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Vail or Snowmass for Christmas

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

We've skied Snowmass twice as a family (Feb and March).  Haven't skied Vail since I was in college, though we've been to Beaver Creek.  

 

Anyway, quick thoughts on our best bet for Christmas week '16?  I am not asking about snow.  I know it's a bit iffy/risky for then, but we're a family of primarily groomer blue/black skiers.  We've been to DV, Telluride, and Steamboat over Christmas over the past ten years and understand the variance.  The only question I'd have is what the % is of Vail back bowls being open over this time.  

 

We already have flights locked in for Vail.  I've done the Eagle/Snowmass drive and it was easy and much better than Denver/Vail.  I know Snowmass is likely to be less crowded, but is the convenience and size of Vail enough to trump that?  Completely up in the air, and the teens only comment is that I better pick right!  

post #2 of 17

Aspen is always better than Vail. 

Less crowded, better terrain, higher summit altitudes, better town.

 

BK

post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden23 View Post

I am not asking about snow...The only question I'd have is what the % is of Vail back bowls being open over this time.  

 

 

If there is enough snow, the back bowls will be open. Most years, at least a portion of the back bowls are open by Christmas, but this is not a guarantee.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by golden23 View Post
 

  I know Snowmass is likely to be less crowded, but is the convenience and size of Vail enough to trump that?  Completely up in the air, and the teens only comment is that I better pick right!  

Crowds depend, in part, on the amount of terrain open and whether you are talking the week before or after Christmas. Vail is bigger than Snowmass, but not by that much in terms of total acres. Vail drive time is about 1.5 hours less, depending on road conditions. Aspen is a real town with quite a bit going on, but if you don't leave the resort area, there is more at Vail than Snowmass. 

 

What would constitute the "right" choice for the teens?

post #4 of 17

Sorry, but there is no comparison in the crowds between Vail and Snowmass.  Snowmass will be busy, but busy for Snowmass is like a light day for Vail.  In addition, while the back bowls of Vail may be open, for folk who are interested in blue/black groomers, the back bowls are largely irrelevant.  So, you'll be better off at Snowmass.

 

Mike

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
 

Aspen is always better than Vail. 

Less crowded, better terrain, higher summit altitudes, better town.

 

BK


Leaning that way

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiSchoolPros View Post
 

If there is enough snow, the back bowls will be open. Most years, at least a portion of the back bowls are open by Christmas, but this is not a guarantee.

Crowds depend, in part, on the amount of terrain open and whether you are talking the week before or after Christmas. Vail is bigger than Snowmass, but not by that much in terms of total acres. Vail drive time is about 1.5 hours less, depending on road conditions. Aspen is a real town with quite a bit going on, but if you don't leave the resort area, there is more at Vail than Snowmass. 

 

What would constitute the "right" choice for the teens?

I actually thought it was less than an hour's difference drive.  About 30 mins from Vail, and about an hour plus from Snowmass.  We've made both drives (albeit in decent weather), and have found that to be the drive.  

 

Love Aspen, though we'd probably stay in Snowmass and get there maybe one or two nights (or days when we ski Ajax).  

 

The "right" choice for the teens is whichever has the most snow and snow bunnies that week.  

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
 

Sorry, but there is no comparison in the crowds between Vail and Snowmass.  Snowmass will be busy, but busy for Snowmass is like a light day for Vail.  In addition, while the back bowls of Vail may be open, for folk who are interested in blue/black groomers, the back bowls are largely irrelevant.  So, you'll be better off at Snowmass.

 

Mike


Thanks.  

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden23 View Post
 

I actually thought it was less than an hour's difference drive.  About 30 mins from Vail, and about an hour plus from Snowmass.  We've made both drives (albeit in decent weather), and have found that to be the drive.  

 

Love Aspen, though we'd probably stay in Snowmass and get there maybe one or two nights (or days when we ski Ajax).  

 

The "right" choice for the teens is whichever has the most snow and snow bunnies that week.  


and don't forget Aspen Highlands which in my opinion is the best of all.

post #9 of 17
Sounds like you have a good appreciation for the low crowd differential in Aspen's favor. I visited Aspen/Snowmass during the week between Christmas and New Years in Dec 2013. Despite good early season conditions I was amazed by "ski right on" status much of the time for many lifts including the Ajax Gondola. One thing that might tip scale towards Vail is if you planned to return for Easter/Spring break, then your EpicPass would pay for itself and you could also base yourself at Beaver Creek, Breck or Keystone/A-Basin for variety or snow.

http://www.epicski.com/a/colorado-road-trip-recap
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden23 View Post
 

I actually thought it was less than an hour's difference drive.  About 30 mins from Vail, and about an hour plus from Snowmass.  We've made both drives (albeit in decent weather), and have found that to be the drive.  

 

Love Aspen, though we'd probably stay in Snowmass and get there maybe one or two nights (or days when we ski Ajax).  

 

The "right" choice for the teens is whichever has the most snow and snow bunnies that week.  

You are probably right about the driving difference (as long as Glenwood Canyon is open)...sorry, I was thinking about drive time from Vail, not the airport.

 

Hard to predict snow and snow bunnies (especially for teens). When we used to do guy trips, we found Vail more convenient but Aspen better for apre. A few Aspen locals circa 2010:

 

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden23 View Post
 

We've skied Snowmass twice as a family (Feb and March).  Haven't skied Vail since I was in college, though we've been to Beaver Creek.  

 

Anyway, quick thoughts on our best bet for Christmas week '16?  I am not asking about snow.  I know it's a bit iffy/risky for then, but we're a family of primarily groomer blue/black skiers.  We've been to DV, Telluride, and Steamboat over Christmas over the past ten years and understand the variance.  The only question I'd have is what the % is of Vail back bowls being open over this time.  

 

We already have flights locked in for Vail.  I've done the Eagle/Snowmass drive and it was easy and much better than Denver/Vail.  I know Snowmass is likely to be less crowded, but is the convenience and size of Vail enough to trump that?  Completely up in the air, and the teens only comment is that I better pick right!  

Snowmass for sure - based on the preference for groomed blue & black, I think Snowmass has far superior terrain in this area than Vail.  Vail's groomers will be insanely crowded around Christmas, and frankly the amount of terrain at Vail is vasted overstated in this area and overshadowed by the amount of off-piste in the Back Bowls and Blue Sky.

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by afski722 View Post
 

Snowmass for sure - based on the preference for groomed blue & black, I think Snowmass has far superior terrain in this area than Vail.  Vail's groomers will be insanely crowded around Christmas, and frankly the amount of terrain at Vail is vasted overstated in this area and overshadowed by the amount of off-piste in the Back Bowls and Blue Sky.


Thanks.  Our week would actually be the week just before Christmas and a few days after.  So I assume crowds will be SLIGHTLY less over the first few.  But the weekends probably crazy at Vail if the conditions are decent, and if they aren't well....  

 

I think we've been suitably convinced for Snowmass.  We do love Aspen Highlands too, and the wife always likes to take a few afternoon turns at Buttermilk on the way to Aspen for shopping/early dinner...  

post #13 of 17

I've skied Aspen/Snowmass at least part of every Christmas break for the last 30 years and the skiing is generally pretty good.  I rarely have to wait in line, but I know the mountains really well.

 

Key's to enjoying Christmas break.

 

1. Get out early.  Snowmass officially opens 8;30, everywhere else at 9.  But Aspen Ski Co is really good about opening earlier and most of the time the lifts open 10-15 minutes early, even powder     days.  Most people show up at 10 and you've already notched 12,000 vert.

 

2. Take the bus.  Traffic and parking can be an issue, just avoid it altogether.

 

3. Don't go to the grocery store after skiing, it will be a nightmare.  Stop in Glenwood on your way over or shop at 6am.

 

4. Go to dinner early.  Typically we don't make reservations, just walk into town around 6 and decide on the fly.  Show up at 7 without a reservation and your going to wait.

   If your wife has her heart set on someplace, make reservations now.

 

5. Eat at home on New Years Eve. 

 

Have fun!

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden23 View Post
 


Thanks.  Our week would actually be the week just before Christmas and a few days after.  So I assume crowds will be SLIGHTLY less over the first few.  

 

 

 

 

You won't have any problem with lines in Aspen till the 26th or 27th.  Vail can get a lot of day traffic at any time,  because of the Epic Pass.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden23 View Post
 


Thanks.  Our week would actually be the week just before Christmas and a few days after.  So I assume crowds will be SLIGHTLY less over the first few.  

 

 

 

 

You won't have any problem with lines in Aspen till the 26th or 27th.  Vail can get a lot of day traffic at any time,  because of the Epic Pass.


While this is true, the week BEFORE the week including Christmas is basically an non issue, can't tell exactly what days you are talking about. True, if there is a big dump, we Front Rangers will lose our minds. But if it happens during the week there are still plenty of us who are wrapping up year end loose ends and can't get there. It's when the tourists arrive that things get truly crowded. Of course that means crowded for Summit/Eagle; Aspen uses a different scale to determine crowded.

post #16 of 17

I don't typically ski Vail so I can only comment on this past Christmas.  I went on either Tue. or Wed. and I believe it was the 29th.  The sole purpose was Blue Sky.  I don't know my way around so I'm not sure of the best way to get there but I can say the way we went probably took 40-45 minutes?  I should add I was with people that do ski Vail.  Maybe they were giving me the scenic tour?

 

There were places that seemed to be very popular and crowded and others not as much.  Once we got to Blue Sky it was not crowded.  I guess what I'm trying to say is my perception is, like any other mountain,  Vail has it's popular very crowded sections and others that are not.  Even during the holidays.  The difference is their crowded areas are really crowded.

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden23 View Post
 


Thanks.  Our week would actually be the week just before Christmas and a few days after.  So I assume crowds will be SLIGHTLY less over the first few.  But the weekends probably crazy at Vail if the conditions are decent, and if they aren't well....  

 

I think we've been suitably convinced for Snowmass.  We do love Aspen Highlands too, and the wife always likes to take a few afternoon turns at Buttermilk on the way to Aspen for shopping/early dinner...  

 

Crowds are not that big an issue the week before X-Mas. Vail does get bigger crowds than Snowmass, but I think H20nSnow is correct that it is not likely to be slammed until the 27th. With the weekend being the 24 & 25th, Christmas morning on Sunday won't be very crowded anywhere and I wouldn't expect the Saturday to be very crowded either (unless there is very limited terrain). Yes there are a few busy choke points (like around mid-Vail), but considering that Vail has about twice the acres of Breck, with similar number of skier days, Breck pistes tend to be more crowded than Vail.

 

Some of the more popular restaurants were fully booked this pre-X-mas, but the slopes were not that crowded.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

 

 

You won't have any problem with lines in Aspen till the 26th or 27th.  Vail can get a lot of day traffic at any time,  because of the Epic Pass.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by H2OnSnow View Post
 


While this is true, the week BEFORE the week including Christmas is basically an non issue, can't tell exactly what days you are talking about. True, if there is a big dump, we Front Rangers will lose our minds. But if it happens during the week there are still plenty of us who are wrapping up year end loose ends and can't get there. It's when the tourists arrive that things get truly crowded. Of course that means crowded for Summit/Eagle; Aspen uses a different scale to determine crowded.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike78 View Post
 

I don't typically ski Vail so I can only comment on this past Christmas.  I went on either Tue. or Wed. and I believe it was the 29th.  The sole purpose was Blue Sky.  I don't know my way around so I'm not sure of the best way to get there but I can say the way we went probably took 40-45 minutes?  I should add I was with people that do ski Vail.  Maybe they were giving me the scenic tour?

 

There were places that seemed to be very popular and crowded and others not as much.  Once we got to Blue Sky it was not crowded.  I guess what I'm trying to say is my perception is, like any other mountain,  Vail has it's popular very crowded sections and others that are not.  Even during the holidays.  The difference is their crowded areas are really crowded.

Yes, even when Vail is crowded, there are spots that don't have many people skiing them. 

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