Originally Posted by grambow
Thanks for the great advice! We are from WI, so I get that my skiing ability here is not going to translate out there. I am perfectly comfortable asking the groomed blacks in WI. I've only skied non-groomed a couple times. My travel partner is a bit more tentative. He makes it down he groomed blacks here just fine, but is quite nervous about it. Any advise you can offer about where to start/plan on the mountain would be great!
Vail has more than enough for all levels, so no worries there. Sounds like you'll want to warm up a bit and get a sense of what western runs are like before you dive in.
Here's my advice for you, in a nutshell.
Get to the top where Buffalo's is (Chairs 4, 11, and 5 meet). If you're taking Gondola One, that means G One to Chair 4. If you're taking Riva Bahn, then Riva to Chair 11. (If you're starting from Lionshead, ignore this advice.) From that point, take Timberline Catwalk to Sourdough Express. Underneath Sourdough you can make a few warm up runs on groomed or ungroomed greens.
If you're feeling pretty good, from the top of Sourdough you can drop into China Bowl via the cat track that runs past 2 Elks Lodge. China Bowl will give you the option to try ungroomed that's not too steep. If that doesn't work out, you can just traverse back to the groomer that runs down the middle of the bowl. That will take you to Orient Express lift where you can lap China Bowl. If you take the cat track off the lift towards Siberia Bowl you can do the Shangri-La tree run that's pretty low angle and widely spaced. Very fun.
If, after skiing the greens under Sourdough, you don't think you're ready for China Bowl, then just ski past Sourdough back to Northwoods Express (Chair 11) and do some of the Blue groomers there and towards Mid-Vail. Word of caution is that if it's a busy day, the line for Chair 4 at Mid-Vail can get long.
Couple random thoughts for you...
-If you find the bumps and ungroomed stuff in China Bowl too tough, don't waste time going to Blue Sky Basin. The groomers there are basically just cat tracks that drop off and pick up from off trail stuff. That said, if you're doing well off trail, then BSB is awesome.
-Some people love Game Greek Bowl. I don't care for it. I've gotten trapped in long lift lines at Game Greek Express and I don't think the runs are worth it.
-At the end of the day, if you're skiing down to Golden Peak or Vail Village, use Riva Ridge from the top of Northwoods Express. It's black but most of it is groomed and it's a good solid run. Much better than taking the cat tracks home.
If you only have 2 days at Vail, you won't even scratch the surface and you won't really know your way around. Make use of the mountain guides and fellow skiers to get where you want to go.