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good snow Christmas week

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I've been skiing in Vermont (Killington, Stowe, Okemo) over Christmas week for decades, but the snow is becoming increasingly unreliable that early in the season. (See: Global warming.) Where's the best (or at least better) places to go where I can count on good snow the last week of December? North America is my preference, but I'll fly across the sea if I need to, for a few good runs!
post #2 of 6

Grand Targhee.

post #3 of 6

It is likely that snowmaking advances have improved the early season in the Northeast vs. 30-40 years ago.  Nonetheless northeast snow at Christmas can never be counted upon.  Even if there's a dump earlier in the month it can rain while you're there and screw up the conditions.  Booking far in advance in the Northeast is always a crapshoot.  The people who consistently score good eastern skiing are those who can be flexible in timing.

 

http://50.87.144.177/~bestsnow/fam_ski.htm

As noted in the article above at Christmas you get to battle crowd/price issues as well as early season snow issues.  So in general this time frame should be avoided unless family/work considerations preclude alternatives.  If it's kids in school, spring break is usually a better alternative and for those school districts with February vacation weeks, that's even better.

 

Purely in terms of snow consistency the best places I score "5" in the article above are safest but I agree Targhee is #1.

post #4 of 6

Tony always covers it, but I throw a few cents in. 

 

It's been local knowledge here (true maybe false) that the gold range of the monashees is the best early season snow in BC and most likely north america. New years day is statistically the best odds of getting deep powder in the kootenays/Okanagan.  The flip side is light is minimal and base depth limits some terrain. Of course you could say that about anywhere. 

 

Perhaps avoiding crowds and doing a cat trip, or lodge in the interior is the answer for you. Mustang Powder has availabilty Christmas-New years and that's about as good a bet as it gets for that time of year for quality skiing.

post #5 of 6
There will be good snow somewhere in late Dec, it's just that you need to go where it is rather than be somewhere else:-)
Because of my kid's holiday school schedules I've been pretty active making ski trips in late Dec/early Jan over last five years. Here are the results.

1. 1st week Jan 2010: Sugarbush, Stowe, MRG - not bad. Pretty good variety and conditions even at all-natural MRG
2. 1st week Jan 2011: Snowbasin, Powder Mtn, Brighton, Alta, Snowbird, Solitude - very good conditions including off-piste cat skiing at Powder Mtn
3. 1st week Jan 2012: Taos - very good, half of hike-to extreme terrain open, all lift served in good shape.
2nd week Jan 2012: Steamboat - not so good, but still 3000+ vertical to play with. Conditions thin and a bit scratchy, had to be careful skiing off main runs. Got about six inches pow last day and able to ski lower angle trees. Thin conditions on a big mtn in CO still better than firm manmade hardpack we usually ski on little mid-Atlantic mtns in early Jan.
4. Last week Dec 2012: Mt. Bachelor - very good. Skied from summit all three days of visit, virtually entire mtn open with good conditions. They got 5' less than a week before arrival.
1st week Jan 2013: Homewood, Alpine Meadows, Squaw, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood, Sierra at Tahoe - all very good, conditions held up well from same 5' dump two weeks before, 1' fresh powder day Sierra at Tahoe. Reports on rest of Tahoe winter very subpar.
5. Last week Dec 2013: Aspen - very good, vast majority of terrain open with packed pow conditions including off-piste terrain of Highland Bowl.

Here is the kicker: other than Bachelor/Tahoe, all other trips done by car and destinations were selected 1-3 weeks before trip based on current ski conditions. Airfares for Christmas week will be pricey no matter when booked. If the difference between booking flights now and booking flights on Dec 15th into a big destination like Denver is only like $500 vs. $700, maybe you should wait for later to see where early season snow falls?
post #6 of 6
Quote:
Here is the kicker: other than Bachelor/Tahoe, all other trips done by car and destinations were selected 1-3 weeks before trip based on current ski conditions.

This is the fundamental reason there were no disasters on that list.  Switch #4 and #5 and you would have had 2 disasters. Not to mention several years of the past 15 at Taos.

Quote:
It's been local knowledge here (true maybe false) that the gold range of the monashees is the best early season snow in BC and most likely north america. New years day is statistically the best odds of getting deep powder in the kootenays/Okanagan.  

I expect this is true.  Unfortunately the only lift served skiing in that region is Revelstoke, and the lift service gets only about 70% of the snow that most of the cat/heli places in the Monashees and Selkirks do.  Throw in Revy's low base elevation and it's a good early season choice but not any better than Alta or Whistler and still not as good as Targhee.

Quote:
Perhaps avoiding crowds and doing a cat trip, or lodge in the interior is the answer for you. Mustang Powder has availability Christmas-New years and that's about as good a bet as it gets for that time of year for quality skiing.

Mustang is where I have my annual cat skiing reservation, and I believe they are in as optimal a location as you can get for snow.  They open about a week into December, far earlier than anyone else in the remote lodge cat/heli business.  While there will be snow (and very likely powder), the skiing may not be quite what it can be a month or two later.  The lesser daylight (Mustang tries to use as much as they can) is part of it.  The other part is the amount of snow needed to build out their cat roads.  So some of their 30,000 acres might not be cat accessible in early season. 


Edited by Tony Crocker - 8/1/14 at 1:49pm
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