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El Nino - Winter Break?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Anyone have thoughts on any resorts that might be unusually good during winter break due to El Nino.

Thinking Wolf Creek, Telluride and Purgatory but really do not know much about them.
Family vacation. Kids are intermediates. Wife likes groomers.
post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJSkier72 View Post

Anyone have thoughts on any resorts that might be unusually good during winter break due to El Nino.

Thinking Wolf Creek, Telluride and Purgatory but really do not know much about them.
Family vacation. Kids are intermediates. Wife likes groomers.

 

 

I have skied Purgatory and it is aligned right for all the forecasts this El Nino year.  Plenty of groomers and intermediate terrain half way reasonable to to stay in Durango.  

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
I have always wanted to ski Purgatory. May have to give it a try.
post #4 of 13
Intermediate kids and groomer zoomer wife mean Purgatory will be a great choice. You should try to break away to Wolf Creek for a day if it snows. smile.gif
post #5 of 13

Any other criteria? Do you want other activities? Do you want a "resort" feel or cool town to explore? Wolf Creek, Telluride and Purgatory all have good intermediate terrain. They are very different from each other.

 

T-ride is the biggest, with the most "resort" like feel and a really cool town.

Wolf Creek is a mom and pop mountain (no luxe) with a town that is not primarily a ski town, but has lots of other activities. Snowshoeing, free X-country trails, great hot springs. Mountain is 20+ minutes from town.

 

Purgatory is in between. Durango is not as charming as Telluride, but still a decent town. It too is maybe  20 mins from the mountain, but the mountain has slopeside lodging and more of a resort atmosphere than Wolf Creek.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Wife loves slopes idea lodging. So do I since it means I can ski after they get tired. Some good restaurants always help. Something to do on the off day is nice. Personally really like a real town. Sun Valley, Banff and Whiteface were favorites for that. Think Breck would be too but always stayed elsewhere.

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post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJSkier72 View Post

Wife loves slopes idea lodging. So do I since it means I can ski after they get tired. Some good restaurants always help. Something to do on the off day is nice. Personally really like a real town. Sun Valley, Banff and Whiteface were favorites for that. Think Breck would be too but always stayed elsewhere.

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In that case, go with Telluride. You get the best of both worlds there. You can actually stay in town and ride the gondola or a lift up right from town, and either ski back to town, or, if the trail is too challenging or you're too tired, ride the gondola back down. (like Breck but the town is much nicer.) Or, you can stay up on the mountain and take the gondola into town. (I prefer the former, by a LOT, but YMMV)

post #8 of 13

Went to Telluride last season and loved it despite the lack of snow.  We stayed at a luxury resort up in the Mountain Village.  When we go back, and we will go back, we will stay in town.  Really liked the town.  Pricey area altogether though.

post #9 of 13

if you decide to go to T-ride, there are threads on this forum with loads of advice on where to eat, etc. etc. do a search and you'll get plenty of good info.

 

We stayed in a Telluride Lodge condo in town, easy walk to the lift, that was not expensive. $250 per night for two bedrooms two baths and a loft with two rooms for kiddies, and very nice community hot tubs. Very nice place through Silver Star properties (no relationship with them whatsoever). I'm sure you could find others on VRBO.

 

Food and lift tickets are not cheap in Telluride. But the mountain is huge and the dining as good as you can find anywhere. You won't be disappointed in your holiday there.

post #10 of 13

Once again I must dispel the myth that SW Colorado is favored by El Nino, which is not supported by the evidence.  Specifically as percents of average snowfall:

Wolf Creek 100% in strong El Nino months, 96% in strong La Nina months

Purgatory 98% in strong El Nino months, 96% in strong La Nina months

Telluride 105% in strong El Nino months, 107% in strong La Nina months

 

Telluride's record high season was during strong La Nina 2007-08.

 

You have to go as far south as NM to get even moderately favored by El Nino:

Taos 114% in strong El Nino months, 91% in strong La Nina months

Nonetheless Taos is a poor choice for Christmas because it takes a long time to get the mountain covered.  The new Kachina lift opened Feb. 14 last year, and I expect it will rarely be open before late January.

 

El Nino should have zero to do with this decision.  Long term track record in the early season, suitability of terrain and resort ambience should be the important factors.

 

No question Telluride is the nicest resort town, and it's so remote it probably won't be crowded though it probably will be expensive.  Telluride's early season record is OK.  Only Gold Hill rates not to be covered yet.  There have been some low seasons where Christmas skiing was very limited, notably 2012-13.

 

Purgatory gets less snow than Telluride but it's a very intermediate mountain.

 

Wolf gets a lot of snow but it's volatile and has minimal snowmaking. About 1/10 of Christmases are marginal.

 

All of these places are high altitude and preserve snow well.  Thus they are far preferred at a spring break (Taos also) than at Christmas, with the caveat that they close the first weekend in April due to remote location, often with their deepest snowpack of the season.

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJSkier72 View Post

Anyone have thoughts on any resorts that might be unusually good during winter break due to El Nino.

Thinking Wolf Creek, Telluride and Purgatory but really do not know much about them.
Family vacation. Kids are intermediates. Wife likes groomers.


DANGER:

 

Does "Winter Break" mean between Christmas and New Years? I would NOT recommend Wolf that week. Christmas-New Years , along with their Spring Break, is known as "Texas Invasion." We get a lot of low-skill (and commonly high-confidence- a dangerous combination) skiers during these times. It is one of the few times that we see lift lines, but lift lines isn't so much the problem- lift stoppages from near constant falls are. 

 

For the off- piste skier, you can hang out on Alberta Chair all day and be fine. For everyone else, I'd go elsewhere.

 

Wolf also doesn't have the greatest intermediate/groomer terrain. It has some really great mellow trees, but very little good cruising terrain (and most of that is a pretty mellow pitch that isn't terribly exciting for the groomer zoomer). If somebody is willing to get off the groom, they will find a playground. If not, they will find about 7 runs of groomed green and blue terrain, which they will explore in an hour and then get bored.

 

As for Purg, it has Texas Invasion too, but it is also a groomer paradise and people distribute out over the mountain much better. I haven't heard the problem is very serious at Telluride.

 

From what you are describing, I think your order of preference would be Telluride>Purgatory>>> Wolf.

 

If you are a good trees/powder skier, Wolf offers the best of the three in that regard- IMO the best trees and snow in the state. It is a great place- but it doesn't work great for groomer skiers and it sure doesn't work for somebody looking for ski in/ski out accomodations. 

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by NJSkier72 View Post

Anyone have thoughts on any resorts that might be unusually good during winter break due to El Nino.

Thinking Wolf Creek, Telluride and Purgatory but really do not know much about them.
Family vacation. Kids are intermediates. Wife likes groomers.


DANGER:

 

Does "Winter Break" mean between Christmas and New Years? I would NOT recommend Wolf that week. Christmas-New Years , along with their Spring Break, is known as "Texas Invasion." We get a lot of low-skill (and commonly high-confidence- a dangerous combination) skiers during these times. It is one of the few times that we see lift lines, but lift lines isn't so much the problem- lift stoppages from near constant falls are. 

 

For the off- piste skier, you can hang out on Alberta Chair all day and be fine. For everyone else, I'd go elsewhere.

 

Wolf also doesn't have the greatest intermediate/groomer terrain. It has some really great mellow trees, but very little good cruising terrain (and most of that is a pretty mellow pitch that isn't terribly exciting for the groomer zoomer). If somebody is willing to get off the groom, they will find a playground. If not, they will find about 7 runs of groomed green and blue terrain, which they will explore in an hour and then get bored.

 

As for Purg, it has Texas Invasion too, but it is also a groomer paradise and people distribute out over the mountain much better. I haven't heard the problem is very serious at Telluride.

 

From what you are describing, I think your order of preference would be Telluride>Purgatory>>> Wolf.

 

If you are a good trees/powder skier, Wolf offers the best of the three in that regard- IMO the best trees and snow in the state. It is a great place- but it doesn't work great for groomer skiers and it sure doesn't work for somebody looking for ski in/ski out accomodations. 


I love powder and trees but the wife and one daughter like them less. The other would like it. As for TX, I grew up skiing in PA. They can't be worse than that.

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post #13 of 13
Quote:
Does "Winter Break" mean between Christmas and New Years?

Yes, I   every time we get these questions.  

Quote:
Family vacation.

Do these kids have spring break? If so, that's vastly preferred for these areas.

 

I don't know about NJ, but some northeastern states get a February week.  That would be even better.

 

And if it's a Christmas break, before Christmas or after New Year's is better than the "zoo week" in between. 

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