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Help me plan my tour of Colorado ski areas! [Feb 2014] - Page 2

post #31 of 41
Trainors was open late last year.

Any tour of Colorado has to include Aspen, CB, Telluride and Silverton.
post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 A season of Thanksgiving to 1st week in April matches many, many, many Colorado Ski areas.

Season opening and closing dates:

Breckenridge 11/8-4/20 = 30+ days longer

Keystone 11/1-4/13 = 30+ days longer

Vail 11/15-4/20 = 25+ days longer

Abasin Oct-June = 3+ months longer

 

Telluride has a similar season but your "many many many" comment is way way way overstated. The bottom line is that it just isn't an apples to apples comparison. Plus Irwin, which is smack glob in the middle of the 20ish miles between Aspen and CB averages 1000+ inches of snow per year. Realistically, if you're after the super steep and super technical, every ski vacation you take requires luck. Certainly snow totals are going to affect when terrain can be opened but how can you fault CB for having inbounds terrain in the 45-55 degree range? At other resorts that kind of terrain doesn't open at all because it doesn't exist.

post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smushie View Post
 

Season opening and closing dates:

Breckenridge 11/8-4/20 = 30+ days longer

Keystone 11/1-4/13 = 30+ days longer

Vail 11/15-4/20 = 25+ days longer

Abasin Oct-June = 3+ months longer

 

Telluride has a similar season but your "many many many" comment is way way way overstated. The bottom line is that it just isn't an apples to apples comparison.

 

So, you cherry pick the resorts that do stay open longer and stay my statement was way, way, overstated?

 

The following Colorado resorts schedule opening for DECEMBER and almost all of them close the first week in April:

Sunlight

Ski Cooper

Howelson

Aspen Highlands

Buttermilk

Granby Ranch

Silverton

Powderhorn

 

The following run a Thanksgiving - 1st week in April schedule.

Eldora

Snowmass

Purgatory

Monarch

Steamboat

Aspen

 

And you already mentioned Telluride. That list comprises most of the ski areas in Colorado, From big ones to small ones, and most of the places with the best terrain are on that list.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smushie View Post
 

 

Plus Irwin, which is smack glob in the middle of the 20ish miles between Aspen and CB averages 1000+ inches of snow per year.

 

No, no it doesn't. Not even close. Has it hit 1000" in a year? Yes. Does it average that? Not by a long shot. Come on now. I'm also not really sure how having a lot of snow someplace outside of CB applies to your whining about somebody pointing out that CB gets less snow when the other areas that enter the discussion of "Best terrain in Colorado" also have the same or very similar schedules.

 

Quote:

 Certainly snow totals are going to affect when terrain can be opened but how can you fault CB for having inbounds terrain in the 45-55 degree range? At other resorts that kind of terrain doesn't open at all because it doesn't exist.

 

Well, it does. Telluride and Taos would like to have a word, and Telluride gets a lot more snow on theirs. Yes, CB is blessed with terrain- I don't think that is in dispute. But its not open because CB DOES NOT GET AS MUCH SNOW AS OTHER AREAS ACROSS THE US WITH THIS TERRAIN, and this type of terrain needs a lot of snow for coverage (and wetter snow helps).

post #34 of 41
Quote:
I take issue with these stats or, more specifically, with the claim that it's an apples to apples comparison. 

Actually I index everyone to a Nov. 1 to Apr. 30 basis so the comparisons WILL BE apples-to-apples.  The index site for western Colorado is the Rocky Mountain lab at Gothic, which is 90% correlated to CB.

Quote:
 Plus Irwin, which is smack glob in the middle of the 20ish miles between Aspen and CB averages 1000+ inches of snow per year. 

To my knowledge no one in the lower 48 other than Mt. Baker or Mt. Rainier has EVER measured more than 1,000 inches in a  season.   Knox Williams, who measured snow for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, routinely visiting sites in person over 30 years, said there are only 3 microclimates in CO that get as much 400 inches Nov-Apr.

 

#1 is Buffalo Pass near Steamboat.  The Tower SNOTEL site nearby has similar spring SWE as Alta/Snowbird.

#2 is Kebler Pass near Irwin

#3 is Wolf Creek.

 

Irwin actually claims 600.  They are now on their 3rd set of owners (intermittently closed) because it's tough to run a cat operation on 1,000 acres of mostly south facing terrain no matter how much snow you get.  Do you want to believe the marketing people who have been running an area for 3 years or an avalanche professional who has been tracking snow over the entire state for 30+ years?  Irwin is probably around 450 inches.  It would be nice if they could get more and better terrain, but my understanding is that their tenure is bounded on 3 sides by wilderness so not likely.

 

Quote:
 Yes, CB is blessed with terrain- I don't think that is in dispute. But its not open because CB DOES NOT GET AS MUCH SNOW AS OTHER AREAS ACROSS THE US WITH THIS TERRAIN, and this type of terrain needs a lot of snow for coverage (and wetter snow helps). 

Pretty much hits the nail on the head.   You want to ski the CB extreme terrain?  Book for March for best odds; you'll probably get most of it, but you need to be lucky to get all of it.

Quote:
The following Colorado resorts schedule opening for DECEMBER and almost all of them close the first week in April.....

This has almost nothing to do with how much snow they get or what the April snowpack is.   Sadly, destination visitors rarely fly into resorts after early April.  Therefore most places beyond drive distances from a decent size metro area close that first weekend.  It's not just Purgatory, Telluride, CB and Taos.  It's also Jackson, Bridger, Whitewater and Red Mt.  In the Colorado places it's not unusual to close with the deepest snowpack of the season, and in all of them it's not unusual to see more powder after the close.  Smushie's areas with longer seasons are all daytrip drives from Denver, and that is 99% of the reason.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 9/18/13 at 3:29pm
post #35 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

This has almost nothing to do with how much snow they get or what the April snowpack is.   Sadly, destination visitors rarely fly into resorts after early April.  Therefore most places beyond drive distances from a decent size metro area close that first weekend.  It's not just Purgatory, Telluride, CB and Taos.  It's also Jackson, Bridger, Whitewater and Red Mt.  In the Colorado places it's not unusual to close with the deepest snowpack of the season, and in all of them it's not unusual to see more powder after the close.  Smushie's areas with longer seasons are all daytrip drives from Denver, and that is 99% of the reason.

 

Absolutely. My point was that most ski areas in Colorado have a similar season to CB's season, so even if your snowfall stats were not normalized (which I didn't know), saying that CB was unfairly being picked on for having a shorter season wasn't true- it has the most common schedule in Colorado.  I also doubt that schedule has much to do with forest service permits preventing them from staying open longer, and the reality of visitation and profitability.

 

Furthermore, Telluride and the Aspen Mountains, the other Colorado resorts that 95% of people agree have the best terrain to be had in the state, have the same season, so the argument is just silly. If you want to argue that CB terrain is the best, that's one thing, but if you want to argue that CB gets more snow, that's just not supported by facts.

post #36 of 41

My main point was that it's simply not an apples to apples comparison. My apologies for picking the resorts that look most like an orange but that was my point. There are so many competing snow totals for each resort and so many different measurement criteria used that it renders most comparisons pointless. The exceptions are great (e.g. Wolf Creek) but debating 2-3' differences over the length of a ski season is just a pissing contest since snow depth varies by much more than that with the resorts themselves. And yes the very steep inbounds terrain which CB is known for requires more snow.

 

Regardless, the past two winters have not been kind in terms of snow in CO, and I'm familiar with the Mt. Baker stats, but my understanding was that Irwin recorded 1200+ inches of snow (more than 100 feet) during the winter of 10/11. On the Irwin site they describe it as an 800 inch season Oct. to April and I can't find an electronic link to the article citing the 100 foot figure-I recall reading it in the local paper. Anyway, below is what the snowpack looked like in August '11 up past Gothic. After 4 amazing winters in a row, I thought it would keep snowing forever.

http://www.imagehousing.com/imageupload.php?id=1158926

post #37 of 41

Actually data provided to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center by snow safety people at the resorts, nearly all from similar elevations, is quite likely to result in valid comparisons.  Avalanche safety is a serious issue in CO, and I thus suspect the data is quite reliable.   There's enough data for most of these places that the 95% confidence range of long term average for most of these places would be + or - about 2 feet.    So you could say that Aspen, CB, Taos and Telluride are essentially the same in terms of snow.   Coverage depends  on topography as well as snow, and there's no question CB is the most difficult area to get most terrain open, followed by Taos.   Sectors of Aspen and Telluride, such as Gold Hill and Snowmass' Cirque, also take a long time to get open most seasons.

Quote:
my understanding was that Irwin recorded 1200+ inches of snow (more than 100 feet) during the winter of 10/11. On the Irwin site they describe it as an 800 inch season Oct. to April  

This is a statement with little understanding of snow as it implies 400 inches OUTSIDE Oct.-Apr.   Gothic and CB were both 137% of normal in 2010-11, excellent but not a record.  My guess would be a bit over 600 for Irwin, and if you believe their 600 average, then you might get over 800 but still not even close to 1,000.  

 

But I don't believe the 600 inch average.  Mt. Baker is the only lift served area in the world over 600. Niseko is 575.  Mustang Lodge in the Monashees is 550.   Gothic, not far away from Irwin with a scientific lab measuring snow since 1976 http://www.digitalrmbl.org/p141.php?pageID=152  averages 365 inches Nov.-Apr. and 433 for the full calendar year.

post #38 of 41

According to this, Irwin got 1000 inches 2007-2008. I'm not saying that is factual, but it is reported.

 

But even if they did get 1000" in a year, managing to hit that figure once in recorded history is a far, far cry from averaging that amount of snow a year.

post #39 of 41

The links from OpenSnow don't work but OpenSnow is a source I respect.  Any records from that region would come from 2007-08 (as OpenSnow stated), when Aspen, Crested Butte and Telluride had record highs.  However, Gothic had 498 inches, which was its 3rd highest total.

 

There are still unique statistical anomalies to Irwin's snowfall claims.   First is the excess of the "snowy microclimate" beyond what's typical for its region.  Mt. Baker gets 650 but most everyone else in the Washington Cascades gets 400-450.  The "typical" number in Colorado is in the 250-275 range.  That includes Aspen and Crested Butte, the 2 nearest lift served areas.  Wolf Creek, the only snowy microclimate with a lot of verified data, gets 400 Nov-April.  Gothic IS a snowy microclimate near Aspen/CB/Irwin, its stats cited above (365 Nov-Apr, 433 full year).  

 

Buffalo Pass has water content in Alta's range, so may be 500.   But note nearby Steamboat is 380.   So if we assume 500 for Buffalo, know 400 for Wolf Creek, and Knox Williams with 30+ years of direct observation throughout Colorado says Kebler/Irwin is in between, that's why my best guess would be 450.  500 is at the outer limit of believability, 600 is far beyond it.

 

What is a record snow year in relation to a long term average in a snowy location?

Mt. Baker 1096 168% of 652

Alyeska 768 145% of 520

Alta 750 137% of 539

Kirkwood 802 170% of 472

 

Volatility tends to be quite consistent within ski region.  We all know (as illustrated above) that California's is the highest.  Colorado's is in general average south to below average north.   Gothic's record of 561 is 154% of its 365 average.    If we assume Irwin averages 500, its maximum during 2007-08 is likely under 800, especially considering that Gothic's total in that same season was 498.

post #40 of 41

Copper is great but if your're in that neck of the woods, whatever you do, you gotta ski A-Basin. It's more like a ski area than a resort. No village at the base. Lots of great terrain. Hook up with one of the Mountain Hosts. They don't charge, you just tip. Ask for John. He's a friend of  a friend and I skied a day with him last feb.

post #41 of 41

07/08 was my first year in CB. Close to a foot of snow came down on closing day and it just kept snowing. It set a new 100+ year record.  My only regret is sucking so bad my first year here that I couldn't fully enjoy all the areas featured in the CB segment of 'Children of Winter' from that year. Luckily there were three more above average snow years in a row, two of which were well above average and so Third Bowl was open for months each year.  I'm still searching for that article about the winter of 10/11. The 100' stat was so shocking to me at the time that I remember taking a picture of the article it and texting it to a friend. Unfortunately now I can't find either and so I'll defer to your stats since you are clearly far more knowledgable about snow history than me. My snow-science ends at AVI-I and fairly limited backcountry experience. That said, and from what little I know, the West Elks are filled with all sorts of weird mini (and not so mini) micro-climates. Sadly, they built the CB resort on the wrong mountain to take advantage of it.

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