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TR Cbutte and Tride December 13.

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hola all!! Belated Trip report (so tony won´t get on my case):

12/17-1/1, in general EXTREMELY COLD every day, -16 in Avon, -29 in CB, -5 in Telluride,etc. But sunny 90% O:)

12/18- Loveland, very nice, good snow cover, not a soul. Will return but only for 1-2 days.
12/19-21- Beaver Creek and Vail, nearly perfect since i don´t do the back bowls, but front side 100% open, beaver 90% open. Finally realized IMHO tha Vail is numero 1 simply because EVERYTHING works, no complaints possible. The hype about shi-shi this n that does not mar the quality of the mountain. Will return in a heartbeat!
22-26- Tride, not impressed but maybe lack of snow (50% open) caused this. But the open blues and blacks where rather boring. BEST town so far! May return???
27-30- Crested Butte, FANTASTIC!!!! reminds me of Snowbasin, everything perfect. Friendliest lifties AND townies ever. Many commented on vacationing in the DR, my hometown for the last 20+ years. Small town but groovy! Gonna go back, especially when they open newly approved terrain.
31- Snowmass, returned after 11 years, sadly dissapointed with pitch, just not enough in general. Don't think will return.

All the best.

post #2 of 19

The expansion plan in Crested Butte was approved by the Forest Service in April. It's going to be amazing. Here's an arial view of the new lifts slated for Brush Creek/Teo Drainage and Teo Park. That terrain (plus including Teo 2) will add well over 400 acres of skiable terrain, mostly steep glades and other technical terrain. Last year was not a good snow year for Colorado in general but if you come back (usually later in the season) you can enjoy 3rd Bowl and, what many are calling 4th Bowl, 5th Bowl and 6th Bowl!

http://www.westelkproject.com/master-plan-for-teocalli-expansion-close-to-submission/

post #3 of 19

Sounds like a great trip.  Since you said you don't like to ski Vail's back bowls, I assume you ski mostly groomers.  (nothing wrong with that by the way)  If so, I'm suprised you didn't like Snowmass more.  Tons of good blue groomers and a few black groomers off campground, sam's and high alpine.  Maybe some of that was closed?

 

New terrian at CB looks fantastic.  I think CB is way underrated as it is.  Anyone know the timeline when the first new lift might be put in?  I know there are a lot of steps in the process...

post #4 of 19

The biggest step is getting the forestry service approval. The Snodgrass expansion plan wallowed for the better part of a decade before the plan was ultimately rejected by the forestry service following a lengthy appeals process. Expanding into the Brush Creek drainage already got the thumbs up in April for a plan including two new lifts. How long it takes to install lift towers and thin out the guts of deadfall is not something I'm familiar with. 1-2 years would be my guess but maybe I'm being hopeful. I think the ultimate goal is to develop over 2000 acres of skiable terrain at CB. Meaningless as acreage is, 2000 seems to be the benchmark for tourists looking for a destination resort (i.e. I remember reading somewhere that most tourists ski less than 20% of Vail and my personal experience is that much of that 5000+ acre claim is too flat and/or too full of deadfall to actually be skied).

 

When I was an East Coast weekend-warrior making those annual pilgrimages to ski out West at places like Breck and Vail, I always dreamed of one day skiing the Extremes at CB. Now I spend 50+ days a year exploring every nook and cranny of this vertical world. Monarch ain't half bad either!

post #5 of 19

Yes, gpaulski is as yet strictly a groomer skier.  Since he lives in the Dominican Republic I cut him plenty of slack on that preference. I suspect Snodgrass is what he had in mind for CB expansion, not the mostly expert Teo Drainage/Brush Park.

As noted in his original post, we have some history if readers want some :popcorn

 

Planning of last year's trip: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10264

Advice when the trip was imminent and in progress: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10393

At least I'll get a steak dinner out of this if our paths ever cross. :beercheer: 

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smushie View Post
 

The biggest step is getting the forestry service approval. The Snodgrass expansion plan wallowed for the better part of a decade before the plan was ultimately rejected by the forestry service following a lengthy appeals process.

 

I have to point out that neither of these sentences are really true. In the modern era, "Forest Service Approval" means about as much as the "You may have already won $1,000,000" junk mail mailers you get. What it means is that the local forest service guy could conceive of a future where it may make sense to make the improvements asked for.

 

Case in point is what really happened with Snodgrass. Snodgrass was forest-service approved- it had been since the early 1980's. In fact, the master development plan (basically the list of improvements that the forest service signs off on in 10 year increments) from 1980's on showed "approval" for a much more extensive lift system than what died in 2010.

 

When CB finally decided to build out to Snodgrass, they then had to do the piece that really determines approval- the environmental assessment (NEPA)- which is a many stage process, takes years and $$$, and requires the forest service to approve each step.

 

Snodgrass went off the rails when the forest service stopped things early in the NEPA process, basically saying "save your money on doing more environmental studies, we are tired of the hate mail from your locals" and killed it. Which again shows that "approval" is an ephemeral thing.

 

It seems the current turn around is about 5 years. Monarch proposed their no-name expansion just after the Snodgrass decision, it is looking POSSIBLE for the 2014-2015 season. Wolf's expansion was submitted in 2012, So far the only approval (totally greenlit) has been for 1 lift within existing boundaries (Elma) and the replacement of Treasure (which did not need NEPA review because they are arranging chairs so the uphill capacity is the same).

post #7 of 19

NEPA isn't done?! When I saw site plans with lifts in place I thought this was a done deal. Ugh! I just want to go ski that areas and preferably before I'm buying my lift tickets with a senior discount.

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smushie View Post
 

NEPA isn't done?! When I saw site plans with lifts in place I thought this was a done deal. Ugh! I just want to go ski that areas and preferably before I'm buying my lift tickets with a senior discount.

 

I'm not totally up to speed on what CB is doing, but if the MDP was just proposed in Feb, which seemed to be the case from the article I read, almost certainly NEPA has not happened. It takes YEARS.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanky all!

 

Ok, here we go for xmas Dec 18 -Jan 7 father and son (15), so far....:

12/18-20 Las Vegas baby!
21 Bryan or the other one in south utah
22-25 SLC (been here many times, gonna concentrate on MT and JH)
26- Grand T
27-1 Big S, Bridger, Yellowstone (1 day)
2-4 Jackson H
5,6 SLC
7 Other southern until 11 pm flight

Join us?

All the best!

gpaulski

 

 

 

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smushie View Post
 

The expansion plan in Crested Butte was approved by the Forest Service in April. It's going to be amazing. Here's an arial view of the new lifts slated for Brush Creek/Teo Drainage and Teo Park. That terrain (plus including Teo 2) will add well over 400 acres of skiable terrain, mostly steep glades and other technical terrain. Last year was not a good snow year for Colorado in general but if you come back (usually later in the season) you can enjoy 3rd Bowl and, what many are calling 4th Bowl, 5th Bowl and 6th Bowl!

http://www.westelkproject.com/master-plan-for-teocalli-expansion-close-to-submission/

 

Regardless of the permit process, CB's "challenges" have nothing to do with terrain IMO. They have to do with CB being a PITA to get to, on mountain lodging and food sucking, and generally modest amounts of mediocre snow. Plus the fact that much of the good off piste terrain demands hiking in &/or out (at elevation). And maybe use of some surface lifts (if I'm off base on that, someone fill me in...). Nice enough place to ski (if you don't mind wrecking your bases on shark fins), but a steep cost/return ratio. Adding more terrain will not change this.

 

For my .02, at this point  I'd be more likely to spend a few days in Salida hitting Monarch. While the stats indicate similar snowfall, I have generally found good snow more readily at Monarch. And the low key vibe at Monarch and in Salida is a nice change of pace. And yeah, Monarch usually demands some bootpacking as well - but somehow I'm better with it there (if winded).

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
 

 

Regardless of the permit process, CB's "challenges" have nothing to do with terrain IMO. They have to do with CB being a PITA to get to, on mountain lodging and food sucking, and generally modest amounts of mediocre snow. Plus the fact that much of the good off piste terrain demands hiking in &/or out (at elevation). And maybe use of some surface lifts (if I'm off base on that, someone fill me in...). Nice enough place to ski (if you don't mind wrecking your bases on shark fins), but a steep cost/return ratio. Adding more terrain will not change this.

 

For my .02, at this point  I'd be more likely to spend a few days in Salida hitting Monarch. While the stats indicate similar snowfall, I have generally found good snow more readily at Monarch. And the low key vibe at Monarch and in Salida is a nice change of pace. And yeah, Monarch usually demands some bootpacking as well - but somehow I'm better with it there (if winded).

 

I think CB has a few major issues, and I really don't think being remote is really one of them. Steamboat does just fine despite being just as far of a drive from DIA, and a tougher drive at that- US 40 over Berthoud, then Muddy Pass, is a lot nastier than running through South Park to go up and over Monarch Pass.

 

Despite all the focus we put on expert terrain, the demographic of skiers that take ski vacations are overwhelmingly skiers looking for intermediate terrain, either because they are taking kids or because they are older skiers tending to want largely groomed terrain.  Resorts understand this- almost every expansion plan (speaking in Colorado terms because that is what I am most familiar with) is aimed at beginners and intermediates.

 

A list-

Peak 6 at Breck- intermediate terrain

 

No Name Basin at Monarch- intermediate terrain. This one is interesting because just by relocating the lift alignment to run to the top of no name bowl, they could have opened up MUCH more terrain, had a premier bowl-skiing experience, and increased their vertical drop- one of the biggest detractions of Monarch's layout being the piddling 1100 vert. Monarch is commonly criticized on boards like this for not having a whole lot of legitimate expert terrain- the toughest lift served is solid single black stuff (but try Staircase before you write the mountain off). Monarch does not think a lack of expert terrain is hurting their bottom line as much as a lack of intermediate terrain, and so they are installing an intermediate lift when an amazing expert lift placement could be done in the same area for the same cost for "bragging rights."

 

Wolf Creek- If the tram gets built, obviously that is serious expert terrain. I have my doubts that it is a serious proposal. But that is one lift. The FOUR other proposed new lift alignments (Meadows, Elma, Sunset, and Pass lifts are all beginner and intermediate terrain.

 

CB- The expansion may serve expert terrain, but CB is selling it based on more intermediate access. CB has been vocal that what is hurting them is the lack of intermediate terrain- that was the whole stated idea behind Snodgrass (with the other part being able to make real-estate profit from selling slopeside real estate for the next 20 years).

 

Eldora. Intermediate terrain.

 

I'm sure I'm missing others, but I know of nobody save for Wolf Creek proposing expert level lift installations.

 

We can also look back at recent history and see the same thing- Telluride invested heavily into expanding expert terrain with Gold Hill Express, Revelation Bowl, and making Gold Hill Chutes and Palmyra Peak inbounds- this is essentially all of the terrain that now enters conversation when people talk about Telluride having some of the best terrain in CO. That expansion has proved to be a BUST from a profit standpoint- they have not seen an increase in visits to cover the cost to the extent that the current CEO is currently openly questioning whether it makes sense to keep spending money to keep Palmyra inbounds.

 

Meanwhile, Vail, with very, very, very limited expert terrain and running a group of mountains with very, very, very limited expert terrain, is running the ski industry. Steamboat does well for itself despite being the same mountain. Intermediate terrain sells tickets.

 

I think CB's other issue is that the locals feel antagonized and that the ski area takes them for granted as a profit center. I think they are starting to address that with slashing their season pass prices. Locals matter to the overall guest experience, and when guests hear that locals hate the management of their mountain, it colors their experience. Likewise, when locals gush about how great the local hill is, guests feel better about their trip- its validating.

 

And yes, I love Monarch, I think it does a lot right, and it makes for a great powder day. People barely even ski the advanced runs, let alone the trees.


Edited by anachronism - 9/22/13 at 5:11pm
post #12 of 19

Interesting take above.  My impression over the past decade+ is that a lot of the expansions have been more advanced.

 

CO: Telluride as cited above, Imperial at Breck, Highlands Bowl

 

Tahoe: Mt. Rose Chutes, Lookout at Northstar

 

MT: Lone Peak tram in the late 90's, Schlasman's (transceiver required to use the lift!) at Bridger a couple of years ago

 

Part of my perspective is from the time I spend in western Canada.  The 1999 Fernie and Castle expansions (doubling terrain) plus Revelstoke and Kicking Horse from scratch are all highly advanced/expert weighted.   And Fernie added Polar Peak a couple of years ago.

 

The big Utah expansions in 1999/2000 at Canyons and Snowbasin  were fairly balanced intermediate vs. advanced/expert.

 

Maybe the emphasis is shifting some.   The Grey Mt. expansion at Red is clearly an attempt to add significant intermediate terrain to a very expert-weighted mountain, much as Snodgrass would have been for CB.  

 

In general I think destination areas want to appear balanced, as evidenced by the often ridiculous trail ratings on the maps.   So Breck and Northstar try to get more advanced terrain, while CB and Red want to add more intermediate terrain.

post #13 of 19

Tony,

 

I know in the past, resorts have opened up lots of expert terrain. But that focus appears to be gone. At least for Colorado, everything new in the pipe is intermediate, and when you read MDP's, they all talk about the need for more intermediate terrain, even at mild mountains.

 

Like I said, I think Monarch's expansion (and MDP) is really telling, as well as Crested Butte's. Intermediate stuff is driving the market right now.

 

And this despite ski technology making it easier than ever to ski expert terrain.

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
 

 

Regardless of the permit process, CB's "challenges" have nothing to do with terrain IMO. They have to do with CB being a PITA to get to, on mountain lodging and food sucking, and generally modest amounts of mediocre snow. Plus the fact that much of the good off piste terrain demands hiking in &/or out (at elevation). And maybe use of some surface lifts (if I'm off base on that, someone fill me in...). Nice enough place to ski (if you don't mind wrecking your bases on shark fins), but a steep cost/return ratio. Adding more terrain will not change this.

If you're after the super steep uber technical terrain found at CB then you've accepted that cost/return ratio on your gear before you get off the t-bar. If that's what you want to ski, then the price  is the price (i.e. base damage). What you get for that price is avalanche control and ski patrol rope rescues on terrain that simply doesn't exist as inbounds terrain almost anywhere else in the lower-48. Not sure about the lodging and food gripe. The only difference between the on-mountain food at CB versus the vail resorts is that the same burger is less than half the price compared to Vail and that's par for the course for other food and comparable accomodations. Maybe it's been a while since you've been here but food and lodging aren't an issue as you've described. Besides, I rode the Bach 18 months ago and the non-existent lodging/fine dining at the base didn't seem to be an issue for them.

 

Anachronism hit the nail on the head. You can't charge $1200+ for a season pass in a valley filled with low-paying jobs and expect happy locals. It seems CBMR finally figured it out this year and their season pass is now half the price it has been for the past decade ($599). As far as terrain, the lack of crowds (and a dedicated beginner mountain) make CB a great place to learn to ski and the expert terrain is truly unique though not everyone's cup of tea. Intermediate terrain is lacking and expansions aren't going to fix that. It is what it is, authentic, economical, and uncrowded.

post #15 of 19

With the criticism of having to hike (or use surface lifts- for shame!) to get to the good stuff at CB, is this really different than most other places? I'm pretty sure, at least talking about Colorado, that all of the best terrain requires hiking.

 

Telluride- Best stuff requires hiking, sometimes a long hike. They certainly have lift served steep, but not at the 50* level.

Silverton- almost everything requires a hike off of the left.

Highlands- Ok, you can lap temerity and Olympic bowl from the lift, but the jewel is Highlands bowl, and for that you need a significant hike.

Snowmass- Perhaps the exception to the list, where almost all of the good stuff is lift served. But the good stuff is a little below the rank good stuff of the above, and the access is still via surface lifts.

A-basin- Pali is obviously lift served, but it runs second fiddle to the best of the above. All the rest of the good stuff requires some sketchball hikes.

Breck. If you want to even pretend that Breck belongs on this list, you are hiking to get to any terrain that merits even momentary consideration

Vail- Hahaha.

Loveland- Anything rowdy requires a hike, although I think it gets a little less credit than it deserves for what it up there.

Winter Park- The chutes are lift served, but are a small section of an otherwise advanced mountain. Otherwise, hike the cirque.

Steamboat- you can get the 200 foot vertical chute lift served. Otherwise go hiking to make it 300 vertical. Whee!

Wolf Creek- Waterfall is lift served and underrated for the amount of technical stuff in there. Same for the numbers chutes, but that is 200 vertical feet before it flattens out. Everything else, including the steepest sections of the mountain on Knife Ridge? Hike.

Purgatory- Hahaha.

Monarch- You absolutely need to hike for the terrain.

Eldora- Is there really expert terrain here? If so, I guess its lift served.

Sunlight- Ok, the expert terrain is lift served here. And it is surprisingly good- better than Vail, or Breck, or maybe even A-bay, but it doesn't rank with the top 5.

Aspen- Ok, another one where the good terrain is almost all lift served, or at least accessible with a skate.

Buttermilk- Delivers Vail type gnar, all lift served.

Powderhorn- I think its all lift served. I've never heard anybody tell me it is nasty. I regret never skiing here when I lived a little over an hour away.

Ski Cooper- Deserves gnar points just for its great vibe, and all of the steep and deep is lift served.

post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

I'm pretty sure, at least talking about Colorado, that all of the best terrain requires hiking.

Three high speed quads and two surface lifts will get you one "Super Lap" consisting of thousands of feet of vertical and zero walking. Wendy demonstrates the Super Lap wonderfully in the worst of conditions. 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHnlef1g06Y

 

This past year was awful and yet you can see how chewed up those lines are. That's what happens when anyone with no interest in walking can knock out a half dozen super-laps in a day. Personally, no matter what resort I'm at, Ill always let the walking be the limiting factor on vertical if it means better snow.  

post #17 of 19
Quote = Smushie:
If you're after the super steep uber technical terrain found at CB then you've accepted that cost/return ratio on your gear 
Quote = anachronism:
 With the criticism of having to hike (or use surface lifts- for shame!) to get to the good stuff at CB, is this really different than most other places? 

All of the exposition in the above posts leads to one inescapable conclusion: if steep terrain without tedious access or damage to your gear is a top priority, Colorado should not be your destination.   Squaw/Jackson/AltaBird/Whistler come immediately to mind.  Then Crystal, Kirkwood, Mammoth.  More off the beaten track?  Try Red Mt., Fernie, Kicking Horse. 

post #18 of 19

It's not just the steepness. It's the steep mixed with the highly technical (scattered small and large cliff bands, tight trees, other scary stuff). With the exception of Red, Fernie, and Kicking Horse, I've skied most of the resorts listed above. All are great in their own right but it's not the same kinds of terrain. Still, even at those resorts listed, walking a little will get you better snow.

post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

All of the exposition in the above posts leads to one inescapable conclusion: if steep terrain without tedious access or damage to your gear is a top priority, Colorado should not be your destination.   Squaw/Jackson/AltaBird/Whistler come immediately to mind.  Then Crystal, Kirkwood, Mammoth.  More off the beaten track?  Try Red Mt., Fernie, Kicking Horse.

 

 

Of course, the counter-argument (and stated reason that many resorts have no interest in making this terrain directly lift served) is that it is a very safe bet that the hike-to terrain will have the best conditions the mountain has to offer on most days.

 

I remember a 15 minute hike into Dog Chutes at Wolf Creek the day after a Feb powder day. I found my chute completely untracked. Two turns in, I decided to stop and just see how deep the snow was. I stuck my uphill pole in, then my arm, then I had my shoulder in the snow at hadn't hit bottom- I was reaching at least 6 fete into the snow. It was apparent the chute I was skiing had not been skied thus far that year.

 

It did not suck, although the avalanche safety of said chute was something that made me a little uneasy...

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