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Going to Aspen Snowmass...[early season, flying from Toronto]

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, 

 

I just planned a trip with some friends to snow mass and we are pretty excited. We leave December 12th and are staying for 7 nights. We wanted to go right after exams  and decided to go right before the Christmas 'Wave'. I have tried looking up conditions this early in the season on different websites but I couldn't find anything... I looked up when the mountains have opened up for the past 4 years and they have been opening up roughly late November and Highlands opening early December. Basically my main questions are:

i)Will we be skiing some nice conditions when we are going?

ii) Will I be able to hit the highlands up this early in the season? (based on your experience)

 

Thanks for your time,

 

ARISFFRI

post #2 of 53

Who Knows?

 

Last year, Aspen got a real good early start. Aspen Mountain had many of their blacks and double blacks open Nov. 23.

 

Other years, less so. I have been there mid-December a number of times and have seen it pretty much groomers only and not all of them. I seem to recall having to download to the bottom of Highlands one year.

 

Looking at the calender, I would guess Highlands will be open by Dec. 13, but the amount of terrain is the question.

post #3 of 53

Arisfrri, what type of runs do you like to ski?  If you mostly stick to the groomers, your odds are good that a lot of runs will be open.  If you're a glade/bowl/steeps skier, odds are poor.

post #4 of 53
I go during that period every year and it's generally pretty darn good. They always open a bunch of new terrain the weekend of Highland's opener, 12/13/14.
Highland bowl usually has some terrain open, but it's a gnarly mountain and sometimes it's still variable. Aspen usually skis better, early season.
I think it's a great time to go and bet you'll have a really good time.
post #5 of 53
Thread Starter 
Yah I was having crazy anxiety over it hahah I even called there tourist center. We are generally into everything (Nathan) I'll hit glades, backcountry and of course groomed. I just don't want to fly from Toronto and a lot of the runs are closed. You guys know what I'm saying?

Thanks for the keen responses
post #6 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARISFRRI View Post

Yah I was having crazy anxiety over it hahah I even called there tourist center. We are generally into everything (Nathan) I'll hit glades, backcountry and of course groomed. I just don't want to fly from Toronto and a lot of the runs are closed. You guys know what I'm saying?

Thanks for the keen responses

 

No matter where you go in early December chances are a lot of runs will be closed and very small chance that all runs will be open. So you will no doubt have a good time, just don't expect mid season conditions and be prepared for the possibility of skiing a WROD.

post #7 of 53
Thread Starter 
WROD?
post #8 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARISFRRI View Post

WROD?

Write Ribbon Of Death, meaning thin cover down the middle of a few open trails with lots of people on it.  Usually most of the people are not that good on snow, so avoiding them is a must and not that easy.  Especially bad on weekends I think.

 

Even in the Rockies, there is snowmaking on lower trails so that opening by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday weekend is possible.  But having a few lifts open does not mean there is lots of advanced terrain with natural snow cover open by mid-December.  All depends on when the winter storm systems get going.

post #9 of 53
Thread Starter 
I see , thank you so much. One last question then?

Should I cancel the trip ? Hahaha
post #10 of 53

You might consider Alberta/Lake Louise/Sunshine.  They usually have better early season simply because it's usually colder.  May not be your idea of fun though so I totally get if you'd rather go the Colorado route.  They run the downhill at Lake Lousie Nov 20 pretty much every year and it's usually pretty fair and lately it's been damn cold.  But as others have said, it's obviously a crapshoot.  I can remember planning a Colorado trip 2 years ago and the entire back bowl area at Vail was grass in January.  I've lately started thinking in terms of last-minute to whatever hill is getting hammered no matter where it is.

post #11 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARISFRRI View Post

I see , thank you so much. One last question then?

Should I cancel the trip ? Hahaha


No.  Snowmass is likely to have lots to ski, Aspen Mtn too.  Plus, you guys should have a good time with apres ski.  Here is some stoke from a trip to Aspen in late Dec last year:  http://www.epicski.com/a/colorado-road-trip-recap

post #12 of 53

The only time I've been to Aspen/Snowmass was January 2012 (if I'm doing my math right). Almost no snow at all. Rocks and ice everywhere for the most part.

Still had a good time though. Everyone said it was the worst they'd ever seen.

Would love to go there with good conditions. Nothing is ever guaranteed when you schedule ahead. This year is supposed to be El Nino which could help. Good luck!

post #13 of 53
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys I really appreciate all the feed back. At the end of the day for 1300 I'm getting a 5 day lift ticket, flight from Toronto, and accommodations in snowmass village. I guess the best thing to do is go in there with no expectations and enjoy it
post #14 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARISFRRI View Post

I see , thank you so much. One last question then?

Should I cancel the trip ? Hahaha


Unless it's easy for you to move the trip to later in the year, I would go as planned in Dec.  I've skied aspen for 25 years and often ski it in December and always love it.  Below is my rough estimate of your odds regarding terrain open

 

    percent runs open in mid/late Dec
Scenario odds of scenario blues blacks double blacks
1 10% 70% 0% 0%
2 20% 90% 50% 0%
3 40% 100% 90% 30%
4 20% 100% 100% 75%
5 10% 100% 100% 100%

 

As others have said, all ski areas have risks in the early season.  Also, Aspen Mt often skis well on black/double black even with low snow.

post #15 of 53
I went once in January and skied thigh deep powder! What's the plural of anecdote? Data!

Tony Crocker has quite a bit. You can find it at bestsnow.net. Looking at summary statistics, Aspen and the Banff ski areas (Lake Louise and Sunshine) get nearly the same annual snowfall. While it's possible the Banff areas get more reliable early snowfall, I find it hard to believe especially given the early season experience of running the Women's World Cup at LL.

Another anecdote: I've observed omer the past ten years or so that early season conditions are amongst the best in CO at Aspen. Sure you can wind up with a lousy snow year, but that's part of skiing. And you don't have to worry about crowds on the WROD--it's too far from Denver for much traffic in early December. I say go for it!

Mike
post #16 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARISFRRI View Post

Thanks guys I really appreciate all the feed back. At the end of the day for 1300 I'm getting a 5 day lift ticket, flight from Toronto, and accommodations in snowmass village. I guess the best thing to do is go in there with no expectations and enjoy it
That's a nice deal, and a perfect attitude. I predict a very successful trip.
post #17 of 53
Quote:
4
20%
100% 100% 75%
5 10% 100% 100% 100%

75% of double blacks on Dec. 12?  I don't think so.

 

Quote:
At the end of the day for 1300 I'm getting a 5 day lift ticket, flight from Toronto, and accommodations in snowmass village.

The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the dead zone for vacation travel.  You can still find deals during that time frame on short notice. 

 

I'm not saying the OP should cancel if there are penalties in doing so, which is nearly always the case where the airlines are involved.  But I see no reason people should be booking mid-December ski trips in July.  BE PATIENT. WAIT until you see where the snow is (varies season-to-season).   You WILL still be able to score deals for mid-December in November. 


Edited by Tony Crocker - 7/24/14 at 11:06pm
post #18 of 53
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

 

75% of double blacks on Dec. 12?  I don't think so.

You might want to re-read the post.  The projection is "mid to late Dec" (OP is projecting dates of 12-19).  The projection also agrees that 75% or more coverage of double blacks in unlikely (30%). 

 

I am open the the possibility that I am a little optimistic.  Constructive comments would include an alternate projection. 

 

I'm basing my stats on 1st hand experiences.  A few example

 

  • Highlands bowl opened on Dec 14 2012 and Dec 22nd in 2013. 
  • 4600 (of Aspen's 5500) acres were open Dec 14 2013

 

I don't have the stats but I recall almost everything being open in late Dec 2010, a few pics showing ample coverage:

post #19 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanvg View Post

 

I don't have the stats but I recall almost everything being open in late Dec 2010, a few pics showing ample coverage:

 

Thanks for the pictures...another reminder of how much I love the Aspen ski areas.  Nothing like a little stoke in the heart of summer.  I'm getting pumped for my January trip to Utah.

post #20 of 53
Quote:
I am open the the possibility that I am a little optimistic.  Constructive comments would include an alternate projection. 

I have the percent of all terrain open (that's probably acreage) for the past 12 years ~Dec. 15.  No breakdown for blue/black/double black, but we know the double black will be toughest to open. 

Average percent open is 65%

75th percentile (top quarter of seasons) is 74% open.

Best season was 2007-08 at 88% open.

 

Quote:
If you mostly stick to the groomers, your odds are good that a lot of runs will be open.  If you're a glade/bowl/steeps skier, odds are poor.

This is overall sound advice.   There will most likely be some glades/bowl/steeps open, but they will be quite limited vs. January and later.  75% open overall means not much in the way of double black IMHO.

 

I would favor Vail over Aspen at that time frame.  Again, it's dead time in the vacation business so you avoid crowds, one of Vail's biggest downsides.  Even at peak times Aspen spreads people around on the mountains with minimal lift lines.  Vail gets more snow than Aspen, but more importantly it's not as steep, so takes less snow to get covered.  Vail averages 78% open Dec. 15 with the 75th percentile being 92% open. I see no point in choosing the area with more hairball terrain if you're going there when that terrain won't be open. 

post #21 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 
I would favor Vail over Aspen at that time frame.  Again, it's dead time in the vacation business so you avoid crowds, one of Vail's biggest downsides.  Even at peak times Aspen spreads people around on the mountains with minimal lift lines.  Vail gets more snow than Aspen, but more importantly it's not as steep, so takes less snow to get covered.  Vail averages 78% open Dec. 15 with the 75th percentile being 92% open. I see no point in choosing the area with more hairball terrain if you're going there when that terrain won't be open. 

 

Vail will also have at least 5x the number of skier days by then, because of the Epic Pass.   Many Vail instructors brought their private clients to Aspen during Christmas break in 2011 & 2012.

I've skied both extensively early season. Aspen usually skis better, regardless of the statistics.

post #22 of 53

I don't go on ski road trips anywhere in a normal December because even if most runs are open, they will not have mid season coverage, so there will likely be gullies not completely filled in, stumps partly showing or with only a thin cover or other irregularities.

 

The idea of spending big $ to go to resort when the conditions are not prime time just doesn't work for me. The exception might be to check off a resort on a bucket list with the idea being to return again under better conditions.

post #23 of 53
Thread Starter 

i don't think you realize why i booked so early, you save on the FLIGHT. If I want to book a flight out  of Toronto and I book in November the price will be double. This is one of the largest ski resorts in North America, in the GTA (greater Toronto area) we only have a couple ski resorts that are like 1500 feet to the top. So going to Aspen the first day it opened would be a treat. If I wanted the best conditions absolutely I would go later in the season, but for how much I would pay to ski aspen in the prime conditions I could go to Switzerland flight and everything included. PS... i spent $1300 for the whole trip, exchange and everything---- thats not top $, thats why I booked it.    

post #24 of 53
^^^^I think you will have a great time. I teach at Snowmass. Come over to Snowmass for a day and ski while you are there.
post #25 of 53
Thread Starter 

we are staying in snow mass!!! we were actually inquiring potentially hiring a guide for a couple hours. could we use someone like you ?or do we need to book through the mountain?

post #26 of 53
Quote:

I don't go on ski road trips pay for airfare to go skiing anywhere in a normal December because even if most runs are open, they will not have mid season coverage, so there will likely be gullies not completely filled in, stumps partly showing or with only a thin cover or other irregularities.

 

The idea of spending big $ to go to resort when the conditions are not prime time just doesn't work for me. The exception might be to check off a resort on a bucket list with the idea being to return again under better conditions.

I share DanoT's opinion with the slight modification above.  I've sure he would be willing to drive to Whistler from Sun Peaks in a December when Whistler got 100+ inches in November, as I do to Mammoth in good Decembers like 2010 and 2012.

 

Quote:
 If I want to book a flight out  of Toronto and I book in November the price will be double. This is one of the largest ski resorts in North America

But if you're booking in July, I doubt the airfare in January when your snow odds will be far better will be any more than for travel in December.  I also question that airfare booked in November for Dec. 12-19, right in the middle of the vacation dead zone, will be that much more.  Airfares are based upon supply and demand until you get within 2-3 weeks.

 

The only time I traveled by air to go skiing in December was in 1995.  I booked in late November (knowing there was already a lot of snow) to ski Summit County/Vail Dec. 17-21.  On Dec. 18-19 Vail was 95% open with great snow and zero liftlines.  Maybe that's ancient history now with EpicPass, but I also recall that the airfare was reasonably priced.

 

We have been quoting averages and 75th percentiles for snow conditions.  The 25th percentile for Dec. 15 at both Aspen and Vail is about half open, which definitely means no double blacks.  If you get a December like 2011 or 2012 you will be VERY unhappy you committed in July to ski in Colorado in December. 

And while we're at it, I'll:deadhorse:again.  If you want to save a few $ go for the BACK END of the season in April, not the front end in December.  Especially when

Quote:
We are generally into everything (Nathan) I'll hit glades, backcountry and of course groomed. I just don't want to fly from Toronto and a lot of the runs are closed.

 

I'll know I've performed a successful educational service when more people inquire on these boards where to take their April ski trips than their December ski trips.  I have zero expectation of this happening.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 7/23/14 at 2:08pm
post #27 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARISFRRI View Post

Hey guys,

I just planned a trip with some friends to snow mass and we are pretty excited. We leave December 12th and are staying for 7 nights. We wanted to go right after exams and decided to go right before the Christmas 'Wave'.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARISFRRI View Post

At the end of the day for 1300 I'm getting a 5 day lift ticket, flight from Toronto, and accommodations in snowmass village.
Obviously ARISFRRI would be more likely to have better conditions if he went in mid-January, but it also sounds like he's a student, which means that in general he's unlikely to be able to afford either the time or high-season money for a vacation like this at another time of the season.

ARISFRRI, correct me if I'm wrong!
post #28 of 53
Thread Starter 

Tony Crocker, I stopped reading your excessive and repulsive answer a couple sentences in. I am a student, litter bug and i appreciate the response, I feel like T.C. is retired.... and a bit too serious for me, pulling dates from 1995--- I was like 3 years old, I asked a simple question.... I don't want to know about April skiing because I am already going somewhere else. 

post #29 of 53
OP, Tony is providing data. I think your "repulsion" is an over reaction. You are free to ignore him, but labelling his post as repulsive is totally uncalled for.
post #30 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARISFRRI View Post

Tony Crocker, I stopped reading your excessive and repulsive answer a couple sentences in. I am a student, litter bug and i appreciate the response, I feel like T.C. is retired.... and a bit too serious for me, pulling dates from 1995--- I was like 3 years old, I asked a simple question.... I don't want to know about April skiing because I am already going somewhere else.
Don't sweat it, and try not to take it personally, cuz you're just running into epicski culture--most active members who post during the summer are the toe who ski whatever they can find locally, but have more or less become experts at designing trips so as to get the best conditions possible with the least competition for great terrain and fresh snow while still traveling on a budget. That's why paying $1300 for a a 7 day trip doesn't seem like the point to them, and why they're critiquing the whole premise of your trip: they're looking at it from their own point of view. Heck, last season I tagged along with one such person on a week long road trip to Bridger, Targhee, and Big Sky by sharing gas, driving (I love road trips), and comfortable motel and condo lodging, for a total of about $750 in lift tickets, lodging, and fuel.

So like I said, take the advice with a grain of salt, and just sift through it to find the answers that apply to you. And now you know where to come to find out how to get the maximum fun for your buck once you have more flexibility.
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