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Best Mountain for a Beginner…[Rockies for 2nd ski season]

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

I skied for the first time last year. I took a 3-day small group lesson at Aspen Buttermilk. I still feel like I could use another 3-day small group lesson to refresh what I learned last year and be able to comfortably tackle blue runs.

 

My choices are Aspen Buttermilk (again), Telluride, Park City, and Alta/Snowbird. Whistler is also a remote possibility.

 

Any thoughts on which mountain/s offer the best instruction and green/easy blue runs?

post #2 of 50
I'd think Buttermilk would still be at the top of that list.... Maybe Snowmass as well?
post #3 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by direwolf314 View Post
 

I skied for the first time last year. I took a 3-day small group lesson at Aspen Buttermilk. I still feel like I could use another 3-day small group lesson to refresh what I learned last year and be able to comfortably tackle blue runs.

 

My choices are Aspen Buttermilk (again), Telluride, Park City, and Alta/Snowbird. Whistler is also a remote possibility.

 

Any thoughts on which mountain/s offer the best instruction and green/easy blue runs?

Welcome to EpicSki!  Glad you enjoyed your first skiing experience.  Always useful to have a lesson or three at the beginning of the ski season or a ski trip, regardless of how well someone skis.  When I do a ski vacation out west, I like to have a lesson on Day 2 or 3.  Since I'm an older advanced skier flying from the flatlands, I prefer to acclimate for a day or two first.

 

Certainly advantages to going back to Aspen.  From what I've heard, lots of options for a beginner between Buttermilk and Snowmass.  Since you've been there before, less work to figure out the travel plans.  Did you fly  into Aspen or Denver?

 

Park City can be a good place for beginners who are also interested in night life or other non-ski activities.

 

I think Alta is a great place to learn in terms of terrain and the quality of the ski school.  Especially if you stay in one of the lodges in Alta and simply focus on skiing.  However, Snowbird is better saved for the future when you are comfortable on most blues out west.

post #4 of 50
Park City might not be an option next season.
post #5 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Park City might not be an option next season.

Why is that?

post #6 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

Park City might not be an option next season.

Personally, I would rather go to Snowbasin for long green/blue groomers any way.  Great ski school too.

post #7 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Did you fly  into Aspen or Denver?

 

Park City can be a good place for beginners who are also interested in night life or other non-ski activities.

 

 

Flew into Aspen to avoid the mountainous drive. Not much of a partier... would definitely be going for the skiing.

 

I'm leaning towards Buttermilk or Telluride. However getting to Telluride seems like a challenge.

post #8 of 50

Since we are discussing a variety of resort options, I'm going to move the thread from the Beginner Zone to Resorts.

post #9 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by direwolf314 View Post
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Did you fly  into Aspen or Denver?

 

Park City can be a good place for beginners who are also interested in night life or other non-ski activities.

 

 

Flew into Aspen to avoid the mountainous drive. Not much of a partier... would definitely be going for the skiing.

 

I'm leaning towards Buttermilk or Telluride. However getting to Telluride seems like a challenge.

Will this be a solo trip?  Would help to know how flexible you are about timeframe.

post #10 of 50

don't be afraid to try Whistler  - plenty of good instructors and there is a lot of beginner friendly terrain.

All of the lifts have at least one easy way down. Same for blues when your beyond the greens.        

post #11 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Will this be a solo trip?  Would help to know how flexible you are about timeframe.

Either solo or with my wife, who is also a beginner. We are flexible... anywhere from late December through late February.

post #12 of 50
The operators of Park City lost their lawsuit and will not be operating the resort next year. They've said that if they lost, they'd remove lifts, etc... Before handing things over to Vail resorts. Ugly... There's a big thread here somewhere about the whole mess... here it is:

http://www.epicski.com/t/121382/this-sounds-messy-park-city-mountain-resort-receives-eviction-notice/630#post_1737959
post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by direwolf314 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Will this be a solo trip?  Would help to know how flexible you are about timeframe.

Either solo or with my wife, who is also a beginner. We are flexible... anywhere from late December through late February.

Lucky you . . . my husband is a non-skier.  Certainly more fun to go with someone else.  I've been skiing with friends out west, including some I've met because of online ski forums.

 

Obviously, will be better to avoid the end of year holiday weeks as well as the MLK and President Day weekends that some families use for a ski week.  That means the easier trails are busier during those times.

post #14 of 50
BCC (solitude/brighton) resorts in UT are great options for you!
post #15 of 50
Quote: Post #1
Originally Posted by direwolf314 View Post
 

I skied for the first time last year. I took a 3-day small group lesson at Aspen Buttermilk. I still feel like I could use another 3-day small group lesson to refresh what I learned last year and be able to comfortably tackle blue runs.

 

My choices are Aspen Buttermilk (again), Telluride, Park City, and Alta/Snowbird. Whistler is also a remote possibility.

 

Any thoughts on which mountain/s offer the best instruction and green/easy blue runs?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by direwolf314 View Post
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Did you fly  into Aspen or Denver?

 

Park City can be a good place for beginners who are also interested in night life or other non-ski activities.

 

 

Flew into Aspen to avoid the mountainous drive. Not much of a partier... would definitely be going for the skiing.

 

I'm leaning towards Buttermilk or Telluride. However getting to Telluride seems like a challenge.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by direwolf314 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Will this be a solo trip?  Would help to know how flexible you are about timeframe.

Either solo or with my wife, who is also a beginner. We are flexible... anywhere from late December through late February.

Are your preliminary choices related to lodging?  It's not the usual mix mentioned by beginners.

post #16 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

 

 

 

Are your preliminary choices related to lodging?  It's not the usual mix mentioned by beginners.

My preferences are related to green/easy blue runs and less crowded resorts. I was told by my instructor at Aspen that Telluride has a lot of green runs for beginners. My wife is more concerned with accessibility... hence the Utah resorts. I mentioned Whistler because I've heard it can feel uncrowded because of its sheer size. 

 

I"m leaning towards Aspen Buttermilk or Telluride because of their greens runs and less crowds. The downside is expense and they are harder to get to. I also know firsthand that the Aspen ski school is superb. I don't know much about Telluride's ski school.

 

The Utah resorts would be easier to get to but I would assume would be more crowded. However, they seem to have great ski schools. 

 

So bottom line, there are pluses and minuses to each resort.

post #17 of 50

Alta/Snowbird can get crowded because of their rep, but Solitude and Brighton don't and their snow is just as good pretty much.  I don't know why you'd want to go to Alta or Snowbird as a beginner.  Makes no sense to me.  Telluride is an awesome place.  Expensive but they do have a fair amount of beginner terrain right out of the mountain village.  Don't stay in the town unless you intend to take the gondola back down.  They also have more advanced terrain should you like to move up a bit.  The drive out is a pain from Montrose, 1.5 hours, but the reward is relatively uncrowded hills.

 

Snowbasin has no on-hill lodging so if that's important to you, you're out of luck.  Having said that, it's a great place although less snow than the more southerly Utah resorts.

post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by direwolf314 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

 

 

 

Are your preliminary choices related to lodging?  It's not the usual mix mentioned by beginners.

My preferences are related to green/easy blue runs and less crowded resorts. I was told by my instructor at Aspen that Telluride has a lot of green runs for beginners. My wife is more concerned with accessibility... hence the Utah resorts. I mentioned Whistler because I've heard it can feel uncrowded because of its sheer size. 

 

I"m leaning towards Aspen Buttermilk or Telluride because of their greens runs and less crowds. The downside is expense and they are harder to get to. I also know firsthand that the Aspen ski school is superb. I don't know much about Telluride's ski school.

 

The Utah resorts would be easier to get to but I would assume would be more crowded. However, they seem to have great ski schools. 

 

So bottom line, there are pluses and minuses to each resort.

Okay, that's makes it clearer.

 

I happen to know first hand that Alta's ski school is very good for kids and adults of any level.  65% of the marked trails are rated green or blue.  Alta has over 116 trails on 2200+ acres.  For comparison, Buttermilk has 470 acres and 84% for beginner/intermediate.  The advanced/expert skiers who think Alta is only for them probably didn't ski there when they were learning.  I did long ago and so did my daughter.  I also skied Alta as an adult intermediate who was only skiing a a few days every 2-3 years.  Only became an advanced skier after I retired.  I have friends who have had a great time learning to ski as adults at Alta in recent years.  However, we stay at Alta Lodge in April, which makes is part of the reason that it makes for a very fun vacation.  All the lodges at Alta includes meals.  So there is nothing to think about besides what time you want to start skiing in the morning and when to stop in the afternoon.

 

Solitude is named correctly.  It is not crowded, even on weekends.  Could either stay in SLC or at the small resort at the base of Solitude.  But probably makes sense to have a car for any trip to SLC for more flexibility is not staying at Alta.  Having a car would make a day trip to Snowbasin easy if the weather cooperates.  Great fun with good visibility for any ability level.  Not worth the drive for beginners if it's snowing hard or foggy.

 

Here are a couple threads from the Family section by parents who got advice on where to go in the past year.  The family of five had a very good time at Solitude.  See Post #27 for comments after they got home.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/123784/very-green-skiers-for-family-trip-to-slc-or-somewhere-else-in-the-west-that-delta-flies-from-fl

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/121323/family-of-five-february-trip-solitude-snowmass-steamboat-etc

 

Snowbasin is also never crowded.  It's only a little over an hour from SLC airport, but with so many world class ski resorts 30-40 minutes from SLC, most people don't venture that far.

 

It's fair to say that even "destination resorts" are not really crowded on weekdays except during Christmas holidays.  You have lots of choices besides those mentioned by your instructor.

 

You can use the Epicski Resort Pages to research potential places.  Look on the right hand column for Topics Discussed.  I added a few tags.  For instance, click on Snowmass, then scroll to the bottom of the resort page to see a list of related threads (click on more for the complete list).

post #19 of 50

I've been everywhere in the original post, knowing Telluride the best, Alta/Bird and Park City very well, and only a week at Snowmass a couple of years ago. I think a return to Aspen/Buttermilk would be my recommendation. There is something to be said for familiarity with where you are skiing at your stage of development. You will be skiing greens and blues, and it is nice to go back over terrain you already are comfortable on. Takes away one variable in your quest to becoming more comfortable on skis. Also, you presumably spent some time getting to know Aspen, so there's that as well. At your stage, any ski school at a major resort will serve your purposes, as will the greens and blues. Start exploring in earnest when you are more advanced. In another thread earlier this year, I chimed in with opinions on quite a number of resorts that came up for discussion, and I started counting on my fingers and toes the number of North American resorts I had been to, and came up with 28. All had their pluses and minuses, and all I would love to go back to. I am always up for exploring new terrain, but there is something special about returning to favorite runs.

post #20 of 50
Nothing wrong with Buttermilk as a confidence builder. In your position I think Snowmass might be better as there are more runs to choose from.

Of the other resorts you mention any will do but maybe Park City would edge out the others as it has many easy and well groomed runs.

Whistler would be off my list as the resort either has too much snow or not enough with rain at the base for my liking.
post #21 of 50

One important consideration is that Buttermilk is a beginner focused mountain.  Ratings at ski areas are relative.  In other words, a blue at Buttermilk would likely be a green at the other ski areas you are considering.

 

I have also been to all the ski areas you're considering.  Telluride and Aspen are both great options and I highly recommend them.  They're harder to get to but they're worth it.

 

Aspen is clearly the best fit IMO.  Tons of greens and easy blues at Buttermilk.  Even Aspen Highlands has more green skiing than any of the UT areas.  All four Aspen areas have tons of blues if you feel up to it.

 

Telluride is also a great option.  Not as many run options as Buttermilk/Aspen but still many more than UT.  Very uncrowded just like Buttermilk.  There are 3 airport options to T-ride: Telluride, Montrose, Duragno.  Telluride is best but has limited flights.  Montrose is the most common options with many more flights and a 1.5 hour drive.  Durango has additional flight options but is a 2.5h drive away.

 

The UT ski areas are much more accessible but they'll be noticeably more crowded.  As others have said, places like Snowbasin and Solitude will be the lightest crowds in the region. Although lines will be short the number of people on each run will be significantly  higher compared to T-ride/Aspen.  Each of the UT areas has their pro-cons.  Some thoughts from a beginner perspective:

 

Solitude: low crowds, but limited green runs.  Lifts are very short (main green lift is 30% as long as buttermilk's main lift)

Alta: low crowds on green runs.  More greens than solitude.

Snowbasin: only a couple green runs.  only go here if you feel confident on blues.

Snowbird: green runs are more like blues at most areas, this is not a good option

PCMR/Deer Valley/Canyons: these are big ski areas with a few greens mixed in.  They should have good ski schools but I don't have direct experience.  Green runs are generally mixed with blue/black areas so I'd expect more crowds and fast skiers mixed in with slow skiers.

post #22 of 50

I agree with Aspen/Snowmass/Buttermilk.

 

My daughter in law had a very unpleasant experience as a beginner at Whistler ski school. They oversold the class and the beginner terrain they had her on was also crowded and at the bottom of the mountain. not much fun. She was plowed into by a runaway beginner. I've not been able to get her back on skis since.

 

Telluride has great beginner terrain and the town and surrounding mountains are really beautiful. Montrose has a bigger than you'd expect airport with major airline service and a shuttle to T-ride. Once there a car is not necessary. That said, early season (December) is iffy for a southern resort like that, so it would be a contender if you choose February.

post #23 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post

 

My daughter in law had a very unpleasant experience as a beginner at Whistler ski school. They oversold the class and the beginner terrain they had her on was also crowded and at the bottom of the mountain. not much fun. She was plowed into by a runaway beginner. I've not been able to get her back on skis since.

The OP is probably off the bunny hill, but I have to say that the best segregated beginner area I have seen is Vail's teaching area at the top of the gondola. There is nothing there of interest to anyone else, and the greens in the Lion King runs to the bottom also generally are populated only by beginners and advancing intermediates. First timers not ready to ski to the bottom can take the gondola back down. A great plus is, that being at the top of the mountain, the snow stays in great shape. Along those lines, I agree with some TQA's comments above; I hate being rained on. Far West Ski Assn is going to Whistler this Feb. and there is a bunch of my friends going who are too much fun to ski with, but I am seriously thinking of passing simply because of the iffy conditions down low, particularly with El Nino's habit of gracing Whistler with warm storms. If this will be, indeed, an El Nino year (I hope, I hope, I hope, for CA's sake).

post #24 of 50

I love the Telluride idea.  That's where I learned to ski and the terrain off of the Sunshine Express is perfect for beginning skiers.  If you can get there, you'll be glad you went.

post #25 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

I love the Telluride idea.  That's where I learned to ski and the terrain off of the Sunshine Express is perfect for beginning skiers.  If you can get there, you'll be glad you went.


Actually, quite right. I'd forgotten how well segregated that area is as well. I guess that in the time I've been going to Telluride I've had little reason to go over there. If staying in Mountain Village, I do like riding Chair 10 (Sunshine) to get a jump on Chair 14 on a powder morning.

post #26 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

I love the Telluride idea.  That's where I learned to ski and the terrain off of the Sunshine Express is perfect for beginning skiers.  If you can get there, you'll be glad you went.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

I love the Telluride idea.  That's where I learned to ski and the terrain off of the Sunshine Express is perfect for beginning skiers.  If you can get there, you'll be glad you went.


Actually, quite right. I'd forgotten how well segregated that area is as well. I guess that in the time I've been going to Telluride I've had little reason to go over there. If staying in Mountain Village, I do like riding Chair 10 (Sunshine) to get a jump on Chair 14 on a powder morning.

Now it makes sense that the OP's instructor recommended Telluride.  I've been curious about it since it was on the Forbes list.

 

This recent thread includes a mini-TR with video by someone from the flatlands who was taking their second trip out west.  The couple had a very good time.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/117875/telluride-2-28-to-3-5-looking-for-some-advice-on-runs-intermediate-2nd-trip-out-west

post #27 of 50

The other thing I really like about Telluride in this case (besides the Beginner's paradise that the Lift 10 area is) is that Telluride uses the double green and double blue designation to classify the runs on the trail map.  I remember how helpful this was for me as I gained confidence as a skier.  What other resort can offer green runs of the quality of Galloping Goose (2,500 feet of vertical!), Double Cabin, Bridges and Village Bypass.  Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass combined can offer about the same amount of beginner terrain, but nowhere near the quality in my opinion.  As uncrowded as the Aspen areas are...Telluride is even more so.

 

February would definitely be the best time to go.

post #28 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

I love the Telluride idea.  That's where I learned to ski and the terrain off of the Sunshine Express is perfect for beginning skiers.  If you can get there, you'll be glad you went.


Actually, quite right. I'd forgotten how well segregated that area is as well. I guess that in the time I've been going to Telluride I've had little reason to go over there. If staying in Mountain Village, I do like riding Chair 10 (Sunshine) to get a jump on Chair 14 on a powder morning.

According to a Trip Advisor article researched in Fall 2013 for the 2013-14 season, Telluride is less expensive for a ski vacation than Aspen.  They compared costs at a destination for a one-night hotel stay, a single-day lift ticket, a basic ski equipment rental package, and a meal at a local restaurant consisting of a burger and fries paired with a bottle of domestic beer.  Costs were researched Fall 2013 for travel Dec. 15, 2013 to April 15, 2014.  Does that seem reasonable?

post #29 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

According to a Trip Advisor article researched in Fall 2013 for the 2013-14 season, Telluride is less expensive for a ski vacation than Aspen.  They compared costs at a destination for a one-night hotel stay, a single-day lift ticket, a basic ski equipment rental package, and a meal at a local restaurant consisting of a burger and fries paired with a bottle of domestic beer.  Costs were researched Fall 2013 for travel Dec. 15, 2013 to April 15, 2014.  Does that seem reasonable?

 

I think articles like that are very generic and should be taken with a grain of salt.  There are too many variables to rely on that as a basis for choosing a ski trip destination.  Staying in Aspen vs Snowmass, lesson packages that include rentals, pre-booking discounts etc are all variables to be factored into the cost.

post #30 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by direwolf314 View Post
 

I skied for the first time last year. I took a 3-day small group lesson at Aspen Buttermilk. I still feel like I could use another 3-day small group lesson to refresh what I learned last year and be able to comfortably tackle blue runs.

 

My choices are Aspen Buttermilk (again), Telluride, Park City, and Alta/Snowbird. Whistler is also a remote possibility.

 

Any thoughts on which mountain/s offer the best instruction and green/easy blue runs?

 

I am glad you enjoyed Buttermilk.  Snowmass has some great blue runs and great instruction.  As I am sure you are aware, your Aspen lift ticket works at Buttermilk and Snowmass so between the 2 areas, you have access to some great green/blue runs. 

 

I have not taken lessons at the other areas so I am not going to comment on places I have not been. It really boils down to personal preference, budget and what you are looking for in terms of lodging, nightlife, travel convenience etc.

 

After teaching at Breckenridge for 10 years, I moved to Snowmass last year and can't say enough about the quality of the Aspen/Snowmass ski school.  If you choose Snowmass, please feel free to pm me and I will be happy to help you with your vacation. 

 

My out of town friends come for a ski trip every year. I recently booked a ski in/ski out house in Snowmass with a nice 20% discount for booking early through VRBO. There are lots of options.

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