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Vail or Aspen? That is the question.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hello all,
Has anyone been to both Vail and Aspen? My wife and I are already planning out where we want to be next Christmas and would like a little advice. She is an advanced skier who will want to hit the challenging slopes, therefore which mountain has the best rides?. I spent the night in Vail Village almost 20 years ago (as a kid) and remember that it was a very beautiful place, but I never actually got to ski there. I have always wanted to return! Neither of us have been to Aspen, but have heard that it is "all that and a bag of chips". Is Christmas a good time (uncrowded) to be at either one, or just the opposite? Although we have pretty much narrowed it down to Vail or Aspen, have we left off any mountain that would be equal to or greater in all respects to Aspen and Vail??? Thanks for any helpful advice!
post #2 of 8

Don't know much about Aspen, which disqualifies me from this thread.

But I know a lot about Vail/BC. If I was you, I'd go to Vail/BC hands down.

If you do decide to go to Vail, make sure you ski with someone who knows the mountain.

Drop me a PM if you come out. I'd be happy to show you around.

post #3 of 8
I've skied quite a bit at both Aspen and Vail. I would say Aspen Mountain (Ajax) is more challenging overall than Vail. There are some double blacks at Vail that have no business being labeled as such. There isn't a single green on Ajax (which never made sense to me because the designations are supposed to be relative to that mountain only.) Vail is much, much bigger. Ajax in terms of skiable acres is actually only about 675 acres compared to more than 5,000 for Vail. Ajax's terrain does tend to "ski bigger" than it is in that I don't really get bored there cause it's so challenging.

Also, Aspen Highlands (my favorite in the Aspen area, also challenging), Snowmass (very large area, lots of cruising runs), and Buttermilk (for beginners almost exclusively) are also nearby so that helps the Aspen area as far as variety. But then again Vail has Beaver Creek nearby which has some terrain that I really enjoy.

Vail tends to get more snow than the Aspen area. The Back Bowls at Vail are also neat to see in terms of their size-- they're not particularly difficult but they're fun on a powder day particularly.

I prefer the town of Aspen. It's more authentic (it was there at least before the resort unlike Vail). Vail Village is pretty even though it's in a faux-Euro sort of way.

They will both be crowded at Christmas. Lots of high-speed quads and the sheer size of Vail would probably give it the advantage over Aspen in terms of handling the crowds.

I personally prefer Utah skiing in general, but between Vail and Aspen for a first-timer to CO, I'd probably go with Vail. (Jackson Hole, WY is a very challenging mountain and a neat place that you also might want to consider.)

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 18, 2001 09:45 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Wags ]</font>
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the informative feedback! It sounds like you have quite a bit of experience on the slopes. Vail has 5,000 skiable acres? WOW! If Jackson Hole is "very challenging", I better steer clear of there. A full body cast is not my idea of a merry Christmas! Speaking of which, Merry Christmas everyone (a little early).
post #5 of 8
I have been to Aspen during Christmas.
Lift lines weren't bad considering the holiday.
The lines at Highlands were virtually nonexistent after the base lift.
post #6 of 8
If acres are important,then ski Vail. Otherwise Aspen has much more expert terrain, nicer town and fewer lift lines.

Vail and Summit County oversold the discount tickets to the Denver market. I think they have ruined it for the destination skier.
post #7 of 8
Hey Tex,
You went for the two good ones. As a fellow Texan, I have to vote for the Aspen area. I am not reccomending Aspen(Ajax) because it is a bit pretentious and really is one of those 'look at me' mountains. The other three mountains in the Roaring Fork Valley(Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass) are first rate in all categories and the pretentiousness is not there. A very good bus system connects all four ski areas, and the lift ticket is good for all 4 ski areas on the same day. I skiied all four one day last March, and I can guarantee you that I covered more territory than Vail can boast about.
Vail is where the 'people' want to be, and the crowds show it. While it is hard to get around on for a novice, the Aspen group specializes in logical lift placement that improves the ski experience. On the other hand, if you haven't skiied Vail's back bowls, you need to, just so you can get a feel for them. I think they are overrated, but that is probably why so many people love them. They aren't so hard that you have to have olympic credentials to ski them.
Its a toss-up, but if you want your wife to have that treasured once in a lifetime feeling while on this trip, I would suggest the Aspen Highlands village! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #8 of 8
I agree 100% with Wags. Utah has the snow, Aspen has the superb resort ski town at the bottom with some character. I'd mention that Snowmass has some interesting advanced terrain in addition to all those cruisers. Too bad you can't put the town of Aspen on a huge flatbed truck and move it to Little Cottonwood Canyon.
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