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Correlation of Run Ratings from Midwest to Summit Co. Mtns.

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Can anyone give me some help figuring out what types of runs my family will be skiing in Summit Co.?  We all (my 2 kids and myself) just started last Thanksgiving.  By the end of the winter we were easily skiing the black diamond runs at Cascade Mt. (home hill near Madison, WI).  We are all skiing parallel but not really carving turns with any grace.  I am skidding my turns on the steeper stuff but expect to have some lessons this winter and plan to improve further.  Daughter will be on ski team, so ditto for her.

 

So, should I expect blues to be all we would get to?  Are blacks out of the question?  Not sure what makes it a black out west, steep?  bumpy?  We are not going to be skiing trees - no experience with that.

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 14

Welcome to Epicski.  Not sure what your Wisconsin hill is like, but in Summit County, you have varied levels of the same Green, Blue, Black ratings depending on the resort.  But most of the time, most black runs (that aren't bowls) are that way because they are steep, narrow, and/or have moguls.  There are some that are groomed that are not as steep that you could probably navigate.

 

But I'm not sure why you are even concerned if you can do black trails or not out West.  If this is your first time out West skiing, it WILL be a totally different and better experience than your Wisconsin hill.   Probably, the majority of West Coast blues will be what is probably rated black on your hill.  But you will find many long and sometimes steep blues that you can enjoy (Breck, Keystone, Copper, etc.). Just look forward to the trip and experience and I guarantee you and your family will have a blast.

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply.  That helps.  Our hill has a couple steep runs.  But, very short.  I am basically just trying to find the Summit Co. spots that will have the most usable terrain for us.  I want to be close so kids (9 and 10) can stay in while I ski, or I ski with one kid while other sleeps in.  So, I think Keystone, Copper, and Breck are decent options.  Our trip will be there grade school spring break, March 31 to April 3.  We'll probably drive, so not interested in going ny further West than Summit Co.  Definitely looking forward to it.

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JPT1 View Post
 

Thanks for the reply.  That helps.  Our hill has a couple steep runs.  But, very short.  I am basically just trying to find the Summit Co. spots that will have the most usable terrain for us.  I want to be close so kids (9 and 10) can stay in while I ski, or I ski with one kid while other sleeps in.  So, I think Keystone, Copper, and Breck are decent options.  Our trip will be there grade school spring break, March 31 to April 3.  We'll probably drive, so not interested in going ny further West than Summit Co.  Definitely looking forward to it.

 

You will find plenty that you can ski. Just start with the easy stuff and work your way up to your comfort level.

 

In general, black runs out west are typically ungroomed. Most will be steeper than what you are used to, and most will be far longer. Breck, Keystone, and to a lesser extent Copper have a lot of black terrain that may be on the easier side (compared to the west, not to WI), but that doesn't mean you should dive right in.

post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JPT1 View Post
 

Thanks for the reply.  That helps.  Our hill has a couple steep runs.  But, very short.  I am basically just trying to find the Summit Co. spots that will have the most usable terrain for us.  I want to be close so kids (9 and 10) can stay in while I ski, or I ski with one kid while other sleeps in.  So, I think Keystone, Copper, and Breck are decent options.  Our trip will be there grade school spring break, March 31 to April 3.  We'll probably drive, so not interested in going ny further West than Summit Co.  Definitely looking forward to it.

I'm sure you'll have a great time.  That's a great age to get everyone into skiing at big mountains.  Early April is late enough in the season that places at a higher altitude will be a better bet.

 

Here are a couple threads you may learn something from:

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/121292/is-winter-park-the-best-combination-of-skiing-value-convenience-for-a-family

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/128644/steamboat-or-copper-for-beginner-intermediates-1st-week-of-march

 

If you go to the EpicSki Resort Page for a ski resort, scroll down to the very bottom of the webpage to see relevant threads that have been tagged.

post #6 of 14

I learned to ski at Olympia Village in Oconomowoc and have skied Cascade many times so I am familiar with your conditions.

The first thing you will notice out west are the length of the runs. Rips Ride and 5 Chair at Breck cover more area than all of Cascade, yes it's really that big. 

The second thing you will notice out west is the quality of the snow. Think of your best day at Cascade, the snow at any Summit County area will be 100 times better even on an off day.

It sounds like your comfortable skiing everything at Cascade. That means you should have no problem skiing groomed blues in Summit County. As has already been noted the moguls are what make things more challenging. You have probably skied moguls that are knee high. Out west it's not uncommon to have moguls that are waist deep. Thats one of the big differences. But watch the grooming map and you may find you can ski a groomed black. A blue that was groomed the day before will have smaller moguls that you should find fun.

The thing you will struggle with at first is the length of the runs. If you can ski Manitou from top to bottom in 5 to 10 minutes it will take you maybe 30 minutes to ski Gold King at Breck. Part of the reason for this is the altitude, you will need to stop every 5 minutes to catch your breath. It will take you a couple of days to get used to the altitude even if you bike 40 miles a week in Madison. Just take it easy at first. I've been skiing for almost 40 years and always look for a nice groomed run to warm up on out west and since I'm old I stay away from the moguls for the first couple of days.

Just take it easy and you will have no problems other than keeping up with your daughter. If she's on D-team she will be unstoppable after a week out west. For her development a week out west will be like a season at Cascade.

One great thing about staying in Summit County (Dillon/Silverthorne/Frisco) is you can get a shuttle bus to any area, even Vail.

PM me after your trip and let me know how close I got you your first impressions.

post #7 of 14

I skied in the midwest a little bit and a fair amount in Colorado and there are big differences.  The one thing that is not that different between the west and midwest is the pitch of the runs.  This part is the most similar across green, blue, and black runs.

 

Some of the differences:

1.  The length of the runs.  A black run in the midwest can be pretty steep but generally so short that the danger factor is mitigated.  When a black run keeps on running out of sight you can't charge it and figure you'll be on less steep ground soon enough to stop the sliding.

 

2.  The quality of snow.  There is a lot of scraping around on crusty snow and ice in the midwest.  The best part about skiing in the west (to me) was the soft snow and occasional powder.

 

3.  The ungroomed runs.  I don't remember skiing any ungroomed runs in the midwest, though some places must have them.  Out west, a few black runs are groomed and some blue runs are left ungroomed (and thus, bumped out).  Skiing ungroomed runs is the best part about skiing (to me) and you should try it, but be careful which ones you start on.  Places like Copper have a nice, even progression of difficulty.  

 

Copper is my favorite resort to ski at in Summit County.  I highly recommend it, especially for people new to the west.  (A-Basin & Loveland are my other favorites, but they aren't resorts)  Which ever resort you choose, do a search on that resort here on EpicSki and you'll find lots of good information from people who know the place well.


Edited by river-z - 9/2/14 at 1:44pm
post #8 of 14

I've skied all over including many days at Cascade when I lived in the region.  Overall, I'm sure you'll have a great time skiing summit.  A few thoughts:

  • Moguls: You don't say if you ski the moguls at Cascade (assuming they still have moguls on one run).  Most black in CO will be moguled and some blues too.  Nearly all CO ski areas offer grooming reports online so that you can avoid moguls if that's a concern.
  • Steepness: Cascade's blacks are middle of the road steep for the Midwest at about 17 degrees (steepest sustained section).  In general, the blue/black cut off in CO is around 24 degrees.  That means that some blues will be 23 degrees which is likely to be a significant challenge at first so take it slow and work your way up to blacks.  Black runs cover an even wider steepness range so it's often best to try short black runs that you can visually inspect from a blue/green run when working your way up.
  • Snow Conditions: At cascade, 95% of the time runs are groomed old snow.  In CO, groomers often are less icy which makes steep runs easier.  On the other hand, it's also not uncommon to encounter a dozen other types of snow conditions.  For example, fresh powder is a ton of fun but does take some time to learn.
  • Midwest Option A: CO is way better skiing than the Midwest, but if your schedule allows, you could ski some more challenging Midwest ski areas before you CO trip.  I'd recommend the Ironwood MI ski areas (Big Powderhorn, Blackjack, Indianhead, Whitecap[WI]).  They are a lot of fun and they get 4 times as much snow as Cascade so powder snow is common.  Whitecap has the steep bumps (several over 30 degrees).  Indianhead has the longest runs.  All of them have slightly steeper groomers too.
  • Other Midwest Options: Boyne Mt (steep mid 20's groomers but far), Lutsen (low 20's groomers, long runs), Bohemia (zero groomers, 30's bumps/glades) Grantie (close but I like Cascade better due to lower 80% of runs being flat)
post #9 of 14

MIdwest Black run =  Blue run in summit, but much longer.  

So if you want a variety of Blue runs, pretty much any resort in Summit will be more than adequate.    Also check out Winterpark, the Winterpark Side (has two sides, maryjane and Winterpark) is loaded with great blue runs, both long and short.   They also tend to get more snow and it's the same distance from the airport.  

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdiddy View Post
 

MIdwest Black run =  Blue run in summit, but much longer.  

So if you want a variety of Blue runs, pretty much any resort in Summit will be more than adequate.    Also check out Winterpark, the Winterpark Side (has two sides, maryjane and Winterpark) is loaded with great blue runs, both long and short.   They also tend to get more snow and it's the same distance from the airport.  

 

OP is driving the family in early April from WI, not the Denver airport.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPT1 View Post
 

Thanks for the reply.  That helps.  Our hill has a couple steep runs.  But, very short.  I am basically just trying to find the Summit Co. spots that will have the most usable terrain for us.  I want to be close so kids (9 and 10) can stay in while I ski, or I ski with one kid while other sleeps in.  So, I think Keystone, Copper, and Breck are decent options.  Our trip will be there grade school spring break, March 31 to April 3.  We'll probably drive, so not interested in going ny further West than Summit Co.  Definitely looking forward to it.

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

 

OP is driving the family in early April from WI, not the Denver airport.

Oh sorry, hey OP it's the same distance from WI.......................  :rolleyes

post #12 of 14

when I first started skiing away from SE Michigan, it was the length of the runs and the sustained pitch that got to me, even skiing Northern Michigan. SE Michigan was usually a short plunge with a flat runout-. It shouldn't take long to adapt though. Altitude aside it's more of a mental thing--getting over the intimidation and learning to manage speed on a sustained run, even if it's not that steep.. At the time you'll be there you may also be dealing with spring conditions, which take some getting used to--learning where on the mountain to ski at what hour is an art in and of itself.

post #13 of 14

Trail ratings are relative within a resort and nearly useless in comparing among resorts.  I've been to exactly one Midwest resort, Lutsen, and nothing is as steep as what would be labelled black at most western resorts.  However, there were a couple of mogul runs, and since the snow was firm they were as challenging as some western single blacks might be with better snow conditions.  In general the skills required to ski under control on hardpack/frozen granular blue runs are similar as required for steeper runs in better snow.

 

In terms of terrain Summit County is an excellent choice with massive amounts of beginner and low intermediate terrain at Keystone, Copper and Breckenridge.  Trail ratings are on the easier side by western standards.  I would be surprised if you have difficulty on any blues at those 3 mountains.  Sometimes single blacks are groomed; look on the grooming report once you're comfortable with the longer blue runs. 

post #14 of 14

Never skied in the Midwest but I suspect it will be similar for you to how it was for my family  friends when we started going out west after taking it up in PA, VT, NH, NY.

 

As mentioned, runs are MUCH longer.  They are also WIDER so that allows you more hill to work with until you get comfortable controlling your speed on the much longer runs.  As someone else mentioned, when you begin in CO you don't get to just ride out your 100 yd steep section - you're in for a bit of a haul.  But you can find room to stop and gather yourself.   Don't worry all that much about green vs. blue vs. black.  To start pick a greenish area and get comfortable, then try some blues.  Figure out what your legs can handle.  You spend a LOT more time on your skis.  I learned to spend 12 weeks working my legs to get ready but I'm an old coot.

 

If you are uncomfortable with moguls just watch out and avoid them.  Most anyplace in Summit will have plenty of runs for your family to enjoy and probably many you won't get to.  I am personally a big fan of Breckenridge because it still, after 6 years and 8 trips, has plenty of area for our group of 4 or 5.  None of us is anything approaching a back country skier so there is plenty of challenge remaining to us at Breck.  We like to run out to Beaver Creek (Eagle County) for Sat. or Sun. just to leave some of the crowd behind.  That's is clearly our second favorite.  I'm the only one who likes Keystone.  There's some fun blues that just seem to go on forever out there.  Beaver Creek has more difficult blues that Keystone, Keystone more difficult than Breck (typically).  For a first trip out west, if you go to Breck, you'll eagerly spend a day flying all over Peak 7 - a wonderland of blues.  Don't know the other Summit mountains but I've never heard anything bad about them.

 

Last, but certainly not least, is the snow.  What has the locals pissing and moaning has us easterners thrilled.  Which calls out what may be the "advantage" for learning in the east (and perhaps in the Midwest) - if you can ski OK on eastern ice you can ski the western notion of ice (which is just hard snow, not ice ;>)

 

You're gonna LOVE it.  My trip is booked for January and I'm already excited.  Heck, I'm excited for you guys!

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