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Colorado in April?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

My wife and I are looking at our first ski trip out of the Northeast in April.  She is a pretty mediocre skier and we both like nicely groomed trails.  We are in our 60s, but good health.

I have narrowed it down to Beaver Creek and Breckenridge.

I am concerned about the altitude at Breckenridge (I don't think she has ever been over 5,000') and I have heard it is likely to be slushy at Beaver Creek.

Any wisdom to help me decide?  (I mean other than going earlier in the year..)

post #2 of 26
Fly into Denver the night before you drive up to the resort and it'll be a lot easier. The altitude thing can be a huge issue.
post #3 of 26

You could stay at Beaver Creek and see how the weather is. If temps are an issue sleep lower at BC and drive to Breck. For me, the main issue with altitude is where you sleep. Sking at altitude is not so bad.

post #4 of 26
The problem is the BASE is "altitude" if what you are used to is sea level.
post #5 of 26

Go to SLC. Stay in SLC. Drive up to Alta and Brighton each day. Good snow + sleep at "low" elevation.

post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 

I originally thought of SLC, but the airfare is double Denver and takes nearly twice as long to get there.

 

Our plan is to fly to Denver and drive to the resort to spend the night. Ski the next two days and then go to Moab to hike for 4 days; driving back to Denver to get a flight out.

 

I thought that made the most sense because weatherwise it seemed prudent to ski early and hike late; better chance of getting appropriate weather.  Sure, a few days doesn't mean much, but a better chance.

 

Moab is 4,000 feet.  Would reversing the trip to acclimate a few days first at Moab make a significant difference?

 

We live at 600 feet and the top of our ski area (the biggest vertical between the Rockies and the Adirondacks!) is 2,200 feet; so you can understand the issue.  I have done a fair amount of hiking/backpacking at 10,000 feet and it has never bothered me, but my wife is a delicate flower...   Well, more properly, she has never been above 5,000' and I have no idea how it would affect her.

post #7 of 26

OK, makes sense. I will probably end up in CO next time instead of UT because of that very issue myself. I think the current airfare and extra time from the East is going to end up hurting SLC skiing...not sure if it'll be much, but it will be some for sure.

 

I think you're in a tough spot. You want nice snow but it's the end of the season, you are forced to ski at higher altitudes (pretty much) and in CO that means staying at higher altitudes too.

 

I would plan to take it easy the first couple of days. Stay in Denver the first night then take it easy the next day. Lots of water etc. Hope it works out for you.

post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toller View Post
 

My wife and I are looking at our first ski trip out of the Northeast in April.  She is a pretty mediocre skier and we both like nicely groomed trails.  We are in our 60s, but good health.

I have narrowed it down to Beaver Creek and Breckenridge.

I am concerned about the altitude at Breckenridge (I don't think she has ever been over 5,000') and I have heard it is likely to be slushy at Beaver Creek.

Any wisdom to help me decide?  (I mean other than going earlier in the year..)

Well, both of those are good choices, but I have some wisdom to impart:

 

a)  you may  prefer "slushy";  because - depending on overnight temperatures - if below freezing, it will be a solid block of ice in the morning, which will have been ground up by the grooming machines into what are termed "death cookies", "frozen chickens", or other such terms - because when you hit them they can knock your skis off.  These turn into "mashed potatoes" earlier, the lower the elevation.  So do you want to dodge pieces of ice all day?   Of course, too slushy is an issue as well.  So, it's hard to say on your trip - depends when in April, and the particular weather you have when you are there.

 

b) neither of those resorts are all that low - Breckenridge is higher, and could be somewhat colder - and - as you will discover if you go there, alot more windy.  But Beaver Creek is not all that low....

 

c)  There is no shortage of mediocre intermediate skiing on groomed trails at either place.

 

d)  I don't think the base elevation is going to make a difference as to whether or not you get altitude sickness - both are high enough to give it to you; it is a condition I don't really get anymore - sometimes a headache - in which case I would recommend aspirin.  This shouldn't be at deciding factor.  And, I don't think  reversing and staying early 4,000 feet at Moab for a few days is going to be enough to acclimate you, or, make enough difference in elevation.

 

e)  the bus systems and parking/pay facilities vary between these places; some managed motels/condo complexes have shuttle buses for guests as well....if you are staying a bit farther away than "walk to lift"; you'll need to figure out how all this works.

 

f)  don't drive all the way to BC and then drive backwards to Breck.  If you are going to BC, then ski there.

 

g)  The towns are different - Beaver Creek  (expensive) is really a resort village ~2 miles outside the town of Avon (less expensive,  and a bit lower elevation); Breckenridge is quite a bit bigger than Avon/Beaver Creek, but still a small town.

post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toller View Post

 

Our plan is to fly to Denver and drive to the resort to spend the night. Ski the next two days and then go to Moab to hike for 4 days; driving back to Denver to get a flight out.

 

I thought that made the most sense because weatherwise it seemed prudent to ski early and hike late; better chance of getting appropriate weather.  Sure, a few days doesn't mean much, but a better chance.

 

Moab is 4,000 feet.  Would reversing the trip to acclimate a few days first at Moab make a significant difference?

 

I do actually think it would make a difference.  Even Beaver Creek is at twice that altitude.  People regularly recommend spending a night in Denver before going to the ski resorts, and Denver is, well, over 5k.

 

Altitude sickness isn't necessarily predictable. Everybody has a different elevation at which they're affected. Your wife may be just fine, or she may feel terribly sick.  You kinda don't know till you try it.

 

My husband and I planned our honeymoon in Vail to take advantage of seasonal rates - I think the first day was March 30.  Snow had been great, but the week before it got super warm, and the snow melted off to the point that you had to take a lift from mid-mountain to the base.  My husband, the stronger skier, loved the spring "corn" conditions.  I was pretty miserable.  This was a decade ago, but it can happen.

post #10 of 26

Glenwood Springs might be an option at 5,700 ft.  Sunlight's a decent little hill and Aspen's just up the road.

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Glenwood Springs might be an option at 5,700 ft.  Sunlight's a decent little hill and Aspen's just up the road.

I love Sunlight, but the lower elevation does not always do to well in April. They also close no later than the first week of April.

This year they have been doing well with snow, but if March dries out this would not be the best idea.

Here I go reccomending Steamboat again...
post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevescho View Post
a)  you may  prefer "slushy";  because - depending on overnight temperatures - if below freezing, it will be a solid block of ice in the morning, which will have been ground up by the grooming machines into what are termed "death cookies", "frozen chickens", or other such terms - because when you hit them they can knock your skis off.  These turn into "mashed potatoes" earlier, the lower the elevation.  So do you want to dodge pieces of ice all day?   Of course, too slushy is an issue as well.  So, it's hard to say on your trip - depends when in April, and the particular weather you have when you are there.

I am not interested in either death cookies or mashed potatoes.  We have the first all year long and I don't have to go to Colorado to get it, and I stop skiing when it turns to mashed potatoes.

I should have know that; if it is warm enough to melt the snow, it will freeze into ice.  It is obvious now that you have said it.

I have always heard about how wonderful the western groomed trail were, but I now realize that is earlier in the season.

 

We have decided to hold off until the last moment.  If the conditions are good, and flights are available, we will head out.  Who knows, they might get cold weather and a bunch of snow. Otherwise we will wait until next year and go in February.

 

Your help is much appreciated.

 

Steamboat might be a great choice, but its not on the way from Denver to Moab.

post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toller View Post
 

I am not interested in either death cookies or mashed potatoes.  We have the first all year long and I don't have to go to Colorado to get it, and I stop skiing when it turns to mashed potatoes.

 

It may be worth mentioning here that what people in the West call mashed potatoes may not be what you call mashed potatoes.  Keep in mind that out here, there exists a lot of terrain that is never groomed. Because it is never groomed, it never gets packed in as much as terrain that sees a groomer every night.

 

The result is when Spring comes, meltwater gets drained off of the surface on off-piste terrain. This does not happen very well on groomed terrain because the groomed stuff gets packed into an impermeable layer of ice.

 

So, you get creamy mashed potatoes with no wet slop to suck at the ski. To me, this stuff is like skiing powder that skis just as well even with tracks in.

post #14 of 26
Have you been to Moab before? If not, your trip is worth it even if you don't ski, because too warm for CO in April means unreal for Moab. Your bets are already hedged wink.gif
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toller View Post
 

My wife and I are looking at our first ski trip out of the Northeast in April.  She is a pretty mediocre skier and we both like nicely groomed trails.  We are in our 60s, but good health.

I have narrowed it down to Beaver Creek and Breckenridge.

I am concerned about the altitude at Breckenridge (I don't think she has ever been over 5,000') and I have heard it is likely to be slushy at Beaver Creek.

Any wisdom to help me decide?  (I mean other than going earlier in the year..)


Breckenridge in April should be plenty nice for first-timers, has far more terrain than you can ski in a few days, and in general is a far nicer destination than Beaver Creek. April is corn snow/spring skiing time, and if you can't enjoy that, you probably are in the wrong sport.  Breckenridge is a bit high, and folks coming from low elevations do feel the altitude, so take it easy, and drink lots of fluids (not alcohol). If you smoke, quit now. And when you get to Colorado, instead of your daily run and workout, just ski harder. Note that scheduled closing day is April 20, though we have so much snow this year perhaps that might be extended.

post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 

Flying to SLC has gone from $550 to $330 in the last three weeks and better flights are available!

 

So would SLC be a better bet than Colorado in early April?

I see the resorts are a couple thousand feet lower, but will they be in better condition than Colorado?

post #17 of 26
If half my trip was Moab, SLC is an easy bet. Expecting lower elevation to be better than higher in Spring?
post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NayBreak View Post

If half my trip was Moab, SLC is an easy bet. Expecting lower elevation to be better than higher in Spring?


Well, if you are saying it isn't, then you have answered my question.

But it could easily be seasonally colder at 7,000' in SLC than at 9,000' in Colorado.

post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toller View Post

But it could easily be seasonally colder at 7,000' in SLC than at 9,000' in Colorado.

Not likely. But it could snow more.

I would not drive across CO to get to Moab. DEN is twice the time. If you want desert Utah then skiing Utah is a no brainer. But it isn't a shabby drive wink.gif
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toller View Post
 

Flying to SLC has gone from $550 to $330 in the last three weeks and better flights are available!

 

So would SLC be a better bet than Colorado in early April?

I see the resorts are a couple thousand feet lower, but will they be in better condition than Colorado?

I've been skiing at Alta in April for the last five years.  Twice I ended up extending the trip by a couple days in order to have fun after a powder storm.  I'll be at Alta Lodge with friends April 7-15.  We are all over 55, a few over 70, some advanced who ski all day, some who stick to the groomers and stay in after lunch.  Did you notice the recent thread about the lodges in the town of Alta?

post #21 of 26

MarcNC, I will be in Utah that same week. Maybe we can get together for some turns one day. Will be with a friend of mine. We are also both over 55 I'm sorry to say.  

post #22 of 26

Colorado is having a record snow year.  Utah is slightly below average.  That combined with the higher Colorado elevation put the odds strongly in favor of Colorado having better April snow this year.

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/gis/images/west_swepctnormal_update.png

 

I have family that has visited Copper almost every April for more than a decade.  I always plan to ski a ton in April because the conditions are fantastic and crowds are gone.  There is no reason to fear April skiing in Colorado... just as @Jamesj wrote:

http://www.epicski.com/a/colorado-spring-skiing-dont-fear-the-april

 

Here's what I'd suggest: pick your days and buy your ticket to Denver.  Make it a week if you can to account for weather both hiking and skiing.  Stay the first night in Denver, then don't worry about it after that.  If you have an altitude issue, just drive to the Desert and breathe.  Keep your skiing/hiking schedule flexible until the last minute to maximize the weather.  There are rooms sitting empty everywhere, so don't worry about a reservation (except maybe Moab).  Consider hiking at the Colorado National Monument in Fruita instead of or in addition to Moab, since it's a couple hours closer to skiing.   Consider skiing Copper and A-basin for the most north facing high altitude terrain where you'll likely find the most remaining winter surface conditions in the country.

post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maui Steve View Post
 

MarcNC, I will be in Utah that same week. Maybe we can get together for some turns one day. Will be with a friend of mine. We are also both over 55 I'm sorry to say.  

PM sent.

 

Hey, I didn't have the time or the money to indulge my passion for skiing until after age 50.  Now I can ski midweek and look forward to senior rates for lift tickets. ;)

post #24 of 26

...


Edited by deagol - 3/25/14 at 8:36pm
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by deagol View Post

In Moab, watch out for the Easter Jeep Safari, assuming you wish to hike without all that noise & dust. 

Or don't hike on 4WD trails wink.gif
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by deagol View Post
 

In Moab, watch out for the Easter Jeep Safari, assuming you wish to hike without all that noise & dust. 

I have attended the Jeep Safari in Moab and did not notice any dust.   It's slow-motion driving all the way.

 

Noise? Yes, but it's music to my ears.

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