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

post #31 of 50
Interesting about Telliride for a beginner. Haven't been in the winter but gorgeous area. Maybe the closest in look to the alps. However Aspen, Aspen Highlands are upthere also. If you go and don't ski Ajax, take the gondola up and have breakfast or lunch up there on a clear day. Beautiful. One of the nicest summits in North America.

With Park city out of the mix for next year, I don't know why one would bother with Brighton , Solitude, Snowbasin compared to Aspen/Snowmass. All those Utah areas are isolated. Easier and more interesting in the Aspen system esp with the buses.
If going isolated, Telluride is a bit of both. That's an interesting choice since people feel there's enough terrain.
post #32 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?

That seems to ring pretty true. I skied Telluride every year from 1991-2007, a week each year, sometimes two. The string came to an end when my hosts sold the house they had which was about 40 min away from the mountain. Since then, I've only been back 3-4 times, the last time this past January for a week. BTW, I loved that thread and video put up by curlydubs, thanks for linking that. His enthusiasm was downright infectious. Too bad it looks like he hasn't been active on epicski lately. He'd be a real asset.

 

Any comparison with Aspen, of course, will be filtered through lens of the poster's perspective, mine included. I have only been once to Aspen/Snowmass, two years ago. We stayed in Snowmass and only got to Aspen one day and Highlands another. I did get to know Snowmass pretty well and loved it. Also loved Aspen and Highlands, though definitely less mileage there. I never did any apres ski in Aspen the town, so I can't comment on that. However, I thought the shopping in Snowmass was pretty upscale, if that is any reflection. Telluride has an authentic feel to the town that is pretty unmatched, in my experience. It has a very welcoming feel to it, and going in to the bar at the New Sheriden always felt like coming home. The laid back feel to the town definitely extends to the slopes, where you are much more likely to encounter duct tape than Bogner (or Kjus, these days). Telluride skiers  take their sport very seriously, and that extends to us tourists, at all levels of skill. 

 

As to affordablilty, I was at Snowmass with the Far West Ski Assn, so we had a pretty sweet package deal. Telluride may be a little more affordable, but not enough to retire on. I'm not sure I would let that sway a decision as to a week's ski destination. Multiplied times spouse and offspring, though, and we might start talking about some real money. Getting a heavily discounted lift ticket at Telluride is a bit of a chore, though not as bad as Steamboat. You are pretty much left with the multi-day offers on tap from the resort itself. Buying a T-Card, a six day ticket, or a ten day ticket before October 30 gives you more affordable options, and I have always taken advantage of those pre-season deals. Check the web site or call for details. Staying in town is cheaper than up at Mountain Village. BTW, I don't completely agree with Post #17 of this thread about not staying in town. Yes, Telluride Trail can be a bit of a roller derby at quitting time, and quite slick to boot. But, taking the gondola down is no big deal. There is a definite charm to staying in town, particularly after dark, and the gondola ride to/from Mountain Village has some stunning views of the city lights after dark. It is easy enough to get around so that staying at either end of the gondola really is a push. Stay in town for the mining town ambiance. Stay in Mountain Village for the Oprah-style homes. Getting a jump on the ski day is about equal from either place. Night life is in town. Again on the affordability subject, my favorite cheap dinner in Telluride was at Fat Alley BBQ. You could get half a rack of ribs, two sides, and a beer for under $20. I understand that they moved into the Camel's Garden Hotel a year or so ago, so they must have gone upscale, but I bet you can still get a decent meal for not too much. And, of course, if staying in a condo, cooking in always stretches the vacation dollar. There is a full sized grocery store in town, but without a car, one would need to take the bus. The grocery store in Mountain Village is a little smaller, but still full service. It is easily accessible by the Mountain Village extension of the gondola. In fact, in some ways, taking the two gondolas to the MV grocery store might be marginally easier than getting to the in town grocery store, depending on where you are staying (that would be true if staying at the Camel's Garden, for instance).

 

Yeah, I love Telluride. But, I also love Mammoth, Winter Park, Alta/Bird, Jackson Hole...

 

Come to mention it, as to affordability, ask me what I think about Winter Park...

post #33 of 50
Quote:

Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post

BTW, I don't completely agree with Post #17 of this thread about not staying in town. Yes, Telluride Trail can be a bit of a roller derby at quitting time, and quite slick to boot. But, taking the gondola down is no big deal. There is a definite charm to staying in town, particularly after dark, and the gondola ride to/from Mountain Village has some stunning views of the city lights after dark. It is easy enough to get around so that staying at either end of the gondola really is a push.

I think that was me.  :-)  To be clear, I would only stay in the town.  We stayed at the Camels Garden and it was awesome.  Oak chair right outside the door, best hills (for me) right above it.  The town vibe is great and I loved walking from place to place for beers and food.  It was probably my favourite ski trip.  I was only thinking of trying to get back to town as a beginner..gondola is probably the best way!  :-) 

post #34 of 50
Camel's Garden...Nice. For a number of years that was a building housing the lift ticket office. Ideal place to build an upscale hotel, particularly after the gondola went in. Changed the whole feel of the "town lift" base.

And yes; I forgot for a minute the OP's profile. Definitely take the gondola down and pass on T Trail's roller derby.
post #35 of 50

When it comes to Colorado, and cost is not the primary consideration, my two favorite ski locations BY FAR are Aspen and Telluride.  I am willing to pay more (and go through more hassle getting there) to get what these two places offer:  (1) outstanding terrain, (2) jaw-dropping scenery and best of all...(3) no crowds.

 

@curlydubs' video which was linked earlier shows exactly what Telluride offers in the way of WIDE OPEN slopes with no one on them.  Notice that his trip was the first week of March...prime time ski season and he had the place all to himself.

 

I can totally relate to @cosmoliu as I have skied a similar amount of time at Telluride (due to friends who own a place just down the road from Telluride -- Placerville) and just last year spent my first week enjoying Aspen (and let me tell you, it was everything I hoped it would be).

 

For beginner skiers, I think Telluride is the place.  For intermediates, Aspen by a landslide.  For advanced, Aspen.  For expert, Telluride.

post #36 of 50
No argument from me. It's great that Telluride can be both a beginner's mountain and an expert's mountain. I've had as many sphincter puckering moments there as I have had anywhere. Just last January, in fact, I was up at...
post #37 of 50

Alta hands down the least intimidating beginner terrain I have ever seen. If you are truly a beginner I would go there. 

 

If your making matched turns most places it hard to beat the consistent blue pitches of a place like Vail though. 

post #38 of 50

Probably right about Alta's Sunnyside area. However, not as well segregated as some might want: there are some sweet powder drops through the trees under and skier's right of the lift that brings in some players on powder days. I loved Vail's Lion's King runs under the gondola in what seems not so long ago. 

post #39 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post

No argument from me. It's great that Telluride can be both a beginner's mountain and an expert's mountain. I've had as many sphincter puckering moments there as I have had anywhere. Just last January, in fact, I was up at...


Crested Butte has a surprisingly good beginner's area off to the side, too.
post #40 of 50
Thread Starter 

Wow. Great information! I've narrowed it down to Aspen and Telluride. I might even go 2 weeks... one in late December and one in mid February. I've heard the holidays can be the most crowded. I have a week of vacation Dec 29 thru Jan 2. Do you think the more isolated places like Aspen and Telluride would also be overly-crowded that week?

post #41 of 50
I think any place on SKI magazine's Top 10 is going to be crowded that week.
post #42 of 50

As a beginner, I think you will be in good shape at either location no matter when the visit.  Allow me to explain.

 

If you go to Aspen, Buttermilk is the best spot for beginner skiing and is NEVER crowded.  Aspen Highlands actually has some very nice green runs off of the Exhibition lift which you will have all to yourself (again, no matter the date).  The only problem with Highlands is that you have to take a trail that cuts across the mountain to get down to the bottom.  But the green slopes at mid-mountain are very nice.  Snowmass will be the most crowded and can get congested on the green runs during busy times.

 

If you are going to go on a busy week, Telluride is the best choice.  Most people don't think of Telluride as the ideal place for beginner skiing, so whatever crowds will be there will be on other parts of the mountain while the beginner skiing will be uncrowded and best of all, segregated from the rest of the mountain.  YouTube "Galloping Goose Telluride" to see what I am talking about.  Truly amazing scenery and terrain...for beginners!

post #43 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

As a beginner, I think you will be in good shape at either location no matter when the visit.  Allow me to explain.

 

If you go to Aspen, Buttermilk is the best spot for beginner skiing and is NEVER crowded.  Aspen Highlands actually has some very nice green runs off of the Exhibition lift which you will have all to yourself (again, no matter the date).  The only problem with Highlands is that you have to take a trail that cuts across the mountain to get down to the bottom.  But the green slopes at mid-mountain are very nice.  Snowmass will be the most crowded and can get congested on the green runs during busy times.

 

If you are going to go on a busy week, Telluride is the best choice.  Most people don't think of Telluride as the ideal place for beginner skiing, so whatever crowds will be there will be on other parts of the mountain while the beginner skiing will be uncrowded and best of all, segregated from the rest of the mountain.  YouTube "Galloping Goose Telluride" to see what I am talking about.  Truly amazing scenery and terrain...for beginners!

Sound thinking.

post #44 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I think any place on SKI magazine's Top 10 is going to be crowded that week.

 

This is actually not true for Aspen/Snowmass.  I’ve skied the Aspen areas between xmas and New Years just about every year for the last 10.  In all of those trips, I’ve never stood in a line over 5 minutes and most of the time lines were non-existent.  Most of my skiing was at Highlands and Snowmass so someone else might want to chime in for Ajax (might be worse but not when I’ve gone) and Buttermilk (doubt it’s ever crowded).

 

I’ve only skied Whitefish on one trip over Pres Weekend and the lines there were much worse, with the main lifts(1 & 7) having 15-40 minute lines.  I expected some crowding but the level of crowding was a surprising.  It might be because Whitefish has excessive lodging due to summer tourism and so it gets overrun on winter holidays (just speculation).  Even with the lift lines, the runs were pretty uncrowded.  Regardless, I think Whitefish is likely a great mountain on non-holiday dates and hope to go back. 

post #45 of 50
No, it's because we are a huge draw for Canadians and it is not only president's day, it's also Family Day in Canada. I think it's now bookends on either end of our President's Week for Alberta and British Columbia. I think it's worse than Christmas, but that's probably because I try to ski that week, and don't try to ski Christmas. You have to stay off Chair One. I can tell you, if I wait ten minutes I leave.

However, when they move Chair 8 things should improve.

However, don't come here February 6 to 23 next season.
post #46 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg View Post

Most of my skiing was at Highlands and Snowmass so someone else might want to chime in for Ajax (might be worse but not when I’ve gone) and Buttermilk (doubt it’s ever crowded).

I've spent at least part of every Christmas break in Aspen for the last 33 years.
I seldom wait in any lines at Aspen or Highlands. I did have to go in the singles line to avoid waiting once last Christmas.
Snowmass has the most skiers, but I don 't think it gets very crowded.
Conditions are usually quite good. The earlier in the break, the better. We did have thin conditions a few years, but I still had good skiing.
post #47 of 50

The problem with Snowmass during busy times is not the time spent waiting to get on a lift, but the congestion which does occur on most of the green runs.  While there is plenty of green terrain at Snowmass it is situated in such a way (on the lower parts of the mountain) that the majority of skier traffic feeds onto the green runs creating quite the overwhelming experience for those skiers still gaining confidence on the slopes.  Most beginner/lower intermediates (like the OP) who value uncrowded slopes really are looking for uncrowded slopes and not short lift lines.  Here is where Buttermilk (and Aspen Highlands, with Park Avenue being the only sticky spot) are superior to Snowmass for beginners during busy times because Snowmass can (and does) get busy and the lower parts of the mountain...which is where all the green terrain is.  (I wasn't even considering Ajax since there are no green runs there and the easy blue stuff all feeds into the Ajax Express which also gets a ton of traffic.)

 

The Aspen area is still great, as the OP knows.  Telluride would definitely be different and even better (imo) based upon the OP's criteria.

post #48 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

The problem with Snowmass during busy times is not the time spent waiting to get on a lift, but the congestion which does occur on most of the green runs.

That makes sense.  The OP's best plan would be to ski Buttermilk until he felt comfortable on blues, then expand to snowmass

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

No, it's because we are a huge draw for Canadians and it is not only president's day, it's also Family Day in Canada.

I think you misunderstood my question.  No doubt the crowds were due to the holiday which applied to the same weekend for most people in the US and Canada.  What I was speculating on was why Aspen with peak crowds has less lines than Whitefish with peak crowds (both peaks applied to the region and internationally).  Both ski areas are far from a major metro area and served by a small airport.  My speculation was that the excess lodging in Whitefish might allow more people to visit during a time.  (lodging that supports the busier summer season)  There may be other factors too.

post #49 of 50
How many lifts does Aspen have? There's the problem. Given that our highest day on record is 7654, spread over 3000 acres, the problem isn't bodies on the hill (which would be the case if it were due to lodging) -- it's our lift system, 14 (including even the Magic Carpet) or 214 acres per lift. Aspen/Ajax has 8 for 675 acres, or 84 acres per lift. I have no idea what Aspen's daily numbers are, maybe you do, but if you've got fewer acres per lift, I suspect you have fewer people per lift.

In addition, most of the tourist acreage, the blues, is accessed by really just 2-3 lifts (because none of those people go over to Chairs 4 and 5, like I would at the eight minute lift line mark). I think you'll see some crowd alleviation with the opening of the Flower Point Lift, especially for early season skiing. The best snow at Christmas is found on the back side, served in the past by only one lift. This will double that service. The new runs are great cruise runs, which will be a huge draw for that clientele. That will help holiday crowds tremendously. (It will ruin the tree skiing back there in no time, of course.)

The future move of chair 8 in Hellroaring Basin will also help with crowd dispersal, as providing another way to get to the summit, via a chair 2 to Basin by-pass. They are cutting trails and thinning down from the chair two summit into the Basin, along with moving the upper terminus of 8 to the summit. This will increase traffic into the Basin, as once you are in there you don't have to leave. No year on that yet. Not looking forward to that either.

Sorry for the thread hijack. If we continue, maybe we should break off to another thread..
post #50 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Sorry for the thread hijack. If we continue, maybe we should break off to another thread..

Agreed, maybe a moderator can split this into another thread, although I’m not sure much more can be said about these two ski areas.  Experience at other ski areas might provide more insights.

 

The lift system certainly is a significant factor.  There is no doubt lines appear due to more skiers.  These holiday lines could appear because the lifts have little excess capacity on a normal day or because the number of skiers increased significantly.  If it was a capacity issue, you would think lines would appear from time to time on non-holidays due to normal skier traffic fluctuations.  (I don’t know if they do)

For anyone reading this who has not skied Whitefish, please don't misunderstand.  Lines at Whitefish even on a holiday are still better than Vail, Breck, Park City or just about any other big name ski area near a major metro area.  In addition, Whitefish's runs are very uncrowded since there are few lifts compared to a very large number of runs.

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