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Easter skiing 2014 from April5th..Recommendations?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Looking to go over to US/Canada from the UK with the family for a week to 10 days starting April5th next year, Family includes 2 kids 14 and 11. This year we spent 10 days in Whistler early April and loved it, very different to our usual European resorts.........it was VERY warm, and pretty slushy from early afternoon for first few days, but everyone was telling me that was unseasonally warm.
Fortunate enough to be doing a New Year week at Cervinia in Italy, but then also considering options for next Easter..my son and myself are pretty much into black diamonds, and I got him down his first double diamond black..Pakololo, on the final day (he had seen it on Youtube so was determined to get down it)...Wife and 11yr old daughter are more like cruisers..happy on Blues all day, with the occasional trip on black diamond, with some nice "offslope" stuff..shopping, good places to eat etc.
Has to be a fairly large resort to keep the guys happy, but also want to ensure good conditions for that time of year.

Any comments, recommendations etc. would be very appreciated.

Cheers
Tony
post #2 of 26

Welcome to EpicSki!  Finding good snow in early April in North America is not that difficult.  Picking a place with other things to do near the slopes makes it a little more complicated.  For instance, skiing at Alta/Snowbird can be great in April.  Alta has plenty to keep intermediates happy.  Snowbird is not really great for intermediates who like wide groomers.  But not much do to besides ski if staying up in the LCC canyon.

 

Might get some ideas from these threads.  Second is by a Scotsman who was planning for him and his father, who wanted to stay in the city.  Scotty also spent his spring vacation in SLC the year before.  Note that Park City is not a good idea in April.

http://www.epicski.com/t/119134/utah-in-april

http://www.epicski.com/t/113550/salt-lake-trip-28th-march-2013-help-please

 

Banff is mentioned a lot for people planning for a late season trip.  This is an old thread, but still seems useful.

http://www.epicski.com/t/51301/banff-in-the-spring

post #3 of 26

Probably best bets are Aspen, Vail, or Whistler.

I would recommend Aspen. Four mountains with as wide a variety of ski terrain as you could wish. Similarly for dining, nightlife and shopping in town.

 

Hard to tell about conditions that time of year, could be full on spring or semi-winter, at least for a few days.

 

I would recommend my home mountain, Sun Valley, except that it possible that  a significant portion of the mountain may start shutting down about then. I have seen a lot of good skiing in April, though.

 

Wherever you go, it should be uncrowded with some good deals available.

post #4 of 26

Colorado is your best bet.  The elevation generally provides better conditions in April, and you can find great off-slope stuff for your wife and daughter.

 

I agree Aspen is the obvious choice.   What's not obvious is if you should stay in Aspen or Snowmass.  Staying in the town of Aspen is ideal for off-slope, but not on-slope for your family.  Vise versa for Snowmass.

 

Vail is another great option, especially if you and your son want to venture out and try other mountains.  There are six good mountains you can hit from Vail.   I bet a 14 year old would love to brag about how many areas he skied in Colorado, if old Dad is up for the challenge.  Your wife and daughter should be fine skiing Vail for the duration.

 

Here's a recent long thread about a guy who started skiing all the areas near Vail in early April this year and is still going strong (I just skied a few runs with him at A-basin this weekend).  It will give you an idea of the terrain at the different areas near Vail, and how nice the snow can be in April: 

http://www.epicski.com/t/119747/just-got-to-colorado-skiing-here-for-the-fist-time-at-the-vail-mountains-advice-needed

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

Great information..thanks everyone.

 

I will check out Vail, as that looks like it could tick our boxes...but also the other suggestions, the other key for us is that there is an International airport reasonably close by so as we will be flying from London.

 

Thanks

Tony

post #6 of 26

Reiterating much that has already been said, early April can be good to very good throughout much of Colorado.  Around the 2nd or 3rd week of April a number of the Colorado resorts begin to shut down even with plenty of snow, but you should not have to worry about closures during the week of April 5. The higher resorts in Utah (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, Brighton) should be good to very good in early April too, and possibly the Park City resorts although they are lower elevation, but surround a nice town for après ski activities.

If you want to return to western Canada then the Banff suggestion is a good bet including Sunshine Village and Lake Louise ski areas.  You may catch mid-winter snow conditions at that time.  The elevations are considerably higher than Whistler.  Nice recent posts depicting great skiing this past April at Lake Louise: 

http://www.epicski.com/t/120155/lake-louise-ski-resort

http://www.epicski.com/t/120233/lake-louise-springtime-skiing

 

While you may be inclined to buy your airline tickets well in advance for best prices, you don't probably need to do the same for room accommodations since the US resorts will be empty in April.  From gateway airports like SLC, Denver, or Calgary you could pick the precise ski resort destination closer to date of flights based on best snow conditions.

post #7 of 26

BA has direct flights into Denver.

post #8 of 26

I just have to say that Vail does get pretty slushy in the spring,  have you ever heard of Winterpark, Colorado?  It's an awesome kid and adult friendly resort and it's your BEST bet for snow in that area of colorado.  close to denver.    

post #9 of 26

Without a doubt the safest resort for April skiing is Mammoth Mountain south of Tahoe.  It is appropriately named with as much terrain as you desire. They are consistently among the first to open and the last to close. We have near drought conditions here in California and this year Mammoth will go into June. We try to go every year and this year we skied it the week of April 8th and it was 100% open and returned the week of April 22 and it was 65% open.  A bit remote but a very short, cheap flight from Los Angeles. Can't miss.

post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 

All great advice....thanks. A few resorts I have never heard of so have been googling a few of them.

post #11 of 26

Tony,

 

You may also wish to look at Mt. Bachelor spring conditions are very reliable there, and Bend has lots of stuff to keep you occupied

 

also you may with to look at this article by Tony Crocker

 

http://173.193.223.192/~bestsnow/late01.htm

 

It really depends on when you need to make the reservations.

 

If it's in the spring you can wait till you have a good idea of conditions before booking

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquawBrat View Post

Without a doubt the safest resort for April skiing is Mammoth Mountain south of Tahoe.  It is appropriately named with as much terrain as you desire. They are consistently among the first to open and the last to close. We have near drought conditions here in California and this year Mammoth will go into June. We try to go every year and this year we skied it the week of April 8th and it was 100% open and returned the week of April 22 and it was 65% open.  A bit remote but a very short, cheap flight from Los Angeles. Can't miss.

that being said, here is me on mammoth Sun and yesterday. :)  

dropping in to Paranoid 3 on Sunday,

 

 

Paranoid 3 yesterday, 

 

 

 

Although mammoth is going to require creative traveling for the OP since it only has two hubs that fly into it.  

post #13 of 26

Great photos, man! They're all good, but I really love the top one. Rope ducking to good use? wink.gifbiggrin.gif

 

Good information above, OP. Booking this early out, I'd definitely stick to the Cottonwood Canyons as far as UT goes. Park City and Snowbasin can be good that time of year, but lower elevation and less annual snow could mean heavier, skimpier spring coverage - early April is typically the turning point. CCs are your best bet for UT, but sounds like some good options to choose from. 

post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post

Great photos, man! They're all good, but I really love the top one. Rope ducking to good use? wink.gifbiggrin.gif

 

Good information above, OP. Booking this early out, I'd definitely stick to the Cottonwood Canyons as far as UT goes. Park City and Snowbasin can be good that time of year, but lower elevation and less annual snow could mean heavier, skimpier spring coverage - early April is typically the turning point. CCs are your best bet for UT, but sounds like some good options to choose from. 

lol,  actually it was all open,   mammoth is pretty liberal with letting people go and do whatever they want.  You can literally go rock climbing down to a run at Mammoth.    The only place they really guard is the volcano vent area, because a couple patrol died there, but I noticed they put some type of vent on it? 

post #15 of 26

Tony, let me try to boil this down:

  • snow coverage should be good to excellent at all the areas mentioned the first week of April.
  • snow conditions will vary greatly based on the elevation and typical April temperatures.

 

If you are looking for winter like snow conditions, your best bet is the higher elevation areas in Colorado.   The other areas mentioned will have great snow coverage, but the snow conditions may be similar to what you experienced at Whistler this year.

 

Tony Crocker has some amazing snow history data for the areas you are considering:

 

In his data you can see that on the first and second weeks of April Colorado offers the best snow conditions, even in the worst years.  

 

Another way to get to the same conclusion is to look at the average high and low temperature in April for the various areas, like these:

 

Getting down to the details, there are two lifts in Colorado that will give you the best chances for winter like snow conditions on expert terrain in April: The Sierra lift at Copper Mountain and the Pallavicini lift at Arapahoe Basin.  Take a look at the ski area maps for those.  They are both very high elevation lifts that serve North facing expert terrain that will be a blast for you and your son to ski.   They are an easy drive from Vail which is lower elevation and is more likely to be slushy, but still better than the other areas in consideration.  

 

One other option would be to stay in Breckenridge which is a higher than Vail and has a great town your wife and daughter would enjoy.  Aspen, Vail and Breck all should meet that need.  

 

Finally, there are daily non-stop flights from London to DIA.  Consider spending the first night in Denver to help acclimate to the altitude (there is a downside to altitude, but it's worth it for better snow!).  

 

You've got some great options all around, good luck deciding!

post #16 of 26

I wrote http://173.193.223.192/~bestsnow/late01.htm in 2001 and there are some obsolete lift comments in there.  The weather/snow preservation characteristics are the same.  This one I have updated more recently: http://173.193.223.192/~bestsnow/fam_ski.htm

Quote:
In his data you can see that on the first and second weeks of April Colorado offers the best snow conditions, even in the worst years.

I should probably update Colorado's "worst case scenario" to reflect 2011-12.   I used 1998-99 because I didn't have weekly online snow reports to construct a chart for 1976-77 or 1980-81.

 

For:  

Quote:
snow coverage should be good to excellent at all the areas mentioned the first week of April.

Colorado does carry a small probability risk, as demonstrated in 2011-12.  Base depths are fairly modest with the dry snow, so on the rare occasion you get a hot and dry March/April, you can get widespread run closures.   No question that risk is small, likely less than 10%.  Mammoth this season had 1/3 normal snowfall after January 1,  yet was still in full operation in April from the huge base of dense snow in December.  

 

The Epic Gathering in Vail/Summit County in early April 2011 was illuminating to me.  The very highest altitudes really do keep winter going routinely in April. This meant A-Basin, Loveland and the top quarter of Breckenridge.  Probably top third to half of Copper also, though I did not ski there on this trip.  Vail and Aspen were 90+% spring conditions.  My impression is that they do not preserve winter snow quite as well as Mammoth, though they do better than ~80% of Nolrth American resorts.

 

Nonetheless for the OP and family I'm inclined to go along with the recommendations of Aspen/Snowmass or Vail/Summit County.  There's a mixed ability range and Snowbird is not good for that.  Mammoth and Bachelor are more difficult to reach from the UK than Denver.  My main issue with Vail/Summit is congestion, but in April it's much more manageable than in peak season.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 5/15/13 at 10:01pm
post #17 of 26

Tony Walker (OP), meet Tony Crocker - he's the guy behind all that amazing snow data, thanks!

 

Mr Crocker, do you have data with the odds of hitting a powder day by week through the year?  I'm guessing that data would show the last weeks of March and first weeks of April are actually the best odds of hitting a powder day in Colorado.  I'd also guess it's similar odds in Utah, but Utah has higher odds of a powder day the rest of the year?

 

On the 2011-12 season in Colorado, even in that very worst case season (100 year?), the skiing in April was better than at Christmas on an typical year at the higher elevation areas.   One thing to note on April terrain availability is that most areas start closing terrain in April for lack of skiers not lack of snow.  Even with a similar percentage of terrain open as early season, there will be a better variety in April with more advanced/expert runs open.

 

Mr Walker, one last point on Colorado for early April: I'm a Colorado native and have been skiing here for over 30 years.  I always tell folks the best time to book a Colorado ski trip is the first week of April because: 1) the snow is great, as I've beat to death above.  2) the slopes are less crowded as the spring breakers are gone and Denver folks start golfing, riding bikes, etc, and 3) you can find great deals on everything because it turns from high season in March to low season come April 1st.


Edited by tball - 5/16/13 at 9:28am
post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 

So much great information, thanks everyone.

 

When looking at ease of transport (from London) and general snow coverage and condition, 2 main options are coming out..Colorado..possibly centred around Breckenridge (a friend recommended it as a great place to stay, family wise, as well as the skiing), but skiing various locations (Aspen, Vail, Snowmass, A-Basin...all accessible for the day from a Breckenridge base?)..and Banff, skiing the 3 areas...we did fall for Canada this year!

 

I assume the East Coast resorts are too risky in April (Tremblant, and Vermont, etc..)

 

Thanks

post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 

Just spotted that the Breckenridge Lift ticket can also cover Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and A Basin....that could do the job!

post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Walker View Post

Just spotted that the Breckenridge Lift ticket can also cover Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and A Basin....that could do the job!

Anecdotally, I've had the impression over the years that Breckenridge is relatively popular with Brits due to costs, convenience and good skiing.  It's about a two hour drive from the Denver airport and should be a pleasant drive in April, and you are correct about the options the lift ticket presents.  One small factor to consider about Breckenridge is that it has a rather high base elevation:  9600 feet/ 2900 meters.  This can cause discomfort for some folks.  Perhaps take an inexpensive prescription of Diamox with you for the trip.  Keystone and Arapahoe Basin have similar elevations.  Vail and Beaver Creek are 1000-1500 feet lower and that little bit makes a difference for some people. The altitude adjustment issue is mitigated by the fact that you plan to stay an entire week allowing for you to pace the aggressiveness of your skiing and other physical activities on the first day or two.  Of course, snowwise the elevation is your friend in April.  There is a free bus system to get you to some of the neighboring ski areas, but hiring a car from Denver makes it all considerably easier.  Keystone is a low intermediate skier's dream and having the option to ski nearby Arapahoe Basin (smaller, but outstanding mtn esp for advanced skiers) is an excellent late season insurance policy because it often features good skiing into May or later.  See this recent thread:  http://www.epicski.com/t/120336/official-2013-mothers-day-a-basin-trip-report

post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Walker View Post

Just spotted that the Breckenridge Lift ticket can also cover Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and A Basin....that could do the job!

you will be very happy in that area with all of your options.  Brek also has a GREAT town center, nice feel, good food etc...  do yourselves a favor and take a one day trip to winterpark while you are there, it's about an hour and 15 minutes over one of the most scenic passes.  Kids will love it and so will you.  It's one of my fav ski areas and it gets more snow then any of them.   So if you have one day where it snows 3 inches in town, go to winterpark and it will have about 6.   

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Mr Crocker, do you have data with the odds of hitting a powder day by week through the year?  I'm guessing that data would show the last weeks of March and first weeks of April are actually the best odds of hitting a powder day in Colorado.  I'd also guess it's similar odds in Utah, but Utah has higher odds of a powder day the rest of the year?

http://173.193.223.192/~bestsnow/pwdrpct.htm

 

How much does this vary by month?   The above article demonstrates that the probability of  a 6+ inch day can be modeled quite accurately by monthly snowfall.   In Japan snowfall varies dramatically by month, highly concentrated midwinter, January 130% higher than March.  In North America, not so much.  Comparing months from December to March, minimum 30 years of data all months, highest vs. lowest:

 

Loveland March 25% higher than February

 

Winter Park March 11% higher than February

Vail January 12% higher than February

Alta/Snowbird March 9% higher than February

Big Sky March 18% higher than February

Given snowfall volatility the data for these areas says that the 4 months Dec-Mar are essentially equal

 

Aspen March 23% higher than December

Telluride March 31% higher than December

Taos March 25% higher than December

 

Steamboat January 45% higher than March

Jackson January 44% higher than March

Mt. Fidelity (near Revelstoke) January 39% higher than March

Fernie January 39% higher than March

Sunshine January 32% higher than February

 

Alpine Meadows February 12% higher than December

Mammoth February 20% higher than March

 

Whistler December 29% higher than February

Bachelor December 29% higher than March

 

Keep in mind that standard deviations of monthly snowfall are in the neighborhood of 50% of the averages.  And also keep in mind that a 20% difference between the high and low snow month translates to, for example, an 18% probability of a 6+ day vs. a 15% probability.   All of this supports what I've always responded to about "powder day by week" questions.  It's not predictable, it's overwhelmed by volatility and other factors are more important in choosing a ski week.

 

Those factors are:

1) How well does terrain get covered in the early season?

2) How well do snow surfaces preserve in the late season?

For typical resorts mid-January to mid-March is safest in avoiding the above risks.

 

Yes, March/early April is optimal for most Colorado resorts.  Why?

1) High altitude means great snow preservation. Packed powder surfaces are the norm vs. some resorts where melt/freezes are common in March.

2) Snow accumulates gradually. Max base depths are achieved in March/April.   It does you less good to get powder in December if half the runs (and most of the steeps) are closed with an inadequate base.  On a March powder day you usually get to ski everywhere.

3) March being the highest average snow month by a modest margin is secondary to the above 2 factors.  March is on average the safest month at Mammoth even though it's the 4th snowiest because of snow preservation similar to Colorado.

 

It is interesting that Jackson and Steamboat have similar weather patterns favoring January for snow as many Canadian and Northwest resorts.  But in both cases the main reason January is preferable to March at these areas is the sunny exposures result in frequent and more severe melt/freeze episodes in March than at most resorts.

post #23 of 26

Wow Tony.  Amazing data, thanks!  There are some great tidbits in there.  

 

A few takeaways for me: Get to Steamboat and Jackson early season.  Be flexible for pow chasing trips mid-Jan through mid-April.  Keep up my tradition of always skiing closing week at Copper.

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdiddy View Post

you will be very happy in that area with all of your options.  Brek also has a GREAT town center, nice feel, good food etc...  do yourselves a favor and take a one day trip to winterpark while you are there, it's about an hour and 15 minutes over one of the most scenic passes.  Kids will love it and so will you.  It's one of my fav ski areas and it gets more snow then any of them.   So if you have one day where it snows 3 inches in town, go to winterpark and it will have about 6.   

 

Tony W,  I have to disagree with pdiddy.  I love winterpark and grew up skiing there, but I don't think it's worth the drive from Summit County.  You've got plenty of skiing right there.  In addition to the Vail resorts, you and your son should consider skiing at Copper Mountain and maybe Loveland too.  Those are the two nearby areas not included in the Vail resorts ticket.

 

Speaking of passes, you should think about buying season passes.  If you stay in Breck, look at the Epic Local Pass for you and your son so you can also ski Vail and Beaver Creek, and the Summit Value pass for your wife and daughter:

http://www.snow.com/epic-pass/passes.aspx

 

With a season pass from another area you'll be able to ski Copper cheap on their "swingers pass" deal that was $39 last year:

http://www.coppercolorado.com/winter/landingpages/swinger

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

 

Tony W,  I have to disagree with pdiddy.  I love winterpark and grew up skiing there, but I don't think it's worth the drive from Summit County.  You've got plenty of skiing right there.  In addition to the Vail resorts, you and your son should consider skiing at Copper Mountain and maybe Loveland too.  Those are the two nearby areas not included in the Vail resorts ticket.

 

Speaking of passes, you should think about buying season passes.  If you stay in Breck, look at the Epic Local Pass for you and your son so you can also ski Vail and Beaver Creek, and the Summit Value pass for your wife and daughter:

http://www.snow.com/epic-pass/passes.aspx

 

With a season pass from another area you'll be able to ski Copper cheap on their "swingers pass" deal that was $39 last year:

http://www.coppercolorado.com/winter/landingpages/swinger

 So you love winterpark and grew up skiing there but the beautiful drive, fantastic family terrain and more snow, make it not worth the OP day, ?       we will agree to disagree then... but I hardly think that Winterpark is a bad suggestion...  

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

 So you love winterpark and grew up skiing there but the beautiful drive, fantastic family terrain and more snow, make it not worth the OP day, ?       we will agree to disagree then... but I hardly think that Winterpark is a bad suggestion...  

 

OK, upon further consideration of this important matter and in deference to my old friend Winter Park, how about this for a compromise:  

 

The OP could hit Winter Park either on the way up or back from Denver.  That way it's only a little bit out of the way.  It makes sense to spend the first and/or last nights of the trip in Denver anyway.   Loveland would be the other area to hit between Denver and Breck if they are looking to maximize their number of Colorado ski areas.  

 

It would be pretty cool for a 14 year old from the UK to say he skied at 8 different Colorado ski areas!  Make that 9 if you count Mary Jane separate from Winter Park.

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