So long story short, I brought an old college friend into the mix to keep costs down. He's a low-intermediate boarder, so I needed to pick a mountain with a rep for being a little less challenging than most, and I did not feel like doing a lot of driving. In the end, Steamboat came through with the best deal for booking in September. Having been to many other areas, I know it's all a crapshoot, but based on snow reputation, I booked us for early-mid January. Four nights, three days on the mountain.
As for me, I'm the classic, plateaued, high-intermediate skier. Being from Michigan, I know my crust/ice well ; I carve pretty well and can confidently ski groomed blacks; I can handle powder and crud (if the powder flies, so much the better ); I can survive bumps with a lot of bad technique/hesitation. Additionally, this will be the first season that I give in to the helmet trend after almost 20 years on skis, so I feel I'm ready to duck into the trees around the intermediate runs. I'd also like to work on my basic mogul technique. That said, before it's suggested, not sure I can squeeze in a lesson being on a trip with one of my best friends.
I know that the overall opinions on Steamboat's terrain are rather divided, but given that we won't be hucking cornices and cliffs, the things I'm looking for from people who've been there, and/or are locals are:
1. What's the best low-intermediate to mid-intermediate terrain?
2. Consensus around the 'net is that Westside, Ted's Ridge, and See Me/See Ya are good tests for the easier blacks, but they are usually groomed. What are the "easiest" two or three bump runs, for someone looking to practice? Are the trees off the intermediate area around Sunshine Express a good start for trees?
3. I've studied the trail map, but I want opinions as to the chairs which best combine my friend's ability and mine, so that at least one half-day/day we can easily take separate runs and meet at the chair (other days, we will just figure it out).
4. This is a "cheap" trip (no ski trip is truly cheap), so we're not looking for fancy food, and that's one of the lesser reasons I booked this place. I've done some initial investigation, but I'd like opinions. Best burger? Best pizza? Best Tex-Mex? Other advice for food that's good and won't break the bank? We're in our mid-20s, so bars are completely acceptable.