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Moving to Durango- buy a season pass for Wolf Creek or Purgatory (DMR)?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I've been living in Rifle, CO, making my home mountain Sunlight with some trips upvalley to Aspen.

 

We are excited to move to Durango, but are not sure where to get a pass. WE HAVE NOT SKIED EITHER WOLF CREEK OR PURGATORY, EVER.

 

I live to ski fresh loose snow. My favorite mountain in Colorado is Monarch, because it gets a ton of snow, and fresh snow can be found in the trees and pretty much all over the mountain. Sunlight ranks high on the list, as does Loveland. We find that we generally gravitate towards the smaller ski areas, mainly because when they get snow, it seems to last a lot longer. We like the Aspen areas for the unique terrain, but not for the fast lifts, expensive coffee, groom everything to corduroy vibe.

 

DMR is a lot closer, but I'm not sure on A) the difficulty of the terrain, and B) the quality of snow. The season pass is significantly more expensive.

 

I know with Wolf Creek, I can expect the best snow in Colorado. I know it has very much of a Monarch vibe, which is really appealing, and I have heard good things about the hike-to terrain.  But, its close to 2 hours away from Durango.

 

Also, I'm looking forward to skiing SIlverton, which will also be a first.

 

Finally, somebody tell me about Hesperus night skiing.

post #2 of 27

It seems to me that proximity might trump other considerations.

 

As for the actual skiing, I've never been to Purgatory. I have been to Wolf Creek many times, and like it a lot.

People will tell you WC is flat, but that is not really true.  It's really more steep-flat-steep-flat-flat, which is worth it in my opinion.  And it takes a long time to get skied out.

 

Beyond the money, not buying tickets would be nice.  Now that I think about it, the longest lines I've ever been in (nearly the only lines) were at the ticket window.

post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

It seems to me that proximity might trump other considerations.

 

As for the actual skiing, I've never been to Purgatory. I have been to Wolf Creek many times, and like it a lot.

People will tell you WC is flat, but that is not really true.  It's really more steep-flat-steep-flat-flat, which is worth it in my opinion.  And it takes a long time to get skied out.

 

Beyond the money, not buying tickets would be nice.  Now that I think about it, the longest lines I've ever been in (nearly the only lines) were at the ticket window.

 

Purg is a little like that, too, benchy.

post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 

People call Monarch flat too, but what it offers for steeps is pretty much in line with most other Colorado ski areas. I know enough about Wolf Creek to know that there is steeps, just not much vert, which I am ok with when those steeps are covered in tons of snow.

 

Can somebody comment on Purgatory terrain? Is there anything at Purg that would be more challenging than WC?
 

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

Also, I'm assuming both resorts are going to be pretty uncrowded- is this accurate?

post #6 of 27

Unless you are going to be living quite a ways east of Durango thereby greatly increasing the drive to Purg and shortening the drive to Wolf Creek, it does not make sense to get a WC season pass.  It is a long drive to WC in the winter, and if it dumps big they may have the west side of the Pass closed for avi work in the morning.  Purg is an easy half hour drive from town so on a powder day you can hit first chair, ski until noon and be back at work or home by 1:00.  WC is an all day commitment that includes at least 3 hours of driving.

 

Purg is totally lacking in sustained steeps, but it is too convenient to avoid. WC has "locals' days" about half the weeks all winter when the window price is almost 1/2 for everyone, so you can ski pretty cheaply there if you pick your days, which are always Wednesdays or Sundays.

 

As for Purg passes they are expensive. One option is a weekday pass, it has blackout dates at X-mas and Spring Break but otherwise you can ski any weekday, and usually some weekend days earl and late season.  The advantage to a full season pass is that you get free days at other areas.  Don't know the specifics this year but probably 3 free days at Taos, 3 half price days at Crested Butte, 3 free at Monarch and possibly a few others.  Check their web site for details.  Taos, Crested Butte, and Monarch are all fairly easy weekend trips.

 

Hesperus skiing can be fun.  It is a dinky area but everything has a good pitch.  With Purg being so flat Hesperus can be a better choice when it dumps really big or with heavy snow.  A 2-foot dump virtually renders Purg 80% unskiable until it gets cut up or groomed.

 

Telluride is really the money area around here. It is just over a two hour drive.  They have a  T-card that gives you a 20% discount on tickets, which is still expensive since the window price is about $100. This year they offered a much better deal with a 5-day ticket for $250 if you had a T-card last year, which is cheaper than the 10-day pass per/day price last year, so it looks like they will be offering some other deals this season. Stay tuned.

 

Silverton Mt. is a great option and a good deal for the early and late season unguided. The Unguided Pass generally turns out to not be a great deal because the early season is usually pretty boney, although you do get some free days and discounts at other areas, and on guided and heli lifts.  It's almost all above tree line so it takes a lot of snow to cover the rocks.  It is great to be able to wait for the storms and hit SM for the goods. It is only about a 1.5 hr. drive, so you can get up early and decide to go.

 

Purg/DMR is a lame local area, but Durango is in the middle of lots of good skiing in Colorado and New Mexico, and conditions usually vary greatly, but we can pick the best.  Most of the hard core locals do a couple trips to Salt Lake City each year to chase the big storms.  It is a pretty easy drive through Moab and about 6 hours each way, so it makes a very doable 3.5 or 4 day weekend.  We generally do not ski Summit County because it is a tough drive and too crowded.  Purg, Taos, Crested Butte, Monarch,Telluride and Wolf Creek are all pretty much ski onto the lift areas, except for holidays.

post #7 of 27

How many days do you plan on skiing? Just wondering if it might make sense to avoid buying a pass, at least for the first season. Ski both mountains and see how the commute v. experience stacks up. Then, if you want, get a pass the second year.

 

I've never purchased a pass in Utah and enjoy the flexibility. I'd imagine it would be nice to have the flexibility to head to WC when it's dumping (and Purg is dry) without thinking "But I need to get more days on my Purg pass." But I guess if you ski enough it won't matter.

post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for a lot of great info. The house we are moving to is by Vallecito reservoir, about 20 minutes east of Durango.  This turns the drive to Purg into about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, while the drive to WC (assuming weather, an excellent point) is only about 20 minutes longer.

 

We normally ski about 50 days a season- virtually every Friday and Saturday during ski season.  My wife-to-be is a schoolteacher, which means she gets some weekdays in around Christmas, but is VERY limited in what she can take off the rest of the the season.  I get a bit more flexibility, but we are primarily weekend skiers.  We would go broke without a season pass.

 

As far as I can tell, Wolf Creek has no partner days, yes?

 

I actually won a season pass to Sunlight for next season that I can't transfer, so while I won't be getting in more than 2-3 days at Sunlight, it gets me 3 days at DMR, 3 at Monarch, and 3 days at a few of the smaller ski areas in tha Taos region. With me having free passes to several areas within driving distance, for this Winter, not having partners days built into the pass we buy won't be as big of a deal.

 

Telluride is probably out of our price range- we are used to spending $300-$500 on passes, being spoiled by the epic deals on Monarch/Sunlight passes.  The $800 for a Purg pass is tough to swallow, especially with mediocre snowfall and nothing-special terrain based on the comments here. I understand that if you buy passes at the end of the previous season, the deals are better? Won't work for this year as we only found out last week that we were moving.  Telluride may not be a good fit for the future wife- she's an advanced skier but gets VERY apprehensive about pusing her comfort zone (apparently breaking your collarbone in a ski-racing program at age 6 does this to you), and much of the terrain that would make Telluride worth the $$$ of the pass would be out of reach.

 

Here is a question- do any of these ski areas offer "chamber passes" or the like? I know in Aspen, if you have a job in Aspen with a participating employer, you can get seriously reduced passes. Does anybody know whether anything like that exists?

 

Right now, I think our game plan is to get a Wolf Creek pass, use the tickets that I get from my Sunlight Pass to sample Purgatory, spend a day or two at Telluride, do some night skiing at Hesperus, and I've gotten commitment from the future wife that she will be willing to try Silverton on a late-season unguided day.

 

We've never skied the areas around Durango, despite really, really wanting to- it was always too much of a drive from where we were living.  We are really looking forward to skiing places that we know to be great for the FIRST TIME! A whole new skiing experience!

 

Also, anybody seriously considering driving out of Durango to go ski Summit should punch themselves in the balls until that terrible idea goes away.

 

Thanks a lot guys!

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

  Telluride may not be a good fit for the future wife- she's an advanced skier but gets VERY apprehensive about pusing her comfort zone (apparently breaking your collarbone in a ski-racing program at age 6 does this to you), and much of the terrain that would make Telluride worth the $$$ of the pass would be out of reach.

 

've gotten commitment from the future wife that she will be willing to try Silverton on a late-season unguided day.

 

 

If you don't think she will ski the interesting stuff at Telluride, I don't think I'd bother with Silverton. I guess it's just one day, but... 

post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

 

If you don't think she will ski the interesting stuff at Telluride, I don't think I'd bother with Silverton. I guess it's just one day, but... 

 

Exactly on the one day part.

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

We've moved and gotten settled into our new home, and are absolutely giddy about the upcoming ski experience at Wolf Creek. It would be nice if the season started October 8th this year too. :)

post #12 of 27

 

 

A few pics (not mine) from opening day at Wolf Creek last year.  In the last 15 years that have opened on Halloween or earlier about 5 times, but last year was the earliest.  It depends on the snow, but if it is skiable they always try to make it happen for us. I didn't make it for opening weekend, but the next weekend they had a 30" dump of cold smoke and we were skiing the trees and getting non-stop face shots in mid-October.  Wolfie is small, but it is mighty.  They historically record the most snowfall of any ski area in Colorado.

 

post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 

Jackasses.  The least they could do for opening day is run a few groomers around.

 

*smacks sense into self*

post #14 of 27

Seg is right; if your future wife doesn't want to do the more challenging terrain at T-Ride, then don't take her to Silverton, even for one day. It is not that Silverton is so very steep, but it is so vast and rugged and open that it can present something of a mind-trip. And it tries to exaggerate that tough guy vibe which doesn't help if she's apprehensive to start with.

 

Strongly suggest you go by yourself to scout it out before you take her there.

 

That said, if you do take her to Silverton, see if you can organize going out with one of the terrific female guides who will tone down the bravado some.

post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 

Well, my future wife is now my wife. Between that and moving, we had a busy summer. :)

 

You are probably right- it may be a good idea to take a Silverton trip before bringing her along. 

 

When we met, she was a intermediate skier with some solid fundamentals. After 2 years of 50 ski days a season, she's where she has all the tools and is a solid low-expert skier, but is sometimes afraid to use the tools she knows.  Tears sometimes flow at the entrance to the run, right before she skis the run in question top-to-bottom with hardly a flaw. 

 

Still, she's mentioned that SHE would like to catch a late season unguided day at Silverton. We drove up there to the ski area a few weeks ago, and that didn't knock her out of the running, and I really think most of a season of hiking the ridge at Wolf Creek, and getting her comfortable with skiing lines through trees rather than "runs" will help.

post #16 of 27

 

Just looking at that image makes me excited for the season.  As Mudfoot has said "Wolfie is small, but it is mighty."  If you have been at the spot of that image and know that you have 24-30" on deck waiting, it is a memorable experience."  I have no problem with the benchiness; it lets you catch your breath......

post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by theelk View Post

 

Just looking at that image makes me excited for the season.  As Mudfoot has said "Wolfie is small, but it is mighty."  If you have been at the spot of that image and know that you have 24-30" on deck waiting, it is a memorable experience."  I have no problem with the benchiness; it lets you catch your breath......

 

Was there and did that, over and over in 12-16" a few seasons ago. 

 

OP is near WC, Silverton, Taos and Telluride.   Great move.

post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowfan View Post

 

Was there and did that, over and over in 12-16" a few seasons ago. 

 

OP is near WC, Silverton, Taos and Telluride.   Great move.

 

:)

 

I usually get really antsy this time of year in the lead-up to ski season. This year that's amplified by about 300 times. This area is the only place in Colorado that I haven't skied extensively (or even at all), so knowing that everything will be new, and knowing the reputation of these places really has me keyed up.  

post #19 of 27

 

Early season option.

post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 

Two years on, I think we are pretty happy with our Wolf Creek choice. :)

 

My wife skied Silverton last season and really liked it after getting over the panic. :)

post #21 of 27

...another day in paradise...

post #22 of 27

Yeah, people that complain about Wolf Creek being too flat have obviously never skied Purg.  You made the right choice.  Did you ever try Hesperus night skiing?

post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by core2 View Post

Yeah, people that complain about Wolf Creek being too flat have obviously never skied Purg.  You made the right choice.  Did you ever try Hesperus night skiing?

Well to be fair, I liked Purg as a ski area. There was some fun stuff there- just no gnar. They groom a bit too much for my liking. But I had a lot of fun making laps of Hades with good slush bumps.

What Purg lacks is management that gives a damn about locals, and is too shortsighted to see how this hurts them.

Stuff like:

1. 2012- after missing a Thanksgiving opening due to lack of snow, and spending all of December with only 1 run open, they get 40+" on the 19th. They open no new terrain until Christmas. Despite having plenty of snow and despite having pass holders that paid dearly to ski there. Why bother to open terrain and spin lifts for only the locals?

2. 2013- polar opposite. The early season hammers the Sw. By Mid-November they have the snow to be 100% open, but Purg doesn't do things like open early. However, they do hire out a photography crew to go grab waist-deep steezy shots all over the mountain, which then gets passed out all over the internet. Of course, none of these shots mentioned that with all that snow, they weren't bothering to spin the lifts. They open on schedule for Thanksgiving several weeks later. And, as it turns out, the Season goes pretty much dry at that point for about a month and it turned out to be a below average year, with the best snow falling while Purg was refusing to open.

3. You can buy a $550 season pass for a week in April. Miss that week? That will be $729 for a season pass, please. Don't buy before 10/19/2014? $939 please. Compare with Telluride, a completely different class of resort in every way, for $1,128 purchased before 10/14.

4. There was the whole "What a gorgeous day!" photo of the skyline during the 2013 fires, cropping out the GIANT smoke plume from the fire that firefighters expected to roll through and gut South Fork on the same day as the post. Totally tone deaf- I assume it has gotten so bad they just assume nobody local gets any of their marketing stuff anymore.

5. Discount tickets, 4 packs, etc. that are only sold out of market in NM, AZ, TX.

6. After heavy criticism of the above, offering "Locals deals" that are restricted to a handful of days during the season and STILL don't offer the same discount as what is offered out-of-market.

I work in Durango. Lots of skiers in my office. Not one person holds a Purg Pass. The last person gave their pass up 2 years ago- under the previous ownership, most held a pass. Some ski BC, some Silverton, a lot hit up locals days at Wolf ($39 tickets about half the Sundays of the ski season). I don't know anybody that likes the mountain. When the skiers in my office get bored, they troll Purg's social media, or call up their ticket office and play dumb asking to price match the RMSP, where on their website to go and buy a 4 pack, etc. I have NEVER seen so much local animosity directed at a ski area, and I am including Vail.

Regarding Hesperus, I haven't ridden the lifts there. Some field work for an avy class was located there (the ski patrol hosted the class), but that was skiing around, not riding lifts. My wife and I always talk about going there, but the past two seasons they have had to close just after Presidents day, so just when we start thinking about it, they close. The problem is that we live 40 minutes in the other direction and have dogs, so night skiing there would mean getting off work, driving home, then back across to Hesperus, then home- like 21/2 hours of driving. Makes it hard to facilitate. Its a neat place with some great steeps for a 600 vert hill. Most years it gets decent snow, too.







4.
post #24 of 27

One day someone will be googling about Purg and find that hate rant lmao.  I drove by Hesperus at night after a day at Telluride last season so I didn't ski it but it looked like a really cool place.  I'd love to catch a night session right after it snows and ski some night powder there.

post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by core2 View Post

One day someone will be googling about Purg and find that hate rant lmao.  I drove by Hesperus at night after a day at Telluride last season so I didn't ski it but it looked like a really cool place.  I'd love to catch a night session right after it snows and ski some night powder there.

Weekdays it only opens at night. You can watch snow come down all day, and then go ski powder under the lights. It has steeper shots than Purg. I don't know anybody that doesn't like the place. Really we want to go, but the seasons have not cooperated down here.

I bet if they cut their season pass down to $200 they would pick up a lot of disgusted former purg skiers.

I hope somebody in my position does see that rant. I was seriously considering Purg when I moved here. If I had to experience their fuckery with not opening terrain as a pass holder, I would be beyond pissed. Instead, Wolf Creek blew me away and turned me into "super homer."

Of the many cool things about Wolf, I love that I can count on them to open the mountain the instant there is almost enough snow to do so. Opening day at Wolf is an experience one way or the other...

I am sure you had an experience that day you ventured into Alberta with a 25" base... How did that go, anyways?
post #26 of 27

Hesperus is a good choice when the area gets a really big bump.  Purg is rendered virtually unskiable by a 2 foot dump, but Hesperus is a blast in those conditions.

post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
 

Hesperus is a good choice when the area gets a really big bump.  Purg is rendered virtually unskiable by a 2 foot dump, but Hesperus is a blast in those conditions.

 

I still have dreams of catching that kind of storm after work.  Its been a bit scant the past two seasons.

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