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Help an east coaster decide on a western trip? [college student, no car]

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm an eastern skier, never skied outside New England, looking to spend a four days out west this winter.  Right now I'm looking at three possibilities:

 

Alta/Snowbird. Cheapest, but requires lodging in Salt Lake and taking the bus out every day. Also seems like the most intimidating; I'm a good skier on the east, but have no experience with real steep bowls and cliffs, so I'm a little worried that a lot of the mountain there might end up being beyond my ability.

 

Vail/Beaver Creek. Most expensive, but I'm very confident that I could manage to find enough between the two to keep me busy. I've heard mixed reviews of Vail, though it seems big enough that I ought to be able to get some good skiing in.  Beaver Creek's terrain seems like just what I'd find challenging but not impossible. Also public transportation is a big plus.

 

Winter Park: Few hundred dollars less than Vail, but still more expensive than Utah.  Seems to have the best mix of terrain of anywhere I've looked, though four days at one resort makes me a little apprehensive--if it's not so great, I've got no other options.

 

Of those, what would you suggest? Or is there anything I've overlooked? Anywhere I go needs to have effective public transportation, since as a college student I can't rent a car, and I'd prefer to avoid Tahoe/BC due to cost, though that's not set in stone.

 

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle628 View Post
 

I'm an eastern skier, never skied outside New England, looking to spend a four days out west this winter.  Right now I'm looking at three possibilities:

 

Alta/Snowbird. Cheapest, but requires lodging in Salt Lake and taking the bus out every day. Also seems like the most intimidating; I'm a good skier on the east, but have no experience with real steep bowls and cliffs, so I'm a little worried that a lot of the mountain there might end up being beyond my ability.

 

Vail/Beaver Creek. Most expensive, but I'm very confident that I could manage to find enough between the two to keep me busy. I've heard mixed reviews of Vail, though it seems big enough that I ought to be able to get some good skiing in.  Beaver Creek's terrain seems like just what I'd find challenging but not impossible. Also public transportation is a big plus.

 

Winter Park: Few hundred dollars less than Vail, but still more expensive than Utah.  Seems to have the best mix of terrain of anywhere I've looked, though four days at one resort makes me a little apprehensive--if it's not so great, I've got no other options.

 

Of those, what would you suggest? Or is there anything I've overlooked? Anywhere I go needs to have effective public transportation, since as a college student I can't rent a car, and I'd prefer to avoid Tahoe/BC due to cost, though that's not set in stone.

 

Thanks in advance.

Welcome to EpicSki!  What month are you thinking about taking the trip?

 

SLC gives you quite a few options using the ski bus.  Not only Alta/Snowbird but also Solitude/Brighton.  Soli and Brighton are less expensive in terms of lift tickets.  Plus can ski into the lights at Brighton.

 

Having learned in the northeast and skied at Alta both as an intermediate long ago as well as an advance older skier in recent years, you should not be intimidated by Alta.  There is plenty of terrain for all levels there.  Snowbird can be a little more difficult for timid intermediates.  Would help to have some examples of where you like to ski, including a few favorites runs.

post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle628 View Post
 

Alta/Snowbird. Cheapest, but requires lodging in Salt Lake and taking the bus out every day. Also seems like the most intimidating; I'm a good skier on the east, but have no experience with real steep bowls and cliffs, so I'm a little worried that a lot of the mountain there might end up being beyond my ability.

 

Lodging in Salt Lake is among the cheapest anywhere. When I was on a budget for ski trips, SLC was definitely the place. I would use Priceline to get a chain hotel in Sandy/Midvale for often around $60-80 per night which would easily sleep 4 of us. We always rented a car, but the Cottonwood canyons do have great transportation to the hills. Also look at staying on mountain at the Peruvian Lodge at Alta... the dorm rooms are usually pretty cheap and there are also individual rooms with shared hall bathrooms that are probably reasonable, as well.

 

Don't be intimidated by Alta or Snowbird. There's something for everyone at both and they are such amazing places. My wife was an intermediate with 3 years of skiing when we first went to SLC and Snowbird was her favorite mountain. Try to take a lesson or get a tour from a local (don't remember if they have mountain guides or not) as the best skiing at those mountains takes a little local knowledge to get to.

 

 Also remember that you have Solitude and Brighton in Big Cottonwood which are great, as well. 

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Welcome to EpicSki!  What month are you thinking about taking the trip?

 

SLC gives you quite a few options using the ski bus.  Not only Alta/Snowbird but also Solitude/Brighton.  Soli and Brighton are less expensive in terms of lift tickets.  Plus can ski into the lights at Brighton.

 

Having learned in the northeast and skied at Alta both as an intermediate long ago as well as an advance older skier in recent years, you should not be intimidated by Alta.  There is plenty of terrain for all levels there.  Snowbird can be a little more difficult for timid intermediates.  Would help to have some examples of where you like to ski, including a few favorites runs.


I'd be going in February, arriving the 16th, skiing 17-20, leaving on the 21st. I've skied everywhere in Vermont and a few New Hampshire resorts. Favorites would probably be Killington (Cascade and Downdraft), Jay Peak (Can Am), Smugglers Notch (FIS, Exhibition), Sugarbush (Organgrinder Castlerock area), Bolton Valley. I've been skiing the groomers for years, but in the past few seasons as I've run out of new terrain to ski there I've spent a lot more time in the trees and ungroomed runs. Ideally, I'd like to ski somewhere that's got steep groomers, good in-bounds tree skiing, and intermediate-to advanced above-treeline skiing.  I'm pretty confident I can ski anything but the chutes and cliffs (eg, from what I've read, Jackson Gore is probably out of my reach), so places that are primarily based on that type of terrain I'd like to avoid, as I feel like I'd run out of runs I can ski before the end of my trip.

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle628 View Post


I'd be going in February, arriving the 16th, skiing 17-20, leaving on the 21st. I've skied everywhere in Vermont and a few New Hampshire resorts. Favorites would probably be Killington (Cascade and Downdraft), Jay Peak (Can Am), Smugglers Notch (FIS, Exhibition), Sugarbush (Organgrinder Castlerock area), Bolton Valley. I've been skiing the groomers for years, but in the past few seasons as I've run out of new terrain to ski there I've spent a lot more time in the trees and ungroomed runs. Ideally, I'd like to ski somewhere that's got steep groomers, good in-bounds tree skiing, and intermediate-to advanced above-treeline skiing.  I'm pretty confident I can ski anything but the chutes and cliffs (eg, from what I've read, Jackson Gore is probably out of my reach), so places that are primarily based on that type of terrain I'd like to avoid, as I feel like I'd run out of runs I can ski before the end of my trip.

Is that the holiday weekend?  In that case, there are advantages to sticking with Solitude and Brighton. Solitude has steep groomers.  Brighton has trees of various difficulty.  The free Mountain Host tour at Brighton is a quick way to get started learning the mountain.

post #6 of 18

If you like to ski the terrain on Castlerock you will be fine anywhere.  Jackson Hole has plenty of terrain that does not involve sphincter puckering steeps and 10' + drops.  SLC is the place for you though.  Look into staying in Sandy, near Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.  There will be stuff as Snowbird and Alta that scare you, but there will be plenty of what you are looking for as well.  Busses to slopes are easy there and you will have plenty of company as it is a popular thing to stay in that area and ride the busses to and from the local hills.  If your dates included President's Day week prices may be a bit pricier and everything will be more crowded.

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle628 View Post
 

I've been skiing the groomers for years, but in the past few seasons as I've run out of new terrain to ski there I've spent a lot more time in the trees and ungroomed runs. Ideally, I'd like to ski somewhere that's got steep groomers, good in-bounds tree skiing, and intermediate-to advanced above-treeline skiing.  

 

Price out Copper Mountain too.  It would be perfect for you and should be similar in price to WP.  It has a lot more above tree-line skiing than Winter Park, and the steeps will be more accessible to you than at Alta/Bird where it's even steeper.   Copper also has fantastic steep groomers you'd love.  Consider a trip this year to Copper to get accustomed to steeps and bowls, then Alta/Bird or Jackson next year for even steeper stuff.

post #8 of 18

alta/snowbird alta is easy as they come out west, I would say they have some of hte easiest terrain I have ever seen at a ski area.......as well some of the hardest.  The bus system is the easiest to navigate too. If you can ski nearly anything in the east utah yes even chutes are going to be easy for you. The technical skill required to ski out there in open above treeline stuff and chutes(which alot are as wide as our runs) is much less as a eastern bump run/ or other eastern natural snow run like the castlerock area. even a 10 foot cliff into a couple feet of powder is more of head trip than an actual skill thing.

 

my best advice is to go to utah. prior to your trip I would spend as much time learning to smoothly ski bumps as possible and you will be fine at alta/bird. Skiing wise compared to colorado there is simply no comparison. Utah has more snow, its denser snow, meaning less hard hits to the base, its got more vertical of single lifts, and the terrain is more varied. IMO snowbird is 1st or second in the nation for overall skiing experience jackson hole being the other one.

post #9 of 18

Another vote for Alta, and I found this place mentioned in a previous thread as a very cheap place to stay near the ski bus lines:  http://www.camelothostel.com/

 

Brighton in SLC is a fun place that is a little less expensive as well.

post #10 of 18
I was in SLC two years ago and it worked pretty well, took a shuttle to the hotel and used public transportation to get to Alta/Bird. The biggest downside was that my return flight left at around 5:00 PM, and since there was no bus service from the hill from about... oh, maybe 11 AM to 2 PM, I would have missed a half day skiing if I hadn't met a local who was nice enough to give me a ride. Next time I'll book a later flight.

There's a hostel downtown (the Camelot?) that has private rooms for about 35 bucks a night, perhaps someone else can comment on what the place is like. Last year I had planned a 5-day trip and it looked like I could do it for about a grand, including a rental car, by going during the week and avoiding holidays or the film festival. And I found a few good restaurants while I was there... the Blue Iguana is a great Mexican joint.

Oh, and there's this deal where you can get a free lift ticket the day of your arrival by showing your boarding pass from your flight in. You have to register online in advance.
post #11 of 18

You can’t really go wrong with any of these but there are clear differences between each. 

 

Utah: (+) cheap, best snow; (-) hotel will be in suburbia, buses work ok but traffic/snow can extend ride from 45 minutes into up to 3 hours.

 

WP/Vail (+) more intermediate terrain, walkable village in mountains, no daily commute (-) more expensive

 

I think WP/Vail would be the slightly better fit but it really depends on what you prioritize. 

 

Also, you might want to look into renting a car in CO.  They rent to people at age 18 but you do have to pay an additional fee.  For a short trip it may be cheaper, quicker and give you more options.

post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post
 

If you like to ski the terrain on Castlerock you will be fine anywhere.  Jackson Hole has plenty of terrain that does not involve sphincter puckering steeps and 10' + drops.  SLC is the place for you though.  Look into staying in Sandy, near Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.  There will be stuff as Snowbird and Alta that scare you, but there will be plenty of what you are looking for as well.  Busses to slopes are easy there and you will have plenty of company as it is a popular thing to stay in that area and ride the busses to and from the local hills.  If your dates included President's Day week prices may be a bit pricier and everything will be more crowded.

Agree, no question the OP would do fine anywhere out west.  His first ski day is President's Holiday, Feb 17, 2014.  Probably the most straightforward deal is what Crank suggests above.  However, if slopeside is preferred might look into deals at Brighton Lodge:  http://www.brightonresort.com/planyourtrip.lodging.html

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the suggestions.

 

Copper: looks interesting, but I can't seem to find lodging that isn't resort-managed, all of which costs big bucks, so unless someone knows of a cheap place, it's probably not doable (it ended up being more expensive than Vail, actually)

 

Brighton: Very cheap slopeside lodging (compared to everywhere else, anyway), that would work great, but is there a way to easily get around from there? I assume there would be a shuttle to Solitude, at the very least, but is there any way to get to Alta/Snowbird without going back into Salt Lake?

post #14 of 18

there is a 35 minute shuttle from gunnison to crested butte, and it looks like it is free in the winter.

http://www.gunnisonvalleyrta.org

There is also a 7 minute shuttle from the town of crested butte, but lodging is probably more $ there.

post #15 of 18

Think about Aspen:

 

Four mountains to ski with a wide variety of terrain.

 

Free shuttles to the mountains.

 

Wide variety of dining and nightlife choices.

 

St. Moritz lodge has shared rooms (3 bunks) with bathroom down the hall at a reasonable price. You are right in town.

 

Aspen can be done on a budget, except for lift tickets.

post #16 of 18

go to Utah, you can ride a city bus from Salt Lake CIty to the ski areas.

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeddyO View Post

go to Utah, you can ride a city bus from Salt Lake CIty to the ski areas.

Utah wins in price, quality of skiing, variety, cheap eats, etc. The only downside is the bus is a hassle over some of the other areas but a college student looking to save a buck would easily put up with this.
post #18 of 18

  Colorado would be the cheapest to Fly into if u went into Denver but they u have 2hours of driving on a good day to the resorts.  Copper winter park would be a nice combo, everyone drives past them for whatever reason i like them both.  SLC will cost more to fly into but its alot more convinient to get to the resorts.  U should look into park city, if your a college kid and can live off subway etc u wont need a car once u get there and u wont be as intimidated as u would at altabird.  U can find somewhat decent lodging prices off the beaten path in park city and still be walkable distance to a shuttle im sure especially if u stayed up near the Kimball junction area.

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