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Clueless beginners skiers from the tropics

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I am taking my whole family to a first time ski vacation this December, 14 of us, the group ages range from 1 year to 60 years old, most in the 30's,
I'm fortunate to have options to ski in Aspen (Ski & Bling town.. Perfect!),
Maybe I browsed too much about Aspen and got very worried finding out about possible effects of high altitude in Aspen, what about the babies?,
So I changed plan and browsed lower altitude Lake Tahoe instead, close to LA (our base City of departure)
Can anyone tell me a great beginners resort (with some bling) in Lake Tahoe ?
Is Squaw valley good?
Would there be snow in December? I read last year there wasn't any snow until mid January..
Thank you very much..
post #2 of 26

Welcome to Epicski!  Which continent are you coming from?

 

As you may have learned already, Dec is a bit early for planning a major ski trip.  Are you considering early, mid, or during the Christmas holidays?

 

For Lake Tahoe and beginners, Heavenly in south Tahoe is probably worth considering but I don't know what snow conditions are likely to be.  Northstar is good for family skiing but doesn't have as many other things to do.  You can check historical data for family friendly resorts here:

 

 

http://bestsnow.net/fam_ski.htm

 

Would you consider Whistler?

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
..
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
Learning to steer this tongue.gif
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
@Massanutten : Heavenly? Ok..
Plans to go on Christmas week... No December snow? What about Aspen?
Thank you
post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherMom View Post

@Massanutten : Heavenly? Ok..
Plans to go on Christmas week... No December snow? What about Aspen?
Thank you

Hmm, the holiday period brings up other issues.  Although by then snow conditions should be fine for the places you are considering.  If you have lodging in Aspen, might as well give it a go.  Your group should be taking beginner lessons, so be sure to register well in advance for those.

 

As for altitude, usually it's the older folks who have a harder time adjusting.  You have time to learn what to do to get ready for high altitude living.

 

By the way, my "name" is "marznc".  Massanutten is the name of the small hill that I call my home mountain.  I also take trips out to the Rockies as often as possible given that my daughter is still in elementary school.

post #7 of 26

Here is a thread from a little while back that mentions Aspen as a place to go during Christmas week.  Also discusses other options.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/94746/where-to-go-for-christmas

post #8 of 26

Regarding the altitude concerns...  Different people are affected differently; some people go up in altitude and feel fine, and some feel sick.  The same person can get sick on one trip and feel fine the next trip;

 

The best prevention for altitude sickness is to increase altitude slowly.  That is, the faster you go to high altitude, the more likely it is you'll have a problem.  For the Colorado based ski areas (i.e., in your case, Aspen), the "safe" thing to do is to fly into Denver and spend the day there.  If memory serves right, Denver is ~3000 feet lower then Aspen.  Then fly (or drive...) onto Aspen and spend another day taking it easy, checking out the town, shopping, etc.  And then start skiing.

 

Not many people do that since it's a lot of "down time" to start your vacation.

 

That said...  all ski towns have medical centers, and all those medical centers are used to seeing vacationers come in complaining about altitude sickness.  i.e., the medical staff knows how to treat this.  Most people get nothing worse then a headache; severe cases involve returning to lower altitudes.  No ski area is at an altitude that (typically) induces the "dangerous" forms of altitude sickness.

post #9 of 26

You could also look at East Coast Resorts such as Stowe (where I work). Our base elevation is about 1000 feet, and we make snow. Mother Nature has to cooperate and at least give us cold air, but we can make a lot of snow. Anyway, what drew me to this topic is that we teach thousands of "clueless beginners from the tropics" every year. 

post #10 of 26

IF you have a big family as you said 14 people, I really recommend that you look for a place with lots of non-ski activities. IF you guys are used to live at sea level, low altitude, humid climate I doubt you guys are gonna be able to do ski the whole day, every day, the whole week. You guys are gonna get very tired just with the 2 hours beginner class, so of the mountain activities should be one of your priorities.

 

Also remember to keep everyone very hydrated! Avoid soft drinks and get water or sport drinks, gatorade/powerade kinda thing and drink a lot! This is very important on high altitude! When I used to live at sea level, I spent 5 weeks in Colorado Springs, which is about 2k feet lower than Aspen, and I had a hard time adapting to the altitude during my evening runs.

 

So don't plan to many hours of skiing per day, plan lots of other activities, keep everyone with their bottles of water! Specially for first time skiers, just the mountain environment is awesome, you guys go do a class, ski for a couple of hours then you will go to the lodge and will have a lot of fun I`m sure! The ski area/city/village environment is really fun and I`m sure you guys will enjoy!

 

So if you pay attention to the details the altitude in Aspen shouldn't be too much of a problem, and it is a nice place. I haven`t been there skiing but the city is awesome and very appealing!  Your "base camp" is going to be L.A., so traveling to Aspen is a long shot and you all have to catch a plane, I would discard Park City as well. It`s on top of most recommendation for family trips where just skiing is not what travelers are looking for!

post #11 of 26

FWIW my daughter took her baby, three months old at the time, to Quito (pretty high) for a couple of weeks and had no problems. And they normally live in Ontario (certainly not high altitude).
 

post #12 of 26

Squaw Valley is good.  Admittedly, I'm biased.  My family started out at Northstar, under the assumption that it was family friendly.  Long story made short: my kids didn't learn much until we tried Squaw based on a friend's advice.  There's plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain at Squaw.

 

That said, I really can't vouch for the snow quantity or quality anywhere in Tahoe in December.  If you're talking about a major trip with many people, lots of commitments, and substantial costs, I'd suggest you find a more reliable place or shift your dates to February or March.

post #13 of 26

Steamboat Colorado is usually the most reliable resort in the state for early season snowfall. I’d consider that. Very balanced terrain for all abilities.

 

Plus the lower altitude may help if you’re that concerned about it. If you stay hydrated and are in good physical condition, it's a non issue.

post #14 of 26

Judging by the predicted winter forecast (which can always be inaccurate), it's going to be a great winter for Colorado. December's always going to be a gamble no matter where you go, though. My money would still be on Colorado, though. Honestly, I think the whole "altitude-sickness" thing is exaggerated, as when I used to go to Colorado for ski trips, I was coming from South Texas, which is hot, humid, and barely above sea level. The altitude's never bothered me, so I guess that's dependent on each person. Get everyone on a treadmill from now until then, and I'm sure they'll be fine. biggrin.gif

post #15 of 26

icon14.gif

 

You'll probably all be fine at Aspen, but Steamboat is usually good for earlier season, has LOTS of great beginner/intermediate terrain and is very pretty and lower altitude. It doesn't have the bling of Aspen but it does have a bonafide town and other non-skiing things to do like the hot springs and snowshoeing in the park and guided nature hikes and such.

 

If you are all beginners, then at Aspen, Buttermilk mountain is for you. If you have a very mixed crowd, from beginners to advanced or expert, then you may end up splitting up to ski different mountains. Aspen, unlike some other resorts mentioned, acuatlly has four distinct and seperate mountains with their own base areas. They do have very good free bus service, but you are talking different towns even. Aspen Mountain, advanced to expert and relatively small but iconic. Aspen Highlands, including famous hike-to Highlands Bowl, Buttermilk, beginner/intermediate and park and pipe people and Snowmass which is a little of everything, but mostly in the middle...Others who call it home can probably give you better characterizations of the mountains, but this could be a consideration.

 

Here's an observation about altitude from someone who lives high up and has lots of friends from the US subtropics. Most people who are "affected by altitude" are really just dehydrated. This is especially true of those coming from a humid climate who who don't realize they are sweating because they don't feel wet and  just can't believe how much water is lost through breathing, and because of the altitude, you're breathing hard. Then they have some wine, which is diuretic and voila, major headache that won't go away. You have to be preemtive and drink more water than you think. lots more. Then all will be well. One mom to another...

post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post

icon14.gif

 

You'll probably all be fine at Aspen, but Steamboat is usually good for earlier season, has LOTS of great beginner/intermediate terrain and is very pretty and lower altitude. It doesn't have the bling of Aspen but it does have a bonafide town and other non-skiing things to do like the hot springs and snowshoeing in the park and guided nature hikes and such.

 

Fair warning, theres some funny business that happens there after dark yahoo.gif

post #17 of 26

If elevation is a concern, consider Whistler or Sun Peaks.  Lower elevations, reliable early season conditions, lots of terrain, and lots of different stuff to do for non-skiers.  

post #18 of 26

The OP's looking for "bling" as well as skiing.  Whistler would be the natural for early season snow, lower elevation, a good experience for beginners, and "bling," whatever that is.

post #19 of 26

Aspen is definitely one of the best areas for bling and apre ski.  The elevation is higher than Steamboat/Tahoe/most of Utah, but not as high as Breck or Copper.

 

Aspen has 4 ski areas and there is NO BEGINNER TERRAIN at Ajax (the area that is next to the town).  You will likely take beginner lessons at either Buttermilk or Snowmass which are close but require a car/bus ride.  Snowmass definitely has ski-in/ski out lodging that you may appreaciate.  Not sure about Buttermilk.

post #20 of 26
Go to Aspen. You won't regret it. It is one of the lower resorts in Colorado. December is usually pretty reliable in Aspen. Buttermilk has excellent beginner terrain, and Aspen has at least twice the terrain as Steamboat. And Aspen is, we'll, Aspen.

Mike
post #21 of 26

Whistler? 

 

Park City?

post #22 of 26

If they're from the Pacific Islands, they'll really feel the cold imo, unlike cold blooded epicskierspopcorn.gif

 

And won't they want more that just 1 ski hill? I'd be suggesting something that logistically is easy peasy to get to and get out of on Southwest Airlines, that's close to other things like the lake, fishing, a Paddle Steamer at Heavenly, a dinner cruise, the Elephant Enclosure place at Thunderbird, Vikingsholme, Virginia City,  the Napa wine region, Genoa and the hot  springs or close enough to go home via San Fran.

 

Maybe take Hwy 395 for a scenic trip to Mammoth for a day or two, then do the casinos etc at Heavenly.

 

For bling, there's Vegas and a resort about 2 hours drive away.

 

Squaw has the kids adventure zone with ski doos and some bling like the spa and the heated pools, cable car rides, and a variety in dining.

 

I haven't been to Aspen. I've been invited time and time again but, meh, Tahoe ticks my boxes.

post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thank y'all .. Mom and all.. for the very helpfull advices ..

Maybe I will go to Aspen, my original (dream destination) plan ..




Copy pasted:

"When in doubt, apply speed.
But don't ski any faster than your age.
Half a binding, half a brain.

And my personal all time favorite...

TUCK IT! " biggrin.gif "
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherMom View Post

Thank y'all .. Mom and all.. for the very helpfull advices ..
Maybe I will go to Aspen, my original (dream destination) plan ..
Copy pasted:
"When in doubt, apply speed.
But don't ski any faster than your age.
Half a binding, half a brain.
And my personal all time favorite...
TUCK IT! " biggrin.gif "

 

Or, don't ski any faster than your guardian angels can fly.  smile.gif

post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherMom View Post

I am taking my whole family to a first time ski vacation this December, 14 of us, the group ages range from 1 year to 60 years old, most in the 30's,
I'm fortunate to have options to ski in Aspen (Ski & Bling town.. Perfect!),
Maybe I browsed too much about Aspen and got very worried finding out about possible effects of high altitude in Aspen, what about the babies?,
So I changed plan and browsed lower altitude Lake Tahoe instead, close to LA (our base City of departure)
Can anyone tell me a great beginners resort (with some bling) in Lake Tahoe ?
Is Squaw valley good?
Would there be snow in December? I read last year there wasn't any snow until mid January..
Thank you very much..

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by veteran View Post

If they're from the Pacific Islands, they'll really feel the cold imo, unlike cold blooded epicskierspopcorn.gif

 

And won't they want more that just 1 ski hill? I'd be suggesting something that logistically is easy peasy to get to and get out of on Southwest Airlines, that's close to other things like the lake, fishing, a Paddle Steamer at Heavenly, a dinner cruise, the Elephant Enclosure place at Thunderbird, Vikingsholme, Virginia City,  the Napa wine region, Genoa and the hot  springs or close enough to go home via San Fran.

 

Maybe take Hwy 395 for a scenic trip to Mammoth for a day or two, then do the casinos etc at Heavenly.

 

For bling, there's Vegas and a resort about 2 hours drive away.

 

Squaw has the kids adventure zone with ski doos and some bling like the spa and the heated pools, cable car rides, and a variety in dining.

 

I haven't been to Aspen. I've been invited time and time again but, meh, Tahoe ticks my boxes.

While your ideas for south Lake Tahoe would be a lot of fun, the logistics for a group of 14 would be complicated.  Sounds like Aspen/Buttermilk and Snowmass gives enough variety if they really want to ski more than one mountain after getting their skiing legs.

post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherMom View Post

Maybe I will go to Aspen, my original (dream destination) plan .

Got to go with your dreams. 

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