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Where should I go for Christmas (Hardest terrain)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am looking to ski the hardest "marked" terrain in NA and I and was wondering where I should travel to for next christmas. I am currently thinking of Alyeska, Jackson Hole, Kirkwood, Squaw Valley, Mammoth and Crested Butte. I want to ski the hardest terrain there. To put my ability in perspective I have skied Whitewall and all of CPR Ridge at Kicking Horse along with most of the terrain in the back bowls at Lake Louise in the Banff area. Sadly, while I was at Sunshine Village Delirium Dive was closed :(. Does anyone have any input on where the best terrain for me is? I only care about the terrain of the mountain and nothing else. Anywhere in North America and not Europe.

 

This was a little edit I made while I was there any feedback is appreciated for that too :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76bONTyFMHs&t=149s

(Skip to 12:31 if you are impatient)

 

Side note: Is Whitewall the hardest at Kicking Horse?

post #2 of 22

It is an almost certainty that Crested Butte will not have their hardest terrain open that early in the season.  If you are limited to Christmas, Jackson Hole and Snowbird are the two best bets for skiing expert terrain that early on, but even those aren't for sure.

post #3 of 22

You would have been able to ski most of Whistler this Christmas

 

I was just there (the week after new years), and had a great time. A couple of the entrances for the steeper shots off the the Peak Chair weren't so inviting, but still plenty of choices for your steep terrain fix. 

 

Whistler will be busy though....and pricey.

 

Stay and squamish and save big. Get there early. Don't break for lunch, or break really early. 

post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lofcaudio View Post

It is an almost certainty that Crested Butte will not have their hardest terrain open that early in the season.  If you are limited to Christmas, Jackson Hole and Snowbird are the two best bets for skiing expert terrain that early on, but even those aren't for sure.


I agree on the suggestion for snowbird. I've skied at squaw, kirkwood and mammoth unless there is a miraculous dump usually most of the mountain is not open by xmas. And i would add i consider snowbird steeper then those other mountains.
post #5 of 22
Crystal Mountain, WA. The Cascades typically have most, if not all of the terrain open by Christmas.
post #6 of 22

The answer to this question isn't going to be possible to know until mid-December 2017 since the hardest terrain requires the most snow to open.  Christmas is quite early in the season yet so many places won't have enough snow to be 100% open.  If it was a spring break trip it would be easy to say, "Yeah go to any of those places. Have fun. Stay safe." but since Christmas-time is condition-dependent no one knows the answer.

post #7 of 22

Doubt there is one area with the most difficult terrain. Conditions will play a major role in what you ask; quantity and quality of the snow especially that early in the season define the terrain. Skiing something steep aggressively and dynamically requires a better skier than getting down something that is a no fall zone. 

 

With that said you are most likely to find the best snow depths and open terrain in: the PNW Whistler, Crystal, Stevens Pass or Alta/Bird. Red Mountain and their trees might be a thought too, but do not ski those alone. If you do ski solo mostly Crystal Mountain would be a good choice, there is a lot of tough stuff out there that is visible from below if something happens.

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the feedback! Does Crystal have enough terrain to keep it interesting for 10 days or so? I'm not a fan of Whistler due to how many people say it's crowded.

post #9 of 22

Difficult terrain equals steep terrain, which requires a lot of snow to be skiable.  As noted the question is who has the best early snow, so the longer you wait to decide the better steep skiing you will have.

post #10 of 22
There's also the moisture content of the snowfall. West Coast moisture content (10-12%) snow sticks to the terrain better and doesn't get scoured away by winds. A foot of snow on the West Coast (PNW at least) sticks around longer and gets packed down into a more stable base than Intermountain snowfall.

But there's a different question to consider: are steeps required in order to feel the trip was worth it? If so, then don't plan on a Christmas trip. If you truly are on a quest to ski the toughest terrain in NA, plan to go some other time, maybe end of January.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tank8681 View Post

I'm not a fan of Whistler due to how many people say it's crowded.
Have you been to Whistler? Or are you just asking about Whistler during peak holidays?
Whistler is big, and while some lifts can get busy, the slopes aren't crowded, certainly not the expert slopes.
post #11 of 22

Hey, hotshot, you have to be a bit careful...  I don't know your history (maybe you grew up skiing Alaska-size steeps, but I guess not).  Big western mountains are not Jersey, the conditions are also not always like what you had in your GoPro videos.  It does take more than ability to make turns to ski some of the marquee terrain at some of those resorts and I, unfortunately, know people who had sustained serious injuries inbounds (and those people were and are way better skiers than you).

 

If you go on your quest for hardest terrain, please make sure you look at the runs both from the top AND from the bottom, assess conditions, look for hidden ice patches, etc, and most I'm portent be realistic about your abilities.  Also accept that some of that terrain is unskiable by anyone expect a few phenomenal athletes in good snow conditions (and you are not one of those athletes).  Sure, Travis Ganong skied the High Line on McConkey's at Squaw in bad snow, but the guy is on a US Ski Team and has run Kitzbuhel downhill.  Believe it or not, the terrain opening policy in the West is quite liberal, so it is very easy to get yourself into a situation where there are no good exits and a lot of the times those excursions do not end well.  

 

Resorts: Squaw, Jackson, Snowbird, and Crested Butte would have plenty of challenge for you.  All seem to have  great snow year this season, but a lot of that snow came after Christmas.  Typically Christmas time or weekends is not when the most extreme terrain gets opened.  Squaw for example keeps Palisades close during the holidays because, sadly, they are afraid exactly of the visitors like you: warriors from flat urban places looking for thrills  and ways to bag famous runs (the technical explanation is that they want to protect the traverse under the 'Sades rom high-speed run-outs). 

post #12 of 22

Christmas to New Years I was at Squaw Valley and very little expert terrain was open.  I really had to search for some fun stuff (Granite side chutes, North Bowl, The Slot) and conditions were bony and icy.   The day after I leave started a 15' dump.  I'm from Jersey too, near NYC and I'm headed back next week.  I have to agree with the others, coverage that early in the steepest terrain is always going to be a crap shoot at best.  

 

Where does this guy get the best shot at a good mix of difficult terrain in late Dec?  

post #13 of 22

Adding to what people have written above, there is no mountain in North America that has its expert terrain open even 50% of Christmases, and the goods at most mountains (like Crested, Jackson, Squaw, Silverton, Big Sky...) are rarely if ever open as early as Christmas. If you have to book in advance, Whistler/Blackcomb or maybe Alta/Snowbird are your best bets, but you are still rolling hte dice and the odds aren't in your favor. Much better would be to wait until mid-December and then make a gametime decision based on conditions. It's likely that at least a couple of expert mountains will have enough snow for most of their expert terrain to be open before New Years, but it's impossible to know which ones in advance.

 

An off-the-beaten-path suggestion would be Japan. Japanese weather patterns mean earlier seasons, and most years (but not all) the mountains there have deep bases by Christmas. The snow quality tends to be excellent, especially in the northern mountains -- some say it's the best in the world. Unfortunately most the mountains lack true expert terrain, but there are two exceptions -- which are off-the-beaten-path even by Japanese standards. They are Kurodake and Tenjindaira. The Powderhounds website has good writeups on them.

post #14 of 22
Aspen's usually good at Christmas and lift lines are rare.
But it ain't cheap.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Aspen's usually good at Christmas and lift lines are rare.
But it ain't cheap.

QFT

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tank8681 View Post


Side note: Is Whitewall the hardest at Kicking Horse?

It is not.

Whitewall might be the steepest "area", but there are more technical lines on CPR ridge and Redemption into Fuez. Run marking is pretty limited, but yoi can find yourself in some tricky spots if you look hard enough and traverse far enough. They used to have a rope ar the top of one of the trickier lines on CPR.

Generally speaking, people find the entrences tonTruth, Dare and connsequence.... T1 to Bowl over, more intimidating than WW. T1 to Super Bowl also has some exposure, but most choose mellow lines.

Unlimited challenge out of bounds.
post #17 of 22
Back to the original question? Its fun to talk about next Christmas, but if you can wait to book you trip, wait..

You will know in December which resorts are shaping up. Most of Western Canada had a great start. The dive at SSV opened in November this year. I think it was march last year....

Not a good gamble.
post #18 of 22

.Most of the Rockies didn't have squat on 12/1, yet Christmas was pretty dam good this year.

Trouble with the prime Christmas week of 12/26-1/2,  is flights. 

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by tank8681 View Post

 

This was a little edit I made while I was there any feedback is appreciated for that too :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76bONTyFMHs&t=149s

(Skip to 12:31 if you are impatient)

 

 

Get rid of the selfie stick.  Worry less about getting down the hardest terrain and more about skiing the terrain you have, well.

post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcs24 View Post
 

Adding to what people have written above, there is no mountain in North America that has its expert terrain open even 50% of Christmases, and the goods at most mountains (like Crested, Jackson, Squaw, Silverton, Big Sky...) are rarely if ever open as early as Christmas. 

This isn't true. Maybe in the U.S., but not in Canada.

 

For the OP, I would go to Whistler. Yeah, it's busy, but it's also got a huge variety of expert terrain.

post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post
 

Hey, hotshot, you have to be a bit careful...  I don't know your history (maybe you grew up skiing Alaska-size steeps, but I guess not).  Big western mountains are not Jersey, the conditions are also not always like what you had in your GoPro videos.  It does take more than ability to make turns to ski some of the marquee terrain at some of those resorts and I, unfortunately, know people who had sustained serious injuries inbounds (and those people were and are way better skiers than you).

 

If you go on your quest for hardest terrain, please make sure you look at the runs both from the top AND from the bottom, assess conditions, look for hidden ice patches, etc, and most I'm portent be realistic about your abilities.  Also accept that some of that terrain is unskiable by anyone expect a few phenomenal athletes in good snow conditions (and you are not one of those athletes).  Sure, Travis Ganong skied the High Line on McConkey's at Squaw in bad snow, but the guy is on a US Ski Team and has run Kitzbuhel downhill.  Believe it or not, the terrain opening policy in the West is quite liberal, so it is very easy to get yourself into a situation where there are no good exits and a lot of the times those excursions do not end well.  

 

Resorts: Squaw, Jackson, Snowbird, and Crested Butte would have plenty of challenge for you.  All seem to have  great snow year this season, but a lot of that snow came after Christmas.  Typically Christmas time or weekends is not when the most extreme terrain gets opened.  Squaw for example keeps Palisades close during the holidays because, sadly, they are afraid exactly of the visitors like you: warriors from flat urban places looking for thrills  and ways to bag famous runs (the technical explanation is that they want to protect the traverse under the 'Sades rom high-speed run-outs). 

I appreciate the feedback! Even though it was rather blunt hah. I don't ski at all in Jersey. I grew up learning to ski at Mont-Tremblant and the past few years i've been lapping Dynamite. So while I am a bit new to western skiing, I like to think my technical ability isn't too far off what I need to ski the harder terrain out west. I definitely have a lot to learn though! I am sick of ice! I always make sure to view the line or chute before I ski it. How does the terrain at Kicking Horse compare to some of the stuff in the Tahoe Area or Crested Butte. For instance, in bad snow conditions is a 40 degree slope exponentially harder than a 40 degree slope in good snow conditions? Also, does the snow quality differ when comparing resorts of the Canadian Rockies to the West? Thank you for the feedback! I wanna be safe and I don't want to get in over my head!
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
 

.Most of the Rockies didn't have squat on 12/1, yet Christmas was pretty dam good this year.

Trouble with the prime Christmas week of 12/26-1/2,  is flights. 

 

Get rid of the selfie stick.  Worry less about getting down the hardest terrain and more about skiing the terrain you have, well.

I could be wrong but I thought using a pole mount is a good representation of the steepness of the slope. Now that you refer it to a selfie stick I wanna ditch it :p hah.

post #22 of 22

Kicking Horse has some pretty gnarly terrain. The toughest lines at KH compare, in my experience, to just about everything at Squaw and Crested Butte. Quibblers might argue that there are a couple of chutes of Silverado or the Light Towers are a little steeper or more exposed, but it's all in the same league IMO. 

 

The snow conditions matter more. If the snow is slick or there are a lot of exposed areas (common in early season) then some totally doable runs can extremely difficult or impossible. As for typical snow, Crested snow density is similar to KH in my experience. Snow tends to be heavier at Squaw, although around Xmas/NY you can get lucky with a cold storm in Tahoe, too.

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