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Relocating to the US, need some advice on planning first ski trip - Page 2

post #31 of 45
^^ +1

Over my rating limit for the day.
post #32 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Really depends on what type of "intermediate".  When I was at Snowbird a couple decades ago, I really wasn't good enough to enjoy black runs out west, especially during the snowstorm that happened during the second day at Snowbird.  Take a look at the EpicSki reviews of Snowbird.  Pretty sure one details the blue runs.  Having skied Alta and Snowbird in recent years, I still prefer Alta.  Although Mineral Basin is fun in good visibility and fun snow conditions.

 

The Taos ski week is on my bucket list.  Especially because Southwest flies to Albuquerque.  One big advantage to SW is that you get 2 free pieces of checked luggage, so can take a suitcase and a ski bag.

 

I don't mind driving after flying.  Last winter I met up with friends in SLC and we drove up to Big Sky, with a stop to check out Targhee.  But then, I drive 4-hours one way to ski "locally."

 

Where in Switzerland?  I have a very good friend who is in Basel.  She is an American but hates to drive so enjoys living where a car is not needed.

Thanks for that, marznc.  I've been spoiiled about the driving - we're near Lausanne, and it's exactly 55 minutes door to door for us to ski in Leysin, 1 hr. 15 for Portes de Soleil and (gasp) 1.5 hours to Verbier.  That has meant that I can take half a day off from work, get there for the 9am lift, ski hard for three hours and still be back at my desk at lunch.  Trust me, I've taken advantage!

 

Some of the resorts recommended here look fantastic, though, and I'm looking forward to some great skiing out West.

post #33 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

 

It might not be obvious to the OP that Snowbird and Alta are right next to each other.  You can buy a ticket that is good for both and ski or take a quick shuttle from one to the other.   

not obvious at all - I like that idea, especially if I can stretch a week to 9-10 days...

post #34 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

The altitude issue is definitely one to factor in for either Colorado or Utah, especially after living in DC for awhile. Highly recommend spending a night in Denver before heading up to those Colorado mountains... I didn't find Utah to be quite as bad as Colorado. I don't think you'd find that to be an issue at all in Montana.

 

Thanks for mentioning the altitude issue, sibhusky.  We sometimes ski on a glacier near here that's at 3000 meters and I feel the difference even there.  I think the idea to spend a night combined with some easy skiing the first day is a must for my trip.

post #35 of 45
Thread Starter 

Wow - I'm overwhelmed by the thoughtful and generous responses to my question.  I'm really pleased to have found Epic Ski, and I hope that I can contribute in the future to pay back what I've already gotten.  I started to reply to all the advice, but there's so much I gave up! 

 

Thanks to the couple of you who mentioned that coming back this way also makes sense from a cost and logistics perspective - it would certainly be the easy thing to do - familiar mountains, good friends and more, but I'm so sad about leaving Switzerland that I think the right remedy is to start getting happy about moving to the US, and that most definitely includes the skiing.  We'll be back to the Swiss alps most definitely - my daughter for one will stop speaking to me if she can't join her friends for ski week, but not just yet.

 

Also, thanks for the comments (good and bad) on local skiing.  I've so highly prized the ability to casually go and ski every weekend, that we're certainly going to give the local areas a try, with long weekends and other school break trips farther afield.  You guys gave me good options and great websites for reference.

 

This has provided me with more than enough to go on for January (and a family trip over half term in February or March or whenever you guys have school holiday ...), and a nice way to day dream/plan my trip as an occassional escape from the dreadful packing-moving-unpacking activities.  Once we're settled in August, I can get down to the real business of planning the trip.

 

Thank you all again.

post #36 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by tartegnin View Post

This has provided me with more than enough to go on for January (and a family trip over half term in February or March or whenever you guys have school holiday ...), and a nice way to day dream/plan my trip as an occassional escape from the dreadful packing-moving-unpacking activities.  Once we're settled in August, I can get down to the real business of planning the trip.

 

Thank you all again.

 

Welcome to Epic! I'm pleased to see so many recommendations for Taos. I live in one of the best parts of the country for skiing now, and I STILL regard TSV as one my absolute favorite places in this great nation.

 

However, it's tough to plan a trip so far in advance unless it's REALLY reliable for snow. Taos is fantastic, but January might be a bit iffy depending on the season. You can't go wrong if you plan it a little later, though. They usually have pretty fantastic springs, so personally, I'd be shooting for no earlier than mid to late February through early April.

 

I'm super biased though, and will still always recommend Big Sky/Moonlight Basin to everyone anyway. :D This place truly has TONS to keep everybody quite busy no matter their skill level. We had a KILLER December last season, and actually the rest of the season ended up being pretty great, despite everyone telling me it was well below normal snowpack. Well, if that was low, then I can't imagine what a normal season is like! With the sheer size and multiple aspects of the mountain, seems there's always good snow to be found and is thus, a very safe bet for planning a vacation around. Not to mention, they have some pretty good spas and restaurants and such. Probably not as much as some of the SLC area resorts, but it's been more than enough to keep me happy and I live here. If you plan a trip here, PM me and I can give you some recommendations, [SPAM ALERT] will hook you up with reasonably priced lodging at my vacation rental condo (not ski-in ski-out, but not too far in the Town Center)[/SPAM], and can maybe even get your family the hook-up at one of the local spas.

 

You have a LOT of great options, but much of that depends on your willingness to make some flight connections. If you MUST have non-stop air travel, then stick with the places near SLC/DIA. If you're willing to make a connection, that opens up many, many more possibilities, and can drastically lower the crowd situation.

 

Stick around Epic, and you'll learn more about every ski resort than you ever wanted to know. Haha.

post #37 of 45

Tony Crocker's advice is accurate, as usual.

 

I lived in Colorado for 23 years. Shuttles run to all the major destinations, including Winter Park, out of Denver International, and most have local shuttles as well, so it's possible to avoid having a rental car.

 

I say "including Winter Park" because many of the major Colorado destination areas are close to Interstate 70, the major highway serving the ski areas from Denver. Winter Park is some distance from I-70, but a shuttle is still available from DIA, and there is a local shuttle.

 

Steamboat has lots of blue groomers, but access from DC is more difficult than the I-70 areas.

 

With all that said, Salt Lake City may be a better fit than Colorado, at least initially. The ski areas are closer to the airport.

 

I now live in British Columbia. Whistler is a much longer flight from DC, but it might be a good fit for your other requirements. Shuttles run from the Vancouver airport to Whistler, although they are two hours or a little more. Whistler has some top notch instructors and an enormous amount of terrain, including many, many intermediate pistes. The scenery is spectacular and the Peak-to-Peak gondola is not to be missed. There may be a lot of people there, particularly on holiday weekends, but it's a big mountain, so it can absorb a lot of skiers. There is a large variety of lodging from basic to ski-in-ski-out with on-site spa. The snow is plentiful and very reliable, but it can also rain at the bottom, even in January. Whistler is at lower elevation than the Colorado areas, so altitude is not as much of a problem.

 

With all that said, I've only spent four days at Whistler. I live in the interior and do most of my skiing at a place with limited intermediate terrain, but legendary powder, trees and off piste. It's also difficult to get to.

 

A few more tidbits:

 

In North America, the colors used to rate slopes are a bit different than in Europe. They are green circle for beginner/novice/easy, blue square for intermediate and black diamond for difficult. "Double black" indicates more difficult, and a few areas will use three black diamonds for their hardest terrain. Standards are not well defined, and a blue square at one area might be a black diamond at another.

 

Vertical drop is usually less than in Europe. Most ski areas have less than 1,000 or 1,100 meters. Whistler has 1,600. Jackson Hole has a fair amount, too. Nobody has 2,000 meters.

 

Shameless plug: Once you get past the groomers, British Columbia has some of the best powder skiing on the planet, often accessed by snow cat or helicopter. You stay at a remote lodge, you're pampered in every way, but you have to do your own skiing.

 

Short story: While in graduate school, I skied frequently at Winter Park with a French graduate student who lived in Paris and often skied Chamonix. His comment was that Winter Park had some of the best snow he had ever seen (that year, anyway), but with "only" 900m of vertical drop (3,000 ft), it didn't have much vertical.

post #38 of 45

What about Sun Valley?

It's got the groomers and all the rest probably.

How easy is it to get to?

 

So...save Taos for Feb/March!

post #39 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

What about Sun Valley?

 

Sun Valley, it seems, is appropriately named. Nice place, but statistics suggest it gets marginal snowfall compared to many areas in the North American West or Pacific Northwest.

post #40 of 45
But Sun Valley also has about the most advanced snowmaking in North America. As a result they normally have good early season coverage. And great long groomed intermediate runs.

However, unless you can get an easy connecting flight to Hailey, it's a long drive to get there. For Idaho I think Schweitzer makes more sense; fly into Spokane and about an hour and a half easy drive to Sandpoint. Great intermediate terrain, no crowds, low elevation (4700 base) and less pricy than most resorts. Vertical on the backside is "only" 2400 feet (1700 on the front), but still some nice long cruisers. Plus you can try cat skiing from the top of the mountain.
post #41 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

The problem is, you want easy to get to, but no crowds. Sort of mutually exclusive. Maybe Whistler? Not sure on the transport at the end, still quite a bus ride.

 

Much as I love Whistler, it's not the place to be if you want an uncrowded experience, unless you know the mountain fairly well (easier to avoid the crowds if you go off piste). Even midweek there are often lift lines. (It's relative though. It's definitely less crowded than the eastern hills I've been to in the 450-800' class.) However, Whistler does have a great variety of terrain. 

 

For Canadian resorts, it's fairly easy to fly into Kelowna and catch a one hour bus ride to either Silver Star. They also run an inter-mountain shuttle mid-day. Silver Star meets  tartegnin's criteria for great instructors (they have a huge % of level 4s), has great views, is low key, and has ski in/out and a spa. The terrain's also going to be right up her alley with lots of blues, easy blacks, and some steeper stuff for a good challenge. Definitely the kind of mountain one could spend a week at.

post #42 of 45
Quote:
 

However, unless you can get an easy connecting flight to Hailey, it's a long drive to get there.

Sun Valley is a very easy 2.5 hour drive from Boise. No traffic, no passes to cross, cheap rental cars. It's an easier drive than from Denver's airport to Vail. And, there is a shuttle from the Boise airport if you don't want to drive. The question is, how easy is it for you to get to Boise from DC. That may be a connecting flight. If you decide to break down and take a connecting flight to Hailey/Sun Valley, you don't need a car.

 

 

Quote:

 

1.  easy to get to from DC (don't mind a longish flight, but prefer no transfers and an easy rental car ride or bus transfer from airport)

2.  great instructors

3.  nice views

4.  low key

5.  not too crowded

6.  nice play to stay (perfer ski in/out and spa ...)

 Aside from the DC-Boise flight question (which may be a dealbreaker for you, I know, but maybe its worth a little extra travel in order to never stand in a lift line), it ticks the rest of your boxes. Hotels are not ski in/out, but there is a free shuttle the whole 6 blocks from the town of Ketchum to the slopes, or from the Sun Valley lodge, about 1.5 miles away. The other big thing for some people is the relative lack of snow. They have the best grooming in the biz and good snow preservation, but for people that only ski off piste, this can be a bummer. But as a strong intermediate that may not bother you, and Baldy is a STEEP mountain with runs that don't quite, which I found super fun when I was at your level (actually I'm not much beyond your level now). The Sun Valley Lodge has charm and character and great service, and good ski packages. Ketchum is a great ski town with loads of good restaurants.

 

 

Quote:

 

Much as I love Whistler, it's not the place to be if you want an uncrowded experience, unless you know the mountain fairly well (easier to avoid the crowds if you go off piste). Even midweek there are often lift lines. (It's relative though. It's definitely less crowded than the eastern hills I've been to in the 450-800' class.) However, Whistler does have a great variety of terrain. 

+1. We go 4x a year because I can't turn my nose up at 8000 acres of skiing 4 hours from my house, even as crowd averse as I am, but it's crowded. Yes you can find runs that aren't but you still have to deal with crowds at the bottom, at lunch, lift lines, etc. I have my strategies for dealing with the crowds, and I've had easterners tell me that it's not crowded compared to back East. but I wouldn't send someone there who is looking for a lack of crowds.

post #43 of 45

Getting to Sun Valley from D.C., if you don't want to drive, fly to SLC and then to Hailey. The airport is 13 miles from Sun valley and you can take a hotel shuttle or a cab. Caution is that the planes are 30 seat turboprops, fares are high, and it is not unknown to end up in Boise of Twin Falls due to weather and then need to be bussed. When I came here on vacation, I just flew to Boise and rented a car.

post #44 of 45
SLC only has three directs/day from DC, two of which are from BWI.

DENver has a lot more flights with lower fares.
post #45 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

SLC only has three directs/day from DC, two of which are from BWI.

DENver has a lot more flights with lower fares.
you probably gonna have to see what's best for you, the extra money on air fares and easy way to resorts going to SLC or lower fares and longer drive through Denver!
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Relocating to the US, need some advice on planning first ski trip