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Spring ski: Colorado or Utah? [late March, coming from Germany] - Page 2

post #31 of 57

Well I am in the time of my skiing life when it is bucket list time in Colorado and Utah for this Brit.

 

I visited Colorado for three weeks staying at Summit county, Steamboat and Winter Park.

 

I would recommend starting with two days at Steamboat [quirky town], then two days at Beaver Creek [perfect groomers] [ if you really like the groomers there stay] finish off with two days at Breckenridge. For something completely different try and fit in a day at Arapahoe Basin [ AKA ABasin] Get there EARLY and park in the front row to enjoy " The beach".

 

Earlier in the year and in an average snow year I would recommend Park City with trips to Deer Valley and Canyons, but not this year which has been warm.

post #32 of 57
Thread Starter 

When looking at the forecast, I'm quite skeptical that there will be good conditions the week after next. After a warm (I would even call it hot) week and some rain, even a few inches of fresh snow can't really make a difference if the surface is icy. What do you think?

post #33 of 57

I don't think SW Colorado is a great choice right now.

 

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/data/water/wcs/gis/maps/west_swepctnormal_update.pdf

 

Summit County, Breckenridge in particular, is skiing well right now.  As you move south, you get a higher sun angle and less snow preservation as well.

 

Mike

post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGerman View Post
 

When looking at the forecast, I'm quite skeptical that there will be good conditions the week after next. After a warm (I would even call it hot) week and some rain, even a few inches of fresh snow can't really make a difference if the surface is icy. What do you think?

 

I think you'd be surprised how much a little snow can help.  There will be good skiing somewhere. 

 You'll have a great time.  Worst case scenario,  you go to the desert in Utah with perfect weather.

 

I'd just be as flexible as possible.

 

When exactly do you arrive?

post #35 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

When exactly do you arrive?

 

End of next week, probably on Sunday. 

post #36 of 57

Keep an eye on Joel's weather site.

 

http://opensnow.com/dailysnow/colorado

 

You should still be able to get rooms easily in Summit County for Sunday-Thursday, at the last minute.

 

http://www.hotwire.com/hotel/results;jsessionid=65187F429CFC609DA8798A9AEFB7D560?searchTokenId=8458899223&sn=sn3_5

Hotwire won't let me link a search, but there's plenty of rooms available.

 

 

Check it out a day or two and then move on by the weekend.

post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGerman View Post
 

When looking at the forecast, I'm quite skeptical that there will be good conditions the week after next. After a warm (I would even call it hot) week and some rain, even a few inches of fresh snow can't really make a difference if the surface is icy. What do you think?


Snow preservation at most Colorado ski areas is pretty good, particularly if at high altitude and if north facing.  However, if the weather has really warmed to where the snow has melted, it'll be pretty firm until it warms again in the day.  This is a big issue for mountains with southerly exposures, such as the back bowls of Vail or parts of Steamboat.  

 

Colorado is not the Alps or East Coast though.  It's rare that it gets "really icy" although it can get "pretty firm."  The exception is refrozen slush.  

 

I taught on the lower mountain at Breckenridge Sunday-Wednesday this week.  I didn't experience much in the way of icy conditions.  There was just a small amount of refrozen slush forming on the upper part of High Anxiety, but he lower portion was grippy winter snow.

 

As Shredhead said, a small amount of fresh snow can really change things.  The summit county resorts all received a bit of snow last night and today...

 

Mike

post #38 of 57
Thread Starter 

It's a pretty tough decision what to do next week. Even though the forecasts expects one or two inches for Telluride over the weekend (and it looks like they got around two inches right now), the temperatures look quite high (freezing level somewhere between base and summit, but forecasts are quite different, e.g. onthesnow.com vs. opensnow.com). If it get's this warm, this is nothing I want to sit in the car for six hours.

 

From what I've seen so far, Breckenridge and Snowmass (if Cirque is open) might be two interesting options...


Edited by TheGerman - 3/19/15 at 6:03am
post #39 of 57
Well if you're going down to Snowmass you really should ski Aspen Highlands and Aspen.
Aspen Highlands is somewhat similar to Taos in terrain.
Plus you want groomers with no people, go to Buttermilk. They've built one of the only Double (side by side) halfpipes at the bottom where they held the X Games in January. Not that you'll go in it, but you can also see it from the road. It's all the same ticket. But @Shredhead knows those areas the best.

I don't get you "want groomers" yet will only go to Snowmass if the Cirque is open?
post #40 of 57

Snowmass got 7" last night.   Some of the double diamonds are closed today because of the wet slide in the bowl, but they'll open back up as soon as we get a hard freeze.

I'm arriving on 3/26 and I know I can find good skiing.

 

In your original post you mentioned guided backcountry.   Aspen Expeditions is based at Highlands and is a highly regarded guide service.

 

Snowmass Inn has rooms for $180, but I would probably recommend the Aspen Mountain Chalet,  just for a better location in town.

 

 http://tinyurl.com/kg3jpjg


Edited by SHREDHEAD - 3/19/15 at 7:30am
post #41 of 57
An Aspen- Telluride - Taos trip would pretty much take the cake as far as both great skiing and Ambiance. If the snow supports it. Throw on Crested Butte and Silverton for ultimate tour.

Except the guided back country yet groomer desire escapes me. Perhaps it's a Euro centric view of a ski area?
Edited by Tog - 3/19/15 at 7:40am
post #42 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGerman View Post
 

It's a pretty tough decision what to do next week. Even though the forecasts expects one or two inches for Telluride over the weekend (and it looks like they got around two inches right now), the temperatures look quite high (freezing level somewhere between base and summit, but forecasts are quite different, e.g. onthesnow.com vs. opensnow.com). If it get's this warm, this is nothing I want to sit in the car for six hours.

 

From what I've seen so far, Breckenridge and Snowmass (if Cirque is open) might be two interesting options...

 

Hard to ever go wrong with the Aspen area.  While I don't know what the current conditions at Telluride are like, my experience there is that it is perhaps the best mountain in Colorado for snow preservation.  The front side is very steep, faces north and has great elevation.  Telluride's current base of 63" is very good and NOT below normal for this time of year.  All this to say, Telluride is probably going to have some of the best skiing conditions in the state next week.  But there is no question it is a pain getting there.

post #43 of 57
There is another system coming through Sunday and models are trending stronger for a storm next Tue/Wed. Either way, if it's perfect groomers you want most, you should have a good week.

The obvious advice is to stick with higher elevation for best snow preservation. If you want a mix of old school infrastructure and modern groomer lapping, then the Colorado I-70 corridor maybe makes the most sense, although be careful about the higher altitude if you are sensitive, and there will be more crowds. In any case....

Arapahoe Basin and Loveland both provide groomed bowl skiing options with slower paced "ski area" infrastructure. Another major notch down in small and funky is Ski Cooper. In terms of driving just a bit for small discoveries, Ski Cooper should be on your list in this area.

Copper Mountain and Breckenridge for varied high alpine terrain with long groomers. Vail and Beaver Creek for size, groomers, lower elevation, faux Austrian base infrastructure.

Hope that helps a bit...
post #44 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGerman View Post
 

It's a pretty tough decision what to do next week. Even though the forecasts expects one or two inches for Telluride over the weekend (and it looks like they got around two inches right now), the temperatures look quite high (freezing level somewhere between base and summit, but forecasts are quite different, e.g. onthesnow.com vs. opensnow.com). If it get's this warm, this is nothing I want to sit in the car for six hours.

 

From what I've seen so far, Breckenridge and Snowmass (if Cirque is open) might be two interesting options...

 

Don't worry about the warm temps.  As long as there is sufficient base, you'll have great spring skiing.   If it gets cold and doesn't snow a ton (like today), the off-piste conditions will be difficult, but the groomers will still be great.  

 

Here are the non-Vail owned Colorado ski areas sorted by current base depth (Vail's resorts are too crowded in March anyway):

 

http://www.coloradoski.com/snow-report/sort/mid_mtn_depth

 

Here's what I'd do:  Head to Telluride and ski Crested Butte for a day or two on the way there.  Crested Butte is a little over half way to Telluride.  I think that's a better choice given the current conditions than Snowmass/Aspen Highlands, where it looks like a bunch of the best terrain is closed.

 

For your backcountry experience, I'd suggest simply hiring an instructor for a private lesson at Telluride and Crested Butte.  Both areas have amazing inbound terrain that's considered some of the steepest terrain in North America, much of which requires hiking.  An instructor will safely guide you to terrain that you probably wouldn't (and shouldn't) ski unguided unless you know the area well.

 

Here's a video I shot of the North Face terrain at Crested Butte two weeks ago to give you an idea of the type of inbounds terrain:

 

 

 

That was after the last substantial snowfall.   Conditions will be very different now, but still fun with sufficient coverage.  I've skied Crested Butte a number of times in April and had great spring skiing on that same terrain.  You might post in the Colorado weather thread to inquire about the current Crested Butte coverage, as it's probably on the borderline.  Telluride seems like a great bet given its base depth.

post #45 of 57
I don't know if CB fits the bill.
Here's the OP:
Quote:
What we love are perfectly groomed and non-crowded runs (I know things are quite different here in Europe ), old lifts (t-bars, Riblet or Yan doubles, Pomas, etc.) and laid-back ski areas. But we would also try some guided backcountry skiing.
post #46 of 57

Yeah, the question is what the OP means by "guided backcountry skiing."   That's why I posted the CB video, to give the OP an idea of what the most difficult inbounds terrain is like in Colorado, since it's so different in Europe.

 

So... what are you looking for in terms of backcountry skiing?  What level skiers are you?

post #47 of 57

Actually CB would fit the bill.  It's like 2 ski areas in one.  Half the mountain is all intermediate groomers and half is the steep stuff.  There is also a lot of backcountry not necessarily accessed from the ski area, but from just outside of town...been a long time since I've been to CB, but I am sure there is guided BC skiing there.

 

However, backcountry skiing of any stripe is the opposite of perfectly groomed runs.

post #48 of 57
Thread Starter 

Please don't focus too much on backcountry skiing. This is something I would consider trying when available, but not a must at all. I'm perfectly fine with nice groomers.

 

We have a room booked in Telluride and according to what I've read so far, this should be one of the best places to go...

post #49 of 57
Telluride!! WooHoo!

Gorgeous mountains the San Juans. They are the most similar to .... The Alps ironically.
How you getting there?

Since you like exploring you might consider going to Crested Butte - 3 hours
Silverton - 2 hours. That could be your back country.
Or Taos at 6 hours.
The latter would make sense if you could fly out of Albuquerque.

This has become the Taos info thread this year:
http://www.epicski.com/t/121109/taos-in-jan-feb/540#post_1853863
post #50 of 57
Thread Starter 
Here is a quick update after the first two days skiing.

We had massive issues with our rental car on Sunday and had to wait quite long for an exchange. So we decided to change plans... found a nice place to stay in Breckenridge. We stopped at Loveland and A-Basin to get an overview and decided to ski at the latter one.

Even though they charged us $70 for a bit more than two hours, we had a great time. This is exactly the place I was looking for: old YANs, perfectly groomed runs and a nice view from the summit. What we didn't like was the quality of the rental skis and the staff's attitude.

Yesterday my wife went shopping (she got a bit altitude sick) and I went to Loveland. Another great place to ski. So sad to see the old Heron chair not running. Again nice groomers, even though they suffered a bit from the warmer temperatures. Had a nice chat with a mechanic about the lifts. Got pretty crowded at the main area after noon, so I went to chair 8 and enyojed a private run.

Today I will ski Breckenridge (will be interesting to compare a resort to the smaller areas). And if the upcoming cold is not going to hit me too hard, I will be at Taos on Thursday.

I will post detailed reports once I'm back home.
post #51 of 57
Thread Starter 
We arrived at Santa Fe today, which means I already skied Breckenridge and Taos over the last two days.

I left Breckenridge with mixed feelings. A pretty big area (resort), but I was missing the interesting runs. Also for $150 a day I would expect every single lift to be open (some of the older Riblets were not running). I will go more into detail when writing the reports.

In contrast to this, Taos was great. A nice small area with interesting old lifts, relaxed vibe and very nice groomers. Main street was to bumpy/icy for my skills, but I enjoyed a quick chat with the ski patrol guys at the peak. I also enjoyed the groomers at Lift 7/7a and porcupine. It was almost private skiing until 11am. The only downside was that lift 5 and 6 were not running.

We will head up to the Santa Fe ski area tomorrow, but only to enjoy the views for sunset.
post #52 of 57
Sounds like a great trip so far...keep us posted smile.gif
post #53 of 57
Thread Starter 
There will be no more skiing, but we will visit some other mountains (Sandia Peak, Mt. Lemmon ...).
post #54 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGerman View Post

We arrived at Santa Fe today, which means I already skied Breckenridge and Taos over the last two days.

I left Breckenridge with mixed feelings. A pretty big area (resort), but I was missing the interesting runs. Also for $150 a day I would expect every single lift to be open (some of the older Riblets were not running). I will go more into detail when writing the reports.

In contrast to this, Taos was great. A nice small area with interesting old lifts, relaxed vibe and very nice groomers. Main street was to bumpy/icy for my skills, but I enjoyed a quick chat with the ski patrol guys at the peak. I also enjoyed the groomers at Lift 7/7a and porcupine. It was almost private skiing until 11am. The only downside was that lift 5 and 6 were not running.

We will head up to the Santa Fe ski area tomorrow, but only to enjoy the views for sunset.

Breckenridge is excellent, but a tough place to properly experience in just a quick one day visit because of the size and logistics involved.  I find your fascination with old lifts very charming and consistent with your enjoyment of less glitzy mountains such as Loveland, Arapahoe Basin and Taos.

post #55 of 57
Quote:
 I find your fascination with old lifts very charming and consistent with your enjoyment of less glitzy mountains such as Loveland, Arapahoe Basin and Taos.

This might be, but I'm not sure why a visitor from Europe would spend 2 of his days at "likely closed" Sandia Peak and Mt. Lemmon.  Why not visit Arizona Snowbowl and the Grand Canyon instead?

post #56 of 57
I think they are done skiing and it's about travel now I guess.
Well while you're at Sandia Mt if you want something interesting/odd, visit what used to be the Sandia Labs Museum. We're talking Nukes and nuclear science. It used to be basically in Kirtland Air Force Base but they realized that's not a good idea. It's now down the road.

http://www.nuclearmuseum.org/visit/faqs/
post #57 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

This might be, but I'm not sure why a visitor from Europe would spend 2 of his days at "likely closed" Sandia Peak and Mt. Lemmon.  Why not visit Arizona Snowbowl and the Grand Canyon instead?

Because we've already been there (Grand Canyon) two years ago. Would be great if we would have been able to ski Sandia Peak, but they were already closed for the season. But the views are great up there.
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