of Loveland. Its a mountain that a technically profiecient skier will enjoy, but its hard to get pushed there.

 

Again, I'm forced to conclude that the largest, most visited ski areas in Colorado did not became that way because of the terrain they offer, as many of them have very, very mild terrain.  Its not about the skiing, imo, or at least the hardcore terrain, or else Aspen, Telluride, Crested Butte, and Silverton would be seeing all the visits Summit/Winter Park/Vail gets, and Sunlight would get quadruple the skier visits.


 

 



 

post #99 of 120

I think you are projecting your own personal beliefs and experiences on others. Please don't take that as in insult. It is a common trait in people. There are a lot of factors to choose a "mega resort" over smaller ski areas.

Here are few:

 

1. Convenience: Most mega resorts have a lot of ski in/out lodging available. What you think may be a waste of money other people believe its worth paying for. Time and effort are worth money. Not just products. If you have kids or less experienced people in your group its much easier to keep everyone happy and not overwhelmed.

 

2. Hardcoreness: Many(maybe most) people that go skiing for vacation aren't that hardcore so they either don't mind paying more for  things(see point 1) or don't know there are other options available. Most people don't want to schlep a lot of gear to and from the slopes and then drive to and from the mountain.

 

3. Amenities: To many people, it’s about more than just hitting the hill from first lift to close

 

5. Time: Most vacations are for a week. Most people aren't going to or book several different sets of lodging, lift tickets, and gear rentals at 2 medium resorts and worry about travel, returns, and checking in when they can spend the entire trip in one spot.

 

6. Varying terrain: The larger resorts tend to have a wider variety of terrain and just more terrain in general. If you have people of varying abilities everyone can have a good time.

I have experienced all of these factors; as recently as last week, since I just got back from Breckenridge. I'm a level 8-9 skier and really enjoy visiting various places. However, we had 1 person who had never skiid before, 1 beginner, 2 intermediate, and 3 advanced skiers. Try getting all those people to have a good time for an entire week at more than one place. It would be a complete disaster for the beginner and novice as they aren't as hardcore skiers as the rest. I just want to ski first run, be the last off the lift, go to the lodge, eat, and go to bed.  But, most people aren’t like that. They want to go out to eat, drink, and shop too. My group was like that. They though I was nuts about bugging them about getting up so early and being a party pooper when we went out to eat because I was so tired.

 

Don’t get me wrong. If I had my choice, I would stay a few minutes from the mountain and hit several different mountains over my week trip, but since I have to plan trips with other people that are not ski freaks like I am I have to compromise and put together the best trip for everyone involved. When I go skiing,

post #100 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by chraya View Post



I can see calling the terrain lame compared to Jackson Hole or Snowbird/Alta but which CO mega resorts are you comparing to Aspen?  Vail, Steamboat, Crested Butte, Winter Park, Telluride, the 4 Summit Resorts all have terrain equal to or better than Aspen.  I love Aspen but there is nothing particularly great about the terrain.



 

Bwaaahaahaaroflmao.gif

 

You've just lost all credibility.....nothing in SuCo compares to Highlands Bowl alone much less the terrain available at Bell and Snowmass.

post #101 of 120

 

Quote:
Again, I'm forced to conclude that the largest, most visited ski areas in Colorado did not became that way because of the terrain they offer, as many of them have very, very mild terrain.  Its not about the skiing, imo, or at least the hardcore terrain, or else Aspen, Telluride, Crested Butte, and Silverton would be seeing all the visits Summit/Winter Park/Vail gets, and Sunlight would get quadruple the skier visits.

 

Forum ate my reply, so you get the TLDR version.

 

That "mild" Western terrain is pretty extreme compared to most in-bounds skiing in the Midwest or East, or at smaller hills anywhere.  The existence of super-epic double-black ungroomed terrain is completely irrelevant to about 95% of the skiing public.  (I could probably ski Highlands Bowl now -- I couldn't a few years ago.  But there's still tons of stuff at a place like Snowbird that's way over my head.)  On a group or family trip, having a wide variety of terrain that beginner or intermediate skiers can access is a plus.

 

The places you're calling "small" are also more like a "medium" mountain to me.  My home mountain is 1000' vertical, and that's not the smallest ski area around here by far!

 

The general logic has a point, though.  Around here, places like Killington and Loon get mobbed on the weekends, so even though they have more terrain it's sometimes a more pleasant experience to drive less far and pay less money for less terrain with a lot fewer people on it.  And I could see why someone would prefer a place like MRG or Cannon over Stowe if they don't like the big resort feel (and prices).

post #102 of 120
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

 

 

Forum ate my reply, so you get the TLDR version.

 

That "mild" Western terrain is pretty extreme compared to most in-bounds skiing in the Midwest or East, or at smaller hills anywhere.  The existence of super-epic double-black ungroomed terrain is completely irrelevant to about 95% of the skiing public.  (I could probably ski Highlands Bowl now -- I couldn't a few years ago.  But there's still tons of stuff at a place like Snowbird that's way over my head.)  On a group or family trip, having a wide variety of terrain that beginner or intermediate skiers can access is a plus.

 

The places you're calling "small" are also more like a "medium" mountain to me.  My home mountain is 1000' vertical, and that's not the smallest ski area around here by far!

 

The general logic has a point, though.  Around here, places like Killington and Loon get mobbed on the weekends, so even though they have more terrain it's sometimes a more pleasant experience to drive less far and pay less money for less terrain with a lot fewer people on it.  And I could see why someone would prefer a place like MRG or Cannon over Stowe if they don't like the big resort feel (and prices).


 

I get hat you are saying.  I defined the mountains I was referring to as small in my first post because obviously, a Midwest hill with 300 of vert is very different "small" than Loveland.

 

I agree that most people aren't choosing their ski vacations based on top-tier expert terrain (but they should aspire to :) ). But, this is kind of my point. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I view beginner and intermediate runs as largely interchangeable from area to area. Most of these runs are groomed every night and have similar pitches no matter where you ski. The only point of variability in Colorado in green/blue terrain is how much vertical drop there is, and even in Colorado, it is rare for an intermediate run to have more than about 1500 vertical of a steady pitch (lacking catwalks, runouts, etc.).

 

Furthermore, because beginner and intermediate runs tend to be groomed and so uniform, I'm not sold that more=better. Skiing two groomed runs right next to each other tends to be a pretty identical experience, because the whole point of this terrain is to provide a consistent experience for developing skiers.

 

Like your last paragraph says, going to a smaller area means less terrain, but it also tends to mean that the density of skiers is less as well. So if you have homogenous groomed terrain (and if somebody disagrees on this point, I'd love to hear it), and less people skiing it, it still seems like it would make sense to hit up Loveland rather than Vail.

post #103 of 120
I think one concept beyond blue groomed terrain is transitional terrain. This can be limited grooming of blue terrain, i.e. hit it when the cruisers are getting bumped up in spots, plus adjacent access to more off-piste type conditions without big changes in pitch or vert.

If the goal is to aspire to expert terrain, does a smaller resort generally provide more or better opportunity to grow rapidly than a large?
post #104 of 120

 

Quote:
...Maybe I'm missing something here, but I view beginner and intermediate runs as largely interchangeable from area to area. Most of these runs are groomed every night and have similar pitches no matter where you ski. The only point of variability in Colorado in green/blue terrain is how much vertical drop there is, and even in Colorado, it is rare for an intermediate run to have more than about 1500 vertical of a steady pitch (lacking catwalks, runouts, etc.)....
 
...Furthermore, because beginner and intermediate runs tend to be groomed and so uniform, I'm not sold that more=better. Skiing two groomed runs right next to each other tends to be a pretty identical experience, because the whole point of this terrain is to provide a consistent experience for developing skiers.

 

Yes and no.  At places where there's a relatively uniform aspect and pitch, yes, many of the 'groomers' are nearly identical experiences.  But at a bigger mountain there will usually be more of them, and there are more differences between them.  You might have some in the trees vs. others above treeline (maybe even some easy glades!), different views if they're facing different directions, ones with a consistent pitch vs. rollers or double fall lines, wider vs. narrow, turny vs. straight, etc.  Just being able to move around a bigger mountain and ride different lifts while still being on green or blue terrain adds some variety too.

 

As the last poster mentioned, a bigger mountain is also more likely to have better (and more) transitional terrain.  At some (but not all) smaller hills, there's a BIG jump in difficulty between the hardest greens and easiest blues, or the hardest blues and the easiest blacks, and there may not be much (if any) intermediate ungroomed terrain.

 

Of course, lack of transitional terrain can be a problem at 'big' mountains, too.  Alta, for instance, has pretty limited intermediate terrain for its size, and the beginner terrain is confined to one small part of the mountain.  Snowbird doesn't have a lot of intermediate-rated terrain either, but it has green trails that go all over the place, including Mineral Basin.

post #105 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by akspace View Post

Earlier I was going to post about Tahoe but decided to skip it, since someone else started I guess I'll continue.

 

In Tahoe I ski the bigger resorts because it ends up cheaper.  For $50-100 more a season I can ski at Northstar/Heavenly or Squaw/Alpine instead of Mt. Rose or Diamond Peak.  The small difference in season pass price is more then recovered because when I have a Diamond Peak season pass I end up making a lot more trips to other resorts.  Even before the multi-resort season passes, having a pass at a bigger resort ended up saving money.  The variety of terrain keeps me occupied longer, I'm less likely to get bored and take trips to other resorts.   Since I only get around 30 days a season, that four hour drive each way kills me, I can't really justify season passes at multiple resorts. 

 

As for crowds, once you know a resort you know how to avoid them.  You may be limited to certain lifts depending on the time of day, but the lines can be avoided.

 

Well said, I don't see my self getting a season pass at a small resort, especially considering I have to drive good 3.5 hours to get to the resort (Tahoe in my case).  It's obviously different for those who pass by their local resort during their .5 hour drive to/from work, or if they have a condo around the corner from a resort.  I do not need numerous lodges or gourmet food, but I do need a big mountain rather than the 20 or so runs for the whole year.  There is of course the off-piste skiing, but how much of that can you get off of a few lifts (the terrain may be much more challenging, but it will be the same terrain over and over for the whole year).  I guess it also depends if one prefers variety over super-challenging or the other way around.  I'm not familiar with the smaller resorts in CO, sounds like those may be much larger than the Mt. Roses/DPs/DRs of Lake Tahoe.  Obviously the unrestricted Epic pass can be tough to beat since one can ski 3 (with the addition of Kirkwood this week) resorts in California and also go on a trip to Colorado and not have to worry about tickets (all that for under $700).

 

Also, long lines can be hit or miss and obviously somewhat avoided, but the slow lifts at Homewood or the risk of the generator not working for a few hours at Kirk is always there (hopefully that'll be fixed after the merger).  Bigger resorts also pay-off during a year like this one when you can ski 30+ runs at NS or Heavenly any day, while smaller resorts have 5 runs open if even that, and may be closed during the week.  Not to stack the deck against smaller resorts, Kirk does get the best snow when it actually snows in the Tahoe area.

 

Going on a week long trip is a different story, since it's usually more of a group thing (whether family or a group of friends).  People generally like to go out and experience the night life or do something as a family in the evening.  Either way bigger resorts tend to be more accommodating.  I personally do not care for these things on a ski trip, but my one ski trip to Colorado was to Vail because that's where the majority of the group wanted to go.
 

 

post #106 of 120

First post!  Having skied last week at Breck, Vail, and A-Basin (all for the first time), here's my impressions.

 

Crowding: Here I think it makes a big difference whether you're skiing on the weekend vs. during the week.  Wednesday and Thursday at Breck had hardly any lift lines at all; Saturday had 20 minute waits for the main base lifts, but lines were pretty short on the 6 Chair, Imperial Express, and T-bar.  Vail on Friday had few lines except for the chairs you need to take to get from one side of the mountain to the other (e.g. Northstar chair?), where there were long waits.  A-basin had longish lines for the express chair at the bottom but no lines anywhere else.

 

Varied terrain: A-basin loses here handsdown.  I think this is mostly a reflection of the low snowfall this year, but the entire backside, the entire East Wall, and the Montezuma bowl were all completely closed, and there was more stuff that was roped off too (like the traverse across the top of the ridge from Norway chair).  Plus what was still open was fairly patchy in places -- I skied down Exhibition and there was a fair amount of exposed rock.  With all the closures there wasn't that much mountain left.  The experts in our group could ski off the Pav chair, but for the intermediates there were only 3 or 4 open runs on the whole mountain, and those runs got very crowded, to the point where slow skiers had to worry about fast skiers hitting them and fast skiers had to worry about hitting the slow skiers.  Even for experts, all the Pav stuff seemed like either steep bumps or trees; if you wanted to ski, say, open bowls, you were pretty much out of luck.  Meanwhile Breck and Vail had everything open, and of course they're much bigger mountains to begin with.  Just a lot more options at all levels.  I do think Vail in particular had fewer true steeps.

 

Ease of getting around the mountain.  Obv easier at A-basin since it's small.  I thought this was a PITA at Vail, esp on the frontside.  Vail has lots of very flat poling/skating catwalks too.  Less of this at Breck, although still a few.  Hardly any at A-basin.

 

Parking: Vail is the clear loser here.  Paid $22 to park in a garage where we then had to walk a fair distance through the village.  At A-Basin it was free to park across the street, and $20 to park next to the lift.  At Breck it was free during the week and $5 on the weekend (carpool prices) to park right at the base of the gondola, which then goes to the base of Peak 8.  Yeah, you have to ride the gondola for 10 minutes, but no long hike with the skis on your back.  I was fine with this.

 

Food: All were pretty comparable in terms of quality for on-mountain lunch food.  Vail had maybe more options.  A-basin was noticeably cheaper, but still not cheap -- you could get lunch and a gatorade for $15 instead of $22.  I don't think this should be making or breaking anyone's decision.  It's expensive everywhere.  If you worry about prices, pack a lunch.

 

Lifts: Breck and Vail have far more express chairs.  I don't really care about this too much except when it's cold and windy, which it was on our day at A-basin, which means sitting on the slower chairs for longer can get pretty cold.

 

Price: obv a big advantage here for A-basin.  Single day tickets were $74 for peak times, vs iirc $107 at Breck and $117 at Vail.  If you had a family of four, that $30-40/person/day could add up fast. 

 

Where would I go back?  Depends on many factors: conditions (how much of A-basin is open), timing (weekday, weekend, holiday?), ability of people in the group, mood.  The good news is that none of these places are that far from each other in the big scheme of things, so you can stay in the general area and ski at any of them depending on conditions/mood if you don't mind a 45-60 min drive.

 

Aside: Does anyone know why A-Basin has so much less snow?  Its high elevation would suggest otherwise; Breck, at a similar altitude, had for more and better snow.  Does it have to do with geographical positioning relative to the mountain gaps or something?  It seemed like kind of a rip-off to pay full price when half the mountain was closed.  Of course all the conditions info is available online.  Will be sure to check conditions beforehand next time.

post #107 of 120

I love small areas.  When we travel to ski, that's where we go.  

 

My perspective is quite a bit different.  I've worked at some of the mega resorts.  When I go skiing at one for "fun", this is what I end up doing all day:

 

* checking out the F&B service, looking at menu price points, trying to guess at what the yield differences might be between locations

* talking to other guests and figuring out what destination markets they serve

* how does the ticket scanning work?  are they live or offline?  are there any unique access control mechanisms in place?  are they using RTP or do they have something else?

* what's the lodging operation like?  how have they structured their lodging business?

 

When I go skiing at a small area, I see families having fun, locals goofing off and a genuine experience.  It makes me enjoy it too.

post #108 of 120

I would stand up for Telluride and Crested Butte as far as terrain.  I consider them as much "mega resorts" as Snowbird and Jackson. Snowbird really has very little "resort" about it. Lodging, dining, apres ski, etc. is really quite limited compared to a Vail or Aspen.  Same with Jackson to some extent unless you include the town of Jackson as part of the Jackson Hole ski area, which I wouldn't.  Snowbird depends on SLC and Jackson Hole on Jackson but the towns really aren't part of the ski areas.  I think Telluride, especially with recent additions and including the side country has some very challenging terrain as does CB.

 

As tot he original topic I sometimes like the smaller areas and sometimes the mega resorts.  Depends on if I want to ski or am on a family vacation or skill levels of the group or a lot of things.  Some "small" areas are actually quite big terrain wise and have great terrain characteristics.  Some are just small and boring or have poor terrain.  Most of the other posters have covered the same issue I would.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post


Good point!

 

Colorado is somewhat unique that many of its mega resorts happened to have lame terrain, with the exception of Aspen. Major mega resort with great terrain outside of CO:  Big Sky, Squaw Valley, Whistler etc (besides already mentioned: Jackson Hole and Snowbird).
 

 



 

post #109 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

 

I get hat you are saying.  I defined the mountains I was referring to as small in my first post because obviously, a Midwest hill with 300 of vert is very different "small" than Loveland.

 

I agree that most people aren't choosing their ski vacations based on top-tier expert terrain (but they should aspire to :) ). But, this is kind of my point. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I view beginner and intermediate runs as largely interchangeable from area to area. Most of these runs are groomed every night and have similar pitches no matter where you ski. The only point of variability in Colorado in green/blue terrain is how much vertical drop there is, and even in Colorado, it is rare for an intermediate run to have more than about 1500 vertical of a steady pitch (lacking catwalks, runouts, etc.).

 

Furthermore, because beginner and intermediate runs tend to be groomed and so uniform, I'm not sold that more=better. Skiing two groomed runs right next to each other tends to be a pretty identical experience, because the whole point of this terrain is to provide a consistent experience for developing skiers.

 

Like your last paragraph says, going to a smaller area means less terrain, but it also tends to mean that the density of skiers is less as well. So if you have homogenous groomed terrain (and if somebody disagrees on this point, I'd love to hear it), and less people skiing it, it still seems like it would make sense to hit up Loveland rather than Vail.

You "ask a question" but you didn't seem to care about the answer.

 

You're imposing your own standard onto the rest of the skiing population:

 

-- "they should aspire to (top-tier expert terain":

 

No. skiing is a recreation for many. So there's no compelling reason why they should "aspire" to anything, expert or even intermediate.

-- "I'm not sure more=better (intermediate runs)":

 

Realitycheck: at least 50% of the skiing population are intermediates! So more intermediate run means lower density of skiers on each! In fact, any resort that has less tha 50% of its terrain as intermediate are stuffing their average visitors into less terrain than the overall acerage implies. Needless to say, the average intermediate skiing vacationers will not return. (they'll go to Vail instead)

 

You may be an expert skier and prefer to ski such terrain. But you're being condescending by implying that's the ONLY terrain that matters in any mountain. You say people who ski at Vail as "paying more getting LESS". Getting "less" of what? Less expert terrain? Your kind of terrain? The only kind of terrain that worth skiing?

 

You're implying they're stupid. But the reality is, they're not stupid. They know what they want. Not what you think they want (or "should" want). If anyone is stupid, you are, by not realizing your prefer terrain is NOT what the majority want!

 

Do you still have a question? Or do you just want to continue bashing ski vacationers who ski at Vail?

post #110 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

You "ask a question" but you didn't seem to care about the answer.

 

You're imposing your own standard onto the rest of the skiing population:

 

-- "they should aspire to (top-tier expert terain":

 

No. skiing is a recreation for many. So there's no compelling reason why they should "aspire" to anything, expert or even intermediate.

-- "I'm not sure more=better (intermediate runs)":

 

Realitycheck: at least 50% of the skiing population are intermediates! So more intermediate run means lower density of skiers on each! In fact, any resort that has less tha 50% of its terrain as intermediate are stuffing their average visitors into less terrain than the overall acerage implies. Needless to say, the average intermediate skiing vacationers will not return. (they'll go to Vail instead)

 

You may be an expert skier and prefer to ski such terrain. But you're being condescending by implying that's the ONLY terrain that matters in any mountain. You say people who ski at Vail as "paying more getting LESS". Getting "less" of what? Less expert terrain? Your kind of terrain? The only kind of terrain that worth skiing?

 

You're implying they're stupid. But the reality is, they're not stupid. They know what they want. Not what you think they want (or "should" want). If anyone is stupid, you are, by not realizing your prefer terrain is NOT what the majority want!

 

Do you still have a question? Or do you just want to continue bashing ski vacationers who ski at Vail?


Thank you.

My wife and I are expert skiers, too old to be "extreme" type skiers, hucking cliffs and such.
We don't find it necessary to find the most difficult terrain at every mtn big or small and judge it
based on that.

Went to Keystone today, I know, it sux hard. (Rollie eyes), showed up late around 11:45.
Free lot is full, drive around to the pay lot, also full.....see a spot my car will fit, employee says go for it.
I fit, doesn't want the $20. We walk about 20 yds to the gondola and head up.

Go to the Wolf Den.....nobody there, runs all to ourselves...thru the trees, bumps.
Got a couple wind blown freshies.

SATURDAY! Just about everywhere WE skied..uncrowded and really fun.

A basin is having a rough go this year, being on the divide doesn't help their cause when the wind blows the snow everywhere but to where you want it.

Going to Vail tomorrow...gasp. We park at Lionshead walk for 5 min to the gondola and just ski
where ever...
However we might hit the Dragons Teeth...

We'll try to struggle thru our horrible time.
post #111 of 120
Quote:

 

Aside: Does anyone know why A-Basin has so much less snow?  Its high elevation would suggest otherwise; Breck, at a similar altitude, had for more and better snow.  Does it have to do with geographical positioning relative to the mountain gaps or something?  It seemed like kind of a rip-off to pay full price when half the mountain was closed.  Of course all the conditions info is available online.  Will be sure to check conditions beforehand next time.


Maybe the Colorado residents could confirm this but I suspect this is a one-off this year.  My recollection (been 20 years since I lived in Colorado) was that A-basin usually had more snow.  It was certainly the place to go for late season snow in April and May.  "The higher you go, the better the snow" was their slogan.

post #112 of 120

not sure this will/is a one off year for the basin.  It sits of course in the same valley as Keystone leading east from the Dillon reservoir, and this year, like many, Keystone also has substantially less snow than Breck or Vail for instance.  Seems like it is a function of the overall pattern of storms that are hitting us, are they a northernly/SW/southernly flow?  What does strike me, as someone way up in Denver, is that the San Juans way down in the SW do seem to get reliably more snow at Telluride and the other locations there -- but doubt we will ever make it down there to ski.  A-Basin does retain snow much longer, I would assume due to the high overall altitude of the resort, but that must be balanced with much less snow making gear for early use, or use during low snow years.  Be curious to hear other perspectives, we only have about 10 years in CO.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chraya View Post


Maybe the Colorado residents could confirm this but I suspect this is a one-off this year.  My recollection (been 20 years since I lived in Colorado) was that A-basin usually had more snow.  It was certainly the place to go for late season snow in April and May.  "The higher you go, the better the snow" was their slogan.



 

post #113 of 120

We are driving seven hours to Tahoe and plan on skiing Diamond Peak and Homewood.  As low intermediates we stay on the easy blue groomers.  It is nice to park and have the lift within a stones throw.  Beautiful lake views, no/low crowds, quick access, good enough terrain for us, locals and families, and the price is right (free for military, free on your birthday ... I think we as a couple are skiing 3 days each for $49 total with the discounts, snowbomb and lifttickets.com).    Staying in Reno for free rooms at the Grand Sierra and cheap nights at the Silver Legacy so there will be plenty of apres.

 

That said, we both really enjoyed Northstar from a skiing experience, but the parking lot bus ride to the base, walk through the village, up the stairs, up the gondola, and up the first lift was hike though!

 

Still haven't made it to Squaw, Alpine, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Mt Rose or Sugar Bowl ...

 

We usually get about 3 weekends (6-10 days) in a year, one long one to Tahoe and two other weekends at a closer CA resort (Snow Summit or China Peak).

 

Just our approach ...

post #114 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by hilega View Post

We are driving seven hours to Tahoe and plan on skiing Diamond Peak and Homewood.  As low intermediates we stay on the easy blue groomers.  It is nice to park and have the lift within a stones throw.  Beautiful lake views, no/low crowds, quick access, good enough terrain for us, locals and families, and the price is right (free for military, free on your birthday ... I think we as a couple are skiing 3 days each for $49 total with the discounts, snowbomb and lifttickets.com).    Staying in Reno for free rooms at the Grand Sierra and cheap nights at the Silver Legacy so there will be plenty of apres.

 

That said, we both really enjoyed Northstar from a skiing experience, but the parking lot bus ride to the base, walk through the village, up the stairs, up the gondola, and up the first lift was hike though!

 

Still haven't made it to Squaw, Alpine, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Mt Rose or Sugar Bowl ...

 

We usually get about 3 weekends (6-10 days) in a year, one long one to Tahoe and two other weekends at a closer CA resort (Snow Summit or China Peak).

 

Just our approach ...

 

Alpine, Kirkwood and Mt. Rose are similar in terms of parking.  Parking at Squaw and Heavenly isn't too bad as long as you don't get there too late.

Prices at Kirkwood and Mt. Rose are somewhat comparable to the resorts you mention.  Mt. Rose also has specials Mon-Fri, and isn't too far from Reno.

Squaw and Kirkwood are pretty steep, Mt Rose green/blue terrain isn't all that steep. Alpine and Heavenly aren't too crazy either, but neither has much green terrain.
 

I think that good parking in Tahoe can be found at all resorts if one gets there early (skip the whole bus thing at NS and almost park at the lift at the smaller resorts).  Similarly, a hike will be needed if one gets there late regardless of the resort.

post #115 of 120

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliSki View Post

 

Alpine, Kirkwood and Mt. Rose are similar in terms of parking.  Parking at Squaw and Heavenly isn't too bad as long as you don't get there too late.

Prices at Kirkwood and Mt. Rose are somewhat comparable to the resorts you mention.  Mt. Rose also has specials Mon-Fri, and isn't too far from Reno.

Squaw and Kirkwood are pretty steep, Mt Rose green/blue terrain isn't all that steep. Alpine and Heavenly aren't too crazy either, but neither has much green terrain.
 

I think that good parking in Tahoe can be found at all resorts if one gets there early (skip the whole bus thing at NS and almost park at the lift at the smaller resorts).  Similarly, a hike will be needed if one gets there late regardless of the resort.



Update from this week ... The drive from Reno to Diamond Peak via 431 past Mt Rose was a nightmare on Thursday in the storm, but the powder at DP was well worth it.  We parked about 30 yards from the lift and that was at about 10:45am.  The wind was blowing so hard, the top of the mountain was closed. But we still had tons of untracked snow and had beautiful powder all over the bottom runs.  We took 267 back to Reno to avoid the wind and snow on 431.  Friday we drove 89 to Homewood.  This was a bluebird day after the storm and the traffic to Squaw added 30 minutes.  Once we got around the Squaw turn, there were only a few folks heading to Alpine and then we were the only ones heading to Homewood (parking was abundant and we could ski back to the car on our final run).  Gorgeous views, no fuss, beautiful, great snow, fun skiing.  Saturday we headed back to Diamond Peak to ski with a local friend.  The groomers were great and the views spectacular.  Even with celebrity and children's races going on, the crowds were low. 

 

All of that said, the commutes from Reno were a pain and I think now we are leaning on staying at a mega resort with everything on the mountain (we did stay at the Cal-Neva last year and that was easier for getting to Diamond Peak and Northstar).  That seven hour drive from the central coast turned into 10.5 hours after putting on chains and driving 60 miles at 25mph on I-80.  I think we will be flying for our next trip and just taking a shuttle to a resort and staying there for the week.  For intermediate one/two week per year skiers, I think the all-inclusive resort is probably the way to go.  We will never get bored with one large mountain at our ability and the lack of all of the driving hassle will make for an easy, stress-free vacation.  If I was a retiree and could live nextdoor or within 10 minutes, I may have a different view ...

 

Homewood 3/2/12

2012-03-02_Homewood

 

Diamond Peak 3/3/12

2012_03_03_Diamond_Peak

 

 

post #116 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coremill View Post

First post!  Having skied last week at Breck, Vail, and A-Basin (all for the first time), here's my impressions.

 

Varied terrain: A-basin loses here handsdown.  I think this is mostly a reflection of the low snowfall this year, but the entire backside, the entire East Wall, and the Montezuma bowl were all completely closed, and there was more stuff that was roped off too (like the traverse across the top of the ridge from Norway chair). 

 

Aside: Does anyone know why A-Basin has so much less snow?  Its high elevation would suggest otherwise; Breck, at a similar altitude, had for more and better snow.  Does it have to do with geographical positioning relative to the mountain gaps or something?  It seemed like kind of a rip-off to pay full price when half the mountain was closed.  Of course all the conditions info is available online.  Will be sure to check conditions beforehand next time.


Seems like a lot of the good intermediate terrain (frontside summit and Zuma bowl) were still closed, which does make ofr prettylimited intermediate skiing. 

 

A Basin and Loveland usually get significantly more snow that Summit/Vail, or anything in the I-70 corridor. However, this has not been a typical year.  They have gotten a lot of storms that have blown the snow right off the above timberline areas of the mountain, over and over. Not a good year. Normally the snow situation is totally reversed.
 

 

post #117 of 120

My daughter and I just got back from a week skiing in central Oregon.  We spend 3 days at a "large area, but not mega resort", Mt. Bachelor and one at a "small local hill", Hoodoo.  Both had their advantages and we had a blast at both.  Bachelor snow ranged from glare ice with death cookies to knee to waist deep powder, often on the same run, but the area is so large you could always find some good skiing, especially if you had a local to show you around (thanks Newfydog).  At Hoodoo, the snow was great everywhere, there were absolutely no lift lines on any of the lifts, we parked maybe 20 yards from the base area and to put icing on the cake, lift tickets were $25 dollars each.  Yes the lifts were slow, but honestly, I don't think my legs could have taken it if they were express lifts.

 

The point is, I like to take my ski vacations to places I can ski both types of ski areas, because there are things I like about both.  Variety is the spice of life.

post #118 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by hilega View Post

 


 

All of that said, the commutes from Reno were a pain and I think now we are leaning on staying at a mega resort with everything on the mountain (we did stay at the Cal-Neva last year and that was easier for getting to Diamond Peak and Northstar).  That seven hour drive from the central coast turned into 10.5 hours after putting on chains and driving 60 miles at 25mph on I-80.  I think we will be flying for our next trip and just taking a shuttle to a resort and staying there for the week.  For intermediate one/two week per year skiers, I think the all-inclusive resort is probably the way to go.  We will never get bored with one large mountain at our ability and the lack of all of the driving hassle will make for an easy, stress-free vacation.  If I was a retiree and could live nextdoor or within 10 minutes, I may have a different view ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I have one question. Why in god's name would you stay in Reno and do all that damned driving. There are hotels and places to stay all over the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Truckee, etc. I'm seriously questioning your sanity. 

 

post #119 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ske-Bum View Post


I have one question. Why in god's name would you stay in Reno and do all that damned driving. There are hotels and places to stay all over the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, Truckee, etc. I'm seriously questioning your sanity. 

 


Not sure about skilega but most of my ski buddies prefer Reno over the King's Beach-Tahoe City area (we generally ski North Shore) for its night life and gambling.  I actually stayed in King's Beach and skied NS last weekend.

 

It is also easier to find a decent and cheap place in Reno than it is in the KB - TC area.  Sepaking of which, know of a decent, cheap place in North Shore :)?
 

 

post #120 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliSki View Post


Not sure about skilega but most of my ski buddies prefer Reno over the King's Beach-Tahoe City area (we generally ski North Shore) for its night life and gambling.  I actually stayed in King's Beach and skied NS last weekend.

 

It is also easier to find a decent and cheap place in Reno than it is in the KB - TC area.  Sepaking of which, know of a decent, cheap place in North Shore :)?
 

 


Free rooms at the Grand Sierra and cheap rooms at the Silver Legacy, and CaliSki nailed the nightlife part (it was my GF's birthday and we needed some nice dinner locations and places to grab some drinks without having to drive).  My trip cost was about $49 in lift tickets, $120 in hotel rooms (4 nights, 3 days of skiing), plus gas, food and drinks.  One night at the CalNeva is ~$100 plus you pretty much have to drive to get food and drinks.  She liked the stay in Reno better than King's Beach.  The driving sucked for me, but it gave her time to wake up with her morning coffee (we both commute 30-45 minutes to work each day anyway).

 

As to the sanity on driving from Reno to the resorts .... I agree.  Will not make that mistake again.  Next time we do Tahoe, it will be a direct flight from LAX (relocating to LA this Summer) and a shuttle to on-mountain lodging at Northstar, Squaw or Heavenly.  Once we open up our options to flights though, direct flights to Mammoth, SLC and DEN all become affordable options... So back to the orignial topic ... the convenience of the mega resort is the appeal.

 

 

 

 

 

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