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Lessons at Aspen (including comment about ski school at Taos)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I just took my family to Taos this past week and had my two youngest children (7 and 11) in ski lessons.  I was mostly impressed with the ski school at Taos and enjoyed how hassle-free it was for the most part.  I did have a negative interaction on one of the days with an instructor who I felt didn't really work with the kids and instead loafed and let the kids learn by skiing on their own.  (That's not why I paid $180 for a lesson!)  Anyway...

 

Next year I'm thinking I'll take the family to Aspen as I once again have purchased the MCP.  My question is this: if I'm going to put my then 8-year old daughter in ski school, would she be more likely to have a good lesson at Snowmass or Buttermilk?

post #2 of 12
What level skiers are your kids? Don't discount the possibility of Aspen Highlands for kids, as well as Buttermilk and Snowmass. if they are at least intermediate skiers. Classes tend to be smaller, and the variety of terrain opportunities at Highlands is extreme. Any of the Aspen areas will take great care of your kids (and you, too!).

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

What level skiers are your kids?

 

I'm primarily concerned with my 8-year old daughter, who is an early beginner.  She spent three days in lessons at Taos and only stayed on the beginner lifts at the bottom.  On Day 3, she did pretty well handling Strawberry Hill which is actually pretty steep at the top for a "bunny slope."  I completely agree with you regarding Aspen Highlands and I actually think she would do better on the green terrain there as it is wide, almost always empty, and has some fun rolling terrain.  However, Park Avenue at the bottom isn't ideal, but I think she would be fine on it.  I do love the idea of smaller groups.

post #4 of 12

@Lofcaudio : did you read this TR by a father of three young kids?  Had a very good experience with the Snowmass ski school.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/133555/snowmass-trip-report-family-with-young-kids-2-27-15-3-8-15

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

I had read it before, but it was good to read again with that perspective in mind.  I do like the sound of the "kid-centric" stuff that Snowmass has and perhaps that would be the appropriate starting place for my youngest who still needs some instruction in order to handle a little more challenging terrain.  We could then ski as a family at Buttermilk and Highlands as well (which would be a blast).

post #6 of 12

Park Ave. at Highlands can be a little congested and is kind of steep for little guys.

If your daughter is a timid skier, I would stick with Buttermilk or Snowmass at first.

If you stay in town, Buttermilk.  If you stay ski in/out at Snowmass, it kind of defeats the purpose to go anywhere else.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm thinking we'll probably end up staying in Basalt and will be driving in (either to Buttermilk/Intercept Lot/Rodeo).

 

Park Avenue congested?  We just got back from Taos.  Have you ever been there and seen the lone green run to the bottom known as White Feather?!?!?  Park Avenue pales in comparison.  Highlands may have limited options in getting down the hill, but it is a treasure trove compared to what Taos has.

 

While I like Snowmass, my limited experience there leads me to believe that even when the mountain feels empty there can be a ton of people on the lower part of the mountain.  I spent a day in February this season lapping the Big Burn lift and there was no one anywhere to be seen on the runs (Dallas Freeway, Sheer Bliss, Whispering Jesse, etc.).  When I mean no one, here is the proof:

 

 

 

When I got to the bottom (Village Express area), I thought I was in Times Square as I felt like I was no longer skiing a line, but just dodging everyone else on the hill.  What a contrast on the same day at the same ski area!

 

Uncrowded conditions and having space to make easy turns is perhaps my number one priority when skiing for myself and also for my kids who are learning.  Snowmass concerns me because I KNOW there are a lot of people who are there who never venture beyond the Village Express area...exactly where the kids are learning.  In contrast, Highlands (other than lower Jerome) is never crowded.

post #8 of 12

For the family, I would start at Buttermilk the first day or two.  Then go to Highlands since that's your favorite.  The instructor who works with your family would be able to make a recommendation after the first day.

 

Can park at Highlands for free with 4 or more in the car.  Also park for free at Two Creeks at Snowmass with a carpool car.  There were quite a few kids meeting up with their instructors at Two Creeks the morning that me and my friends parked there.  Made it feel like the lodge that local families who stay in the condos nearby use, in comparison to all the tourists at the Snowmass Village base.

post #9 of 12
The VX area is crowded in the mornings from 930-1030 when most of the lessons and people are headed up the mountain and in the afternoon at the end of the day. Once your child is able to ski some of the blues (Sneaky's, Dallas, Mick's and Bull Run), Snowmass will be great for your family.
post #10 of 12

If you don't need any of the base facilities at Buttermilk, park at West Buttermilk.  It has very nice ski in/out picnic tables,  right next to the parking lot.

 

The VX area can be crowded, especially at the end of the day.  Ski under the gondola on the Funnel side and it's empty.

post #11 of 12

 " I was mostly impressed with the ski school at Taos and enjoyed how hassle-free it was for the most part.  I did have a negative interaction on one of the days with an instructor who I felt didn't really work with the kids and instead loafed and let the kids learn by skiing on their own." - Lofcaudio

 

These words echo in cyberspace. Your message has been heard by a Children's Instructor at Taos and forwarded to our Director. I am but a minion. First, however, let me apologize for the negative experience. I did not ski last year (double hip replacement surgery following an errant life of bump skiing). In the best of all possible worlds, after a failed ski class experience, you might have spoken to me - in which case you would have determined that Taos Children's Instructors might not be lazy, just insane.

 

May I offer an ounce of perspective? "Rueggli" (sp?) ... the beginner hill named after a long ago employee, has a fascinating triple pitch that allows children the option of launching themselves over or through a decrepit snowfence into either a building or a stream. This is called, in the business, "terrain based learning". Advocates of this approach adopt a more laissez-faire attitude toward classroom management (the strong survive). The "student centred" learning experience (of which you are currently enamoured), stresses instructor use of a hankie ... although Mr. Barnes may quibble on this point.

 

At Taos, focus upon the student is somewhat ancillary to the mission at hand, which is to survive "Rueggli", negotiate "Idiotenhugel", and launch a final assault of "White Feather" The second mentioned slope was subject to rename (Strawberry) sometime in the mid 70's as Vail was peaking along with warm, fuzzy, and flat. It is the first "learning hill" I ever worked on since Mad River Glen, where students attempt the Stem Christiania right beside a slalom race course. The hill is insanely steep for beginners, offering landing zones with buildings (different ones) and a stream (the same one).Terrain Based Learning 1.2.

 

Given this conundrum, your daughter likely slipped through the cracks in our system, which aims at a late morning or early afternoon negotiation of "White Feather", a mile plus trail of considerable challenge. A foible of our Children’s School is that admin will say our curriculum is “student centered” or “skills based” when in actuality every parent and every instructor measures success in the terrain negotiated rather than skills mastered … i.e. “Have you skied West Basin yet? Kachina Peak?”) It sounds as though your daughter succeeded in the “White Feather” rite of passage because of or in spite of her ski school endeavor. She is to be congratulated. I hope we have not lost your faith.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Z Taos View Post
 

May I offer an ounce of perspective? "Rueggli" (sp?) ... the beginner hill named after a long ago employee, has a fascinating triple pitch that allows children the option of launching themselves over or through a decrepit snowfence into either a building or a stream. This is called, in the business, "terrain based learning".

 

 

 

My 7-year old daughter took two days of lessons and after the first day we were able to talk to her instructor and he was able to give us feedback on how she did (Toby was his name and we were impressed with him).  The second day, she was paired with a younger lady (named Krishelle maybe?) and SPENT THE WHOLE DAY on the Rueggli lift (all 70 vertical feet of it).  After lunch, the kids were let loose to ski on their own and just lapped the tiny lift as they desired.  When we talked to the instructor afterwards, she wasn't able to say anything except that our daughter "did fine" (as if we were picking her up from babysitting and she was well-behaved).  She was not able to provide any other feedback as to how she skied and kept talking about how tired the kids got.  We almost wondered if she even did anything remotely like actual ski instruction.  When we asked our daughter about it, she said she just had the kids in the class follow her around in the morning but after lunch she just skied on her own on the Rueggli lift.  For as much as we paid for our lessons, we felt like we did not get the value we would have liked on that second day of lessons.  "Terrain based learning" sounds to me like "no instruction" and is the equivalent of skiing on your own.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Z Taos View Post

 

 

It sounds as though your daughter succeeded in the “White Feather” rite of passage because of or in spite of her ski school endeavor. She is to be congratulated. I hope we have not lost your faith.

 

 

She never did ski White Feather.  On day 3, we took her out of lessons and had her ski with us.  She was denied getting on Lift 1 because the lift ticket that she had limited her to only the bottom lifts (unless with a ski instructor, I guess).  When we were told what we had to do to upgrade her lift ticket, we didn't want to go through the hassle because the base area was a mess due to construction.  So we just stuck to Strawberry and Pioneer that 3rd day (last day of our trip).

 

I do appreciate the response and certainly don't mean to raise any fuss.  Kids in ski school is usually a mixed bag as there is oftentimes a "babysitting" component involved.  I've had kids take lessons at Keystone (good) and Jackson Hole (so-so) and will probably have them take at least one day at Winter Park this December.

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