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Aspen/Snowmass questions

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
If I was to go to Aspen..

Would you suggest staying at Aspen, or Snowmass. Which mountain am I likely to ski more, and is there easy access (transportation) from one area to the other for day access (skiing) and at night (food and nightlife). How far are they from each other anyway?

post #2 of 14
The transportation is so good that it is not of concern where you stay. Snowmass is definitely at the top of the list for cruiser mountains in the U.S.. It also has more extreme terrain than its three neighbors, but doesn't get the PR for it and doesn't need it. Aspen Highlands is probably the best mountain for a good skier. It is considered to be the locals favorite and skis much more logically than its older brother Ajax. The beauty of the Roaring Fork Valley is that all the ski areas are within a 10 mile stretch and the free bus service is good enough to ski all 4 in one day. Each of them have their individual stengths, and one pass gives you a wonderful range of options.
post #3 of 14
15 minute bus ride. As to which mountain you wil ski more depends what kind of skier you are. Ajax (aspen mountain) is steep, bumpy & not that big. Snowmass is HUGE & flat in places. The best lines @snowmass require a bit of a hike. Snowmass is family oriented & condos. Aspen is hotels, second homes & great resturants & bars. No matter where you are staying hit Highlands. One of the best mountains I have skied. It is about 1/2 way in between.
I used to sell the Aspen experience so tell me what you are looking for & I will recomend something for it. there are 4 mountains there & a wide selection of lodging, something for everyone.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
All right..

What are we 'looking for'.

We want to go for 7 days.

Diverse group re. skill and interests, about 10 people, mostly couples with a couple of single guys.

I would say that most of the guys are advanced/expert skiers that like the steeps, trees, bumps, and powder. Most of our wives/girlfriends (except for one that is really good) are either beginner/intermediate to strong intermediate. Point being, we can probably totally split (and do Highlands) one day, but most of the time we would prefer to all ski the same mountain and split up for part of the day. You know the drill.

We are all 26-40 so we would appreciate good food and some nightlife (like to party, but can't hang as much as I used to). A couple of the people are not huge skiers, so they would like to be able to hang out and do other stuff instead of skiing one of the days.

We were hoping for ski in/ski out, but that is not necessary. I guess I would prefer to be able to walk to restaurants/bars, than to walk to the skiing. We would definitely like to get a big house or a couple of condos for the group.. or a B&B. We would like to find a good value, saving $$ is key, but since we are couples and in our 30's, don't want to stay in a dump either (I guess we are looking for 'comfortable', but not necessarily 'fancy').

So what do you think? Is the area 'big enough' for a week (one of the group wants to go to Vail because it's HUGE.. I am trying to push Aspen). Where (Aspen or Snowmass) do you suggest we stay? Any suggestions re. lodging?

Thanks!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Mack (edited September 21, 2001).]</FONT>
post #5 of 14
Beginners/Intermediates will also find suitable terrain and smaller crowds (generally)at Buttermilk (Tiehack).
post #6 of 14
For any kind of a mixed ability group, I'd think that Snowmass would be a no-brainer. An advanced beginner can handle the easy way down the Burn... Naked Lady? You can ski right next to 'em at the powerline and get some bumps and trees. Snowmass is one of those places with the reputation as an intermediate heaven but you can still find plenty of challege. The ski-in/ski-out condos and hotels at Fanny Hill are pretty nice. There are also a few less expensive hotels like the Pokolodi there but a condo or two is probably a better deal for a bigger group. My mom used to own a 2 bedroom at Stonebridge 'til 6 years ago. The living room has a folding wall to make a 3rd bedroom w/ a third full bath. A pretty good setup for three couples. There are a few decent restaurants there and town is a quick bus ride away.

I agree about Highlands. That's my favorite of the 4 hills there if you're an advanced skier.

Is Aspen big enough for a week? I think it's big enough for a season. You have 3 mountains to choose from (Tiehack doesn't count) and a really bustling ski town. Aspen would also be my #1 pick for non-skiers.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by GeoffD (edited September 22, 2001).]</FONT>
post #7 of 14
I skied this area about 6 years ago on a family outing (Mom, Step-Dad, Brother, and a three other families). I didn't get to experience the bar scene (I was the only one of the "kids" that was over 21).

We stayed in the town of Carbondale. It is about 10 miles from Snowmass and about 20 miles from Aspen. There were some nice hotels/motels that were cheaper than on-hill. If you are concerned about money this might be a good option.

There was also a very good restaurant there called Sopra's (after Mt. Sopra a giant mountain in the background of Carbondale). Call ahead to ask about wait times. I don't remember if they take reservations.

If you decide that you want to do on-hill lodging, I would recommend making Snowmass your "home hill" for the trip. It has the largest selection of terrain and it was the easiest to navigate. That was key in getting large groups back together at specific times.

I do recommend taking at least a day each at Aspen and Aspen Highlands for the whole group. There is something to be said about just being there for the "Aspen Experience." It is more than just skiing.

Note: check out the AJAX bar and tell me what it's like.

Buttermilk I only skied for a half-day. I thought it was a waste of time. It felt like a large, mid-western hill. It has easy terrain, but so does Snowmass. I would go here only if Snowmass is over-crowded.

I hope this helps.
post #8 of 14
Mack, The Aspen complex has more skiable terrain than Vail does. Those big numbers at Vail include a lot of terrain in the corners of the back bowls and Blue Sky basin that don't really add up to much in the way of skiing. The lift placement at all four of the Aspen ski areas is much more logical than the lift placement at Vail. If you go to Vail for just one day and don't have someone with you that has already figured out the complexities of getting around on that hill, you will likely get in all your poling exercise for the season. There are many more options for challenges in the Aspen group and if you want to start talking about out of bounds skiing, they aren't even in the same universe. In conclusion, don't let the 'BIG VAIL' reputation fool you into missing parts of what is the real jewel of Colorado skiing.
post #9 of 14
One thing I'd add about Aspen is the lack of crowds. It's crazy!! I'm there once or twice a week and just watch near empty lifts turning in the sky especially in Jan/Feb. that's a big shock for us Slummit county skiiers.

Vail's crowded all day everyday IMO. It's all chopped up and hard to get around too. I'd rather ski Beaver Crk.

Only prob with Aspen the past few years has been the relative lack of snow so watch the weather report.
post #10 of 14
Snowmass gets busier than the other mountains. It's busier midweek than on weekends since Sat/Sun are changeover days for many of the ski week people. I can't think of any other resort I've been to that is busier midweek than on weekends.
post #11 of 14
When are you going?
The more difficult terrain @ snowmass does not open till there is enough snow. Later in the year is better.
If you would rather take a bus to ski but walk to nightlife & non ski activities stay in Aspen. If you prefer ski in ski out & traveling for meals, nightlife & activity stay in snowmass.
Aspen highlands will be good for allelements of your group, the bottom 1/2 of the mountain gets forgotton & it is very user friendly. Aspen Mountain itself is not. Lower level skiers will not enjoy it. If some one is uncomfortable on bumps fuggedabouit. Snowmass is huge. enough to keep anybody interested for a week alone.
Definately Aspen over vail, without a doubt. More to do in every aspect.
post #12 of 14
I second Matt’s opinion. If ski-in/ski-out is important, Snowmass is the logical choice for your group. If walking to restaurants/shopping/nightlife is important, stay in Aspen. It really comes down to that one decision.

Snowmass has terrain for all the folks you describe (although known as a cruiser’s mountain, the hard stuff is really good and there is lots of it). If you all want to ski part of the day together, and the group has both beginner/intermediate types and hard core folks, Snowmass is the place. There are a few good restaurants there, but there is really not much of a town or village. Instead, there are lots and lots and lots of ski-in/ski-out condos. After the lifts close, if you want excitement, you will find yourself going to Aspen.

Aspen is a great experience. The town, although sometimes populated by annoying types, is charming, fun, and beautiful (much better than Vail Village). The food is great. The bars are always hopping. The streets are full. It is a fun place. Ajax is a damn fun mountain, but not one for the beginners of your group. The terrain is interesting, bumps are plentiful, and it is full of surprises. For those who are at least solid skiers, it is well worth a day of exploring.

I also second everyone’s opinion of Highlands. In my opinion it is the best of the Aspen areas. Steep, long, uncrowded runs, great and interesting terrain, and tremendous views. It really is a special place. If you hit it, you will not be sorry.

The Roaring Fork Valley is great. If the snow is good, you cannot go wrong. Have fun!
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
How is the first week of march for snow there usually?
post #14 of 14
Hey Mack,

March is high season in the ski industry our west. Aspen Ski Company mountains have been somewhat skunked on the snow the last few winters.

So it could be iffy. I have usually gone at the end of March or begining of April.
So where to stay, and how to enjoy the best of skiing.

Ok I'll tell you my favorite option. Stay in Aspen if at all possible, best restaurants, night life shopping, women,etc. Want to save some dough on eating and the night life, cozy up to the locals, they know where the good and real times are and for a lot less. The Gant is a good place to stay and reasonable when compared to other Aspen accomadations, but a little out of the way. They do have an excellent shuttle service, that will take you where you want in Aspen, and if you call they will usually pick you up where you are or will direct you to a spot not too far away. A great convenience.

Aspen has this really efficient and free [ during montain operation hours ] shuttle service. Aspen Highlands is 5 minutes away, buttermilk 7-8 minutes. Aspen Highlands is a great mountain, and the favorite of the locals. I usually ski there for about 2-2.5 hours in the early am, and then take the bus back to Aspen, and ski Ajax during the 11:30-1:00 pm lunch time, less crowded then. Then at about 1:30 I go in for a snack and ski another 2 hours or so. That's plenty.

While Snowmass is wonderful, it is also very large, and can take as long as 1/2 hour to get there, so that's anywhere from 40-60 minutes travel time round trip. But if you are going to be there for at least 5 days of skiing, devote one day to Snowmass, get there early, and get off the shuttle bus at the Two Creeks stop,it is about 7 minutes less travel time, and the the high speed lift is about 50 yds away. If you go to the Aspen Village stop, you have to walk all the way through Snowmass Village to get to the slopes, and it takes quite some time and early in the morning it is a considerable hike in ski boots.A good warm up however.

By going to Two Creeks you can work your way over to Snowmass Vilage, have lunch there or mid mountain, but you avoid some serious early moring hassles and lift lines that occur at the base of the mountain near the village.

This strategy assumes that you want the more authentic Aspen experience, rather than the obvious and more plastic experience of Snowmass village, you are above an intermediate skier in performance [ Ajax Mtn. has very little intermediate skiing, and no beginner skiing hills, ] and that Aspen Highlands with its redesigned and expanded base area, and Aspen itself will be the major focal points of your skiing experinces, which can be wonderful.

Well I hope this helps, have a great vacation and remember.......
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