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Vail Thanksgiving

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have an opportunity to head out west for the upcoming holiday and want to know if it will be worthwhile. My question to all you wonderful people is: Is Vail worth it that early in the season? Historically is it 10/20/50% open at that time? Is it only going to be blue groomers? Any thoughts would be appreciated. BTW my alternative is to go watch the always entertaining Detroit Lions and drink beer without my family/girlfriend.

Mod note: Moved to Resorts, Conditions & Travel
post #2 of 22

Pretty risky at Thanksgiving.. I have had some decent ski conditions there over T/K (during 35+ years of trying it) but, more often than not, its really sketchy then.

Switch to the Broncos, and a good craft beer from CO, and you won't feel so bad about not skiing over T/K.

post #3 of 22

I lived in Denver for twenty years.  Maybe Loveland or A-basin or Monarch, but not Vail, way to iffy that early in the season,

post #4 of 22

Then how about Mid Dec? Plan a trip around Dec 14-18 that week? Will Vail be fully opened? If not, any suggestions?

post #5 of 22

Once again I will categorically state that it is not worth getting on an airplane to ski ANYWHERE at Thanksgiving. 

1) Air tickets are notoriously expensive, so one is tempted to reserve far ahead.

2) Thanksgiving is so early that there are seasons where no one really has enough snow to justify the trip.  In those cases where there are a few lucky areas, you won't know which those are until a very short time in advance.

Quote:
Dec 14-18 that week

That is about the earliest time frame for which advance reservations are worth considering for the historically most reliable areas.  Vail is not at the top of that list, but it's far above average for early season reliability and thus not a bad choice. 

But again I must :dead horse: and  remind people that between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the dead zone of the vacation business, so there is no reason whatsoever to make far advance lodging reservations at any ski resort in this time frame.  It's more important to WAIT to see where early snow is and then make the reservation last minute.  You will have no trouble scoring cheap lodging last minute, and even flights to Denver should not be that expensive in that tine frame booked relatively late in the game. 

 

In 1995 I had two excellent ski days at Vail Dec. 18-19.  I was staying with friends in Keystone but I did not book the air until around Thanksgiving when I knew there was snow.

post #6 of 22
It's generally not worth it, but occasionally it can be Epic. Last year Aspen was good and it's always fun to watch the women's WC race off my deck.
I've got reservations on Southwest, so I can make the call last minute and so should you.
post #7 of 22

Why Vail? It's 1.5k lower than Breck. And what do you ski (clearly you don't prefer blue groomers)?

 

Speaking to Breck, because I don't ski Vail regularly - Last season we had an EXCEPTIONAL snowstorm over Thanksgiving weekend, which allowed chair 6 at Breck to be opened - but lower Frosty's was closed still. It made for some weird navigation dynamics. But my point is, most years, even that would not have been opened. You wouldn't necessarily be relegated to groomers - Calli's and Cascade will be bumped up, High A and those bump runs probably open - but certainly the upper mountain will be closed, and tree skiing unavailable.

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bounceswoosh View Post

Why Vail? It's 1.5k lower than Breck. And what do you ski (clearly you don't prefer blue groomers)?

Speaking to Breck, because I don't ski Vail regularly - Last season we had an EXCEPTIONAL snowstorm over Thanksgiving weekend, which allowed chair 6 at Breck to be opened - but lower Frosty's was closed still. It made for some weird navigation dynamics. But my point is, most years, even that would not have been opened. You wouldn't necessarily be relegated to groomers - Calli's and Cascade will be bumped up, High A and those bump runs probably open - but certainly the upper mountain will be closed, and tree skiing unavailable.

Id be going to Vail because my that's where my girlfriend's family prefers to ski. I also don't mind Blue groomers, as that's what I'd most likely be skiing with GF/her father. And it just so happens they live 10 min down the road instead of an hourish. I'll definitely be taking another trip out west this year at a later point, and try to hit up Breck/Copper.

Anyway, can anyone tell me what areas Vail tries to open up first? Is it Lionshead Village or do they start on the other side of the mountain?
post #9 of 22

My Vail experience is dated.

 

Gondola up to Mid Vail, then Chair 4.  Northwoods usually has the best early season terrain/conditions,  if it's open.

 

The problem with VR resorts,  is they sell a ton of Epic Passes and if it's good,  or even if it's not, it can get mobbed.

post #10 of 22

I've skied Vail at Thanksgiving but my memory is a bit hazy...  Seems like Born Free (lionshead) is always open and sometime it's the only run open with snowmaking.  Mid Vail, lionshead, avanti often open with a little natural help.  After those, northwoods followed by game creek.  The rest of the front side opens more slowly sometimes before, sometimes after lift 5 on the backside.  Sometimes blue sky opens as well as a run to get there and a lift to get back.  Most likely scenario is lionshead, mid vail and avanit only at Thanksgiving but it can be a lot more or a lot less.

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Is Vail worth it that early in the season? Historically is it 10/20/50% open at that time?

Since 1988:

The median percent of terrain open at Vail for Thanksgiving is 24%, with the 25th percentile being 8% and the 75th percentile being 39%.

The median percent of terrain open at Breck for Thanksgiving is 20%, with the 25th percentile being 11% and the 75th percentile being 41%.

Those medians translate to 1,269 acres at Vail and 582 acres at Breck.

 

That means probably no back bowl terrain at Vail. As for the argument that Breck has more steeps than Vail, that's completely irrelevant at Thanksgiving and 90+% irrelevant mid-December because those steeps won't be open.

 

These are the type of stats that inform my opinion that it is not worth getting on an airplane to ski ANYWHERE at Thanksgiving.  Especially if you want to ski ANY advanced terrain.

 

FORGET Thanksgiving.  Think mid-December if you're chomping at the bit for an early destination trip.  You'll spend far less $$$ and have far more ski terrain available with far fewer people on it.

post #12 of 22

I think one point to consider is what are your local conditions like at Thanksgiving.

For me, the local areas might not even be open. From my experience, on an average snow year, most places in Colorado will have conditions similar to the midwest areas at mid season.

Since I ski at a 300 foot vertical area, Vail will have almost 10 times the vertical at Thanksgiving. If Vail only has 1000 acres open it's still over 3 times the acreage as my area.

So, from my perspective, it might not be the greatest but it sure will get the season off in great style.

This year I'm not even waiting for Thanksgiving. I am already booked for a clinic at Copper the weekend of Nov 14.

post #13 of 22

I would actually say Vail is less risky than the Summit areas for early season. It might get less snow, but Vail's terrain is grassy and smooth, not rocky, and it takes less snow for it to feel like good coverage.

 

As other have said, it'll usually be Lionshead, Mid Vail, and Avanti and maybe Game Creek that open for Thanksgiving, but it varies widely.

 

But really, that early in the season, even in a good snow year when the good stuff is open earlier than usual, it's pretty risky to venture too far off piste or into the steeps without a pretty solid base (I've shredded some skis in early season jubilation...not worth it). Barring some monumental snow (which does happen sometimes!), it's best to mentally prepare for working on technique on groomers through the early season. That way you're primed to enjoy even a low snow experience, and you'll be pleasantly surprised otherwise. 

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MAlexander0812 View Post

I have an opportunity to head out west for the upcoming holiday and want to know if it will be worthwhile. My question to all you wonderful people is: Is Vail worth it that early in the season? Historically is it 10/20/50% open at that time? Is it only going to be blue groomers? Any thoughts would be appreciated. BTW my alternative is to go watch the always entertaining Detroit Lions and drink beer without my family/girlfriend.

Mod note: Moved to Resorts, Conditions & Travel

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAlexander0812 View Post

Id be going to Vail because my that's where my girlfriend's family prefers to ski. I also don't mind Blue groomers, as that's what I'd most likely be skiing with GF/her father. And it just so happens they live 10 min down the road instead of an hourish. I'll definitely be taking another trip out west this year at a later point, and try to hit up Breck/Copper.

Anyway, can anyone tell me what areas Vail tries to open up first? Is it Lionshead Village or do they start on the other side of the mountain?

So to go you have to pay for lift tickets and airfare, but no lodging, right?  Or do you have an Epic Pass?  What does GF and her father prefer, you go with them or you stay home in the midwest?  Don't need to answer here but I assume that's a factor too.

post #15 of 22
Quote:

Since I ski at a 300 foot vertical area, Vail will have almost 10 times the vertical at Thanksgiving. If Vail only has 1000 acres open it's still over 3 times the acreage as my area.

So, from my perspective, it might not be the greatest but it sure will get the season off in great style.

This year I'm not even waiting for Thanksgiving. I am already booked for a clinic at Copper the weekend of Nov 14.

Do you go to the Rockies to ski EVERY MONTH between December and May?  If so I salute you for your dedication and why not add November to the list?  If not, I suggest you are wasting your time and $$$ vs. one of those other months.  Note my inclusion of May on the list.  I challenge anyone to go the Mother's Day Epic Gathering at A-Basin and then tell me that they would rather ski in Colorado in November than May.  And several of us have noted before that during most seasons Colorado is much better in April than December.

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 
Quote:

Since I ski at a 300 foot vertical area, Vail will have almost 10 times the vertical at Thanksgiving. If Vail only has 1000 acres open it's still over 3 times the acreage as my area.

So, from my perspective, it might not be the greatest but it sure will get the season off in great style.

This year I'm not even waiting for Thanksgiving. I am already booked for a clinic at Copper the weekend of Nov 14.

Do you go to the Rockies to ski EVERY MONTH between December and May?  If so I salute you for your dedication and why not add November to the list?  If not, I suggest you are wasting your time and $$$ vs. one of those other months.  Note my inclusion of May on the list.  I challenge anyone to go the Mother's Day Epic Gathering at A-Basin and then tell me that they would rather ski in Colorado in November than May.  And several of us have noted before that during most seasons Colorado is much better in April than December.

 

Well .. it's been dire some Mother's Days. Closed for one. But generally, yeah.

post #17 of 22
Dec 12, 2014 - top of Orient



YMMV
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by givethepigeye View Post

Dec 12, 2014 - top of Orient



YMMV

Mid-December medians are 79% for Vail and 53% for Breck.  Vail's higher snowfall generally starts to show an impact by this timeframe.  It probably takes only a moderately above average start to the season to produce Dec. 12 conditions like the pic above.  With the good early accumulation and the back bowl exposure, Vail is probably an exception to that Colorado rule of thumb about April being better than December.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 10/28/15 at 5:00pm
post #19 of 22
^ yup totally dependent on weather - we usually go early for my b-day and has been a mix over the year - sometimes just basically WROD to wall to wall - we went a little later last year. My b-day is right after thanksgiving.

BTW - that was early afternoon - pretty crowded. smile.gif
post #20 of 22
Thanksgiving at Vail last season, 2014-2015, was great. They had lots of snow leading up to Thanksgiving, making it a great experience. They opened last year on November 21, and they opened the lionshead, Avanti, game creek bowl, mid vail, golden peak, and northwoods. Three days later on the 24th they had highline open, and by thanksgiving, they had sundown bowl open (Chair 5). So since they have been already getting a lot of snow this season, I don't think Vail would be a bad choice. Vail seems to get a bad rap when it comes to skiing it early season, but it can have a lot more terrain open than other nearby resorts.
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Vail seems to get a bad rap when it comes to skiing it early season

It shouldn't, with that 79% median open terrain in mid-December. 

 

However that median for Thanksgiving is only 24%.   If you read OpenSnow, you'll see that overall Colorado snowpack is just slightly above average and predicted snowfall over the next week or so also looks fairly average.  So those long term medians for Thanksgiving rate to be a reasonable prediction for this year.

 

Thanksgiving nearly anywhere needs to have substantially above average snowfall to get a lot of terrain open.  Wolf Creek is one of the exceptions.  Average Thanksgiving there has a 37 inch base.  Current  Wolf Creek base is 27 inches.  The other places with ~5 runs open are generally reporting 18 inch bases. Both the handful of runs open and the 18 inch base are telltale indicators that these areas might not be open if not for manmade snow.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 11/14/15 at 10:28pm
post #22 of 22
I've only been to Vail once during Thanksgiving. We knew it would be hit or miss before we went, but it was a week we had free to go so we went anyway. We had a great time skiing Loveland most of the week and a day at Copper if I remember right. Vail got a few runs open the last 2 days we were there but we didn't think it was worth it at that point. We still had a great time around the village in the evenings.

I would go if you have the chance but I wouldn't book too early and I sure wouldn't buy lift tickets in advance. As long as you can be flexible where you are willing to ski you can make it work.
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