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Aspen-Snowmass 8 days of non-stop skiing April 11- April 20 w/11 year old

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

First, have to thank the many on this forum who guided this small family on their spring break vacation destination. We selected Aspen-Snowmass exclusively after reading, conferring and consulting wise counsel on this forum at this particular thread which for anyone in the future - "It is a treasure trove of information" :http://www.epicski.com/t/126588/april-week-w-kids-vail-beaver-creek-summit-county-vs-aspen-snowmass-vs-alta-snowbird-a-users-guide


Now, we were privileged and lucky to ski with Bob Barnes at Highland Bowl for the first two days (And getting him online was tough!-) and Sker31 (Nancy H) was so helpful in connecting us ... this Epic Forum is 'IT' for families for sure).


While a detailed trip report will follow later when Dad gets time to stitch together a film etc. but a few samplers are definitely worth sharing:


Highlands with Bob Barnes, most graciously filmed and edited by Bob himself: Bob Barnes skied with us, took us sea-level-dwellers upto Highland Bowl on Day one, and he filmed, directed, cut, edited a beautiful fun video of the 11 year old who was leading the charge under Bob's guidance

1. Youtube: Please do WATCH IN HD Max level, Bob's filming is pretty amazing:

Description on YouTube:

Skiing Aspen Highlands with uber-instructor Bob Barnes who filmed these clips and put together this movie. The brown snow are remnants from an Utah-origin sand/snow storm which preceded our arrival. Bob Barnes got Dax and his Dad up right from sea level the day before, up to 12,396 ft, top of Highland Bowl on day one. The hike up the ridge-line from the patrol shack at Loge Peak (with Cat ride for 100 metres or so) to Highland Bowl top is about a 1600ft climb, and more than mile - took us 50+minutes. Dax made it, and with snow conditions icy, the ridge was 3-4 boot widths wide in parts with rocks on both sides, rather scary ascent. And it goes on and on. Anyway, as he put it "Skiing in Highland Bowl was easy, the hike up was really scary" . Tired at the top but by the time the steeps at G-6 were hit, he got his mojo back and it shows. 

The more careful and slow skiing at the end is the outcome of seriously tired legs/painful knees as a result of the mogul runs Bob took us on, some workout on Day 2! After that expedition to Highland Bowl on Day 1 !!!



2. if you prefer Vimeo : here is the link - HD version 



3. Here is Dax with our awesome instructor, guide and new friend  Bob , i.e. Mr. Barnes himself:



More details to follow later in a full TR. But in one sentence about our digs "Staying at Snowmass Village - best place we have stayed at ever". 


Thank you all for the great words of wisdom and counsel, we would never have made it to Aspen-Snowmass without your input and nudging and arguing (amongst all) and all that invaluable data! 

PS: The Viceroy at Snowmass has the best service we have experienced at an hotel establishment anywhere, on terra firma or in the mountains!-) And late season, costs are pretty darned reasonable.

post #2 of 20

Glad you enjoyed it!  Aspen is a special place.

post #3 of 20

Great tr. Wow, Dax has come a long way. Looks great.

post #4 of 20

Too bad our friends in UT had to be such poor losers and send all that dust our way when you decided to come to Colorado.  Yuk!  :)


Glad you had so much fun, and great video by @Bob Barnes!

post #5 of 20

Awesome!  Dax is skiing great.  How about those conditions on closing day at Highlands?!?!?  Even on closing day, looks like you had the whole mountain to yourself.  So glad you chose Aspen/Snowmass.  If there is a better combination of terrain, scenery and uncrowded slopes anywhere in the world at a similar cost, I'd love to hear about it.

post #6 of 20

Dax is ripping it up on those little Kastles!


So stoked that you had such a great trip and that you got to hang with @Bob Barnes 


post #7 of 20
Awesome! Thanks for posting some follow up and looks like you had a great trip.
post #8 of 20
Well done! Great post!
post #9 of 20
So glad you enjoyed your trip! Dax rips!
post #10 of 20
Dax is getting his carve on!
Glad you had a great time.

Sorry about the dust.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 

Sometimes a look-back provides great perspective, a quiet 'Holy Guacamole' pondering...That ridge-line above is where we came from - that is the top of Highland Bowl...

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

While Bob (Barnes) is a master with his camera and my GoPro awaits a download, I took some of the hand-held IPhone footage and was 'mucking' around with the new IMovie which is rather more complicated than its last incarnation. The result is the 3 minute clip below. Note if you do choose to spend 3 minutes laughing and enjoying the visual treat that is Snowmass when tackled by a good skier on 'fun runs', terrain park etc. Please note for those 3 minutes:

1. Excuse film-makers flaws - experimenting with IMovie

2. MUST WATCH IN HD 1080p setting on YouTube, FULL SCREEN, and keep the volume audible!


Just trying my hand at the new IMovie!..had fun..hope you do too.


Note I also skied with George Perry at Snowmass in groups, good man, great instructor, spotted and I think nailed my boot problem which has been a non-stop saga since 2008 (When I took up skiing)! He is a good guy to ski with, crusty, usual ski-mountain deprived of normal sea-level-oxygen sense of humor, he was a lot of fun and wise instructions in sometimes pretty tough conditions (note in trees, if instructors stop, get out of the narrow way, us intermediates sometimes cannot slow down without turning and if there is no place to turn on some god-forsaken narrow tree trail...we bail ! and hit our heads! Just laughing at my own minor catastrophes)


Thanks folks, I will put a movie together at some point of the trip, have some good footage, just sharing the good times, am in such a good mood, and all because of you folks here and those at Aspen-Snowmass and of course the mountains themselves.

post #13 of 20

Good stuff dustyfog.  When you get around to it, I would love to hear a few more thoughts on how the Aspen area compares to the other places you have been (Whistler-Blackcomb, Zermatt, Alta, etc.).  I'm glad you got to experience Colorado, unfortunately for you...you are now spoiled as Aspen is definitely the best area in the whole state (with Telluride being the only place which comes close, in my opinion).

post #14 of 20

NIce! I know George and your description is spot on. Bags said he met you as well.  So glad you had a good time. Dax rocks!

post #15 of 20

Great shots of Dax and the scenery of Snowmass! Yes full screen you get to see it.


Aspen/Snowmass is under rated imo.


I still remember a clip of Dax from Sunshine? when he was like 5. I remember it because there was a trail where he was making consistent round turns the whole way down. At one turn, he slows down before making the turn rather than using the turn to slow down. Absolute classic. Could be used to teach adults how one glides around turns and doesn't use them to brake.

post #16 of 20

Nice to see Dax's progress, but it looks like dad is tearing it up pretty well too!



post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks Jim, Dad's bow legs and cant issues make for wobbly legs as George Perry pointed out. We had a ton of fun, and Dax improved during the week with great counsel from Bob Barnes, Emilie Tait-J and George P. 


Tog, you are right, great memory, he had just turned 5 in 2008, and I had put on skis for the first time in Feb that season, and we went to Sunshine V in April - pre-Easter as has now become customary, was our first trip. I know, ski school at Sunshine did not take kids up high till they were 6 and it was our first trip but they tried him out, well, he never came down low thereafter! 


LofC: I reviewed the Viceroy here:



Best ski hotel we have stayed at for the overall experience, and service. Though in Lech-Zurs, the food at the Hotel Montana in Oberlech is unbelievable and the family Ortlieb took us under their wing (had not seen such diehards from stateside, plus me, not being caucasian was a source of good cheer! in Austria too!) Grandma Ortlieb made sure Dax was always ok, moved us to better room at no charge after 1st night I think if I recall, Katherine Ortlieb made sure everything was ideal for us, and her daughter hung out with my boy who had just turned 6 at the time. 


Whistler-Blackcomb to me still is the biggest-baddest mountain in North America from our experience.


Snowmass cruisers and the Cirque are pretty special, and I learnt I really need to ski tough terrain more often, the exposures are intimidating , Highland Bowl in icy hard-rock conditions with tired legs, short-of-oxygen sea level lungs was experience, and I fell about 20-30 feet, no idea how, but ski came off, I self-arrested, and saw ski coming straight at me, caught it ... good recovery for older guy, my boy had no trouble, though he found the hike in parts genuinely scary, it is, I looked left and right once in the tough parts, then kept eyes straight ahead! Having Bob Barnes there is the only way we could have done it, and he squired us oh so graciously. Snow quality at Aspen-Snowmass was excellent on the whole, especially high up, yes, given the season, it was soft and really tough going down low and mid-mountain by April 18! I recall Alta-Snowbasin-Solitude-Deer Valley as great snow too, though given recency effect, will give edge to Aspen-Snowmass. Alta Lodge remains a special place to stay.


Ok, further thoughts : On-mountain establishments (we did not try all ok, like Cloud 9 in Aspen etc but I can guess they are nice experiences but not inexpensive so will stick with the basic offerings everywhere - better for comparisons, no yurt meals and all that jazz!) , Snowbasin, Utah lodges are the unbeaten king of the heap without a doubt, Whistler-Blackcomb has better food, and so does Deer Valley, better food and lodges. Zermatt on-mountain restaurants are more interesting, eclectic and in the end, rustic, original, longer history but the food better in Lech-Zurs by a mile and then some, the food in Lech-Zurs is probably impossible to match in my opinion for regular on-mountain establishments. Good thing about Snowmass or anywhere else we have been, water does not cost money like it does in Zermatt !! Snowmass was ok, not bad, way better than Alta and Solitude on-mountain lodges.


All I can think of now in terms of summary.


While recency matters and I am a better skier now, so more of the terrain was skiable from my point of view and hence enjoyed more. My boy enjoyed the area thoroughly and he actually got to ski all three areas, Highlands, Ajax and Snowmass (Dad did the first and third mountains), and he enjoyed Aspen-Snowmass unbounded. Overall, easier access, lot more fun, and snow quality better than Zermatt. That would be my humble first cut view if I had to compare.

Edited by dustyfog - 4/30/14 at 8:27pm
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 

Last thing on damages - the pre-Easter week usually is a great time anywhere to ski as costs are unusually reasonable. So in our case, our costs for 9 nights at the Viceroy in a Studio room with two queen beds,( and for those interested, has a kitchen, fine cutlery and all that we never use it, so fyi and !! we got moved to a gigantic 2 bedroom , 2 bath unit because of a faulty shower but that was pure luck of the draw), it cost far less than a hotel room in most places at sea level ( for two note, with taxes, and resort fee included), and this is a uber-fine establishment and Ski-in/Ski-out for two people, with free transfer of skis from all mountains , free airport pickup and dropoff etc. The water in the jacuzzis poolside and in the pool was genuinely hot and warm respectively, and service was uber-efficient and quite thoughtful, smart set of staff and management there.


Next, we paid just under 500 bucks for my 8 day lift tickets for the Aspen area, my 'premium' ski rentals were a tad less i.e. 30 bucks or so less for 8 days, my son's 8-day lift tickets were free, and his 8-day 'premium' rental was free (offer for 12 and under) (and they rent Kaestle skis for those afficionados who are interested, they seemed nice LX82's and MX88's is what I used, nice, but did'nt think they were amazing or anything but I am no expert). Note we skied all 8 days, no breaks, after all the snow is precious, not a moment to be wasted! So all in all in my humble opinion, incredible value for a superb ski-in/ski-out home-base, and ski area, which is usually priced out of reach for most of the non-ONE-percenters like us! And this is father-son inclusive. Airfares well, that is luck of the draw, use points or what have you, and United did not lose our bags in transit to/from Denver interim transit point. That is one drawback, no direct flight from NYC on commercial airliners to Aspen. Makes the journey long, but as you can tell, worth every minute and it was far more pleasant than I imagined.


On separate note transit to Aspen can be done from Snowmass on a free bus, we used it to return on the two days we went to Highlands, but the DIRECT bus stops at 430pm, when we were there, another FYI. Cabs are not cheap, 45-55 bucks from Snowmass to Highlands or Aspen Village; transit in Snowmass Village was free as the Viceroy provides at will shuttle service in Snowmass (something to remember , it really is a huge plus), and vilalge itself has a free shuttle service. 


Also, Il Poggio is Snowmass Mall is a really nice Italian restaurant, very kid friendly, and the food was unusually good.  


Finally people are generally quite friendly and happy. Did not notice a lot of Australians working there or Brits for that matter! A few families from Singapore, unlike Whistler-Blackcomb, funny, lots of visitors were from Latin/South America, Singapore, Australians too but oddly, almost no American families visiting in terms being visibly apparent - we met one I think! And in ski school, kids were international-overseas crop, as were my ski partners in group skiing.


Lofc, trust that gives more color

Edited by dustyfog - 4/30/14 at 8:21pm
post #19 of 20

Just an FYI:


High season,  several airlines do have directs NY- EGE which is only about 1:15  from Aspen, which may be your best route.


The direct skiers bus between Aspen/Snowmass stops at 4:30, but the free RAFTA buses go till 2am and the transfer at the intercept lot only adds about 5 minutes.


Not being part of the Commonwealth, we don't get nearly as many seasonal working Aussies as Whistler.  Probably because of that, we seem to like them a lot more.


Spring can be great in Aspen, but if you want good mid winter conditions top to bottom, I'd come in February.

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thx Shred, noted, distance seems palatable for a drive especially with non-stop flight

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