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Monarch? Steamboat? (Christmas/NewYear week) - Page 2

post #31 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
 

I love Monarch, but it is a long way from Steamboat. It is a small mountain. the South has been getting great early season snow, so it ought to be good by Christmas, but you should watch the weather to determine if it's worth the drive. If Mirkwood isn't open or if you are not into hiking and 'exploring' (inbounds) then you  may not find it worthwhile. If you go, stay in Salida which is a great town. the swanky hotel is the beautifully refurbished old Victorian downtown and the cheaper hotel is the Super 8 which is also really nice and right across the street from the aquatic center. Consider signing up for their cat ski operation too...

 

I have only been to Monarch once and it was to cat ski. The terrain is varied with a wide range of aspects so they can pick and choose for the conditions.

post #32 of 49

I'd hit Monarch and Wolf Creek for sure for the snow.  They always do better with early season snow, as you can see they are the only areas pretty much 100% open right now:

http://www.coloradoski.com/snow-report

 

To break up the driving, I'd suggest a plan something like:  Copper, Monarch, Wolf Creek (x2?), Monarch, Copper (thru xmas), Steamboat (xmas to 12/31), WP (1/1 on).  I'd go with that as my general plan, then see how the snow shakes out and adjust accordingly.   There's a chance there will be a northerly storm that hits the boat and not the southern areas and you'll want to head straight there, or vice versa.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
 

CB would be interesting to check out. Though given its reputation, would it be a waste for someone who's not into extreme terrain?

 

 

Skip CB.  Marginal early season snow, and not too interesting w/out their extreme terrain.

post #33 of 49

Given the current state of snow, tball's plan looks very sensible to me.

post #34 of 49
Thread Starter 

OK, so the consensus is plan to be in either Boat or Monarch during the "madness hour" of days between Christmas and New Year. Basically avoiding Copper and WP, which are more likely to be more crowded during that period. The exact mountain to hit will boil down to condition when closer to the time.

 

Moving on to more specific detail. Will a SUV be considered necessary? Or just more of a "nice to have"?

 

Basically, how well are the roads to/from 'Boat cleared after storm? And how about the approach to Monarch (and Wolf)? 

 

(I've been to Copper and WP. Copper is right off I-70 and I have managed fine in the past. While the road to WP has a pass, once I bed down there, I won't need to worry about getting around either)

 

 I don't want to make the long drives DURING the middle of a big storm anyway (and that includes getting to and from Monarch and the Boat)

 

 

 

 

 

post #35 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
 


An SUV or vehicle with AWD would be nice to have. Not a requirement, but lets put it this way- you will be driving from almost Wyoming to almost New Mexico, following the highest spine of the Continental US that entire drive.

 

You are also thinking about visiting two ski areas that will require you to drive to them in inclement weather if you want to ski that day.

 

Very little of your trip is on main arteries, and while they will get plowed, in a good storm, they will also see accumulation. Wolf Creek Pass gets plowed very well, it just doesn't tend to matter during a storm. You can expect the roads to be largely clear within 24 hours of storm, but some icy spots will be hiding out so be vigilant.

 

On your way from Steamboat to Wolf, you have Rabbit Ears, Muddy, Fremont, Poncha, and Wolf Creek passes to negotiate. All but Poncha are high passes that see pretty decent snowfall, and of course Monarch is located at the top of a pass as well.

 

If you are not really confident in your mountain winter driving skills, unless it is clear weather and clear roads, I would recommend doing the trip in daylight. Scratch that. For the views alone, this trip is worth doing in the daylight. Most of the drive is scenic byway, and the views of the Sawatch and Sangre de Christos are amazing.

post #36 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadrash View Post
 

That pretty much describes most of the black terrain at Monarch.

 

Yep. Monarch is a great place for an advanced skier that is not looking to go crazy. The place is full of 30* ish slopes with either powder of soft bump conditions. Mirkwood tends to have better snow and has terrain that varies from slightly steeper than the lift-served runs, to some surprisingly technical and steep stuff in the Staircase area.

 

I've never done cat skiing there, but you can see most cat skiing terrain from around the mountain. It tends to be similar in character to Mirkwood with some lines having more vert. Nothing is terribly crazy and they definitely can get you on some stuff that doesn't require anything more than decent skills in deep snow to have a ball.

post #37 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

Scratch that. For the views alone, this trip is worth doing in the daylight. Most of the drive is scenic byway, and the views of the Sawatch and Sangre de Christos are amazing.

LOL!

 

Very well put. Points taken all the way to the heart!

 

I plan to do the longer drives during the day, probably take it easy. Preferably in clear day if possible. 

 

I have enough days there so no need to cram every one with bell-to-bell skiing. So there's also a bit of flexibility on which day to move camp. I can either move ahead of an impending storm, or stay put till after it passes.  

Quote:
 If you are not really confident in your mountain winter driving skills, unless it is clear weather and clear roads, I would recommend doing the trip in daylight. 

I've driven in snowy mountainous roads enough to know their hazard!

 

Back home, there're plenty of snowy road for me to practice, though we don't have quite as many long steep mountainous roads (though I got some practice in for my 3 year stink in California skiing in Tahoe). Also, at home, I have the luxury of an AWD plus chains in the trunk when needed. 

 

Quote:
 but lets put it this way- you will be driving from almost Wyoming to almost New Mexico, following the highest spine of the Continental US that entire drive.
 
You are also thinking about visiting two ski areas that will require you to drive to them in inclement weather if you want to ski that day.

 

OK, that settles it. Thanks for painting a clear picture of the proper prospective, something I have trouble to grasp from afar. 

post #38 of 49

Get the SUV. You'll be happy you did.

 

There are great cheap motels in Salida. My favorite is the Super 8 that was owned by a fancy hotelier from Santa Fe and has modern looking comfortable rooms with nice linens, pillows etc., and hot tubs.

 

But, right downtown practically on the river, is the Palace Hotel which is a renovated historic hotel, done in a boutique style (like a really nice NYC small hotel) and walking distance to restaurants and bars. Each suite has a kitchen and there are 1 and 2 bedrooms I believe. It has been exquisitely redone and is very comfortable. The only con is there's no elevator and it's a bit more expensive, although a good value IMHO.

post #39 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
 

Get the SUV. You'll be happy you did.

Well, it's a good $500 difference in cost!

 

(because we're talking about TWO weeks car rental, and it's only the 4-5 days when I'm in the southern part that I would need to drive up the mountain every day)

 

Quote:
 There are great cheap motels in Salida. My favorite is the Super 8 that was owned by a fancy hotelier from Santa Fe and has modern looking comfortable rooms with nice linens, pillows etc., and hot tubs.

 

But, right downtown practically on the river, is the Palace Hotel which is a renovated historic hotel, done in a boutique style (like a really nice NYC small hotel) and walking distance to restaurants and bars. Each suite has a kitchen and there are 1 and 2 bedrooms I believe. It has been exquisitely redone and is very comfortable. The only con is there's no elevator and it's a bit more expensive, although a good value IMHO.

The Super 8 isn't exactly cheap. (probably nicer than typical Super 8?)

 

On a ski trip, I'm usually not in the mood for fancy hotel. Because by the time I'm back in the hotel, the only thing I want to do is go to bed... 

post #40 of 49

We don't have a Monarch Ambassador yet, but here is a very good guide to skiing the place. http://monarchskiguide.com/

 

I haven't ever stayed overnight in Salida- I was always a Monarch day skier or ski camper for my trips.

 

By far the closest lodging to Monarch is the mountain lodge, but I have heard it is starting to get pretty ratty. It is about 7 minutes from the ski area, all other lodging is about 30 minutes away.

 

Mt Princeton Hot Springs are very cool and are about a 1/2 hour from Salida.

 

Salida also has an indoor hot spring pool in town, but the water is actually piped several miles from the spring and thus is not warm enough to get the pool to a hot level- the warm pool is about 95*. They have private baths that cost the same for 2 people as the pass to the pool, and we like these better as you get a chest deep bath with water as hot as you want it. It is not luxurious, but it does the trick after a day of skiing.

 

If you do make it down to Wolf Creek, you have some decisions to make. You have towns on both sides of the pass. South Fork is a little bit closer to the ski area and because you aren't driving over the pass to get to your hotel, about an hour closer of a drive. But, the town is really a summer resort town and basically shuts down in Winter- if you are looking for any type of Apres scene, this isn't it.

 

On the other hand, Pagosa Springs is a bit bigger, has more lodging options, and much more in the way of restaurants and such. It also has three hot spring pool options to choose from.

 

The closest lodging to Wolf on either side of the pass is here. It is about 5 miles West of South Fork- http://www.wolfcreekranchco.com/

I have heard good things about this one in South Fork- http://thewolfcreekskilodge.com/

 

I have never stayed at these, so can't really give you a good recommendation, but they don't look like the Bates from the road.  There are a lot of hotel motel options in Pagosa including some chains, but I don't know much about them.

 

Regarding the ski experience at Wolf Creek, I think you would have a ball as long as you feel good about skiing well spaced trees. My only hesitation is that in certain areas of the mountain, you will find cliffs and chutes tucked away in those trees and it sounds like that isn't really your ballgame.

 

If you want to explore in the trees but don't want to get cliffed out, stay out of waterfall, except for the Southernmost gate that is just above the intersection of S' Wonderful and Navajo Trail. The area from Pitch's Gate to Tsunami is safe as well. If you are skiing Pitch's Gate or Serendipity and find yourself staring down at very steep chutes, cliffs, etc., it just means that you wandered skiers left into waterfall, and you can just traverse back skiers right and get to milder stuff. Stay out of the Numbered Chutes or further skiers right.

 

Drop me a line if you end up heading to Wolf. If I'm on the mountain that day, I'd be happy to take a few laps to help orient you.

post #41 of 49

Well, Xmas week at the Salida Super 8, is 104 dollars a night with breakfast (such as it is, but there is a fridge in the room) and not Christmas week it's more like 70 dollars. That's not bad for a nice room.

 

They have lift & lodging deals, but you don't need that.  http://salidasuper8.com/rates.php

 

If you want really cheap and all you want is to go to bed after skiing, you can stay at the Monarch Mountain Lodge which is closer to the ski hill. but it's kinda like the haunted hotel of Monarch pass.... Oh, never mind. just checked and it's 139 a night for the holiday week. outrageous, although they do provide a great made to order hot breakfast with that. Hell the Palace is $141 for Xmas week for two people in a suite.

 

A hotel room at Steamboat on the mountain Christmas week is likely going to be a lot more than that. Steamboat is not cheap and it's a big destination resort. You'd be better off staying in Steamboat town and taking the city bus up the hill if you don't want the 4 wheel drive. If you ski Winter Park, you'll probably save money staying in town or in Fraser and driving to MJ every day too. (It's a flat drive, so a car will be fine; MJ is free parking and shorter walk to lifts.)

 

I wish you luck with this. You'll have a great time no matter which one of these itineraries you choose and you have a 90% chance of being fine with a regular car...... You can always skip the long drive if there's a big storm coming in (but of course that's exactly when you'll want to be there!)

post #42 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

We don't have a Monarch Ambassador yet, but here is a very good guide to skiing the place. http://monarchskiguide.com/

 

I haven't ever stayed overnight in Salida- I was always a Monarch day skier or ski camper for my trips.

 

 

 

 

The link anachronism provided is a really good start.  To expand on it a bit, if you hit Monarch on a powder day, ski the south facing runs first, Shagnasty, Outback and Curecanti; and if you want to take the hike, Southbound.  They are all fun runs but with southern exposure, get skanky quickly, especially Curecanti.  The Garfield Face (Kanonen, Cleanzer, Ajax and Examiner) is one large sparsely treed area that is a lot of fun to play in.  It is interesting that all of these runs are black on the current trail map but were blues back in the 70's.  Truth is they are probably somewhere in between.  The best blue runs on the mountain are North Forty and Tele Alley, both, along with the black run Gunbarrel are north facing runs on the far southern end of the area.  Because they require some uphill skating to get to, they are not skied much and the snow quality is always the best on the mountain.

post #43 of 49
Quote:

 

 

 

 

On a ski trip, I'm usually not in the mood for fancy hotel. Because by the time I'm back in the hotel, the only thing I want to do is go to bed... 

Check out the Simple Hostel in Salida http://www.simplelodge.com.  I haven't stayed there, but my daughter and I stopped by to check it out the last time we were in town and found it very nice with a great location in town.  I also stayed in this loft right in downtown Salida and it was also very nice http://www.vrbo.com/261395

post #44 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadrash View Post
 

The link anachronism provided is a really good start.  To expand on it a bit, if you hit Monarch on a powder day, ski the south facing runs first, Shagnasty, Outback and Curecanti; and if you want to take the hike, Southbound.  They are all fun runs but with southern exposure, get skanky quickly, especially Curecanti.  The Garfield Face (Kanonen, Cleanzer, Ajax and Examiner) is one large sparsely treed area that is a lot of fun to play in.  It is interesting that all of these runs are black on the current trail map but were blues back in the 70's.  Truth is they are probably somewhere in between.  The best blue runs on the mountain are North Forty and Tele Alley, both, along with the black run Gunbarrel are north facing runs on the far southern end of the area.  Because they require some uphill skating to get to, they are not skied much and the snow quality is always the best on the mountain.

Agree with all of this. Shagnasty, Outback, Curecanti, and the whole Garfield face are awesome on a powder day. If the sun isn't out, or even if it is but it is still well under freezing, these will stay powder all day- it is the day after storms that they tend to mank up.

 

High Anxiety is one of the steepest lift-served runs on the mountain, which doesn't mean it is enormously steep, but it  and the rest of the runs in that area are a lot of fun.

 

In Mirkwood, Orcs is an open, generally non threatening line. Mirkwood Bowl is a bit steeper, a bit tighter, and generally has a pretty healthy cornice entry. Staircase is as nasty as anything gets at Monarch, with a cliff band, some steep chutes and the like. Lodgeview is a great tree run. If it is snowing, you owe it to yourself to take the hike.

post #45 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadrash View Post
 

Check out the Simple Hostel in Salida http://www.simplelodge.com.  I haven't stayed there, but my daughter and I stopped by to check it out the last time we were in town and found it very nice with a great location in town.  I also stayed in this loft right in downtown Salida and it was also very nice http://www.vrbo.com/261395

I stayed at the Simple last spring. I am no longer the hostel demographic, exactly ;-), but they have a private apartment with its own bath and kitchen. It was nice, and I think there are 2 other private rooms (but with shared bathrooms). We were in late and out early, so I can't speak to the community aspect, but it seemed nice and friendly. And as RR said, it's in a great location.

post #46 of 49

^^^ Simple in Salida looks awesome.  Thanks, Segbrown I'll have to give that a try.   I've always been happy with the Super 8, except it's too far to walk to downtown.  That's a bummer because of all the great local beer, and seemingly inordinate number of cops out on the weekend.

 

I love little old South Fork.  I've stayed at the Spruce Lodge a number of times and been happy there.  There is a pretty good mexican restaurant in South Fork too.  It would be nice to see the OP drop some of his NYC cash in South Fork after they were shut down much of the summer due to the fires.

 

You can get around fine with front wheel drive if you avoid driving on the storm days.  You'll still likely have to drive on well plowed but packed snow at the top of the passes at a minimum, and possibly much of your drives for a few days after a decent storm.  Look at the tires on whatever car you rent before you take it.  Avoid any high performance tires or you'll be off the road for sure, and look for low mileage tires with a tread pattern that looks decent for the snow.   It's all about the tires and really easy to switch to a car with decent tires at rental time.

post #47 of 49
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for all the great advice. I've bookmarked the thread for reading when I'll be there (don't think I can remember all the detail a month later)

 

And anachronism, thanks for the offer of an orientation tour. Will definitely give you a shout if I do make it down to Wolf. 

 

If you guys think of something else later, or update, keep it coming!

 

Quote:
 ...Because they require some uphill skating to get to, they are not skied much and the snow quality is always the best on the mountain.

That would be right up my alley. I even ENJOY skating uphill for some weired reason! ;-) 

post #48 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
 

 

 

That would be right up my alley. I even ENJOY skating uphill for some weired reason! ;-) 

You will be rewarded, the three runs get steeper and longer as you go up hill.  North Forty is the shortest and less steep and is usually groomed, Tele Ally is steeper a little longer and usually only half groomed if at all.  Gunbarrel is never groomed and is perhaps the most fun run on the mountain.  Certainly worth the skate/hike.

post #49 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadrash View Post
 

You will be rewarded, the three runs get steeper and longer as you go up hill.  North Forty is the shortest and less steep and is usually groomed, Tele Ally is steeper a little longer and usually only half groomed if at all.  Gunbarrel is never groomed and is perhaps the most fun run on the mountain.  Certainly worth the skate/hike.

Coming from sea level, I don't know how much hiking at high altitude I can manage. Hopefully I'll acclimatise as the time go by.

 

Skating doesn't seem to tax my aerobatic capacity as much. I found I can skate uphill for quite a long while and not feel exhausted. So if there's a roundabout path to skate to a high point, I can lap it without feeling as tired as hiking covering the same elevation.

 

I'm getting quite excited about the upcoming "tour" of the many "new (to me) mountains"!

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