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Is it Vertical drop or Acres/Area or Terrain? - Page 2

post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaobrien6 View Post

 

Except it doesn't.  You gotta go up to come down, it doesn't matter if you do it in 3k foot increments or 1k foot increments.  A high speed quad goes up the hill at the same speed no matter how far it's going.  Granted, this doesn't count if we're talking trams, but since most ski areas in NA don't have those, I'm going to count those as the exception rather than the rule.

 

At the end of the day, terrain and snow is what makes a ski area.

 

Exactly what I was going to say.   Some people actually prefer the shorter chair rides of a shorter verticle mtn.   Especially if you're stuck on the chair with some A$$hole...

post #32 of 38

I'll share a story about this weekend.

 

My brother has been a Snowmass ski bum for about ten years. This weekend, he came to visit us and ski Wolf Creek for the weekend.

 

Conditions: The prior weekend saw about 40" of very, very, very wet snow fall at temps a few degrees above freezing. Snow stopped falling on Tuesday, Wednesday-Friday saw thaw/freeze cycles every day. When I skied the prior weekend, I stopped at 2:30 PM on Sunday because the snow had condensed to the point where even relatively untracked snow was very difficult to play in (I struggle skiing 45*+ pitches in trees with snow that resists smearing/pivoting).

 

I was expecting the conditions to totally SUCK- refrozen cinder block crud.  Thankfully they were not that, as the freeze cycles brought out a ton of surface hoar to sugar up the upper layer, and limit the amount that the snowpack condensed. The wet snow also really did wonders for sticking to the steeper chutes that have not held snow well. Still, conditions could best be called moderately heavy crud- not unskiable, but not primo, at least in my eyes.

 

So, my brother and his girlfriend come out from Aspen, and first run, start talking about how wonderful the snow is. By the third run, they are talking about how this is the best "powder day" they have had in 2 years. I'm flummoxed- its not a powder day, its 3 day old crud that came from heavy, heavy snow. 

 

I spent a LOT of time talking with them trying to figure out where they are coming from, and I finally get to understand that they are calling it a powder day because the conditions on the steep technical lines through Waterfall area, Knife Ridge, Area 54, etc., are better than what they would find on a typical powder day at Aspen/Snowmass (especially during the last 2 years). Basically, if they aren't hitting the Cirque poma within minutes of open, the best lines are trashed, while they are skiing soft snow with coverage lap after lap 3 days after the storm at Wolf.

 

I think one thing commonly overlooked when talking about snow quality is how much crowds affect that.  I love powder days at small ski areas that don't see the crowds, because the propsects are much better for getting fresh tracks all day. I've had a lot of very, very dissapointing powders days at large ski areas where the snow is devoured by 9:45.

 

My brother's summary of Wolf was "Never again will I put up with somebody telling me that Wolf is flat."  Good snow and hairy terrain, even if it lacks sustained vert, can still rock.

post #33 of 38
Quote:

Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post

 

I'll hold up my fave MI hill, Mt. Bohemia as an example:  450 acres, just short of 1000' of vert (iirc) and killer terrain.  They get pretty decent lake effect snow.  I'd rather ski there than Vail most any day.

 

Yep. I've never skied Bohemia (but if I ever happen to find myself visting one of the 500 people that live on the UP, I'm taking my skis), but I suspect you are right.

 

From mountains I've skied, I can say for a fact I would rather ski Monarch (1100 vert, 800 acres) on a powder day than Vail. Or pretty much anywhere else in Colorado excluding perhaps Snowmass, Highlands, Telluride and Crested Butte.

 

A 12" day at Monarch generally means untracked for as long as you want to ski it. At many smaller places in Colorado, that get just as much if not more snow than the big places, you have plenty of days where you are sharing the snow with about 100 other skiers who are actually getting it, while the church groups and flatlanders that make up the bulk of the ski area business sit in the lodge, drink hot chocolate, and complain about the "lack of grooming."

post #34 of 38

I think it's each to his/her own on this but for me, my skiing is always on vacation and is short. So it comes down to:

 

Weather

Good lifts

Decent Vert (doesn't have to be that much for me)

Decent conditions

 

that is all I ask.

post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave_SSS View Post

 

Especially for advanced skiers,  terrain and snow quality.  

 

If a resort has high acreage and vertical drop but little advanced terrain and or poorer quality snow, it is not going to be as interesting and attractive to ski for advanced skiers.  On that count there are a number of medium acreage sized resorts with modest vertical drops like say Kirkwood that rate higher with advanced skiers than our largest resorts.  And poorer snow quality besides water content that reflects lightness also includes frequency and quantity of new snow and terrain exposures.  Snow elements Tony Crocker has long been on top of.

This is a west coast point of view. Vertical really defines an east coast mtn as most major east coast resorts have much smaller acreage vs west coast mtns. A small vertical (less than 1000) means many short lift rides and many short ski runs. You take what you have, but if there are choices here on the east coast I am going for vertical. In most cases in the East the more vertical the more interesting the terrain.

post #36 of 38

There is another aspect to this more relevant in the Midwest and East currently.  Acreage/size can be relevant to the point that the resort's snowmaking capabilities or natural snowfall is able to make them all "skiable".  Early in the season a HUGE western resort may actually have fewer skiable acres than much smaller Eastern resorts do thanks to manmade capabilities or lack of them.

post #37 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by x10003q View Post

This is a west coast point of view. Vertical really defines an east coast mtn as most major east coast resorts have much smaller acreage vs west coast mtns. A small vertical (less than 1000) means many short lift rides and many short ski runs. You take what you have, but if there are choices here on the east coast I am going for vertical. In most cases in the East the more vertical the more interesting the terrain.

 

I'm not disagreeing with your point.  However, I think once you get over 1000 vert, and almost certainly once you get over 1500, the TOTAL vertical becomes much, much less important in shaping how much fun an area is to ski, for the previously mentioned reasons that most lifts run alignments with 1000-2000 ft vertical, and so most skiers, even at areas with huge vert, are skiing runs that have around that size drop.

 

Once you get over the 1000/1500 vertical, how much total vertical matters very, very little to me.  In fact, many of my favorite areas (Monarch, Wolf, Sunlight, Loveland) only have between 1000 and 2000.

 

I like skiing these areas a lot more than say, Steamboat, with a healthy 3500 feet, because the actual steep parts of the mountain are very limited in vert, followed by intermediate pitch.  In fact, Steamboat gave me a reminder of one situation where vert sucks-  Was skiing there last year during a warm, wet storm, so warm that the snow line was right around the upper terminal of the gondola.  That afternoon, the gondola closed due to wind hold, and thus the whole mountain got to ski translucent blue rained on ice slopes the whole way down the lower mountain.  Meanwhile, Loveland, Monarch, and Wolf Creek all have BASE elevations higher than Steamboat's summit.

 

Come to think of it, I think elevation should be a minor factor to consider. Ski areas at higher elevations generally tend to get lighter snow, more snow, and the snow tends to keep better once its on the ground- both form the standpoint of extending a season and staying soft days after storms.  Of course, the downside is the -15* days with 40 mph winds, but everything else the same, I would choose a ski area located at a higher elevation than a lower one.

post #38 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaobrien6 View Post

 

Except it doesn't.  You gotta go up to come down, it doesn't matter if you do it in 3k foot increments or 1k foot increments.  A high speed quad goes up the hill at the same speed no matter how far it's going.  Granted, this doesn't count if we're talking trams, but since most ski areas in NA don't have those, I'm going to count those as the exception rather than the rule.

 

At the end of the day, terrain and snow is what makes a ski area.

 

If there is a line for the lift and you add wait time then a 2000 ft vert lift would trump two runs from a 1000 ft vert lift.

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