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where in the west should we go??

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
My friends and I are looking to plan our first trip out west. We are very aggressive eastern skiers, and usually put in 50-60 days per year at sugarloaf, me, and cannon nh with a few days at jay peak, vt. We would be trying to go the first week of march. I was wondering where would be the best place to score powder that week? I'm not looking to go all the way across the country for spring conditions, because we will get plenty of that at the loaf. I was wondering how brighton, ut and crystal mtn, WA are, as we can get free tickets to either resort. I have read that Brighton has a lot of intermediate terrain, but I have no idea what that is like, as none of us have ever been out west. We charge hard on the biggest stuff at sugarloaf and jay peak, and I was wondering if it would be worth paying to go to say big sky or snowbird (Alta is out, we have a boarder in the group), or would we be completely overwhelmed with western advanced terrain on a powder day? Thanks for opinions.
-kevin
post #2 of 20

Google "Tony Crocker snowfall" and you should find a site that tracks historical snowfall.  As you probably know guessing in late January where the powder is going to be in March is impossible.  Utah is a good choice, but Brighton would be low on my list of where to ski.  Maybe a day, but Snowbird, Solitude, Snowbasin (have not made it there) and Powder Mountain would all be ahead of it.

 

You won't be overwhelmed by the terrain.

post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
OK, good to know. I'm just a bit worried because looking at forecasts, most western ski areas are seeing daytime highs in the mid 40s and lows in the 20s. We all know that means ice. In fact,the sugarloaf extended forecast currently looks much better than any of the western resorts I've looked at.
post #4 of 20

There is some steep stuff at Brighton:

 And if you combined a trip there with several days at Snowbird you'd have plenty of black diamonds and chances as good as just about anywhere for high quality March snow conditions.

post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwild View Post

I'm just a bit worried because looking at forecasts, most western ski areas are seeing daytime highs in the mid 40s and lows in the 20s. We all know that means ice.

Not necessarily. Might, might not. Snow behaves totally differently in the Rockies at altitude. That's part of why you go. To us it seems like all the immutable laws of skiing physics we've learned over a lifetime in the east are being broken, but really it's just another case of the blind men and the elephant.

In any case, it doesn't pay to go into a trip like this with the attitude that if you don't get conditions x it's a waste of time. Odds are you WON'T get a big powder day. You'll have more fun just thinking of it as a big adventure to a place that's much different. Between the terrain options and the scenery, you will have an awesome time even if it's all corn or whatever.
post #6 of 20
I love Big Sky. My family had gone the past two years. There is a lot of terrain for all types of skier/snowboarder.
post #7 of 20

You could get spring conditions, but I would think the odds are less than 50%.  Brighton is good, but small compared to Alta/Snowbird and the Park City resorts.  But if you have free tickets it would be good to plan on skiing two days there to thoroughly explore it and then ski Snowbird, Solitude, a PC resort (depending on conditions) and maybe Snowbasin.  Even if it is a tad warmer than you want, the entire mountain will be covered and open with likely mid winter skiing on the upper half.  Don't worry about it, pick a place and go and plan on hitting the other locations in future years.  There is a lot of good choice for skiing in the West.  You will very likely have a blast and it will be well worth the travel time. 

post #8 of 20
Going to Brighton from Sugarloaf is from going from a large eastern to a small, tiny? western area. It's good but for a first trip you'd want to diversify I think. Do a few places in Utah. Brighton, Solitude next door, Snowbird, Snowbasin, maybe one of the others.

If your going small and atmosphere, I'd go Taos which does allow boarders.
post #9 of 20

Go to Jackson Hole.  You will love it and you won't have to decide what hill to hit each day.  

post #10 of 20

Sounds like your free ticket connection is through Boyne USA  - since they own  Big Sky you might be able to get something similar as Brighton/Crystal.

 

You can definitely spend a week at Big Sky and not exhaust it, especially since they absorbed two adjoining resorts.  But Big Sky is not really known for frequent big powder dumps, so Utah would be the better bet if that's what you want.

 

Brighton is similar in size to the loaf (I've skied both).  It's more of an intermediate cruiser mountain than most other SLC areas, but as pointed out above there is definitely some steep stuff.  If you're doing Utah, I'd echo the sentiment to take advantage of the freebies and hit Brighton a couple of days, but plan on skiing at other nearby resorts too.  If you choose your accommodations well you can be within an hour's drive of eight world class ski areas around SLC.

 

Never skied Crystal, but the rainforest that is the pacific northwest is not really known for powder, although they do get regular dumps of heavy wet stuff.

 

Predicting snowfall in advance is difficult, so there are no guarantees.  SLC is a good bet.  So is Grand Targhee.

 

Regarding terrain, the black runs at the Loaf are about the same steepness as the typical western black run.  There's some truely extreme terrain at places like snowbird, Big Sky, JH, etc.but if you can ski everything at the loaf you should be able to ski most everything at the resorts in question.

post #11 of 20
Big Sky - Brighton ?
Not much of a choice there if just skiing based. Big sky. Pretty easy to figure out for such a large mt. Though now with Moonlight Basin included. That's big. That would be worth a trip out west.
PNW is a rain forest this year. Not a good choice.
Ideally for a 1st trip out west you want some awe. Brighton is nice but needs supplements of the other Areas to make the trip worthwhile.
post #12 of 20

While I would usually be a shill for WA skiing, I recommend you stay away from Crystal this year.  We're having a horrid snow year.  They might not even be open in March, though things might turn around and the snow may come dumping down.  I wouldn't bet a trip on it, though.

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

We can get a deal at big sky, but we would have to stay at a boyne hotel, and this would add cost to the trip.  I know from around the loaf, you can get a room for about 1/3 of the cost at a private hotel vs on property.  We aren't so interested in the amenities, 5 star dining, dozens of different clubs to go to, etc. We just want to go and pretty much get as rad as possible.  I was hoping that if we go for a week, we could expect to ski some fresh snow, in early march in maine you could for the most part bet on at least one decent snowfall in 7 days. It is the snowiest month.  I guess I wasn't looking for an answer to where will there definately be deep powder, because there's obviously no way to predict, but more like "Is it still winter at these resorts in early march, or have they transitioned into the warm weather and sunshine of spring skiing?" 

post #14 of 20
Usually yes. I've been to Big Sky a couple times in late March early April with great snow.
Is the Huntley a Boyne resort? It is not five star unless it changed in 5 years though they may charge as much now. Fairly relaxed, nice location. Excellent breakfast in tbe dining area.
We can't make these decisions of hotels and stuff, but Brighton versus Big Sky on skiing terms is not much of a contest.
post #15 of 20
Early March weather in northern Utah resorts is pretty solidly wintery, and typically we get plenty of snow in March and April. Sometimes those are cold storms that drop dry powder, and sometimes they bring more average powder, but by that point in the season coverage is great and even if you're not there for a big dump, it's still cold enough to preserve fresh snow for days after a storm.

BTW, after about two days of warm weather, coverage is still very good on piste and marginal - to - tolerable of piste, and forecasts for the next week are for highs around 30 and lows in the low 20s for the higher elevation resorts (Snowbird, Alta) and highs in the high 30s and lows in the low 30s in lower elevations (Park City resorts, Snowbasin). So, as my mom would say, it could be worse.
post #16 of 20

The last few years Big Sky has had pretty good March snowfall totals.  The Huntley is ski-in/ski-out with a great breakfast buffet that is included in your stay.  Most of their internet stay & ski deals are pretty good as well.  Here are a couple picture I took from when I was there over the holidays.  The terrain there is pretty burly and in March is should be filled in nicely.

 

 

 

 

post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by litterbug View Post

Early March weather in northern Utah resorts is pretty solidly wintery, and typically we get plenty of snow in March and April. Sometimes those are cold storms that drop dry powder, and sometimes they bring more average powder, but by that point in the season coverage is great and even if you're not there for a big dump, it's still cold enough to preserve fresh snow for days after a storm.

BTW, after about two days of warm weather, coverage is still very good on piste and marginal - to - tolerable of piste, and forecasts for the next week are for highs around 30 and lows in the low 20s for the higher elevation resorts (Snowbird, Alta) and highs in the high 30s and lows in the low 30s in lower elevations (Park City resorts, Snowbasin). So, as my mom would say, it could be worse.

 

 

Sure, but is this season like those previous ones?  I am right now trying to figure out where to go to ski, I have no reservations anywhere yet because the snow seems so crappy, well, everywhere!  There is barely any snow here in MN.  The local bumps aren't worth visiting.  So far I have looked at flying to Denver, SLC, Bozeman, and Jackson Hole.  Jackson seems like the best one, but it also the most problematic (high flight cost coupled with long flights and stupid connections--DFW, really, Delta, really?).

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by flatcountry View Post

Sure, but is this season like those previous ones?  I am right now trying to figure out where to go to ski, I have no reservations anywhere yet because the snow seems so crappy, well, everywhere!  There is barely any snow here in MN.  The local bumps aren't worth visiting.  So far I have looked at flying to Denver, SLC, Bozeman, and Jackson Hole.  Jackson seems like the best one, but it also the most problematic (high flight cost coupled with long flights and stupid connections--DFW, really, Delta, really?).
Sorry, but apparently there's nobody here who's good with a crystal ball. Sure, Jackson is best at the moment, but I don't know what their early spring (e.g. March) snow is like; visit Tony Crocker's site for averages if you want. Just remember that's all they are and look carefully at the peaks and valleys over time to appreciate how random real life is.

Out here at least, the early season doesn't predict the mid or late season. I've seen winters with virtually no fresh snow for six weeks followed by extended warm-ups and/or repeated freeze/thaw/deep-freeze cycles through January and even early February (as opposed to the generally sub-zero conditions we've had so far) be followed by significant dumpage every three or four days in late February and March. I've also seen seemingly endless stretches of lousy weather where anything that fell was quickly worn down to a frozen granular base until daytime temps warmed enough for spring skiing--in April.

If I were forced to make reservations now--well, I simply wouldn't unless 1) my vacation times were fixed and I were either willing to live with what I get or take a 5-8 hour road trip if another area were much better. If I had any flexibility I'd wait three weeks to see how the snowpack fares to make that decision, in which case I'd make my reservations and hope for a pleasant surprise somewhere within driving distance when I got there. But if low snow, firm groomers (by western standards), and limited off-piste terrain will ruin the trip, cancel and do something else that will take your mind off of skiing.
post #19 of 20

If it looks like seats are limited and prices are going up on flights, you could always book a ticket into SLC, and then drive (or see if you can get a reasonably priced flight) to Jackson/Targhee if that is better than the Utah resorts. Sun Valley isn't a bad drive (or flight) from SLC too, and they are having a very good year (but right now are having warmish temps like everywhere else is).

post #20 of 20

Stop over-thinking this thing.  Fly to SLC.  You have 10 decent ski areas within an hour or so.  Even if you don't get a big powder day, the skiing will be better than the East overall.  And the suggestion to use your free tickets to Brighton is a good one.  A great mid-sized western area.   Lots of decent inexpensive lodging in the towns near the base of LCC and BCC and you can pick and chose where to go each day.  Go.

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