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Aspen/Snowmass vs Tahoe/Truckee early April?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Looks like I'm going to have the chance to ski the week after Easter, which is Apr 4 this season. I'll certainly watch the conditions and delay decision as late as possible due to the timing at end of season, but figure it's never too early to ask for opinions. I've narrowed my choices to these two because I've never been to either, and they're both on my bucket list. I've done 1/2 dozen areas in both UT and CO (some multiple times), so please hold back on suggestions for other UT/CO resorts. I might consider Jackson Hole or Alyeska.

 

Skiing: Age and creaky knees dictate that although I'll challenge myself 2-3 runs a day I'm mostly interested in blue cruisers and groomed blacks. "Pillow" bumps and boot top/knee deep powder are fun, but VW sized bumps and hike-to waist deep powder aren't in the cards anymore. While I'd want to hit Ajax or Squaw to be able to say I've been there, realistically I figure I'd likely focus on Snowmass or Northstar.

 

Accommodations/nightlife: Ideally I'd want to be within walking distance of skiing and same distance to bars/restaurants, but 10-15 minutes is OK. Condo not necessary, hotel room OK. I'm pretty cheap when it comes to housing, but I don't see myself bunking in a dorm. If choice is necessary, priority is proximity to food/drink - 20 minutes or more at night always seem much farther than in the AM. Research I've done so far indicates budget would allow housing in Aspen village at that time of year, and Truckee housing cost seems attractive. Not much interest in late-night clubbing, friendly shot-and-beer bar after skiing and burger/pasta menus are more my style (probably spring for a good steak once during the trip)

 

Travel considerations: I'm located in southern NJ, so fly from PHL, Denver airfare generally much less than Reno. I get pretty good car rental discount, so likely to have a car.

 

All thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated, thanks in advance.

post #2 of 9

If you go to Aspen, I agree that Snowmass will probably more to your liking than Ajax (but I also agree that you have to at least spend a day there...Ajax has plenty of excellent blue cruisers), but you also have to try Aspen Highlands.  I actually found the intermediate terrain at Highlands just as good (if not better) than Snowmass, and a lot less busy.  Highlands still has that "hidden gem" quality to it and has some of the best views in Colorado, in my opinion.


Edited by Lofcaudio - 11/10/14 at 9:32am
post #3 of 9

Jackson closes Apr. 5, which saves you from making the worst decision in this time frame among those choices.  Alyeska is a fairly small area for a whole week, especially if the expert North Face is limited or you don't want to be skiing there (or in the cat/heli) much of your time. 

 

Aspen/Snowmass preserves its snow better than the north Tahoe resorts, which are relatively low in elevation with the exception of Mt. Rose.  If you go to the Sierra in April Mammoth is by far your best choice due to the 8,000 - 11,000 elevation range (Northstar is 6,400 - 8,600).  You'll need to rent a car in Reno anyway, so if you're going for  a week the 3 hour drive to Mammoth is not a big deal.  From your ski ability description I think you would enjoy the skiing at Mammoth more.  You're on one huge mountain with abundant terrain at all ability ranges, so easy to dial it up or down depending on your mood/condition.  Aspen's skiing is more stratified.  You'll be working hard to get the most out of Ajax or Highlands, and lots of Snowmass' groomers are on the flat side compared to Mammoth's.

 

For food/drink/apres there's no better resort in North America than Aspen.  Mammoth is till a SoCal commuter's resort.  There is a bus to get around (which you may want if it's storming) but anywhere you want to go in town is less than a10 minute drive in good weather.

post #4 of 9

 Aspen Mountain and Highlands both have really good, steep groomers.

post #5 of 9

When does Aspen/Snowmass typically close?  With Easter being early, does that mean Aspen would close earlier or is it more about snow conditions after the end of March.

post #6 of 9
Quote:
When does Aspen/Snowmass typically close?  With Easter being early, does that mean Aspen would close earlier or is it more about snow conditions after the end of March.

Announced closing dates are April 5 for Buttermilk, April 12 for Highlands and Snowmass, April 19 for Aspen Mt.

 

Late season snow preservation at Aspen is better than anywhere at Tahoe but not quite as good as at Mammoth.

post #7 of 9

Good tips above.  I did Aspen last year on the same week and it was great.  We got a good deal staying in Snowmass ski in ski out which I would recommend for you too.  We skied all areas but Buttermilk and conditions were very good.  The runs were empty and unlike lots of other ski areas, Aspen keeps all the runs and lifts open late season.  I’m not sure if that’s common at Northstar and/or Mammoth.  It’s a big bummer to have good snow and half the mountain closed  (looking at you Copper, which we skied on the way back to Denver that week)

post #8 of 9

Mammoth is 100% open through the 3rd weekend in April (April 19 in 2015).  After that about half of Mammoth's terrain (and 80+% of the expert terrain ) is lift accessible until the snow runs out.  After April 19 all of the Aspen mountains are closed.

 

It's very difficult for any ski area to run past mid-April without local drive-up business from a major metro area.  Aspen does better in that regard than many areas (CB, Telluride, Taos for example) that shut down first weekend of April, often with their max season snowpack and more powder days still to come.

post #9 of 9

Aspen usually opens one of the hills, Ajax or Highlands,  for a few weekends after the official close and last year they opened for Memorial weekend.  

One year, I think it was 2008, they opened in June for the Food and Wine Festival.

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