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Compare Colorado Vail resorts

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi, 

 

this year Vail offers for their 'Tahoe Local Pass" holders an additional benefit such as free

5 restricted days at either: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City or Arapahoe Basin (see http://www.snow.com/epic-pass/passes/tahoe-local-pass.aspx ).

 

In Tahoe, I usually ski at either Kirkwood or Northstar and just wondering if 

Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone or Beaver Creek and Park City are more like bigger Kirkwood or just another Northstar (may be bigger)?

 

For me, the ideal resort would be a Kirkwood but with longer runs. Is there a Colorado or Utah resort(s) from the list above which would qualify?

 

I haven't been at any, so next year I might do the trip especially that I have 5 free days of skiing.

 

Thank you for your answer(s).

post #2 of 18

Never skied Tahoe, so take with a grain of salt.

 

In order of terrain difficulty of the CO Vail resorts, I would put them, easiest to most difficult, at...

 

Keystone--> Vail --> Beaver Creek--> Breck --> A Basin. Some may want to swap Breck and A-Basin there.

 

As to whether that terrain rates to Kirkwood? I suspect none of it does. I-70 Colorado (excluding Aspen) is a pretty low bar when it comes to terrain, especially when it comes to steeps.  Not terribly much at these mountains over about 40*, but cornices make for a pretty daunting entry to some of the Breck lines, and to a lesser extent A-Basin.  A Basin has some pretty healthy couloirs and even some good pillow lines, but...

 

In my eyes, the top terrain (difficult) areas in CO are (in no particular order)

 

Aspen Mountain (Ajax)

Aspen Highlands

Snowmass

Telluride

Crested Butte

Silverton

 

Probably after these is where most people would start talking about A-Basin and Breck. Keystone would probably come in among the lowest of the major resorts on that list.

post #3 of 18

Not sure why you are putting Ajax into the top tier.  Sure, there's a bit of steep stuff in the dumps, but it doesn't have the steeps of the other resorts on your top list.

 

Mike

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yes, I've heard about Aspen, Telluride and Silverton. Unfortunately (or fortunately) Vail does not own these resorts, so no discount. Bummer, that most resorts which Vail owns are kind off mellow type...

 

Is Park City mountain is another Northstar/Vail type?

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
 

Not sure why you are putting Ajax into the top tier.  Sure, there's a bit of steep stuff in the dumps, but it doesn't have the steeps of the other resorts on your top list.

 

Mike

That would be the first I would drop off the "Elite CO list."

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg S View Post
 

Yes, I've heard about Aspen, Telluride and Silverton. Unfortunately (or fortunately) Vail does not own these resorts, so no discount. Bummer, that most resorts which Vail owns are kind off mellow type...

 

Is Park City mountain is another Northstar/Vail type?

 

I realize that talking about other resorts doesn't directly answer your question, but hopefully it gives you more points of comparison.

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

for what I've heard, Silverton has to be in the league of its own 

post #8 of 18

I haven't been to Kirkwood since 2005, but feel that A Basin may have the most similarities to it (but not longer runs IMO).  If you want really long runs, go to Europe, but many of the Vail owned resorts have longer continuous vertical than Kirkwood- see http://mountainvertical.com/ for stats with top to bottom at Beaver, Vail, Breck, Park City and Keystone being more than Kirkwood.

 

If you are looking for expert terrain that is more than a few turns, you'll probably like the top of Breck.  Most of the good long advanced/expert runs I can think of in CO involve taking at least two lifts up although there are a lot of reasonably long advanced runs you can lap on the back bowls at Vail with 1 chair ride.  The Birds of Prey area of Beaver Creek also has some good longish bump runs and some nice glades nearby.  There is some EX terrain there at Stone Creek Shoots, but it is relatively short.

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg S View Post
 

for what I've heard, Silverton has to be in the league of its own

 

It is, and it isn't. I don't think it comes close to being the undisputed terrain king by a long shot. What is notable and unique is that even the easiest ways down are still solid advanced/expert.

 

For example, the easiest line at Silverton is generally considered Tiger 1-5 (small bowls that funnel into one avalanche gully along with Tiger Main). Tiger 1-5 remind me a lot of Pali at A-Basin- long, but not terribly steep or technical- just reasonably steep and did I mention long?

 

The unique aspects of the Silverton experience (no grooming, required beacon/probe/shovel, guided only through most of the year) give it a hype factor that is hard to meet in reality.

 

1. It is not a powder paradise, and this is probably the piece that the ski area overhypes most.  Conditions can be pretty foul there without recent snow. Tony Crocker puts Silverton's snowfall at about 330"- higher than average for CO but not superlative.  Their on-mountain snow reporting is terrible and suspect as they only measure a few times a week and report with a 24 hour delay. One reason I only ski Silverton 1-2 times a year is because with almost any storm, Wolf Creek will get me deeper snow and I can get in a lot more skiing in a day there.

 

2. Guided skiing can be VERY frustrating. A common complaint is being marched out past virgin snowfields to harvest outlying areas first- and as a result getting in many less descents.  Despite what their website says, it is rare that I talk to somebody that got in more than 4 laps on a guided day- doing so seems to require filling a guided group with very high caliber altitude-conditioned athletes who can hustle up the bootpack.

 

3. The terrain is great, and you can get in way over your head, but that is true of pretty much every area that comes up when debating best terrain.

 

My general recommendation is that folks try Silverton out during the April unguided season, shooting for either very warm for a corn harvest or after a storm cycle. As long as there is recent snow, there will be a lot of untracked/lightly tracked stuff within a few minutes of the lift- you only need to hike out further if there is a specific feature you want to get into.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post
 

I haven't been to Kirkwood since 2005, but feel that A Basin may have the most similarities to it (but not longer runs IMO).  If you want really long runs, go to Europe, but many of the Vail owned resorts have longer continuous vertical than Kirkwood- see http://mountainvertical.com/ for stats with top to bottom at Beaver, Vail, Breck, Park City and Keystone being more than Kirkwood.

 

If you are looking for expert terrain that is more than a few turns, you'll probably like the top of Breck.  Most of the good long advanced/expert runs I can think of in CO involve taking at least two lifts up although there are a lot of reasonably long advanced runs you can lap on the back bowls at Vail with 1 chair ride.  The Birds of Prey area of Beaver Creek also has some good longish bump runs and some nice glades nearby.  There is some EX terrain there at Stone Creek Shoots, but it is relatively short.

I have recently been to all the mtns mentioned by the OP except I've never been to Northstar.  I concur with MEfree30 that of the other mtns in the Vail Resorts family Breck and A-Basin would offer the most interesting terrain for someone who enjoys the black diamond stuff at Kirkwood.  A trip to CO visiting a combination of Breck for three days and A-Basin for two days would provide a week of fun for a double black diamond skier/boarder. There is some nice stuff at Vail, BC, Keystone, Park City, and the Canyons that could entertain an advanced snowrider too, but the strong suit of this second group is in the long cruisers category.

post #11 of 18
<-got the epicmix pin for hitting every vail resort this year (well not afton alps or mount brighton).
 
I think you're overanalyzing the situation.   If you're planning on making a trip next year, step up to the Epic Local.  Otherwise you'll feel constrained by your 5 days.    
If you're going to Park City, you're in SLC, you must stop by Snowbird, even if that's an extra day ticket.  The cost of a day ticket is negligible compared to the whole of your trip costs.  
Other than that, every resort on the list has enough expert terrain that you will not feel bored or your day is "wasted" to check it out.   Be more prepared to be flexible and follow the snow if a storm comes rather then deciding your itinerary beforehand.  If your trip is long enough, you can use the reported "easier" resorts as a "rest" day.

 

In other words, none of the mountains in SLC/DEN are so terrible or beginners feeder mountains.


Edited by raytseng - 4/28/15 at 7:18pm
post #12 of 18
Most of those mountains are fun enough for one day, especially if it's free. I wouldn't pay for a ticket at any of them except A-Basin but I'm getting older and I'm sort of grumpy and jaded. When A-Basin is fully opened its a very cool mountain but the pack ain't like California's so that only happens in the spring. The backcountry around A-basin is real good and access is all around you. If you are bc savvy then a trip to that area could be really sweet since there is so much.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by raisingarizona View Post
 When A-Basin is fully opened its a very cool mountain but the pack ain't like California's so that only happens in the spring. 

 

I think this has to do with more reasons than simply the snowpack. If the slide risk was really that hard to manage, the good stuff at Crested Butte (and all kinds of other CO mountains) would NEVER be open.

post #14 of 18

I only have one day each at the Vail resorts a few years ago so my 2 cents is mostly about first impressions.

 

I was told to ski at Beaver Creek on a weekend due to it getting smaller weekend crowds as it is the furthest from Denver.

 

Most of Beaver Creek for an advanced skier is meh, except for the Birds of Prey area. Because they run a FIS DH race there (a fun run to ski and they keep it super firm) it has to be close to 3000' vert. or more. So some long runs. The tree skiing is about 2000' vert. I'm guessing, of pretty much continuous fall line and nicely spaced.

 

When I go to a new to me resort I really appreciate a well laid out lift system that maximizes access and use of the terrain. IMO the Birds of Prey area delivers as there are two chairlifts on one side of the valley and one on the other with the base of all three lifts close to each other. So no matter what chairlift you take or what run you ski you mostly have a choice of three different chairs at the end of each run.Thumbs Up 

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg S View Post

Hi, 

In Tahoe, I usually ski at either Kirkwood or Northstar and just wondering if 
Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone or Beaver Creek and Park City are more like bigger Kirkwood or just another Northstar (may be bigger)?

For me, the ideal resort would be a Kirkwood but with longer runs. Is there a Colorado or Utah resort(s) from the list above which would qualify?

Kirkwood probably has the steepest terrain of any of the VR resorts, but it's short, maybe 1000 feet at the most.

If steep and long is a priority, I think you'd be better off getting a Squaw/Alpine pass.
Their steep terrain is longer and then you get 50% off at the MCP resorts, which are the best in North America.
post #16 of 18

I think you'll find enjoyable terrain at all of them, don't overthink it.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

thank you all for your answers, I think for a free runs in Colorado: Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin are the best options for me.

I might try to stop at Telluride as well if that is not really far away (less then 5 hrs drive).

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg S View Post

 

I might try to stop at Telluride as well if that is not really far away (less then 5 hrs drive).

 

"To-hell-you-ride" is really far away!   5:14 hours (!) from Breck per google maps believe it or not.      

 

Crested Butte and Aspen Highlands are at least a couple hours closer, and very much worth a visit.   

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