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Rank the Random Resorts: Group A

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I would be interested to see how those of you who have had the chance to ski a number of difference places would rank certain resorts relative to one another.  No need to respond unless you have skied at least two of these and then rank them accordingly on overall preference as to where you would like to ski on any given day with snow/weather factors being equal.  (Again, only rank those that you have have been to.)

 

Steamboat

Brighton

Aspen Highlands

Copper Mountain

Beaver Creek

post #2 of 23

Copper > Beaver Creek

post #3 of 23

Terrain quality (advanced perspective): Aspen Highlands>>>Beaver Creek=Copper>Steamboat>Brighton

Snow reliability: Brighton>>>Steamboat>Beaver Creek>Aspen Highlands>Copper.

 

The >>> markings are not an accident: clear-cut #1's by a substantial margin. Other differences are more gradual

post #4 of 23
Brighton >>> beaver creek. Will comment on the others in a couple months. Brighton lb for lb is the best ski resort I've ever been to. Though it lacks the poundage of a snowbird or snowbasin... Every acre delivers fun and great snow.

I've tried all the Vail resorts in CO and much of UT. All 4 cottonwood resorts + snowbasin >>> the CO Vail resorts. This year, we're giving aspen, copper, and Loveland a shot. If they fail to deliver we'll probably be UT every year after.
Edited by JoeSchmoe - 12/14/14 at 9:11am
post #5 of 23

Snow conditions being relatively equal (usually aren't) of the ones I've been to I would rank them

 

Aspen Highlands

Copper

Brighton

Beaver Creek

post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

I would be interested to see how those of you who have had the chance to ski a number of difference places would rank certain resorts relative to one another.  No need to respond unless you have skied at least two of these and then rank them accordingly on overall preference as to where you would like to ski on any given day with snow/weather factors being equal.  (Again, only rank those that you have have been to.)

 

Steamboat

Brighton

Aspen Highlands

Copper Mountain

Beaver Creek

They're all pretty darn nice.  Aspen Highlands wins based on the epicness of the terrain.  Beaver Creek, Copper and Steamboat are full service resorts with lots of terrain and nice base areas.  BC has a posh feel.  Copper is for everyman/woman and Steamboat has the nice western vibe.  I only have one day at Brighton. I liked it a lot and it's a great ski area, but not a resort.  It may get the best snow of any on your list.

 

Steamboat:

 

Brighton:

LL

 

Aspen Highlands:

LL

 

Copper Mtn:

4bb90695_copyofDSCF0755.jpg

 

Beaver Creek:

 CopyofDSCN6950-1.jpg 

post #7 of 23

only been to Copper and SB. Terrain variety copper would win, for a full "vacation experience" id pick SB, which i have again this year for the family. Still might go back to Copper on a budget trip.

 

@Jamesj Where were the steamboat and copper photos taken?

post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by WC68 View Post

@Jamesj Where were the steamboat and copper photos taken?

Steamboat:  somewhere in the woods beside One O’clock or Two O’clock intermediate trails off the Sundown Express Quad Chairlift.

Copper Mtn:  the Enchanted Forest off the Storm King surface lift.

post #9 of 23
Ashen Highlands
Brighton
Steamboat
Copper
BC


The last three would basically be a toss up for me with Highlands being head and shoulders above them all in all conditions assuming 100% open at each. Brighton edges out the others due to snowfall and or terrain.
post #10 of 23

Aspen Highlands

Copper

Steamboat

Beaver Creek

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

rank them accordingly on overall preference as to where you would like to ski on any given day with snow/weather factors being equal

 

 

Aspen Highlands > Copper Mountain > Beaver Creek > Steamboat

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Snow reliability: Brighton>>>Steamboat>Beaver Creek>Aspen Highlands>Copper.

 

 

Kinda funny that Copper has the best snow of the bunch right now, and has since opening day.

 

There is a big advantage to high elevation resorts that I don't believe is included in your statistics.  The freak rain event that hit Colorado just before Thanksgiving reportedly really screwed up surface conditions at Vail and Steamboat.  Copper and the other higher elevation resorts in Summit County did just fine.  I skied Copper the day after the rain event and the snow was fantastic in spite of the lifts being frozen due to ice in the morning.  Here's a video showing the surface conditions on an ungroomed run just after the rain event: 

 

 

The high elevation resorts also typically have much better conditions mid-March through closing.   A little better snow preservation can easily trump a little more snowfall, especially during warmer periods.   If the climate does warm, we'll be seeing even more of those.

post #12 of 23
Quote:
There is a big advantage to high elevation resorts that I don't believe is included in your statistics.

I responded to the OP "by the seat of my pants."  As some of you know I wrote an algorithm that takes snow preservation into account for the Zrankings website. http://zrankings.com/resort/snow

 

Snow Scores:

Brighton 87.4

Beaver Creek 77.0

Steamboat 74.2

Copper 74.0

Aspen Highlands 65.6

 

Beaver Creek, Steamboat and Copper are clustered closely together because:

Steamboat gets  more snow than Beav or Copper but has mediocre preservation.

Copper gets less snow than Beav or Steamboat but has outstanding preservation.

The almost identical scores for Steamboat and Copper demonstrate the impact of snow preservation making up for a ~100 inch difference in snowfall.

 

Aspen Highlands has an excellent preservation profile though not as good as Copper's and its snowfall is less than Copper also.  I probably overrated Highlands in my first response by the mindset that Summit County is so much busier.  I also observe that Copper seems very slow to gets its upper mountain advanced terrain open relative to many Colorado areas including those at Aspen.  I didn't know why that is, as Ajax and Highlands are much steeper mountains than Copper.

 

Copper's preservation score in isolation is outstanding, #5 in North America.

 

Since I went to the trouble of developing this formula and tweaking it so relationships made sense, I should use it in answering questions like this!  I even remember Copper as an interesting case during the development process.  Every area with a higher overall Snow Score gets much more snowfall.  I appreciate the question as somewhat validating the formula.  The mindset among North American skiers is indeed to overfocus on snowfall totals.  In the Alps it's just the opposite.  The Euro mindset is the higher altitude the more snowsure (having glaciers plays into this).   The Euros only have a vague idea who gets the most snow in the Alps and often don't even ask the question.  I just learned that the marketing rep for Avoriaz didn't know it was the snowiest resort in France!

 

I personally have been aware of the importance of altitude/exposure for snow preservation for a long time due to Mammoth being my home mountain. Early on I took for granted that I could ski packed powder on steep terrain routinely into April.  Then I got a rude wake-up call with that infamous Jackson Hole trip in late March 1986.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 12/15/14 at 11:37pm
post #13 of 23
Why have I never seen this,site? Good stuff.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 
Quote:
There is a big advantage to high elevation resorts that I don't believe is included in your statistics.

I responded to the OP "by the seat of my pants."  As some of you know I wrote an algorithm that takes snow preservation into account for the Zrankings website. http://zrankings.com/resort/snow

 

Snow Scores:

Brighton 87.4

Beaver Creek 77.0

Steamboat 74.2

Copper 74.0

Aspen Highlands 65.6

 

 

Thanks for the thoughtful response Tony!   I didn't realize you had quantified snow preservation.   While I'd probably quibble with a few of your numbers (too OT), the approach seems sound.

 

One thought on your snow rankings: a next obvious improvement would be to vary the scores by month or even week of ski season.   While you have Copper and Steamboat at a nearly identical scores, Copper typically has better snow conditions in November, March and April, and Steamboat is better in December, January, February.  It would be great to see the ranking somehow reflect that.

 

Even Breck and Copper, at very similar elevations, vary by month because of exposure.  Copper is much more northerly, but it really doesn't matter much for the 4 or 5 weeks each side of the winter solstice because the sun is so low.  Copper's better exposure really makes for better conditions in March and April.   

 

It would be really cool to be able to select the week or month of the ski season and see the rankings for the particular time period.  I'd think you could probably do that with your existing data by varying regression coefficients for elevation and exposure for each month/week of the season, in addition to taking into account when the snow is likely to fall at each area.   I know you've already started down that path.... it would be great to see you expand on this so it dynamically scores all ski areas for a selected time period:

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

post #15 of 23
@Tony Crocker, that page needs its own thread. Cool.

I read in the into that you factor in preservation related to rain and thaws, and I see the "total with preservation" score. But are there stats somewhere on the page that quantify snow fall against snow loss? E.g., indirectly by base depth, if not directly by rainfall?

In any case, fun.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
I didn't realize you had quantified snow preservation

I have always taken snow preservation into account in making subjective recommendations.  Note the last column in the second table on my regional pages "Best Time to Ski." http://50.87.144.177/~bestsnow/ncconet.htm  This dates back to my original Powder Magazine cover story in October 1995.  And everyone here should know this because of the :duel:that recur every time someone inquires about taking their March vacation in Jackson Hole.

 

The quantification comes from Chris Steiner's zeal to quantify all aspects of ski resort recommendations for his Forbes feature and the ZRankings website.  Chris purchased my data in September 2013 and rolled out the website a couple of months later.  The Snow Score in that first cut had a laundry list of flaws, and I insisted that if he was going to use any of my data, that he needed to give me control of the Snow Score algorithm.  One of the flaws was that there was no provision for snow preservation, so I designed that a year ago.  The redesigned Snow Score page has been on ZRankings since early last year, but was not used as an input to the overall PAF until the new Forbes feature was published last month.  I do not know how Snow Score is used in the final PAF algorithm though. 
 

Quote:

It would be really cool to be able to select the week or month of the ski season and see the rankings for the particular time period.  I'd think you could probably do that with your existing data by varying regression coefficients for elevation and exposure for each month/week of the season, in addition to taking into account when the snow is likely to fall at each area.   I know you've already started down that path.... it would be great to see you expand on this so it dynamically scores all ski areas for a selected time period:

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

I don't think there's enough data to do that at the individual resort level on a widespread basis.  You'll note that Colorado page is fairly generalized, with me estimating a handful of specific places as illustrative examples.  To do it right you need input from local skiers or TR's over a decade or so.  So I only had a spreadsheet in that format for Southern California, where I live and knew that tracking weekly conditions was the only way to reflect the frequent melt/freezes here.  This is also necessary for the Northeast, and thus it took until 2010 or so to have a decade of online TR's to analyze in Vermont.  Craig Morris' website http://www.redtree.com/far provided detail data from 1996-2008 at Fernie.  My local friends in Utah have detail TR's since 2005.  I had tracked Mammoth nearly as well as SoCal so the Sierra page was easy.

 

The ZRankings website has individual resort detail pages but they are a work in progress.  I have begun writing customized snow comments for those. Here's Copper Mountain as an example, with Steiner's detail take on the area, followed by my comments on the snow: http://zrankings.com/resort/show?id=42-copper-mountain

 

Steiner has not done that many individual area detail write-ups.   So here's Steamboat, where he has not yet done a write-up but I have: http://zrankings.com/resort/show?id=150-steamboat-ski-resort

 

I have supplied snow write-ups for the top 40 areas overall and for snow, but Steiner has not published all of those yet.  The individual pages were created on a programmed not customized basis, and it takes time to do these write-ups.  Steiner is much younger than I am and has a real world IT job, so it's not clear how much effort he's willing to invest to make those pages better.  The annual Forbes piece is what gives him high visibility, so I'm sure that's his priority.

 

On the Snow Score page there is also a Snowfall Score 3 columns over.  The difference between the two is based upon snow preservation.  For major western areas preservation adds on average 5-6 points to Snow Score.  So if Snow Score is similar to (Steamboat) or lower than (Jackson) Snowfall Score that's a sign that preservation is mediocre or worse, and that late season trips rate to see a lot of melt/freeze conditions.  At the other extreme snow preservation adds 16.3 points to Copper's Snow Score and 21.5 points to A-Basin's.

 

For the East it's somewhat different because the big hit in snow preservation is due in large part to rain incidence.  So you don't want to draw the conclusion that March is worse than other months in Vermont because a key risk factor applies to all months, not just the late season. 

post #17 of 23

Tony, here's what I had in mind to allow the snow score to vary by a selected date:

 

snow_score_for_date = A*resort_elevation_score + B*resort_exposure_score + C*resort_lattitude_score + D*resort_historical_chance_of_powder_for_date  + E*resort_historical_base_depth_for_date

 

Coefficients A, B and C would be vary for each date of the season (or week), and reflect the greater importance of elevation, exposure and latitude in early and late season.  These coefficients would be consistent across all resorts.

 

Coefficients D and E would be constants controlling the importance of the input variables for snowfall history for the date.  I'm not sure what raw data you have, but it seems like it would be ideal to have parameters for both base depth and chance of powder.

 

No worries if that doesn't make any sense, and no need to respond.  I just wanted to put the idea in your head.... or maybe just get it out of mine! :) 

post #18 of 23

I guess it all depends on what you like.

 

BC is big enough to spend a week at without skiing any other resorts, and there's tremendous variety.  I don't think that Brighton or Copper are quite big enough to spend an entire week at - of course, both are proximate to many other resorts so there's no reason why you'd need to spend a week only skiing there.  Haven't skied Aspen yet (probably next year).  Steamboat never really clicked for me - low elevation meant for heavy wet thick gloppy fresh snow most days - but it's big enough to spend a week at, the town is nice, and it's farily out of the way so you don't get the huge Denver crowds..

 

Put it this way: I've skied four of the five, and only BC and Brighton are on the "let's go there again" list.  BC edges Brighton due to the larger area and more variety; but a trip to Brighton means also skiing Alta, Snowbasin, etc. so that's this year's trip.

post #19 of 23
Quote:
Tony, here's what I had in mind to allow the snow score to vary by a selected date.............

Base depths are of very limited utility.  A 3 foot base skis great at Sun Valley but is a minefield at Snowbird.  There is no consistency or standardization in where/how resorts measure base depths, particularly since they can legitimately claim snowmaking adds to base depth.    The best use is in early season, as an adjunct to percent of terrain open, which is a much better indicator for the vast majority of areas.  But there are a few places like Wolf Creek, where the 18-23 inch base tells you more than the 70% open.

 

At any rate I appreciate the suggestion, and a reasonable approximation could be done by X*Snow Score + (1-X)*Snowfall score, where X varies by date.  X might be zero until about February 1, then rising, perhaps being >1 by sometime in March and continuing to increase in April.  This would work better if I moved the rain factor out of preservation and into the base Snowfall Score.

post #20 of 23

Assuming equal conditions:

 

Aspen Highlands

Copper

Steamboat

Beaver Creek

Brighton

 

Any could rise to the top on a powder day, which is far more likely at Brighton.

post #21 of 23

Here's a formulaic first cut at Snow Score by Date for selected areas:

  12/15 1/1 1/15 2/1 2/15 3/1 3/15 4/1
Alta Ski Area 66.1 86.6 91.1 95.6 100.0 99.9 99.8 91.9
Grand Targhee 58.5 81.1 85.4 88.6 91.7 90.3 88.9 79.7
Wolf Creek Ski Resort 40.6 61.3 72.7 79.1 85.4 87.2 88.9 82.9
Alyeska Resort 58.1 76.5 80.5 82.3 84.1 81.4 78.6 68.0
Mt. Baker Ski Area 59.1 77.4 81.5 82.7 83.9 80.6 77.2 66.1
Vail Ski Resort 38.0 61.8 72.9 75.6 78.3 76.4 74.6 64.9
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area 23.7 43.5 60.6 69.1 77.5 81.4 85.3 81.4
Mammoth 36.4 52.3 63.8 69.5 75.2 76.3 77.5 70.9
Whistler 42.7 61.8 67.1 71.0 75.0 74.3 73.7 65.3
Copper Mountain 23.7 44.8 61.9 68.0 74.1 75.6 77.1 70.8
Steamboat Ski Resort 37.6 62.5 73.9 73.9 74.0 69.4 64.9 52.6
Jackson Hole 45.2 67.5 74.8 73.3 71.8 65.8 59.7 45.9

 

This seems reasonable for most areas.  There are some that don't come out quite the way I would want.  The Vermont scores are getting hit too hard in the late season, for example

post #22 of 23

Thanks Tony.  I'd like to see you extend the season on both ends.  I know you don't recommend Thanksgiving skiing, but people are interested, so why not give them the data on snowmaking coverage.  And, some of the best skiing is in April and even into May at the high elevation resorts!   

post #23 of 23

I actually constructed the chart from Dec. 1 to Apr. 15.  Accuracy/consistency on the 2 end points was not as good so I left them out of my post.   Snowmaking is one of the problems with the early season part of the chart. 

 

But the numbers I have for percent of terrain open on Dec. 1 support my view of Thanksgiving being a waste of time.  All those eastern areas with big-time snowmaking? None of them average as much as 20% open on Dec. 1.  The elite areas for early season like Targhee, Alta and Wolf Creek average a bit over half open Dec. 1.  No one else in Colorado averages over 1/3 open on Dec. 1.   Alta and Mt. Baker are the only areas that score as high as 40 on Dec. 1 in the formula of the table above.  Thanksgiving Day averages a week before Dec. 1, so those numbers (if I had them) are going to be worse.

 

I agree with you about April and May, but sadly there are only a handful areas open past mid-April.  And there are some places like Taos (62.3) and Telluride (58.7) that have excellent April 15 scores but are already closed.  Bachelor is one of the problem areas in the formula.  It's not holding its score as well into the spring as places like A-Basin and Mammoth, though by my actual experience it should.

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