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If you could do the ultimate CO ski trip, which slopes would you hit?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I just finished my fall session in grad school and decided that a 10 day ski trip after new years sounds like a great way to spend a part of my break.  I haven't been to many resorts out west, so I'm interested in hearing what you guys have to say.  I'm pretty much unrestricted and looking to hit at least 2 different mountains.  The one limitation is that I have to start my trip in Vail, CO.  So the question is - where would you go?  I've only skied Vail (it's where my gear is) and BC so I'll likely spend a day or two there.  My skill level is somewhere between advanced and expert, if that makes any sense, and I love to adventure into the bowls/backcountry.

 

Thanks in advance for any recommendations!!

post #2 of 27
If you're going for 10 days, do you already have a pass? I believe you can no longer buy the epic pass. Wherever you go, buy tickets in advance. And if you want to stick to the Vail Resorts (Vail, BC, Breck, keystone) you'll have plenty to explore in 10 days. You can spend days in Vail and still find fun stuff. Bc is underrated but very fun and definitely worth a couple days. If you're up to it, check out the World Cup downhill golden eagle and stone creek chutes. Only do the stone creek chutes if you're very confident in your abilities. I don't know a lot about Breck or keystone but Breck is worth a visit. Also don't say bowls/backcountry. Those are 2 very different things and you shouldn't go into the backcountry unless you have training, equipment, and a guide.
post #3 of 27
Vail
BC
Smowmass
Aspen
Highland Bowl
Telluride
Silverton
Wolf Creek
Crested Butte
Monarch
post #4 of 27

It is very cold in January and sometimes the snow depth isn't so great but the quality of snow is good.  This year is looking to be above average.  Since you don't mention cost I assume you know the lift tickets for 10 days will run you about a grand, you are therefore loaded, and money is no object.  Ergo, spend 2 days in Vail and then go to Aspen.

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgiblin415 View Post

If you're going for 10 days, do you already have a pass? I believe you can no longer buy the epic pass. Wherever you go, buy tickets in advance. And if you want to stick to the Vail Resorts (Vail, BC, Breck, keystone) you'll have plenty to explore in 10 days. You can spend days in Vail and still find fun stuff. Bc is underrated but very fun and definitely worth a couple days. If you're up to it, check out the World Cup downhill golden eagle and stone creek chutes. Only do the stone creek chutes if you're very confident in your abilities. I don't know a lot about Breck or keystone but Breck is worth a visit. Also don't say bowls/backcountry. Those are 2 very different things and you shouldn't go into the backcountry unless you have training, equipment, and a guide.

Thanks for the tips. Apologize for the note on backcountry...I'm not looking for backcountry skiing this winter. All I meant to say with that is that Ive been backcountry skiing before (Canadian Rockies) and that I feel comfortable skiing the backcountry, in case that meant anything as far as requesting mountains went.

Thanks again, cheers
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevescho View Post

It is very cold in January and sometimes the snow depth isn't so great but the quality of snow is good.  This year is looking to be above average.  Since you don't mention cost I assume you know the lift tickets for 10 days will run you about a grand, you are therefore loaded, and money is no object.  Ergo, spend 2 days in Vail and then go to Aspen.

I think I mentioned being a student in my original post so maybe that tells you a bit about my financial position/income?
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jk12821 View Post


I think I mentioned being a student in my original post so maybe that tells you a bit about my financial position/income?

 

Spend some quality time at Wolf Creek.

 

We have gotten 180" of snow so far this year and have a 76" base. We have been 100% open since the first week of November and the snow coverage has been some of the best in memory (in the eyes of most, even beating 2011 when the ski area opened October 8). 

 

We have a full weather pattern heading into the beginning of January, so it will only get better.

 

Lift tickets run $65, but check out the following $43 days- several in January. "Locals Days" mean a discounted ticket to everyone that shows up. 

 

 

Of the 1600 acres at Wolf, 1000 acres is the Alberta area with no cut runs. The off piste skiing here is fabulous, and the lack of powder competition is among the best in the West. 

post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jk12821 View Post

I think I mentioned being a student in my original post so maybe that tells you a bit about my financial position/income?

A true student doesn't decided on a whim to do a 10 day CO trip. Also if your gear is at Vail it seems you have some type of connection to there... which equals $$$ in most people's books.
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post


A true student doesn't decided on a whim to do a 10 day CO trip. Also if your gear is at Vail it seems you have some type of connection to there... which equals $$$ in most people's books.

 

For Christ's sake. Really?

 

Instead of offering this guy advice, we need to pass judgement on whether he is a "true student?" 


Edited by anachronism - 12/21/15 at 9:03am
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post


A true student doesn't decided on a whim to do a 10 day CO trip. Also if your gear is at Vail it seems you have some type of connection to there... which equals $$$ in most people's books.


Who cares? what does that have to do with his question?

 

OP if your willing to do quite a bit of driving Shredhead put together a pretty good list together.

 

Wolf Creek is one of my favorites but it's remote with not much in the way of nightlife if your looking for that.

 

Can you give us more info on the type of terrain you prefer?

post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Vail
BC
Smowmass
Aspen
Highland Bowl
Telluride
Silverton
Wolf Creek
Crested Butte
Monarch

Doesn't Breckenridge have some of the steepest in-bounds terrain in the state off of Imperial? Don't you think that Breck has better terrain than Vail/BC/Snowmass?  Not trying to be contrary, just want to get your perspective on this as I am much more knowledgeable about Utah skiing than Colorado.

post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post
 


Who cares? what does that have to do with his question?

 

OP if your willing to do quite a bit of driving Shredhead put together a pretty good list together.

 

Wolf Creek is one of my favorites but it's remote with not much in the way of nightlife if your looking for that.

 

Can you give us more info on the type of terrain you prefer?

 

If one followed Shredheads list, they would get a pretty good sample of what Colorado skiing is about, both the big and little areas.

 

I think my list would be:

 

Snowmass
Aspen
Highland Bowl
Telluride

Winter Park

Crested Butte

____________

Silverton

Arapahoe Basin

Loveland
Wolf Creek
Monarch

Sunlight

 

My list removes Vail and BC- I'm um, not a fan. Another visible omission is Steamboat, which personally underwhelms me by a great deal. Copper Mountain is also missing, but i have to draw the line somewhere or I am including the whole state.

 

The top half of the list is resorts loosely ordered by ticket prices. The lower half is ski areas with little or no resort development, also loosely grouped by lift ticket prices. Silverton is a much different experience as this time of year it is a guided experience much more in line with cat skiing (with more hiking), and the guided cost of $99-149 is more in line with tickets in the top resort list. Expect to get in much less skiing there but with hopefully superior snow conditions.

 

I think you can make a strong argument for all of these.

 

For a budget trip, lodging is pretty cheap in Winter Park, and cheap in the Idaho springs and Georgetown areas. Loveland tickets are less than A-Basin. I think a good survey trip focused on cost and good skiing would be Winter Park to Loveland to Monarch to either Wolf or CB or possibly both. Add Vail into the mix if you must. Driving is a few hours between the ski areas, with a longer drive to get back to DIA assuming that is where you are flying in/out.

 

Or, You could do Vail, Aspen areas, Sunlight, and drive a longer distance down to Telluride and Silverton, coupled with a LONG drive back to DIA. 

post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marathoner View Post
 

Doesn't Breckenridge have some of the steepest in-bounds terrain in the state off of Imperial? 

 

.... 

 

....

 

....

 

....

 

No.

post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

For Christ's sake. Really?

Instead of offering this guy advice, we need to pass judgement on whether he is a "true student?" 

The point is, if the OP is the starving student they claim to be, there's no way they could afford the lift tix... let alone lodging and food at the CO mega-resorts. In that case it's a waste of everyone's time to plan these grandiose ski tours. However, we could probably whip something together that's a little friendlier on the wallet (like a week at WC perhaps). But if he is loaded, which he likely is, the ski tours suggested here may make sense.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post

The point is, if the OP is the starving student they claim to be, there's no way they could afford the lift tix... let alone lodging and food at the CO mega-resorts. In that case it's a waste of everyone's time to plan these grandiose ski tours. However, we could probably whip something together that's a little friendlier on the wallet (like a week at WC perhaps). But if he is loaded, which he likely is, the ski tours suggested here may make sense.

I fail to see how having friends/connections equates to loaded. First his "connections" could simply be someone that works at the resort and second just knowing someone well off doesn't make you well off as well. I used to know a guy that made high 6 figures, my income didn't magically double so I was also making lots of money. Maybe OP is planning on sleeping in his car and eating ramen off a camp stove. Not to mention there is a vast array of people between starving student and loaded. Your assumption is ridiculous
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marathoner View Post

Doesn't Breckenridge have some of the steepest in-bounds terrain in the state off of Imperial? Don't you think that Breck has better terrain than Vail/BC/Snowmass?  Not trying to be contrary, just want to get your perspective on this as I am much more knowledgeable about Utah skiing than Colorado.

I don't know about steepest in the state but they do have some great terrain. I love Breck, learned to ski there, but it's a mountain that you have to know how to get around or you can easily spend your day traversing and skiing mediocre terrain. For someone that wants to do a tour of a bunch of resorts, I would recommend skipping it.
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post


I fail to see how having friends/connections equates to loaded. First his "connections" could simply be someone that works at the resort and second just knowing someone well off doesn't make you well off as well. I used to know a guy that made high 6 figures, my income didn't magically double so I was also making lots of money. Maybe OP is planning on sleeping in his car and eating ramen off a camp stove. Not to mention there is a vast array of people between starving student and loaded. Your assumption is ridiculous

 

My brother is a ski bum in Snowmass Village. Quite a few of my Aspen days over the years were arranged around sleeping on his nasty floor or in his broken recliner. They also included either free lift tickets or just him shepherding me onto a lift that one of his buddies was working to get me on the mountain sans ticket.

 

I've also had plenty of ski trips that required I stop by him first to pick up a pair of skis he scored for me. I've also taken all kinds of ski trips that involved me sleeping out of my car, or more recently involved me hauling a 40 year old camp trailer I spent a grand total of $350 on around. 

 

It is super douchey to take a thread in this direction.

post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post


I don't know about steepest in the state but they do have some great terrain. I love Breck, learned to ski there, but it's a mountain that you have to know how to get around or you can easily spend your day traversing and skiing mediocre terrain. For someone that wants to do a tour of a bunch of resorts, I would recommend skipping it.

 

Said more judiciously than myself. 

 

Breck's Alpine terrain doesn't at all warrant mention when it comes to "best in the state." The alpine expansions over the years have taken Breck from a ski area that really didn't have any legitimate steeps and arguably zero expert terrain to a mountain that has some.

 

It fares well in comparison to its Summit County neighbors. It does not compare well to the remainder of the state (Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Telluride, Crested Butte, Silverton).

 

It is a perfectly reasonable conclusion to skip Breck, and really, if you are looking for some of the best that Colorado can offer in the advanced/expert category, just skip Summit County altogether. That's not to say that they aren't worth visiting, but crowds, snow, terrain, and cost are all better outside the county than inside. 

 

If the OP is already getting further out from the airport than Summit, I would recommend the OP advantage of that and get away from the crowds.


Edited by anachronism - 12/21/15 at 11:38am
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

Said more judiciously than myself. 

Breck's Alpine terrain doesn't at all warrant mention when it comes to "best in the state." The alpine expansions over the years have taken Breck from a ski area that really didn't have any legitimate steeps and arguably zero expert terrain to a mountain that has some.

It fares well in comparison to its Summit County neighbors. It does not compare well to the remainder of the state (Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, Telluride, Crested Butte, Silverton).

It is a perfectly reasonable comclusion to skip Breck, and really, if you are looking for some of the best that Colorado can offer in the advanced/expert category, just skip Summit County altogether. That's not to say that they aren't worth visiting, but crowds, snow, terrain, and cost are all better outside the county than inside. 

If the OP is already getting further out from the airport than Summit, I would recommend the OP advantage of that and get away from the crowds.

OK, this is useful context. I've skied Breckenridge and thought it was pretty good but not great. But there were numerous historical posts on this site which stated how steep the chutes were and how the alpine terrain was misjudged by many.
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

 

For Christ's sake. Really?

 

Instead of offering this guy advice, we need to pass judgement on whether he is a "true student?" 


To be fair, the OP subsequently mentions that he added the point about being a student to give an idea of his financial situation. Joe's points suggest that his financial situation is not exactly the stereotypical "poor, overworked college student." Which is fine, but if you want suggestions based on finances, just come out and say what they are instead of vaguely alluding to it with contradicting information. Calling him "super douchey" is flat out over the top and rather ironic. 

 

Anyway ... 

 

If I were doing this trip, I'd get as far away from the I-70 corridor as I could. Do what you gotta do in Vail, then dive south/west to Aspen, Telluride, Silverton, Crested Butte, etc. That's conditions permitting, of course, if the snow is up at I-70 and not farther south, I'd stay there.   

 

I'd personally skip the smaller names like Monarch and Wolf Creek, not because they're not worthwhile, but because 10 days is rather short for an "ultimate CO ski vacation" and I'd be more interested in sampling some of the best of the best. Again, conditions being equal or in favor of that choice. 

post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post   

 

I'd personally skip the smaller names like Monarch and Wolf Creek, not because they're not worthwhile, but because 10 days is rather short for an "ultimate CO ski vacation" and I'd be more interested in sampling some of the best of the best. Again, conditions being equal or in favor of that choice. 

 

 

And surely some would consider all day untracked powder access (and into the next several days in several cases) as the "best of the best"- which is what several of the smaller resorts on the list offer that the larger ones do not- assuming a storm hits. 

 

While it is definitely worth doing your homework as most of the smaller resorts cater to a much narrower ski experience than the big ones, there is value in just about all of them, to the right skier.

 

I note @Kase-1 has made a few trips from the NYC area out to Colorado, hitting (IIRC) Winter Park, Steamboat, and Wolf. He hit up Wolf in one of the nastiest dry spells in a dry year- and I was warning him away. This is his trip report. I think he found it worthwhile. 

 

Even the smaller ski areas in Colorado are as large or larger than most places East of the Front Range.

 

The smallest ski areas mentioned in this thread are

Aspen- 673 acres

Sunlight- 680 acres

Monarch 800 acres

Arapahoe Basin 960 acres. 

 

Everything else is over 1000 acres, and in many cases, well over.

 

We are agreed about getting off of I-70, and if the snow falls, a trip that includes pretty much any combo of Aspen, Telluride, Crested Butte, Silverton as @JoeUT mentions is a solid plan- but I disagree on giving the little places a pass. It always used to amaze me when I'd find Crested Butte locals riding the lifts at Monarch on a powder day (that dropped comparable amounts at both), because they liked not competing for snow.

post #22 of 27

Well, you don't go to Aspen just to ski Aspen.

 

I wouldn't concern myself with acreage when touring multiple resorts, but what I don't like about those smaller resorts is their vert: 

 

Sunlight- 2,010 feet 

Monarch 1,162 feet 

Wolf Creek  1,604 feet

 

Kinda meh for a once-in-a-lifetime CO ski safari, but that's me. I'm sure if I lived there, I'd ride them, but they wouldn't be first on my list for a relatively short multi-resort tour. 

 

But we've each given the OP some valid things to think about, as has everyone, so now it's up to him. 

post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post
 

Well, you don't go to Aspen just to ski Aspen.

 

I wouldn't concern myself with acreage when touring multiple resorts, but what I don't like about those smaller resorts is their vert: 

 

Sunlight- 2,010 feet 

Monarch 1,162 feet 

Wolf Creek  1,604 feet

 

Kinda meh for a once-in-a-lifetime CO ski safari, but that's me. I'm sure if I lived there, I'd ride them, but they wouldn't be first on my list for a relatively short multi-resort tour. 

 

But we've each given the OP some valid things to think about, as has everyone, so now it's up to him. 

 

No, you don't got to Aspen just to ski Aspen, but it is a good enough ski area in its own right that plenty of people who live in the valley rarely sample the other 4000 acres of skiing in the immediate vicinity.

 

I do believe in most respects vertical is a totally overrated stat- because:

1. Most lift installations don't run for much more than 1500-2000 feet.

2. Few resorts have a consistent terrain choice for more than a few thousand feet-especially when it comes to expert terrain. The handful of ones that do (thinking  Snowbird, CB, Jackson, Telluride) deserve the accolades, but most major resorts with big verts are some degree of Steep at the top, groomer zoomer intermediate in the middle, and flat down below. The result is that a most resorts, few people ever ski top to bottom, and if they do, it is to get off the mountain or to say they did it. 

 

That said, Monarch is really short.

Wolf is also overselling their stat because the measurement is from the top of the hike-to terrain on Alberta Peak. Top to bottom of lift service is somewhere between 1300 and 1400, and that is off of two different lifts (although easy to lap at least). I wouldn't mind more, but it has always felt like enough to me- not markedly shorter than all of the other 1500 vert installation lifts that litter ski country. 

Sunlight's bigger problem than the lack of vert is that their main lift runs 1800 of it, and takes a bit over 20 minutes- and its best terrain requires riding both that one and the one they run at a slow rope speed to serve as their bunny hill. That is not a mountain that skis short, IMO.

 

All of these can be expected to offer up at least a day of untracked goods staring you in the face. Of the three discussed:

1. Sunlight offers the best terrain, worst lifts, and worst snow (snow quantity is mediocre, so catching a good powder day is much tougher).

2. Monarch offers the worst vert, decent (short terrain), pretty good amounts of snow, and decent lifts

3. Wolf offers by far the best snow in Colorado, the best lifts of the three (in both layout and existence of high speed lifts), worst terrain (good short steeps but very, very benchy) exceptional tree skiing, and untracked powder available pretty much any day of the year- dependent on your willingness to hike for it and your definition of "powder" when it runs more than a week after a storm. 

post #24 of 27

I find it odd someone asking about recommendations about an "ultimate"  ski trip, and not mentioning what type of budget one has for the trip?  Maybe the budget is  $25,000 or maybe it's $1000, so if you are asking for recommendations, your budget matters, so please be specific on what funds you have available for a trip. 

 

I make a hell of a lot more than a graduate student, and with every single trip I've ever planned in my life, skier or otherwise, the

budget for the trip is one of the most basic questions that comes to mind.

 

So my recommendation is to head over to Silverton.  It seems about 3 days are going to be at Vail, and BC, so figure that

leaves you with 5 days of additional skiing (minus travel), so for those 5 days, you're looking at $5,000K plus for the 5 more days of heli-skiing because if one is talking about "ultimate trips" and have no budget restrictions, then why would you go skiing a normal resort(s).

post #25 of 27

Quote A + Quote B don't compute.  How can one ask - in their first post on this website - for recc's on a 10 day ski trip between semesters plus stuff on Vail and backcountry adventure, and then be taken aback from a light-hearted remark about loadedness.  Perhaps a troll of some kind, who skied 3X at Boston Mills on glare ice, just trying to drum up debate; which he did I guess.  Or maybe doesn't even ski or go to school anywhere.  Who knows?  Anyway, I wouldn't do any more than 3 resorts in 10 days.  More time to ski, less driving - which isn't always a pleasure in winter to say the least.

 

 

Quote A:
Originally Posted by jk12821 View Post
 

I just finished my fall session in grad school and decided that a 10 day ski trip after new years sounds like a great way to spend a part of my break.  I haven't been to many resorts out west, so I'm interested in hearing what you guys have to say.  I'm pretty much unrestricted and looking to hit at least 2 different mountains.  The one limitation is that I have to start my trip in Vail, CO.  So the question is - where would you go?  I've only skied Vail (it's where my gear is) and BC so I'll likely spend a day or two there.  My skill level is somewhere between advanced and expert, if that makes any sense, and I love to adventure into the bowls/backcountry.

 

Thanks in advance for any recommendations!!

 

 

Quote B:
Originally Posted by jk12821 View Post


I think I mentioned being a student in my original post so maybe that tells you a bit about my financial position/income?
post #26 of 27

I agree that given you timeframe, you probably don't want more that 3, maybe 4 areas in addition to Vail/BC, which it sounds like are a given. My priorities:

 

-Telluride

-Aspen (you'll probably want 2-3 days here, spanning Snowmass, Ajax and Highlands)

-Crested Butte - depending on snow volume

-Wolf Creek

 

If you can throw in another day in closer to Denver, A-Basin. 

post #27 of 27

-Telluride

-Crested Butte

-A-Basin

-Loveland

-Silverton

-Aspen mountains

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