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Driving to Wolf Creek from Alamosa/Monte Vista area late Dec 31-Jan 4

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello,

My husband and I will be staying with my sister in the Alamosa/Monte Vista area of CO, (she just moved there for work, so she doesn't know which of those towns she will rent an apartment in yet,) from Dec 31-Jan 4 to ski with her at Wolf Creek.

We will fly into Denver and then drive to Alamosa on the first day, then we plan to make day trips to Wolf Creek from Alamosa Jan 1-3, taking the South Fork Route there and back.. Since our return flight on the 4th is not until 11:50 PM, we plan to get up very early and drive from Alamosa towards Denver and try to ski at one of the resorts closer to Denver Int'l, such as Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain or Keystone before going home.

A few questions, since neither of us has ever been to CO in the winter:

1. Should we buy chains for our car when we get there? I have heard about CO state police setting up 'chain checks' when the weather is dicey. We will be renting a front-wheel drive sedan, most likely, since the SUV's were insanely expensive. (Almost an $800 difference!)

2. Is it likely we will need to rent powder skis for Wolf Creek? I know they have a reputation for getting a ton of snow. We are hoping to just use our own skis to avoid rental costs. Mine are all-mountain, 81 mm wide with rocker, his are 74 mm wide with rocker. We will not be skiing any expert terrain, just blues and maybe single black, but would like to try skiing glades if they have any with a gentler pitch. (Does that exist there?)

3. Out of A-basin, Copper Mountain and Keystone, which would you recommend most for two young, healthy skiers who want to challenge themselves but do not yet ski expert terrain? (Maybe upper-intermediate?) We are considering those three because, while Vail for example looks amazing, it is extremely expensive and we will only be able to ski for one day, so we won't be able to make use of any multi-day discounts, and would barely get to see a fraction of the resort in one day anyway.

Thanks!!

-Holly
post #2 of 5

1. Depends. Wolf Creek Pass is not the I-70 corridor, and I haven't see mandatory chains on passenger vehicles. The snow removal efforts on the pass are truly impressive, however, it is quite common for the pass to be snowpacked and icy. Does your sister have a good snow car (they should if they are going to live in the San Luis Valley)? If so, maybe you can trade cars if it gets sketchy?

 

2. Unless there just isn't any recent snow to the extent that you would stay on the groom, rent some powder skis. You just won't get a whole lot out of the mountain unless you get off piste. For one, there isn't much groom (~6 trails any given day), for two, unless it has been a LONG time since a storm, there isn't much bumps. Powder skis will obviously do better when fresh but will also really help you maintain confidence when the snow gets stale and manky. There are hundreds of acres of mild tree skiing here. Serendipity and Pitch's Gate are some of the best, as is most stuff off the Elma lift. The next step up would be Abracadabra and Simpatico. Lots of really, really good trees (in my opinion the best in Colorado bar none).

 

3. Loveland. 

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi Anachronism,

 

Thanks for the tips! My sister just got a Nissan rogue with 4WD, so that should be decent for getting to Wolf Creek, at least on the days she comes skiing with us!

 

Why do you recommend Loveland above A-Basin, Copper or Keystone? It looks awesome, just wondering what you especially like about it (more than the others.)

 

-Holly  

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by hollyberry88 View Post
 

Hi Anachronism,

 

Thanks for the tips! My sister just got a Nissan rogue with 4WD, so that should be decent for getting to Wolf Creek, at least on the days she comes skiing with us!

 

Why do you recommend Loveland above A-Basin, Copper or Keystone? It looks awesome, just wondering what you especially like about it (more than the others.)

 

-Holly  

 

Loveland is affordable, most of the mountain is intermediate level alpine bowls that sound right up your alley, it is less crowded, and it is that much closer to Denver to get to your flight. You will get to experience terrain that is a totally distinct Western experience in vast open bowl, but it won't chew you up.

 

The only reason to say no to Loveland is if it is in the middle of a storm. Most of that great terrain will be whiteout and skiing by feel, and I doubt you are good with that. In that case I would say Copper. Arapahoe Basin would have some similar issues as Loveland on a low vis day.

 

Keystone is last for cost and because all of the skiing you would do there is on cleared runs. 

post #5 of 5

I live north of Denver and haven’t really needed chains.  I own a front wheel drive Chevy Traverse and have taken it in some fairly nasty snow packed roads.  There probably will be a day where I might need them, though.

 

If you are skiing mostly at Wolf Creek (I’ve never skied there, but know the conditions there), there won’t be a lot of groomed trails available, so you may want to rent wider skis (at least say an 88-90 width).  I’ve been skiing on a set of Atomic Alibi’s that are a 186 length and 98 mm width.  Prior to this I skied on Atomic Beta Ride: 185 length, 178 mm width.  I’ve been extremely happy with the width and got used to them in just a couple of runs.  You could go with a set of 98 mm width skis as well (try the demo route).  I think you will have more fun at Wolf Creek.  You could also try skiing Monarch (it’s 93 miles away, which is about 1.5 hours north.  The conditions will be similar to Wolf Creek, although the ski area is a little bit smaller in size.

 

Between A-basin, Copper, and Keystone, I personally like Copper better, but it is a little further away.  For one day of skiing, you will have a ton of groomers where you can ski your own skis with no problems (I would recommend skiing Rattler if it is open and groomed – probably will be when you are there).  I like Keystone, but it can get very crowded.  My BIL and I once had to park in the overflow parking and take a shuttle about 3 miles to the ski area (worked out better actually as there was less walking involved).  I like Keystone, especially right now since it has the highest percentage open out of Vail/Beaver Creek/Breck areas, but it is a little more expensive than Copper and a lot more expensive than A-basin.  I really like A-basin, especially since they’ve been getting a lot of snow lately.  By the time you are out here, the Montezuma Bowl could easily be open.  There is usually at least one blue groomer open in that bowl.  A-basin has a couple of short blue glades as well both front side and Montezuma Bowl.  I agree with the above about Loveland.  I’ve never skied there, but there is a lot more skiable acreage than A-basin, which is just over the divide.  But if it is snowing, it can very hard to see where you are going. 

 

I thought I would include a link that shows today’s list of ski areas and % terrain open:

 

 

http://coloradoski.com/snow-report

 

 

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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Driving to Wolf Creek from Alamosa/Monte Vista area late Dec 31-Jan 4