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Early Season Recommendations

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have a window of opportunity to take an early season trip but it must be Dec. 11 - 15. I am an intermediate skier and basically I am looking for some good terrain and good snow and hopefully not a lot of people. For simplicity sake, I would prefer to stay at the ski area and walk to the lifts in the morning. All I need is a hotel type room. I am not looking for a whole lot of nightlife just a place or two to get a meal and a drink before recharging.

So where can I find fairly reliable early season snow? I want to use my FF miles to get the tickets so I feel the need to at least book my airfare soon. I have thought about buying a plane ticket to a general destination and then picking a specific ski area once there is some snow on the ground. In my mind, I keep thinking of going to SLC. I can get there by 10:30 which might allow for a few hours of skiing the day I get there. I have also considered getting a ticket to Denver but I am scared to death of the possibility of the drought continuing and limiting both snowfall and snowmaking. The risk seems to make the early season there more speculative than normal. Plus the airport is so far away there is no way I could get there early enough to get the bonus half day.

If you have any specific recommendations they would be greatly appreciated. If I take the SLC approach I have thought of staying at Snowbird and skiing there and maybe a day at Alta. I am concerned that the terrain might not be very suitable for an intermediate. I have also considered Solitude but the room rates seem a little more than I would like to pay for a quickie early season trip.

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 14
I think we're going back to Val d'Isere December 15th for a week. Probably not very helpful for you...

Find somewhere with a glacier.
post #3 of 14
Hi Brandon,
For the last couple of years, I've gone to Whistler, I've also done an early trip to Breckenridge.
This year, well, click here for info on my early season trip

post #4 of 14
I did that trip last December (1-4) and was rewarded with more powder than I could shake a stick at.

My Cheapskate Traveler Advice:
1. Rent a car
2. Stay in SLC -- you should be able to get a room at La Quinta for $30-35/night. And it's so easy to get from downtown SLC to ANY of the ski areas, why limit yourself to just AltaBird?

Although those two areas do have a decent amount of terrain for everyone, for intermediates, I'd particularly recommend Snowbasin and The Canyons (and they have much better lift systems, thus insuring that you get a maximum amount of runs in a short time period).
post #5 of 14
Yeah, James I arrived on 2nd December last year, and had an epic week of powder!

post #6 of 14
Bollocks! At that time, you were pissed and legless (notice my use of UK vernacular) at some pub in Belfast!
post #7 of 14
You're right - I got my dates wrong, but hey, the week I was there, the pow was excellent!
And thanks for talking my language! I think at the time, I was probably in a pub in Dublin, but you got the island & sobriety level right!

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

We went to Breckenridge last year the same week I am looking at this year. I enjoyed it but it was early enough that only most of Peak 9 and a few runs on Peak 10 were open. They did open Peak 8 on the last day, a Friday, which seemed to draw all of Denver out. We went to Vail and Beaver Creek each for a day to vary the terrain. Vail was great but confusing. At 4-5 inches of fresh, it was also the most powder I've been in. [img]smile.gif[/img] That was fun but I found out how difficult powder can be when I would find deeper snow. Had one amazingly enjoyable faceplant when I hit some knee deep snow which took a while to dig out me and my skies. I have ruled out Whistler for this year mainly because the wife cannot go. A destination resort is a must for her and she has really been wanting to go to Whistler so she would kill me if I went without her.


I have considered staying in SLC and taking the bus in. That would let me be real flexible. I am not real keen on a rental car mainly because Southerners and cars and snow do not mix very well. (I am still driving around with damage I inflicted in flurries winter before last. [img]redface.gif[/img] ) I am waiting to see if I can be convinced that the bus system is convenient enough to take the cost savings and stay in town.
post #9 of 14
Yes, the year I did a December trip to Breck, it was limited opening, and thankfully it wasn't too busy.
I'm not sure where else to suggest - I know Whistler is good, but if you can't do it this year without causing issues, then I guess you'll need someone else to give you a better suggestion.

post #10 of 14
Here's a great link that talks about best bets for early season:
Early season recommendations

Check out the other content on this site, too. He's got some great stuff!

My personal recommendations would be:
1. Whistler
2. SLC
3. Mt. Bachelor
post #11 of 14
Try Banff!!
I have done it three times at that time of year and each time I felt like it was my own personal playground. I did feel a little lonely at times, when the wind and snow was blowing, and I wouldn't pass a single person on groomed slopes all the way back to the lift. It was great each time I went, and if it should be a poor snow year there is a lot of snowmaking at Banff Mount Norquay, Lake Louise, and Nakiska. ... Oh Yeah; I forgot to mention the fact that the early season deals up there are a steal for the U.S. crowd.
post #12 of 14
i have done the similar early season thing for colorado last year and i would advise breckenridge or keystone(your ticket and pass r good at both and theres free transportation too).
you should just beat the crowds and if you start looking now, you can probably get a great deal real close. i got $65 a night, over the weekend at the village, which is the resort at the base of peak 8.
however, i also stayed pres. weekend before and called around to find good rates. i can re-look them up in my breckenridge phone book if youre interested.

you know youre a ski addict when: you live in texas and have the yellow pages for summit county, colorado.
post #13 of 14
Lots of great suggestions above, but do keep in mind that wherever you book for that time of year, you're taking a chance. I remember a few years ago having a series of stellar powder days at Whistler before US Thanksgiving. A few days later a pineapple express came in and washed everything away, and it didn't recover till after Xmas.

May the snow gods smile upon you.
post #14 of 14
Ok here is a little info for you you stand a good chance of being rewarded with good snow in early dec here in Utah. Now if Mother Nature is cranky and doesn't bless us That early in the Year No fear come and ski park city They have an ungodly amount of snowmaking and ad some of the natural stuff you should be fine. In Colorado They maynot be able to make snow this season due to the draught. Here Park city has water rights that come from an old mine tunnal water isn't good for drinking but fine for making snow. The Canyons needs to secure more water rights for thier snowmaking they can have thin coverage early on. Like I said you have a vary good chance of haveing some great snow here in Utah in early Dec. Do as James said you can stay in SLC cheap rent a car all the skiing is with in an eazy 45 min or less drive from Salt Lake City.
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