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Sun Peaks or ASPEN in mid January?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

We are family of four looking to ski in North America in mid January 2017 for first time.  Two adult skiers and two teenage snowboarders aged 14 and 16.  We are all competent skiers/snowboarders.

 

At this stage we are tossing up between Sun Peaks in Canada and ASPEN in Colorado.

 

What would people recommend.  Things we want to know are comparative snow conditions, weather in January, cost - however we do have access to half price lift tickets in ASPEN and the "whole" resort experience.    We obviously want this to a trip of a life time.  We intend being at the resort for about 10/11 days.

 

We could also convinced of a better alternative if one exists.

post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by robandhelen View Post
 

We are family of four looking to ski in North America in mid January 2017 for first time.  Two adult skiers and two teenage snowboarders aged 14 and 16.  We are all competent skiers/snowboarders.

 

At this stage we are tossing up between Sun Peaks in Canada and ASPEN in Colorado.

 

What would people recommend.  Things we want to know are comparative snow conditions, weather in January, cost - however we do have access to half price lift tickets in ASPEN and the "whole" resort experience.    We obviously want this to a trip of a life time.  We intend being at the resort for about 10/11 days.

 

We could also convinced of a better alternative if one exists.


Welcome to EpicSki!  Sounds like you may be flying from Australia?  With the Mountain Collective Pass based on Thredbo?  Am I right?

 

Since Aspen has four mountains, you would certainly have a good time there for 10/11 days.  The EpicSki Gathering was at Aspen in early Feb and was very well attended (over 70 people).  The ability level ranged from intermediate to expert, with most people being advanced.

 

As for Sun Peaks, let's see what @DanoT has to say.  He's the EpicSki Ambassador for Sun Peaks.  He attended the Aspen Gathering and has also skied at several other Mountain Collective destinations.  Have you found his Unofficial Guide?

post #3 of 20

Kind of an apples or oranges type of question.  I'm sure you'd have fun at either.

 

 

Aspen's a much larger resort area. 

If you book your vacation towards the later part of January, your teenage snowboarders will think they've died and gone to X Games heaven.

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

Flying from New Zealand  but on the Mountain Collective Pass.  Coronet Peak and The Remarkables have just joined.

post #5 of 20

I have never been to Sun Peaks but have heard good things.  

 

Purely from an economic perspective and if you will have Mountain Collective Passes you may want to consider Whistler over Sun Peaks as a Canadian option.  Also, Sun Valley, Jackson and Snowbird/Alta are all within a 5 hour drive from each other if you would like to try a number of areas and are all Mountain Collective areas.  Aspen is about an 8-9 hour drive from Snowbird/Alta. 

 

Having skied Coronet, I would tend to steer you to something that is on the opposite end of the spectrum from NZ skiing.  Accordingly, I would suggest the big resort experience offered by any of the Mountain Collective resorts referenced above.  If you are concerned about being overwhelmed, Aspen, Sun Valley, and Jackson (except on a powder day) are still pretty low-key experiences. 

post #6 of 20

Aspen and Jackson are both great towns with things to do other than ski.  For scenery, I think the Tetons in Jackson are hard to beat, though the ski resort village is a ways out of the town of Jackson.  You could also go to Yellowstone National Park from Jackson, which would definitely add to the memories on a once in a lifetime trip.  Aspen has four separate world class ski areas on one pass, with varying terrain for everyone and a beautiful town.  Jackson is kind of limited in beginner terrain, but has great advanced and upper level intermediate.  Aspen is a very expensive place to vacation, definitely a playground of the uber rich, but some value can be found, most likely at Snowmass.  Jackson isn't cheap either, but I suspect you could get reasonable accommodations.  Never been to Sun Peaks, so can't comment.  I know Canada is a value for Americans now with the exchange rate.  Not sure what the exchange rate is for New Zealand against the US and Canadian dollars. 

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

New Zealand exchange rate at present is about 91 cents Canadian and 66 cent USA for our dollar.

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by robandhelen View Post
 

New Zealand exchange rate at present is about 91 cents Canadian and 66 cent USA for our dollar.

D'oh!

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SB77 View Post
 

I have never been to Sun Peaks but have heard good things.  

 

Purely from an economic perspective and if you will have Mountain Collective Passes you may want to consider Whistler over Sun Peaks as a Canadian option.  Also, Sun Valley, Jackson and Snowbird/Alta are all within a 5 hour drive from each other if you would like to try a number of areas and are all Mountain Collective areas.  Aspen is about an 8-9 hour drive from Snowbird/Alta. 

 

Having skied Coronet, I would tend to steer you to something that is on the opposite end of the spectrum from NZ skiing.  Accordingly, I would suggest the big resort experience offered by any of the Mountain Collective resorts referenced above.  If you are concerned about being overwhelmed, Aspen, Sun Valley, and Jackson (except on a powder day) are still pretty low-key experiences. 


The drive from SLC to Sun Valley is 4 hours in good weather.  JH is more like 5.5-6.0 hours.  Aspen is 6.5-7.0 with only a very short meal stop.  Have hit all three after flying into SLC in the last few years because of the MCP.  Of course, if it's snowing then the drive would be a different story.

 

For a family coming from NZ, probably only worth driving to one place to make better use of the MCP before/after skiing for a few days at Alta/Snowbird.  JH and Aspen have airports close enough that no car is required while staying there on a ski vacation.  So does Sun Valley, but while I enjoyed it, makes more sense to go to the larger resorts.

post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ADKS View Post
 

Jackson is kind of limited in beginner terrain 

 

Understatement of the Year!

 

I've never been to Sun Peaks, but I agree with @SHREDHEAD that this is an apples and oranges type of comparison.  Aspen to me is the absolute best ski area at combining high-quality terrain (for all abilities!), scenery, and no crowds.  If those are important criteria for you, then Aspen is just about perfect.  While my trips to Aspen have always occurred after February 1st, I wouldn't think twice about going in mid-January as Snowmass, Highlands, and Aspen Mountain have elevation (almost a mile higher than Sun Peaks, incidentally...) and an uncanny ability to ski great on even low bases.

 

Now about those crowds I was telling you about.  Here are a few pictures I took at Aspen last month:

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a ridiculously long and highly detailed report of my trip there last month: http://www.epicski.com/t/145306/2016-aspen-gathering-trip-report/120#post_1975940

 

If you're coming to North America for a "trip of a lifetime", Aspen is an excellent choice.

post #11 of 20

Ironically Snowmass and Sun Peaks have a lot in common but are also vastly different.

 

Both are known for long wide intermediate runs, sunshine, and an absence of hard charging new schoolers.

 

Both have great variety and some pretty decent black diamond skiing.

 

Both are huge. Snowmass has over 4400 vertical feet and Sun Peaks has 4270 skiable acres, tied with Lake Louise as the second largest in Canada. Snowmass is not crowded but by comparison, Sun Peaks is even less crowded....almost empty. In fact after the Xmas season is over the 325,000 annual skier visits on 4270 acres means that it is literally "acres per skier", not skiers per acre..

 

However, It is hard to beat the 4 mountains of Aspen for variety and size.

 

For more info on Sun Peaks, click on my unofficial guide below. The guide is overdue for and upgrade with the biggest changes over the past few years being the on going cutting of black diamond runs on West Morrisey and the Gil's Hill hike-to area is still hike-to but is now in bounds.

 

IMO if costs are not a major consideration, then Aspen wins out. But the depressed Canadian dollar makes skiing in Canada a lot more affordable than US resorts with only gasoline (due to very high gas tax) being more expensive in Canada than the USA. Food, accommodation, lift tickets and ski equipment are all cheaper in Canada than the US.

 

A half price lift ticket for Aspen is $70US and is thus more expensive than a full price Sun Peaks day ticket at $90.30CDN, tax included.

 

An adult season pass for SP if purchased last May or June was $749CDN + tax and is equal to the price of about 9 days of lift tickets. It allows 50% off day tickets at Whistler and 25% off lift tickets at many other Western Canada resorts.

 

One other consideration for skiing in Canada is that the lower elevation means that there will be no need to get acclimatized to high altitude.

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 


If we skied at Aspen, how big an issue would altitude be?  Do many people get altitude sickness or do you just drink lots on the way and take it easy for the first day?

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by robandhelen View Post
 


do you just drink lots on the way and take it easy for the first day?

 

That's how I do it.  Even then, I sometimes find myself struggling to sleep through the night as I wake up dried out and parched. 

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by robandhelen View Post
 


If we skied at Aspen, how big an issue would altitude be?  Do many people get altitude sickness or do you just drink lots on the way and take it easy for the first day?


Very hard to predict how an individual will react.  But Aspen is not as high as some other places in Colorado.  Also depends on whether you stay slopeside at Snowmass or farther "down valley" in Basalt or Carbondale, which is 1000-2000 ft lower.  Has your family slept at over 8000 ft before?  Over 9000 ft?

 

Here's a good introduction to altitude adjustment issues.

 

http://www.epicski.com/a/altitude-adaptation-and-acute-mountain-sickness

post #15 of 20
Spend a night or two in Glenwood Springs before heading to Aspen/Snowmass. Lower altitude, great hot springs and a chance to recover from travel and get used to the altitude.

Basalt and Carbondale will add an hour commute to your ski day plus you lose the opportunity to go back to the condo for lunch, take advantage of the in town activities and the convenience of being close to the hill.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier31 View Post

Spend a night or two in Glenwood Springs before heading to Aspen/Snowmass. Lower altitude, great hot springs and a chance to recover from travel and get used to the altitude.

That's good advice if they drive up from Denver.

But the beauty of Aspen, over most other places, is the ease of air access and not needing a car once you are here.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

That's good advice if they drive up from Denver.

But the beauty of Aspen, over most other places, is the ease of air access and not needing a car once you are here.

Agree. I would fly directly to Aspen but if people are worried about altitude, this is a solution. They could fly to Aspen and get a car for the couple of days in Glenwood.
post #18 of 20

Sun Peaks is nice, but Aspen is an "experience".  So up to you which is of more value to you.

 

For a lifetime type trip, I'd suggest Aspen might be more inline with that.  On the Canadian side I prefer Whistler/Blackhome over Sun Peaks if I was going for a lifetime type trip as well.

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by hbear View Post
 

Sun Peaks is nice, but Aspen is an "experience".  So up to you which is of more value to you.

 

For a lifetime type trip, I'd suggest Aspen might be more inline with that.  On the Canadian side I prefer Whistler/Blackhome over Sun Peaks if I was going for a lifetime type trip as well.

 

^^Agreed. For North America both Whistler and Aspen are bucket list places where as Sun Peaks is more of a get away from the crowds, but with ski resort amenities.

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 

Want to thank you all for your advice.  We have decided to go for the Canadian option and we are going to go Sun Peaks and then move on to Silver Star.  My wife and I have been to Whistler before in the summer so thought it would be great to go somewhere we have never been before.  Aspen had great appeal but we would be flying direct from New Zealand which could increase the chances of getting wacked by the altitude - besides it will be cheaper to feed our two teenage sons in Canada.  Once again thank you for your help and bring on the snow in 2017.

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