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Early December Ski Trip in Colorado [beginner/intermediate flying into Denver]

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

We have plane tix to go to Denver Dec 4-13.  I figured there would be decent snow by then at Winter Park or Steamboat Springs, but I'm reading that early December is up in the air.

 

I'm getting an Intrawest 6 day pass to ski at each resort.  Plus I've heard both resorts get a lot of December snow.  But I'm stilling wondering if I'm scheduling this right.

 

Also should I book some of the deals that Steamboat and Winter Park have going on right now for early booking with 25-35% off or will these deals still be around in a couple months?

 

We are beginner to intermediate skiers, so we won't need any black diamond slopes....just some snow.

 

Thanks for any advice.

post #2 of 44
We need to create a sticky or an article about Thanksgiving/December/Christmas and just keep sending people there, I swear..
post #3 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

We need to create a sticky or an article about Thanksgiving/December/Christmas and just keep sending people there, I swear..

Each situation is a bit different.  However, there is now a tag for early season planning in North America to make it easier for people to find potentially relevant threads.  Tags are usually added after a thread has some useful replies.

post #4 of 44
Thread Starter 

Uh, hey guys...I'm still here.  (Sorry I felt like I was standing in the corner of a room overhearing a conversation).  I guess I'll look for the early season planning tag.

post #5 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post
 

Uh, hey guys...I'm still here.  (Sorry I felt like I was standing in the corner of a room overhearing a conversation).  I guess I'll look for the early season planning tag.

Since you are interested, I added the tag (right hand column).  Honestly there aren't too many threads tagged yet.

 

There aren't too many folks around in August, so you may not get much response.  Side conversations, aka "highjacks" are pretty common on any online forum.  People learn to ignore stuff that isn't of interest.  You can "bump" your thread in a few weeks by posting again.

 

Since I'm here, I'll move the thread to Resorts & Travel.  Doesn't make too much difference when there are few new threads, but better later on when traffic picks up.  I know it's a bit confusing to figure out where to put threads in the beginning.

post #6 of 44
The good news is the op skis green and blue runs which are the first to open. The bad news is early Dec is early. Most likely many blue/green runs will be open by the time you arrive but maybe 20% of the time only a couple of runs on man made snow will be open.

The safest advice is to delay booking or book refundable options and adjust your plans the week before. Most lodging deals will remain.
post #7 of 44

What we know:

 

1.  There will be at least a white ribbon of death open at both Steamboat and Winter Park (snowmaking

2.  It is likely that additional terrain will be open, particularly towards the end of your trip

3.  Early December is iffy for snow -- could be great, could be lean

4.  There's no need to book lodging early -- it is well before prime time and you can make your lodging reservations at the last minute based on conditions

5. As you've already committed (e.g. purchased your tickets), don't worry about it.  Settle back, enjoy some summer activities, and look forward to a great trip.

6.  Even if conditions are lousy, you'll be skiing!  And skiing is wonderful!  So you can have fun -- it's what your attitude is that'll determine that.

7.  In the words of Bob Barnes:  "There is no bad snow, just good snow, and snow that is good for you."  Hope for the former, and be satisfied with the latter.

 

Mike

post #8 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post
 

We have plane tix to go to Denver Dec 4-13.  I figured there would be decent snow by then at Winter Park or Steamboat Springs, but I'm reading that early December is up in the air.

 

I'm getting an Intrawest 6 day pass to ski at each resort.  Plus I've heard both resorts get a lot of December snow.  But I'm stilling wondering if I'm scheduling this right.

 

Also should I book some of the deals that Steamboat and Winter Park have going on right now for early booking with 25-35% off or will these deals still be around in a couple months?

 

We are beginner to intermediate skiers, so we won't need any black diamond slopes....just some snow.

 

Thanks for any advice.

For sure there will be more skiing to be had than at Snowshoe.  On weekdays, I would not expect there to be many people around.  You may want to plan on doing something else fun on the weekend.

 

@Finndog is the EpicSki Ambassador for Steamboat.  He might have some ideas about early season lodging.  How many people?

post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

What we know:

1.  There will be at least a white ribbon of death open at both Steamboat and Winter Park (snowmaking
2.  It is likely that additional terrain will be open, particularly towards the end of your trip
3.  Early December is iffy for snow -- could be great, could be lean
4.  There's no need to book lodging early -- it is well before prime time and you can make your lodging reservations at the last minute based on conditions
5. As you've already committed (e.g. purchased your tickets), don't worry about it.  Settle back, enjoy some summer activities, and look forward to a great trip.
6.  Even if conditions are lousy, you'll be skiing!  And skiing is wonderful!  So you can have fun -- it's what your attitude is that'll determine that.
7.  In the words of Bob Barnes:  "There is no bad snow, just good snow, and snow that is good for you."  Hope for the former, and be satisfied with the latter.

Mike

@hitman totally agree with Mike. Please ignore some of the snippy comments. I don't know why people feel the need to post if they don't want to answer the question.

Many of us ski from opening day to closing. There will be snow to ski on. Come out and enjoy.
post #10 of 44
Hey happy to have u come out. I will post more and I do have some ideas including a local mgt company offering some great deals. I can never predict the weather but last season at that time we were skiing in some great powder. Do a search.
post #11 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  Do please let me know about lodging.

 

From what I've researched on onthesnow and others, the first week of December Steamboat has had at least some snow every single year for the last 10 years or more.  Is that accurate?

 

Our plane tickets are with Southwest, so we do have some flexibility on dates.  Would it be better to come in the middle of December?

post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post
 

Would it be better to come in the middle of December?

 

Yes!  The more time for snow to accumulate the better your odds.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post
 

I'm getting an Intrawest 6 day pass to ski at each resort.  

 

Did you buy this yet?  If you can wait until around Dec 15th consider the RMSP+ to add Copper too, and it looks like it's actually cheaper.   Copper has better snowmaking than Winter Park and Steamboat, but from Nov 1 until around mid Dec most of the terrain is used for a downhill training course for the U.S. Ski Team.  After they leave, Copper would have the best skiing for you of the three in a low snow year.

 

Or, you could skip Steamboat and do Copper/WP pass for even less at $439:

http://www.winterparkresort.com/tickets-and-passes/season-passes.aspx

post #13 of 44
Quote:
Please ignore some of the snippy comments. I don't know why people feel the need to post if they don't want to answer the question.

Because it's well known that multiple people lurk on these boards for every person that actually posts.  By being forceful in recommendations like:

Quote:
3.  Early December is iffy for snow -- could be great, could be lean
4.  There's no need to book lodging early -- it is well before prime time and you can make your lodging reservations at the last minute based on conditions

I hope somebody may actually heed the advice and not waste their hard-earned $$$ and vacation time to a destination when there isn't enough snow on the ground. 

 

The same goes for my:deadhorse:advice to go for the bargain deals in April rather than in December. 

 

With regard to the OP, his plans are more reasonable than most of these early season requests because:

Quote:
1) we won't need any black diamond slopes

and 2) Both Steamboat and Winter Park have excellent early season snow records.

 

Excellent does not mean guaranteed, as anyone who was in Colorado in December 2011 can tell you.

post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

The same goes for my:deadhorse:advice to go for the bargain deals in April rather than in December. 

 

I've seen you beat this dead horse over and over.  I generally agree with you... because even if its warm spring skiing is awesome.  The only caveat I've never heard you mention is April gives you a higher chance of skiing in rain then December and skiing in hard rain really sucks.

post #15 of 44
Thread Starter 

I do want to express my sincere appreciation to you all.  I know I'm early in planning this, but I want to make sure I'm going to the right place.

 

I picked Steamboat and/or Winter Park due to their snow records.  I'd REALLY like to see natural snow.  I can see fake snow in North Carolina any time in the winter.

 

I think I'll switch our tickets to more toward the middle of the month.  From what I've seen on onthesnow, Steamboat and Winter Park has had at least decent/great snow at the beginning of December.  But a couple of the years, the snow started Dec 1st or so (2011 was one I think). 

 

We haven't gotten the Intrawest passes yet, but I think I still will get them because they include Snowshoe and there's a chance we'll use the other 6 days in Stratton or back to Colorado.  And plus, I'm pretty sure we'll get to ski at least a couple days in Steamboat or Winter Park by Dec 16th, right?

post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post

I do want to express my sincere appreciation to you all.  I know I'm early in planning this, but I want to make sure I'm going to the right place.

I picked Steamboat and/or Winter Park due to their snow records.  I'd REALLY like to see natural snow.  I can see fake snow in North Carolina any time in the winter.

I think I'll switch our tickets to more toward the middle of the month.  From what I've seen on onthesnow, Steamboat and Winter Park has had at least decent/great snow at the beginning of December.  But a couple of the years, the snow started Dec 1st or so (2011 was one I think). 

We haven't gotten the Intrawest passes yet, but I think I still will get them because they include Snowshoe and there's a chance we'll use the other 6 days in Stratton or back to Colorado.  And plus, I'm pretty sure we'll get to ski at least a couple days in Steamboat or Winter Park by Dec 16th, right?

You'll be skiing something for sure in CO by mid December... You can bank on it. I think the main gist though is if budget is a factor err on the late side than early as the skiing is way better... Especially if you can rebook.

Another option if you really need your ski fix is to do Stratton or tremblant mid-dec. Heck... You could even do Blue Mountain Ontario as mid-Dec is lake effect season... Just book last minute to wherever has best conditions.
post #17 of 44
Quote:
April gives you a higher chance of skiing in rain then December and skiing in hard rain really sucks.

True in the East.  In Colorado, the Cottonwood Canyons, Mammoth, Banff, the odds of rain in April are still essentially zero.

Quote:
I think I'll switch our tickets to more toward the middle of the month. 

An excellent idea.  Your snow odds improve each week in December. 

post #18 of 44

  A bit more "real" info for the OP. I have been in Summit County the past 4 mid Decembers and we may be a bit like the OP in that we don't have to have black runs. We live in the east and are just happy to ski in snow (not ice) early, and before the Xmas crowds. 2010 at Breck was 80% open, 2011 at Copper was 500 acres, 2012 was 300 acres and 2013 was 1100 acres and we are booked again for mid December 2014. As TBall says, Copper has plenty of snow making, and if you want to ski early, that's the place.( my opinion) Read Tony's web pages, it's all there. Copper at 12000 ft, and north facing keeps what it gets. We have always had a good time even in the 2 lean years, but we don't need trees and blacks for a good time. As Tony also points out, slope side is very reasonable in this time frame. I watch for posts from 2 guys for Copper info, TBall, and Mike. Usually bang on, and Tony compiles the great data to help make these decisions. I am never concerned for mid December or early April at Copper, its always a blast. Thanks guys.

post #19 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  This is the kind of info I was hoping to get.

post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by rusty2 View Post
 

 As TBall says, Copper has plenty of snow making, and if you want to ski early, that's the place.( my opinion) Read Tony's web pages, it's all there. Copper at 12000 ft, and north facing keeps what it gets. We have always had a good time even in the 2 lean years, but we don't need trees and blacks for a good time. A

 

Thanks.   I want to point out that a bunch of the best steep cruising terrain at Copper will be closed off for the US Ski Team's downhill training until about mid December.  They put in a million dollars of snowmaking so they can open the training course on Nov 1 each year.   It's great for the athletes but a bit of a bummer for the public, but.... after the racers leave Copper guarantees the best steep cruising pretty much anywhere.    They usually open it to the public around Dec 13th, but last year went a few days longer for a race.  I can't recommend Copper prior to the course opening to the public, but highly recommend it after.  I'd ask for a confirmation of the race training dates if booking a trip to Copper between mid-Dec and Christmas (when everything possible will be open). 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post

 

We haven't gotten the Intrawest passes yet, but I think I still will get them because they include Snowshoe and there's a chance we'll use the other 6 days in Stratton or back to Colorado.  And plus, I'm pretty sure we'll get to ski at least a couple days in Steamboat or Winter Park by Dec 16th, right?

 

Sorry, with my CO bias I hadn't considered someone would actually ski a the other resorts on the pass :rolleyes.   It seems like a good deal if you can make that happen.  

 

And, yes, by Dec 16th there will be decent groomers at WP and the Boat, even in a worst case year where it's mostly man made.   With a little luck you can hit some fantastic snow.  Here are some pics of my first day skiing last year at WP on Dec 4th which was a fantastic powder day:

 

http://www.epicski.com/g/a/125690/mary-jane-dec-4-2013-first-day-of-the-new-season/

 

post #21 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  At Copper, will there likely be a lot of good GREEN runs before Dec 16th?

post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post
 

Thanks.  At Copper, will there likely be a lot of good GREEN runs before Dec 16th?

As soon as they open the American Flyer lift, some nice long greens will be open. That always happens by Thanksgiving, if not before, if I remember right.

post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post
 

As soon as they open the American Flyer lift, some nice long greens will be open. That always happens by Thanksgiving, if not before, if I remember right.

 

That's definitely how it played out last season. Best skiing in November IMHO, where you didn't have to worry (as much) about getting run over by other skiers due to some actual acreage being open.

post #24 of 44

Just to be clear, green terrain isn't the focus at Copper until Thanksgiving.  The snowmaking is dedicated to the terrain serving the race teams (and is not available to the general public) and there is usually only 1-2 runs open:  Ptarmagin from the top of the Excellerator and Main Vein from Solitude.  Terrain will expand depending on weather conditions with the American Flyer and Timberline opening around Thanksgiving.

 

Mike

post #25 of 44
Thread Starter 

Ok.  If Copper begins snowmaking on the green terrain at Thanksgiving, how long would it take for several green runs to be open?

post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post
 

Ok.  If Copper begins snowmaking on the green terrain at Thanksgiving, how long would it take for several green runs to be open?

They will be open by THanksgiving... they just aren't the first runs to open (Copper opens 10/31 this season, I believe, so there's plenty of time).

post #27 of 44

As others have pointed out, there will be some snow by early to mid-Dec.  It will certainly be cold enough to make snow.  As an eastern skier who loves to go to CO, I can promise you that any man made snow in CO will be considerably better than anything you get in NC.  As will the mountains.  Plenty of greens and blues will be open and those are longer, wider, and steeper than what you are likely skiing on in NC - by a wide margin.   If you haven't been you won't believe it till you see it.  The locals out there don't know ice.  If you have to go early so be it - it is skiing in CO and that's too late for the beach even in NC.  Enjoy.  

post #28 of 44

For those who would like to know what the decision was, go to these followup threads.  Final decision was to take the family to Steamboat in mid-December.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/128695/wolf-creek-vs-steamboat-mid-december

http://www.epicski.com/t/128654/best-route-denver-airport-to-steamboat

post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post
 

 

I've seen you beat this dead horse over and over.  I generally agree with you... because even if its warm spring skiing is awesome.  The only caveat I've never heard you mention is April gives you a higher chance of skiing in rain then December and skiing in hard rain really sucks.

 

 

there is next to no chance of rain in Colorado in April.....i can't remember it ever raining in April in 25 years of living and skiing here.  I'm sure it has but I don't remember it whihc means it was sprinkle or happened on day I didn't ski.

post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitman View Post
 

Ok.  If Copper begins snowmaking on the green terrain at Thanksgiving, how long would it take for several green runs to be open?

 

 

They will probably open Flyer and High Point/Loverly by T-day unless it's a really odd year.  That one trail alone will be more skiing than you can find anywhere in NCThumbs Up  By early December unless it's really bad year they should have some other beg/int terrain on the west side open (Copperfields/Windsong/American Flyer) since they expanded that snowmaking over there either last year or the year before and they definitely will not be hurting for snow making water this year.

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