I've read through heaps of the threads on here about LCC and Utah skiing (there are plenty!) but can't seem to find an answer to these questions:
Basic info: I'm from Australia. A group of ~14 family and friends are planning a ski trip to the US in the last week of January 2014 (likely Jan 23-31, give or take a day) and we're 99% set on skiing at Alta and Snowbird (staying in one of the condos on the road between, so we'd ideally ski half and half, roughly). We contemplated staying in Park City, mostly skiing the 3 resorts there and travelling to LCC once or twice for the day, but have decided we should be basing ourselves where the skiing is best... Powder is premium. Challenging terrain is also necessary. Hence LCC.
However, in my reading (mostly of the forums on this site) I've often seen comments about the mad rush, aggressive attitudes and large crowds on powder mornings in LCC. So my *main question* is: to what extent is this the case in the time we'll be heading there? Bad enough to warrant choosing another destination, or is the end of January a bit more of a down period for crowds?
4 of us have skied JH in 2011 (we were there roughly Jan 17-25 so a little earlier). Although we did encounter crowds on powder mornings, and the mountain certainly did get tracked out pretty quickly, we managed the 1st or 2nd tram up on a 5" morning (I know, I know that's not a huge amount but pow is pow) and we weren't too far from the front of the queue for the Bridger Gondola on an 8" morning, having lined up from 8.30.
Furthermore, confirming what I've read in several threads here, once we actually got up onto the mountain the crowds mostly dispersed pretty quickly. Whereas, I've also read that Snowbird and Alta can experience long lift lines for much of the day when there's been plenty of new snow. Once again, does this happen regularly in the last week of January? I can understand it on a weekend but what about midweek?
We also managed to get to the front of the line for the Bridger Gondola, which accesses plenty of quality terrain in itself, on several mornings having arrived as late as 8.45 or 9.00 (non powder, may have been a Saturday, can't remember 100%). This leads me to another question. The Peruvian Express Chair at Snowbird seems to access plenty of vertical and even Gadzoom may be worth lapping in the mornings while the crowds fight it out for the Tram and the upper mountain.Similarly at Alta, Supreme and Sugarloaf lifts also seem to access plenty of good terrain. Do the Peruvian and Gadzoom chairs see similar crowds to the Aerial Tram on, say, a 12" pow day? Once you've made it to the top of Collins or even Albion lift at Alta, do the crowds then simply form around Supreme and Sugarloaf?
Thanks in advance to anyone who can advise on these questions. I know its annoying when yet another thread is started but if even one experienced Utah skier can give me a heads up that would be much appreciated. I'm more than happy to advise on Niseko Japan (been there twice), and go into great detail on my JH trip if I can help others planning to go there.
PS we were utterly spoilt by Niseko. Approx 180cm fell over our 7 days, with almost no crowds. We skied on a base of 4 metres... Can't recommend Hokkaido, Japan more highly for powder skiing and the terrain is hardly boring (if not overly steep, there's plenty of it with enough steeper stuff for those prepared to look for it)