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Please Help: Blue Trails Comparison between Alta and Keystone [also Loveland lesson questions]

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hello skiers and happy new year!

 

After joining the forum for a while and getting a lot of useful information from EpicSki, here is my first thread. We are heading to Breckenridge this MLK weekend. If we had the choice, we wouldn't go during this busy time and we understand it's going to be super crowded. But for us from mid Michigan, we opt to deal with the crowd this time rather than no skiing out West at all. We have a place to stay at the base of Peak 9 within 5-minute walking to the lift. 

 

Here is where I need help:

 

My boyfriend is an advanced intermediate (blue/black and some easy moguls) and I am an advanced beginner (green and easy blue). We first plan to ski Breck both Saturday 16 and Sunday 17. (We will ski Loveland Friday 15 and I'm considering taking a lesson.) However, we have another group of friends joining. They are 3 intermediate snowboarders and 1 advanced intermediate skier who got a place to stay near Keystone. They are going to ski Keystone on Saturday because they are landing in Denver that morning. Since Keystone offers night skiing, they can have a longer day on the slopes because they will be starting late that day. Then on Sunday, they will come join us in Breck.

 

Now our friends are trying to convince us to join them in Keystone on Saturday and we can still ski Breck on Sunday. We are not sure if it's a good idea for me since we have heard Keystone's blue trails are harder than Breck's. We have skied Breck (the blues on Peak 9 and 7 without problems) and Alta before. Alta's blues were harder for me. Here are the blue trails that I could handle at Alta:

 

- All the blue trails from Sugarloaf lift

- Upper Big Dipper, Big Dipper, and Sleepy Hollow from Supreme lift

- Mambo, Meadow, Corkscrew from Collins lift <-- these blues were my limit as I found them very difficult but still manageable 

 

None of us have been to Keystone, so we don't know how difficult are the blue runs there especially those on North Peak and The Outback. I have read that Dercum Mountain is going to be very crowded on that particular weekend (so as Breck but I know that I can handle most blues at Breck), so if we are going to Keystone we will prefer to stick to North Peak or The Outback areas. The question is I do not know if I'm good enough to handle those blues??? 

 

So for those of you who have been to Alta and Keystone, could you please help me and give me some comparisons of their blue trails?

 

- Are the blues at Alta (the runs named above) and Keystone (from North Peak and The Outback) about the same level of difficulties?

- Since I am an advanced beginner, should I just stick to Breck both days of the MLK weekend? This is because as an advanced beginner I move slower so it takes longer to explore the mountain. My boyfriend and I often feel that we need at least 2 days to get ski at one resort/mountain to really get to know it based on my level and pace. Again, I haven't been to Keystone but skied Breck one day last season. We felt we didn't get to know Breck enoughl with just one day last time. 

 

- Please don't tell us to take the trip another time because the trip is booked and we cannot get off work any other time. Please give us some suggestions based on the things that are available for us. 

 

- On a separate point, as I'm considering taking a private lesson at Loveland, does anyone have suggestions about a good instructor for my level? Can I request an instructor? Or should I do a group lesson instead? This past Christmas, I took 2 very good Adult Max-4 group lessons at Deer Valley. The instructors I got both days were excellent, paid equivalent attention to everyone and the pace to move us forward was just right. My boyfriend also took the advanced-level Max-4 group lesson and said the same thing about his instructor even though he was the only one in the group. A few days later I took a 2-hour private lesson at Atla. I only told them my level and they just matched the instructor for me. The instructor herself was a very nice lady but in terms of teaching and the overall quality of this private lesson, it was not as good as the group lessons I received at Deer Valley. I did not learn anything new or helpful even though I tried to explain clearly to her what I wanted to improve. I'm not blaming it all on the instructor, it could just be her style or I still didn't explain her enough what was my goal. But at Deer Valley, it's as if they have a checklist of what to do in the lesson and they proceed to make sure we cover everything (based on students' requests too). So it felt very detailed and very thorough. So long story short, I just don't want to end up in the same situation at Loveland as I had at Alta. Thus, any recommendation about how to pick a private instructor at Loveland will also be highly appreciated.   

 

Thank you so much in advance everyone!

:)

-Hazel

 

Moderator note: info added to thread title

post #2 of 13

If you've skied blue runs at Alta I think you can handle any blue run at Keystone - I had a great time on them at both Keystone and Alta last year on two different trips (my 12 year old son skied all of the blue runs at Keystone and the one groomed black run also)

post #3 of 13

I'd say that, in similar conditions, Mambo, Meadows, and Corkscrew at Alta are a bit more challenging than the blue runs on North Peak and The Outback. Note, though, that Keystone won't be grooming all those runs every day... so if you're uncomfortable with moguls, make sure to check the groomed run report or look before you commit to any given run. Night skiing is limited to Dercum Mountain, and I'd say the blue runs there are comparable to those on Alta's Sugarloaf lift--long, twisting runs with fun rollers and chicken hills. My advice is to join your friends at Keystone for the afternoon/evening, and enjoy a slight change of pace.

post #4 of 13

I actually disagree with @New2Utah in that I think the blues at Keystone are STEEPER than most of the runs you mentioned that you are familiar with at Alta.  As an advanced intermediate, I have a unique perspective on this as most people don't realize how Keystone is a great area for intermediates and advanced intermediates, ESPECIALLY North Peak and the Outback.  The blues on the frontside of Keystone (a/k/a Dercum) are pretty tame but do have some challenge as they are usually very busy with lots of skiers.  There is no question that Breckenridge is easier overall than Keystone (and Alta, for that matter).  I would only recommend North Peak and Outback for strong intermediates who can make tight turns if necessary.  Outback also has some amazing glades that intermediates can enjoy with Wildfire and Wolverine being wonderful runs through the trees with a gentle pitch.  North Peak is fairly steep, and definitely steeper than Mambo.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 


@iluvmymantra - Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. I appreciate it.

 

@New2Utah - Thank you very much for your detailed input. I appreciate it and will keep our options in mind.

 

@Lofcaudio - I also appreciate your analysis and different perspectives. So thank you!

 

 

We will have to finalize our decisions in a few days to get the cheaper lift tickets. If anyone has more insights to share, please kindly do. 

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelnuss View Post
 

Hello skiers and happy new year!

 

After joining the forum for a while and getting a lot of useful information from EpicSki, here is my first thread. We are heading to Breckenridge this MLK weekend. If we had the choice, we wouldn't go during this busy time and we understand it's going to be super crowded. But for us from mid Michigan, we opt to deal with the crowd this time rather than no skiing out West at all. We have a place to stay at the base of Peak 9 within 5-minute walking to the lift. 

 

[snip]

 

- On a separate point, as I'm considering taking a private lesson at Loveland, does anyone have suggestions about a good instructor for my level? Can I request an instructor? Or should I do a group lesson instead? This past Christmas, I took 2 very good Adult Max-4 group lessons at Deer Valley. The instructors I got both days were excellent, paid equivalent attention to everyone and the pace to move us forward was just right. My boyfriend also took the advanced-level Max-4 group lesson and said the same thing about his instructor even though he was the only one in the group. A few days later I took a 2-hour private lesson at Atla. I only told them my level and they just matched the instructor for me. The instructor herself was a very nice lady but in terms of teaching and the overall quality of this private lesson, it was not as good as the group lessons I received at Deer Valley. I did not learn anything new or helpful even though I tried to explain clearly to her what I wanted to improve. I'm not blaming it all on the instructor, it could just be her style or I still didn't explain her enough what was my goal. But at Deer Valley, it's as if they have a checklist of what to do in the lesson and they proceed to make sure we cover everything (based on students' requests too). So it felt very detailed and very thorough. So long story short, I just don't want to end up in the same situation at Loveland as I had at Alta. Thus, any recommendation about how to pick a private instructor at Loveland will also be highly appreciated.   

 

Thank you so much in advance everyone!

:)

-Hazel

Welcome to EpicSki!  Can't help with the questions about Colorado, but have a few general comments about lessons for relatively new skiers.  If you don't get a recommendation for a particular instructor, can be good ask for a PSIA Level 3 instructor when booking the lesson.  Typically, a Level 3 instructor has 15+ years of experience.  Also Level 2 instructors with equivalent experience who could be just as good.  Fair to say for a private lesson, you want the most experienced instructor available.  But asking for the "best available" is not the most effective approach.

 

Did you say anything to the Alta Ski School after the disappointing lesson?  The general advice is that if you are unsatisfied, it's worth mentioning.  Many ski schools will provide another comp lesson if you explain clearly what happened.  As you said, sometimes the instructor and student are just not the best fit in terms of teaching and learning style.  If you ever want a recommendation for an instructor at Alta, shoot me a PM.  I'm worked with a few Level 3 instructors in recent years, as have a few friends who are intermediates.

post #7 of 13

Here's another thought:  since your stay is fairly brief I would not bother going over to Keystone.  Just stay at Breck and enjoy the convenience.  If your friends arrive Sat morning from sea level and ski until 7 or 8 pm they are going to be pretty wiped out that night and possibly sunday.  You can ski circles around them on sunday at breck :-)

post #8 of 13

Jamesj makes a good point about enjoying the convenience of already being there at Breckenridge.  However, I am wired much differently in that if given the opportunity to check out another major resort, I usually want to do some exploring and see what the other place (Keystone, in this case) has to offer.

 

After mentioning earlier in this thread that I thought Keystone's blues on North Peak and the Outback were steeper than Alta's, I checked out this morning's grooming report at Keystone.  I see that they now rate Starfire as a black run (I've always thought of it as being a very steep blue right down the face of North Peak and was primarily what I was thinking about when I said that North Peak is steeper than Alta's Mambo).  The other blues off of North Peak (Last Alamo, Prospector, Anticipation, Spillway) are of the rolling variety similar to Big Dipper off of Alta's Supreme lift.  They also happen to have fairly lengthy run-outs which advanced skiers hate, but beginners and intermediates enjoy.

 

If you do happen to visit Keystone, one of the ways I would recommend that you get to North Peak and the Outback is by taking the Outpost Gondola from the top of Dercum to the top of North Peak.  This allows you to avoid Mozart, which is a great run but usually very busy and gets slick due to all of the traffic.  You can actually take a look down Mozart as the steepest (and longest) pitch is the part from the top.  If it looks like something you can handle, give it a go.  If not, take the Outpost Gondola over to North Peak and then take Anticipation over to the Outback.  The Outback is not quite as steep as North Peak and very similar in steepness to Mambo, Main Street and the blues serviced by the Collins lift at Alta.

post #9 of 13
I'd say for sure go to keystone. Yes, the blues are mildly steeper than Breckenridge but the runs are so much longer. Also, the steep sections are usually short and easy to handle. You'll actually improve your skiing because the short steep parts on the blues will give you confidence to work up to longer pitches you'll find on black terrain.

Breckenridge's blues are typically around 1200ft vert and not that interesting. The Dercum Mt blues are double that and have turns and twists. Plus the keystone green runs will hold a lot of interest for you.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

@marznc - I have read your posts on numerous threads that helped me prepare for my previous trip to SLC ski areas. Thank you for the tips about Alta ski school and on choosing private lesson instructors. I'll follow that when I make the reservation at Loveland. I didn't go back to Alta ski school to tell them about my private lesson experience. The instructor and I parted way at Alf's restaurant. After that I kept skiing off Sugarloaf and Supreme lifts and the private lesson experience slipped out of my mind until later on that evening back at the hotel. I should have done like you said though. Thank you for your suggestions and for moderating EpicSki which is very useful for a lot of skiers out there. 

 

@Jamesj - It is true what you said. Although one of our friends is a doctor and last time she did the trip similar to this upcoming one (start skiing the morning right after she landed in DEN), but she was totally fine. She said it's because of diamox.... With or without diamox, I would't wanna follow her practice though. I think we will see how much more expensive is Breck and if it's not too bad we'll purchase Breck tickets for both days since they are good at Keystone too. Do you have any experience at either places on MLK day? I'm trying to figure out which one will have less crowd. Or are they about the same madness? Thanks in advance.

 

@Lofcaudio - Thanks again for your detailed analysis. Now I feel better that in case we decide to go to Keystone, there are trails that my limited skills can handle. We will keep your tips about the Outback and North Peak in mind.

 

@JoeSchmoe - I like the idea of having the opportunity to improve my skiing (which is very much needed). Thank you very much for your insights!

 

 

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

@marznc - I have read your posts on numerous threads that helped me prepare for my previous trip to SLC ski areas. Thank you for the tips about Alta ski school and on choosing private lesson instructors. I'll follow that when I make the reservation at Loveland. I didn't go back to Alta ski school to tell them about my private lesson experience. The instructor and I parted way at Alf's restaurant. After that I kept skiing off Sugarloaf and Supreme lifts and the private lesson experience slipped out of my mind until later on that evening back at the hotel. I should have done like you said though. Thank you for your suggestions and for moderating EpicSki which is very useful for a lot of skiers out there. 

Glad to help.

 

I understand about not going back to talk to ski school after the lesson.  The only disappointing semi-private lesson I ever had was at Alta 5-6 years ago before I started reading online ski forums.  I was an intermediate then and had no idea what to say when setting up a private lesson.  Or what to say during a lesson.

 

You may find some useful info here:

http://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-ski-lesson.19817/

post #12 of 13
The greens and easier blue runs at Breck can get near dangerously crowded on busy days. I love skiing the blues and blacks at Breck and as everyone mentioned Keystones blues are more difficult. But I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post
 

I actually disagree with @New2Utah in that I think the blues at Keystone are STEEPER than most of the runs you mentioned that you are familiar with at Alta.  As an advanced intermediate, I have a unique perspective on this as most people don't realize how Keystone is a great area for intermediates and advanced intermediates, ESPECIALLY North Peak and the Outback.  The blues on the frontside of Keystone (a/k/a Dercum) are pretty tame but do have some challenge as they are usually very busy with lots of skiers.  There is no question that Breckenridge is easier overall than Keystone (and Alta, for that matter).  I would only recommend North Peak and Outback for strong intermediates who can make tight turns if necessary.  Outback also has some amazing glades that intermediates can enjoy with Wildfire and Wolverine being wonderful runs through the trees with a gentle pitch.  North Peak is fairly steep, and definitely steeper than Mambo.

I agree with this. Keystone is a fantastic area for an intermediate looking to advance. It has a lot of long, steeper blues with pretty consistent grades, often with optional moguls off to the side, or widely dispersed glades. Plenty of easier terrain, too. 

 

Keystone has its flaws for sure (crowds, often crappy snow by CO standards), but quality and quantity of intermediate terrain is a definite strength. 

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