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Zrankings have been updated for the 2015/2016 Season - Page 3

post #61 of 75
I know this is probably elsewhere, but this is skiers per acre for a day or for the season? Looks like for a whole season? In which case, length of season would also thin out the numbers.
post #62 of 75

I said specifically that Beaver Creek's acreage looks low.  Put it up to 2,500 or so and that density number falls down to the Copper/Loveland/Winter Park range. 

 

Quote:
skier density does not exactly equate to lift lines.

No it doesn't, and some areas like Alta prioritize low skier density and would rather absorb any crowd effect in the form of lift lines.  That's a minority view and I agree that most destination prioritize cutting down the lift lines.

 

Vail's skier traffic is highly clustered.  Blue Sky and the original bowls are not skier dense at all.  While I deliberately ski Vail in quiet times of the season, the terrain is so vast back there that even in a crush I think that would show up as lift lines rather than excessive density.  Even at mid-Vail there are a lot of runs, so to me the runs look reasonable (not saying they are empty but it doesn't feel like "urban skiing either) but the lift lines there build up after 10:30AM or so. 

 

I've also recently done vertical transport feet calculations which can also be compared to skier visits as a means of lift line vulnerability.  Vail is a middle-of-the-pack area in terms of skier visits compared to both VTF and acreage.  So there are 2 conclusions I possibly see here.

1) Vail really gets slammed during holiday weeks so it pays to avoid those.  My consistent lack of crowd problems during my January and April visits supports this view.

2) Vail polarizes skier opinion.  It's overrated by the casual masses and excessively denigrated by the avid skier community such as we have here on Epic.  I also think a lot of the hate on Vail by passionate skiers is based more upon corporate policies, believing those policies are unhealthy for the future of the ski industry, than for the actual quality of Vail's skiing.  I respect those views, but I think they need to be put aside during discussions focusing purely upon the ski experience. 

 

Believing that Vail and Breck have similarly skier density/crowd issues can only be prejudice IMHO.  Breck has 55% of Vail's acreage AND 55% of Vail's VTF with exactly the same skier visit totals ~1.6 million. 


Edited by Tony Crocker - 11/10/15 at 1:05pm
post #63 of 75
Quote:
I know this is probably elsewhere, but this is skiers per acre for a day or for the season?

It's for the season but the numbers should be viewed relative to each other rather than as some absolute measure.  So think of an area you know very well and the metric will tell you how other places compare to that. This will no doubt encourage sibhusky to stay home and enjoy Whitefish.;)

post #64 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

Quote:
I know this is probably elsewhere, but this is skiers per acre for a day or for the season?
It's for the season but the numbers should be viewed relative to each other rather than as some absolute measure.  So think of an area you know very well and the metric will tell you how other places compare to that. This will no doubt encourage sibhusky to stay home and enjoy Whitefish.wink.gif

The difference between those numbers and our numbers is always so vastly different I inevitably wonder about the specifics. 😀
post #65 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

 

2) Vail polarizes skier opinion.  It's overrated by the casual masses and excessively denigrated by the avid skier community such as we have here on Epic.  I also think a lot of the hate on Vail by passionate skiers is based more upon corporate policies, believing those policies are unhealthy for the future of the ski industry, than for the actual quality of Vail's skiing.  I respect those views, but I think they need to be put aside during discussions focusing purely upon the ski experience. 

 

Believing that Vail and Breck have similarly skier density/crowd issues can only be prejudice IMHO.  Breck has 55% of Vail's acreage AND 55% of Vail's VTF with exactly the same skier visit totals ~1.6 million. 

 

I think this is accurate, and obviously my dislike for Vail, both as a mountain and a corporate entity come through loud and clear- and it is hard to separate the two. What category of the Vail experience does the $140 lift tickets, $20 parking, and $15 hamburgers fall into? Because one can't ski Vail divorced from the corporate entity that doesn't pass up an opportunity to extract money from its visitors, it is really hard to evaluate Vail based on the quality of its skiing. Most dislike for Vail is centered around the fact that many people agree that you can get a similar quality skiing experience for less (money and crowds) elsewhere.

 

Regarding skier density, the numbers are pretty clear. However, I think the tendency is for Breck skiers to be distributed a bit more evenly over the mountain- especially on a powder day when the back bowl lifts at Vail see their legendary lines.

 

And of course Hitler had something to say on the subject:

 

So yeah, by objective measure, Vail probably doesn't hold a candle to Breck levels of crowding, but given the right day, both can see levels of congestion unknown in Colorado (and possibly the entire rest of the West) outside of those two ski areas. 

post #66 of 75

Why do people hate Vail as a corporate entity even though they don't ski at Vail? Don't you have a cheap multi-resort pass thanks to Vail? My pass was cut in half a few years ago. That's the only distant relationship I have with Vail. 

 

Thank you Vail Thumbs Up

post #67 of 75

Vail's big, that's for sure. Bigger isn't always better, but it's more terrain. Plenty of folks drool for the back bowls alone, and those are larger than just about every resort in the state! 

It's not my go to mountain locally, but I'm not kicking and screaming if I end up there either. 

I weep for the saps that pay $15 for a burger and $140 for a lift tickets. 

post #68 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

I said specifically that Beaver Creek's acreage looks low.  Put it up to 2,500 or so and that density number falls down to the Copper/Loveland/Winter Park range. 

 

No it doesn't, and some areas like Alta prioritize low skier density and would rather absorb any crowd effect in the form of lift lines.  That's a minority view and I agree that most destination prioritize cutting down the lift lines.

 

Vail's skier traffic is highly clustered.  Blue Sky and the original bowls are not skier dense at all.  While I deliberately ski Vail in quiet times of the season, the terrain is so vast back there that even in a crush I think that would show up as lift lines rather than excessive density.  Even at mid-Vail there are a lot of runs, so to me the runs look reasonable (not saying they are empty but it doesn't feel like "urban skiing either) but the lift lines there build up after 10:30AM or so. 

 

I've also recently done vertical transport feet calculations which can also be compared to skier visits as a means of lift line vulnerability.  Vail is a middle-of-the-pack area in terms of skier visits compared to both VTF and acreage.  So there are 2 conclusions I possibly see here.

1) Vail really gets slammed during holiday weeks so it pays to avoid those.  My consistent lack of crowd problems during my January and April visits supports this view.

2) Vail polarizes skier opinion.  It's overrated by the casual masses and excessively denigrated by the avid skier community such as we have here on Epic.  I also think a lot of the hate on Vail by passionate skiers is based more upon corporate policies, believing those policies are unhealthy for the future of the ski industry, than for the actual quality of Vail's skiing.  I respect those views, but I think they need to be put aside during discussions focusing purely upon the ski experience. 

 

Believing that Vail and Breck have similarly skier density/crowd issues can only be prejudice IMHO.  Breck has 55% of Vail's acreage AND 55% of Vail's VTF with exactly the same skier visit totals ~1.6 million. 


Lots of great data in the above post.  Any chance you'd share the full VTF/acreage/visit data set?

 

Regarding Vail lift lines, I think the talk is way overblown.  Vail isn't my favorite place but I ski there several times a year every year including new years and spring break weeks.  I almost never wait in a line over 5 minutes.  Part of how I do that is avoiding certain lifts at certain times of the day.  A full breakdown of typical lines at: http://www.epicski.com/t/130470/new-skier-vail-bound-in-late-december#post_1803580

 

I propose that really bad lift lines happen because of bottlenecks more than total visitors per capacity.  At Vail, one of the biggest bottlenecks is chair 5 on a power day morning.  The problem is that from the top you don't know there is a line building and tons of runs lead into it.  If it's 9am or later, I don't drop in.  I made an equivalent mistake at Whitefish on president's weekend and got stuck at the base of the only (at that time) backside lift and waited 30 minutes to get out.  Steamboat is another example with bottlenecks based on their MDP:

http://www.epicski.com/t/142276/steamboat-is-going-rfi/30#post_1937936

 

Lots of ski areas have bottlenecks and Vail isn't too much worse than average.  Some ski areas suffer from big swings from peak days to low days.  Vail is better than average in this metric.  IMO peak day issues are far worse because if you're there those days, all lifts are busy. 

 

The best ski areas have steady business, excess capacity and few bottlenecks.  Snowmass and Sunlight are good examples of these.

post #69 of 75
Quote:
Any chance you'd share the full VTF/acreage/visit data set?

http://www.epicski.com/t/115614/forbes-top-ten-us-ski-resorts-2013/120#post_1795544

You can back up in that thread for background but the most data is in that post.

 

Quote:
At Vail, one of the biggest bottlenecks is chair 5 on a powder day morning.

I look at the front-to-back-to-Blue Sky topography and I do see an inherent vulnerability to bottleneck liftlines where there are no alternatives to exiting some major terrain sectors.  Conversely I think Vail is an area where it's very easy to avoid excess skier density by skiing vast outlying sectors if that's an important priority for you.

 

Quote:
The best ski areas have steady business, excess capacity and few bottlenecks.  Snowmass and Sunlight are good examples of these.

An apples and oranges comparison if I've ever seen one.  Per anachronism Sunlight ranks as one of the least busy areas on the the continent. As my one day there was on Dec. 31 with good snow and no liftlines, I'm sure he's right.  Sunlight has just 3 antique slow lifts, but so little skier traffic that lines never build up.

 

Snowmass is a big destination resort with above average (but not extreme) high speed lift capacity relative to skier visits.  There is a lot I don't like about Snowmass' topography but it is definitely not subject to lift bottlenecks.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 7/27/16 at 12:36pm
post #70 of 75
While I would definitely ski Sunlight over Vail (I did so for years), I also can't see comparing an area with 80,000 skier visits on 500 acres to a ski area more than 10x the size with 20X the visitation (and terrain half as good wink.gif ).

Sunlight never sees lines, but part of that is that the management can't seem to figure out how to market the place- in the 1990's Sunlight saw visitation in the 125,000 range even with Aspen around the corner and Beaver Creek an hour away. Sunlight ownership is pretty checked out after trying to sell the ski area for over a decade (or flirt with terrible ideas like trying to overdevelop a base area with more condos than all of Snowmass village).

There just isn't a lot of overlap to compare the two areas. Sunlight isn't uncrowded because its lifts are logically laid out- they aren't at all and require 2 lengthy slow chairs to access the best terrain.

Sunlight is uncrowded because nobody skis there. This was a weekday powder day in 2012. I showed up at 8:45 and had the first spot in the lot and the first spot on the chairlift. For the first 45 minutes, it was me and their social media person on the mountain. I'd estimate the count for the day at maybe 100 skiers. IIRC, this was late February.

2012-02-09_08-48-32_604.jpg

This is part of the reason that people have different definitions of "uncrowded." Wolf on Wednesday the 11th, 10" of fresh snow, 1600 acres open with fantastic conditions, and a skier count of about 500. It just doesn't matter how big Vail is and what uncrowded corner one can find, it still won't compare to truly uncrowded places.
post #71 of 75
Quote:
It just doesn't matter how big Vail is and what uncrowded corner one can find, it still won't compare to truly uncrowded places.

I'm guessing anachronism is in no hurry to visit me at Mammoth.  Mammoth has way fewer lift line issues than Vail but skier density is very similar: busy around the lodges and quiet in the outlying areas.  But the list of places where powder lasts more than a day is a very short one, as discussed before.

post #72 of 75
Sorry about the thread mining but this is an interesting topic.
On snow quality is there a place that has variable snow density depending on time of season? Say heavy wet 'base building' snow early in the season when temps aren't as low transforming to dry 'blower' snow in mid winter? That would be the best of both worlds I guess.
post #73 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbooker View Post

Sorry about the thread mining but this is an interesting topic.
On snow quality is there a place that has variable snow density depending on time of season? Say heavy wet 'base building' snow early in the season when temps aren't as low transforming to dry 'blower' snow in mid winter? That would be the best of both worlds I guess.


I don't think so. The "base building" months are November and December, which generally have cold average temperatures in western mountains.  By observation and reading TR's we see a lot of "blower" snow in early season TR's and also in April for that matter.

 

On the West Coast another factor is at work though.  The ocean is warmer in November/December than it is in February/March.  That could lead to higher density snow, but it mostly leads to greater rain frequency.   The effect is quite pronounced in the Pacific Northwest, especially at lower altitudes.  In the higher altitudes, Whistler alpine, Mt. Bachelor, etc. the early storms are still mostly snow. 

 

I have 29 years of Central Sierra Snow Lab data demonstrating the above effect.  CSSL is on the western slope at 6,883 feet so has much higher rain incidence than most Sierra ski terrain.

November-April water content of snow:  13.3%10.6%11.7%10.6%11.4%11.4%  Not much variation

November-April rain percent of precipitation:  34.0% 29.5% 20.5% 15.7% 17.7% 21.1%  November and December see the most rain, February and March the least.

 

But the point of the question is well taken.  Despite the rain the Pacific Northwest is the overall most likely region to see a deep natural snow base in December.

 

In the Alps I've seen summarized data by month where total precipitation can be compared to total snowfall.   The highest locations have similar snow to water ratios in the 8% range for all months November-April.  As you go lower in altitude the numbers start increasing for November and April.  I do not attribute that to denser snow; I attribute it to occasional rain.   You see the same effect at the high altitude places when you look at May/October and June/September.   The Alps do not have a summer dry/winter wet pattern like much of western North America.  Precipitation is similar all months of the year.  In July/August it's nearly all rain, even at 3,000 meters.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 7/27/16 at 12:54pm
post #74 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

I'm guessing anachronism is in no hurry to visit me at Mammoth.  Mammoth has way fewer lift line issues than Vail but skier density is very similar: busy around the lodges and quiet in the outlying areas.  But the list of places where powder lasts more than a day is a very short one, as discussed before.


I was pretty amazed but not at all disappointed at Mammoth this spring when there were several inches of fresh snow one morning and I could pretty much lap chair 5 with barely a wait.  To me that's one of the best spots on the mountain for powder and I got as much as my legs could handle.  

 

But go down to either of the lodges and it was bananas.

post #75 of 75
Quote = "river-z":
there were several inches of fresh snow one morning and I could pretty much lap chair 5 with barely a wait.

You got lucky.  Now that 5 is a high speed lift its powder can get hammered wall-to-wall in half an hour.   But I've had your experience occasionally, such as on the last day at Mammoth of the March 2014 Gathering.  That was a Wednesday but the real reason was bad visibility.  Many SoCal skiers are wimpy about skiing in the wind or fog.  5 has enough scattered trees to maintain orientation in low visibility IMHO, but obviously that's a minority view.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 7/28/16 at 1:22pm
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