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Drive-by skiing advice/options for Aspen, Jackson Hole and/or more...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Due to recent circumstances I need to make a road trip from NV to IL and back. It would be nice to get a ski day or two or a few on my way.
I'll be heading from NV to UT on 12/21 and then work my way east to be in IL before Christmas. I'll be making the return trip in early January.
I'm fortunate to have some passes that will allow me to ski at some areas without having pay any extra money out of pocket. (I also have a Tahoe Local pass that gives me the added option of 50% off at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek and/or Canyons if they're worth the effort and slight added expense,)
I have a Mountain Collective pass that would give me the opportunity to ski two areas I have never been to before - Aspen and Jackson Hole.
I would appreciate hearing how current conditions are along with any advice about accommodations, dining, parking (send parking secrets by PM please), etc.
If I make it to Jackson Hole the choice is pretty easy since it is the one main option included on the pass.
Aspen would involve deciding between Aspen/Ajax, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and/or Buttermilk. Help with prioritizing these choices would be appreciated. (BTW, I mostly ski Tahoe resorts such as Kirkwood, Heavenly, Northstar, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Sierra at Tahoe and also Mammoth.) I like variety and am blessed to have many great local choices.
My Sierra at Tahoe pass includes 3 (non-holiday, non-Saturday) days at Powder Alliance resorts. I'm likely to ski a day at Snowbasin on my return trip. Would it make sense to go a little out of the way for Monarch or Crested Butte? Would it make sense to go further out of the way for Angel Fire or Arizona Snowbowl?
I might also have the opportunity to do some Midwest skiing. Mt, Crescent, IA is high on my to-do list. Four Lakes, IL is on my to-do again list since it was the first place I ever skied. (I'm also open to other Midwest suggestions if time and commitments allow since I'll be in IL during most of my trip.
Thanks in advance for any information, advice, and/or encouragement.
post #2 of 14

Go with the snow if you can 

 

As to the southern places, I'd skip Angel Fire, but Monarch and CB might be good choices; I love both those mountains for very different reasons. Wolf Creek has the snow with a 70+ inch base of all natural snow and 100% open. Monarch and CB are both at about 40" Whereas Aspen's base is 25, Beaver Creek is 29 and Jackson Hole is 32. Even Taos and Santa Fe are doing better than that with 36 and 40" respectively.

 

'course that could change and this doesn't mean they aren't great (better?) mountains, but this early in the season...

post #3 of 14

Aspen is skiing fantastically, or at least it was as of last Saturday.  Coverage is very good for this time of year.  It's skiing much better than Summit County.

 

I'd skip Breckenridge and Keystone.  Skiing is ok for the time of year, but not worth laying out cash at the moment.

 

Mike

post #4 of 14

Not positive about the MC pass, but a regular Aspen lift ticket allows you to ski all 4 resorts in the same day if you want to.  I would assume the MC was the same, so you could do Ajax the same day as Highlands if you are into resort bagging.  Not sure if they have all their terrain open, but Snowmass is very big and not as close to the other 3, so that probably deserves a whole day (or skip it if you want full days at Ajax and Highlands).

 

As Mom said, pay attention to where the snow is falling!

post #5 of 14
Stop by Breck on your return trip in January and you may be able to try the new Peak Six terrain.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies.

It looks like I'll go with the consensus view and base my initial destination(s) on snow. Right now I'm leaning toward Aspen on the trip out based on conditions.
Any recommendations on nearby accommodations? Carbondale? Glenwood Springs?
How about parking? I noticed that the site says that Buttermilk has free parking. Is taking a shuttle from their lot the best parking option or are there other/better possibilities? Is their shuttle system a good way to ski more than one resort in a day?

If i go through Aspen on my way out, I still have the option to ski Jackson Hole and Snowbasin on my return trip.
post #7 of 14
Aspen's going off! Jump on that $99 Hotel Lenado deal. They'll give you a parking pass, it's close to town/Ajax and a block from the bus.

Snowmass is cruiser heaven. It has some great expert terrain, but it's all spread out and takes a while to access. Snow lasts a long time.

Aspen and Highland's are steep expert hills with really good access that will kick your ass.

I got 30,000ft on Ajax by noon yesterday and
would easily have had time to take the bus to Highlands for a bowl lap,
post #8 of 14

Always go with the snow, but if I have one day in Aspen it would be Highlands, and definitely hike the bowl if you have the skills.  Support the ski patrol and buy the ski carrier they sell too.  If it's only one day, pay to park at Highlands, don't waste your time with busses.  Snowmass is great but it's a typical Vail type of resort and I once had to drag the Woman Of My Dreams out of a jewelery store before I even got my boots on, I think Ajax is too hard to figure out in one day and I've never been to Buttermilk, but they tell me it's all beginners, kids and terrain parks.

If I have one day in Summit County it's going to be A Basin. In Utah, it's Alta, Solitude and Snowbasin, in that order.  Alta is only a few minutes south of I-80, and it's worth the extra travel.  I'm not a fan of Snowbird, but I'm not exactly sure why because all my friends love it.

Jackson Hole is great, Big Sky and Whitefish are probably too far north for you.  I might skip Jackson for another day in Aspen in the way home, or maybe do Jackson/Utah in December and Aspen in January, depending on weather.

 

BK 


Edited by Bode Klammer - 12/17/13 at 6:49am
post #9 of 14
Parking is pretty easy. There's free lots at the Intercept (intersection of the main highway and the road to Snowmass), Rodeo (halfway up yo Snowmass) and evidently at Buttermilk. All are linked with an excellent bus system that is free into town and to the ski areas.

Highlands, Aspen Mountain, and Snowmass all have exceptional expert skiing. There's something for everyone. At Highlands, you have not only the bowl but the deep temerity area, only Bol, and the P chutes down by thunder bowl. At Snowmass there's the Hidden valley, cirque, and headwall areas. At Ajax you've got the bell, the dumps, and tons of great tree skiing. You can easily spend a week here.

It is possible to ski multiple mountains in a day but transit time will diminish the experience. I'd guess the transfer from Ajax to Highlands will take 30-45 minutes and from Ajax to Snowmass 45 Tp 60 minutes.

Mike
post #10 of 14
I bought the MCP last year (this year too) and bagged Aspen and Snowmass last year with the freebies. I stayed at the Super 8 in Carbondale - very nice digs, nice people, and you'll not find anything less expensive. There was a winter festival going on downtown, so it was pretty crowded and I ended up in Glendale for dinner one night. I would hit Aspen if I had just one day, but Snowmass was quite worthy too. Parking at Aspen was sketchy - I'd be prepared for a long hike and rent a locker for your shoes. At Snowmass I bit the bullet and paid somewhere between $12 and $20 for the day (can't remember exactly) to park right at the base.

Driving up to Jackson Hole, I'd recommend going up through Meeker and Craig, cross over into Wyoming, I-80 and hit 191 through Pinedale. The road between Craig, CO and Baggs, WY is deer-infested, so don't do it in the dark, or dusk either. If you want to break up the trip, overnight in Rock Springs at the Outlaw Inn Best Western.

Jackson is skiing great right now; no worries there. It's just going to get better and better from here on out. Park at the Ranch lot for $5, or right in front for $15. I've never had a problem catching a shuttle to the Ranch lot within a minute or so.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Update on the first half of my trip.
On Sunday on my way from UT to Aspen I skied at Powderhorn, CO. They have a pretty cool special deal - $25 ticket to ski from 2-4pm. A fun little Mom and Pop resort with slow lifts, great views and empty slopes. I was even able to link some untracked pow turns in the trees.
On Monday I skied all 4 Aspen resorts in the following order:
1. Snowmass (I was fortunate to be given a wonderful tour by a local.)
2. Aspen (again I was fortunate to be shown around by a local)
3. Aspen Highlands (great timing here to arrive at Highlands Bowl at the same time the snowcat was making a pickup)
4. Buttermilk (enough time to take 2 empty cruiser runs.)
Aspen/Snowmass has gone from my to-do list to my to-do again list.
On Tuesday I skied Mt. Crescent Iowa. A place where everyone was very friendly, the snow felt great, and it felt good to be part of a fun atmosphere.

Hoping to ski Jackson Hole and Snowbasin on my return trip.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

An update before I head west tomorrow.

Yesterday I skied at Villa Olivia in Bartlett, IL. 180 vertical feet of fun and fresh pow.

 

They even have their own water tower:

 

If you look closely, you can see my fresh tracks on my "sidecountry" run:

 

 

 

 

Not very big, but a lot of fun.

post #13 of 14
Ooo, cold powder.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stev View Post

Update on the first half of my trip.
On Sunday on my way from UT to Aspen I skied at Powderhorn, CO. They have a pretty cool special deal - $25 ticket to ski from 2-4pm. A fun little Mom and Pop resort with slow lifts, great views and empty slopes. I was even able to link some untracked pow turns in the trees.
On Monday I skied all 4 Aspen resorts in the following order:
1. Snowmass (I was fortunate to be given a wonderful tour by a local.)
2. Aspen (again I was fortunate to be shown around by a local)
3. Aspen Highlands (great timing here to arrive at Highlands Bowl at the same time the snowcat was making a pickup)
4. Buttermilk (enough time to take 2 empty cruiser runs.)
Aspen/Snowmass has gone from my to-do list to my to-do again list.
On Tuesday I skied Mt. Crescent Iowa. A place where everyone was very friendly, the snow felt great, and it felt good to be part of a fun atmosphere.

Hoping to ski Jackson Hole and Snowbasin on my return trip.

 

Drop on in.  The skiing's fine.

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