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Compare these resorts for me?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
I am a member of the Over the Hill Gang International. This group organizes ski trips (and other trips) for skiers over 50. I ususally get to go on one ski trip a year and this year I'm considering several.

I am a average to above average intermediate. I have skied most often at Northstar in Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain (also California) and have no problem with their blue runs. On a rare occasion I will tackle the easiest of black diamonds. I am not the most adventurous of skiers, but my technique has been improving over the past couple of years.

I ski on Head i.c160 (170s) wtih Tyrolia SLDIO (or is that SLD10) bindings and Technica Rival X9 boots.

I mostly enjoy groomed runs, have not skied much in powder at all. It's been a few years since of done it and I think I'm a better skier now and might enjoy it more now.

I skied Whistler a couple of years back and did not like it. It was mostly icy with death balls littering the slopes.

I am mostly interested in comments on which mountains are best suited to my skiing abilities. OTGHI provides lodging and other amenities, so I don't have to arrange those. Dining suggestions are appreciated though.

The trips I'm considering are:
Big White & Silver Star (late Jan)
*Telluride (Feb)
*Taos (Feb)
Steamboat (late Feb)
Snowmass (Mar)
Aspen (Jan)
Heavenly Valley (Jan)
Utah Sampler (Mar) - (includes a day at Solitude,Snowbasin, Snowbird, Park City, Alta, Deer Valley)

*Please add comments on Telluride and Taos.

Your ideas are appreciated.

post #2 of 48
Based on that list and your other data you'd love Snowmass, but it's pricey.
post #3 of 48
Thread Starter 
Well, Snowmass isn't the most expensive domestic trip in the catalog. Steamboat is and they both have the same number of ski days.

Can you say a little more about the skiiing there? Also, do you recommend flying into Denver and shuttling there are flying into Aspen (8 miles away) or Eagle/Vail (60 miles)?


There are 5 days of skiing. I'd like to extend my trip beyond what OTGHI provides and it looks like Aspen, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands are also close. Would I be happy with any of those?
post #4 of 48
you might not care much for taos. best of what they have is steeper, and not much of what i'd call "blue cruising." (however, great food and general "vibe.")

and agreed about snowmass and park city (DV, PCMR, Canyons) as far finding plenty of friendly blue-ish skiing for a group. i'd fly into aspen if possible (though don't be too surprised to get re-routed to grand junction, as i did, then shuttle from there. it happens.) buttermilk is nice, a very good beginner's mountain with mellower blues and a low key feel.
aspen("ajax") and highlands offer steeper, more challenging skiing.
post #5 of 48
Thread Starter 
Ryan, what is PCMR and Canyons? I take it that the resorts in parens you are recommending? Would Apsen and Aspen Highlands have a enough intermediate for a day each?

post #6 of 48
Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons are two ski mountains in Park City, along with Deer Valley. All of these hills have plenty of cruising, though I think Park City is a little bluer, generally. There are some nice steeps but, to me, Park City is almost the quintessential Intermediate hill.

Aspen Mountain has no green runs if that matters to you. Some interesting fall-lines, too. I have not skied Highlands; I believe it has the reputation as something of a "local's mountain," with some legit steep stuff.
Honesly, you could spend two days at Snowmass and have plenty of terrain for yourself without getting bored.
Then, if you're feeling frisky, hit "Ajax." Watch for the 'boarders.

I really don't know for certain but it seems you might have a hard time going wrong whether you stayed in Park City or Aspen/Snowmass.

Also, FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE helps you around both areas, connecting you to lodging, dining and skiing. They run till late at night.
post #7 of 48
Snowmass has some of the best intermediate cruising terrain in US, e.g. the Big Burn. Long, mellow runs and snow should be great in early to mid March. It's a big place with lots of terrain at all difficulty levels. Aspen Highlands is my second favorite area near Aspen. Agree that it and Aspen (Ajax) Mtn have some tough terrain, but certainly have enough easier stuff for a great day of intermediate skiing. Buttermilk has good intermediate terrain and is usually the least crowded of the four. Utah sampler also sounds nice if you have attention deficit tendencies and like a schedule that moves you around to different ski area each day. Park City is a real nice ski town, but Aspen is even more fascinating.
pmcr: park city mtn resort
Canyons: one of 3 major ski areas near park city (others pmcr and deer valley)
post #8 of 48
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Jamesj
Snowmass has some of the best intermediate cruising terrain in US
Well, Snowmass is becoming very interesting and it does provide other options. Snowmass is in the lead. I'm still interested in the other resorts on the list like Steamboat, Telluride, & Big White.

BTW, I don't have to have green runs.

post #9 of 48
You can't go wrong with the Aspen areas and their choice of four mountains. There are plenty of groomed cruisers no matter which mountain you go to, and that time of year there will be no crowds or lines to speak of. Steamboat can be nice in February, but it will be more crowded and won't offer the degree of variety that you get with Aspen's four mountains. Steamboat is low enough that you can encounter spring conditions in February if that matters to you. There is also more to do off the mountain in Aspen. The Utah sampler in March sounds good, but you will spend more time travelling around than you will in Aspen where the ski areas are very close together.

Whichever trip you choose, have a great time.

post #10 of 48
Snowmass and the Canyons at Park City have layouts that resemble each other in the big scheme of things. Both are very large ski areas with significant sections of LONG ski runs strategically located throughout the ski area. You can ski each of them like you are skiing a half dozen ski areas or so, with differing personalities that give you very different experiences as the day progresses. I am an intermediate by choice and find that both areas allow you to rack up tremendous amounts of vertical during the day while you stay well entertained with new terrain and runs. I did however find Snowmass to be much easier to mover around the mountain on.

Of the three ski areas you asked about, the only one I have skied a couple of times is Steamboat. While it looks partitioned similarly on a trail map, I didn't find the flow of the area to be conducive to continuous movement around the area during the day while racking up a lot of vertical. Snowmass is really far in the lead of all the continental US ski areas when it comes to size, layout, convenience, and vertical a good intermediate can ski and feel continually entertained with.

All three of your other requests are 'stand alone' ski areas that don't have much in the way of options for days that you don't want to ski the main mountain. Snowmass offers the option of three other ski areas available on the same ticket the same day. As an intermediate, I found that skiing Aspen Highlands in the morning and Ajax in the afternoon was just about all I wanted to do in one day. I enjoyed Aspen Highlands more than Ajax, but I generally opt for places with the longest runs available. My impression of Buttermilk was that the long runs often had slow lifts and insignificant vertical for upper level intermediates. The 'four for the price of one' situation, along with convenient transportation between the ski areas all day long, makes the Aspen group a 'slam dunk' in my book.(Park City would be a very close second.)

Hope you have a good trip!
post #11 of 48
I'm over 50 guess that makes me an OVTH skier
JimL More traveling around in Utah? Park City has 3 resorts thats close to 9000 acers of skiing, all within 5 to 10 mins of each other. I live with in walking distance of PCMR and can be at Deer Valley in 5 mins the Canyons less then 10mins. With in 1/2 to 1 hour drive from Park City area or Salt lake City for that matter there is 9 diffrent world class ski areas plus two not so world class areas. All are within 45 mins from Salt lake City International Airport. I really don't think there is another place in the country that has that many resorts so close together. I'm not taking anything away from the Aspen area. Aspen is a vary beautiful place with some excellent sking. Aspen has a lot to offer for a ski vacation.
post #12 of 48
I honestly haven't done a lot of the mentioned resorts, but I have done almost all of the UT resorts that you are considering. I don't think you could go wrong with that itinerary in March.

The only drawback would be if you don't want to be that "on the move".

In which case I'd probably just go with Steamboat.
post #13 of 48
Thread Starter 
Utah49, don't feel bad about being over 50. I'm 58 and not the best skier in my OTHGI group at Mammoth this year. We had one lady who was 84 and easily kept up with me and then there was Peter. He's 84 and skies with such beautiful style, I wondered why he wasn't skiing with the expert group.

At Snowmass, how do you get from mountain to mountain? I noticed at least one comment about skiing two mountains on the same day.

post #14 of 48
Thread Starter 
Ok, one more question. At what altitude is most of the intermediate skiing? I notice the top of the mountain is about 12,500 feet. Snowmass, that is.
post #15 of 48
It's funny. I usually disagree with at least some of the advice and don't here.

A couple of random thoughts

If you don't like powder and prefer groomers stay away from Utah in March!

I'm a big fan of "the boat". I like the town and I like the mountain. If altitude is an issue it is a fairly low mountain.
post #16 of 48
The highest lift at Snowmass is a surface lift that takes skiers an additional 700+_ vertical feet to the top of the mountain. There is one blue run coming off of that lift(Rocky Mtn. High)and you can easily connect to other runs as you descend the mountain for a total of close to 4400 vertical feet of nonstop cruising. ....Not too many people opt to do that.

Most people concentrate on the various lift circuits that are spread around the mountain. The easiest skiing on the mountain is down low and is usually the more crowded areas. The Fanny Hill - Coney Glade lifts are probably the most heavily used access points to the mountain. The Funnel - Assay Hill area and Fanny Hill - Coney Glade are where all of the beginner skiing is. The skiing is crowded at times and the altitude not an issue. All the beginner skiing is below 10,000 ft. --The next intermediate circuits up the mountain would be the Alpine Springs and Sam's Knob lifts. Both of these go just a bit above 10,500 ft. -- The two popular high alpine circuits are the Big Burn(11,800 ft) and Elk Camp(11,300 ft). Both give you plenty of excellent cruising with views that make you forget everything else. These two lifts serve up the stuff that separates Snowmass from its competitors.

If altitude is a possible problem for you, you might consider the fact that the sleep altitude for Snowmass Village is around 8300 ft.. Steamboat is around 7000 ft. sleep altitude, Big White is 5600 ft, and Telluride is between 8800 and 9400 ft.

Hope that is the information you were looking for!
post #17 of 48
Thread Starter 
Excellent answer, feallen. I don't think the altitude will be a problem for me, but I am a bit concerned about one or two others that might be on this trip.

post #18 of 48
Sorry I missed your other question Johnny.

The Roaring Fork Transit Authority(RFTA) operates one of the most efficient bus systems I have used. Buses are available throughout the day to and from any of the ski areas and Aspen.
post #19 of 48
I am a big fan of Steamboat and have been to Aspen/Snowmass and Utah. Like them all, but have to disagree with some of the comments about Steamboat. It is much less expensive than Aspen/Snowmass; there is a lot to do on & off the mountain; and the snow conditions will likely be better than the others. They get a lot of snow and it is very comparable to Utah in terms of quality (very dry).

I also like the layout of Steamboat. There are really 3 distinct areas each of which you can explore all day without boredom while getting in a fair amount of vertical. (not as much as Aspen/ 'mass).

Grooming is also good at Steamboat, but when it snows (which it does a lot) who cares? Even a relative newby can ski Steamboat powder because it is so light.

And crowded? It is the least crowded hill I have ever been on, no day trippers due to the distance from Denver; Snowmass doesn't have the daytrippers either, but I found it to be much more crowded (been to each at the same time of season).

All that said, I still want to go back to Aspen/'mass and I will be back to da 'boat!

But let's face it, you really can't go wrong with any of your choices.
post #20 of 48

Well you have some great hills in mind. I have skied several of them and based on the description of your skiing and comfort level I have a few suggestions for you. It seems like Snowmass has been discussed pretty throughly.

Steamboat is a great mountain and one I would recommend to you from your list. It has a lot of terrain, so you can ski it for a week and not really get bored with the experience. One of the reasons I think it is a good match is that there are really no mind blowing steeps at the mountain. With the exception of the Chutes 1-3 and Christmas Tree bowl, It sounds to me like you would be comfortable skiing nearly the entire mountain. This is a big benefit because you can experience the entire resort and not be limited to certain chairs because they only access expert terrain. There is always a way out at Steamboat. This is also nice when skiing with the familiy, because it allows the whole group to basicly ski together. Or at least meet at a common chair at the bottom of a run. The one negative that you may or may not be comfortable with is the bumps and tree skiing. They are very well known for these, which is how they are a top 10 resort with out any 45-50 degree slopes. The nice side is that they have a wide range of moguls so if you would like to learn, they generally have some on a slope with very low angle so you can slowly pick your way through and get the feel for moguls. They also have great grooming but they do allow some trails to bump up.

Heavenly is another great mountain that I would recommend to anyone. I skiied there last February (early). It was probably one of my favorite ski vacations of all time, and I have done my fair share. Again as with Steamboat the entire mountain is open to you except for Killbrew and Mott Canyon. This is pretty significant since Heavenly has a huge amount of acreage (4000 +). The views are breathtaking! The snow was great when I was there we got about 16 inches of snow over the three days we skiied at Heavenly. Since you have skiied Northstar you know how nice the Lake Tahoe area is. I am from Pennsylvania and it was just a great experience. There are a lot of resturants shops etc. in the immediate South Shore area which makes the time off the slopes fun as well.

There are a few mountains on your list that I would not recommend to you given your described comfort level. These are Taos, Alta and Snowbird. Not because they are not great mountains or don't get great snow because they may be some of the best, but they are also some of the hardest, most challenging resorts in North America. Not to say that they don't have plenty of intermediate (+ or -) slopes but that is not what these mountains caiter too. Such places can be frustrating because you may not feel comfortable skiing entire areas of the mountain because of the ratings (Double black etc).

These are the only mountains that I have personal experience with from your list. Have a great time and Think SNOW!!
post #21 of 48
Thread Starter 
wan2ski, thanks for your comments. Boy, the choice is getting harder. I'd like to get more comments about Taos and Telluride because an othg skier I know is considering going on these trips back-to-back and her skiiing ability is a notch below mine.

I should confess I've been to Steamboat and Taos once each, but know little about them. On the Steamboat trip the snow didn't seem that great and I kept wondering why I felt so bad. After two days I was diagnosed with pneumonia. So much for that trip.

Then I skied Taos and the snow definitely wasnt up to par. On the 2nd day, I fell while slowly gliding up to a lift and broke some ribs. End of trip. So I still would like info on Taos and Telluride. From what I've gathered elsewhere, Telluride sounds like more of an expert mountain. I heard that Taos has had several bad snow seasons in a row, and that would seem to bear out my feelings about the snow when I was there.

post #22 of 48
Like many have said, you can't really lose at any place on your list. But to the point of your latest questions: never been to Telluride, renowned for gorgeous scenery and a mix of tough and easy terrain, maybe not quite as extensive as some others on your list. Been to Taos and it lived up to its rep for mostly tough terrain, but a mellow skier could eat his/her way to culinary oblivion at some of the lodges there. The local New Mexican food and culture is real interesting too.

I still say Snowmass/Aspen - if you've never been. Snowmass has a nice, upscale village at base of slopes which is a great place to stay if your package includes that. The 10 mile trip to Aspen is easy to do on off-day(s) and evenings. It's an epicenter of conspicuous consumption, but is the quintessential American ski town and a guilty pleasure for the unwashed masses who wish to gawk and assimilate for a week. Tons of shops, food, bars, women (and men), and fur.
post #23 of 48
Ok, here is some Taos info. We live in Texas panhandle so we go to Taos at least 5 or 6 weekends a year. Best snowfall is usually late feb. Contrary to popular belief snow has been great last two years it just came late in year. I am 45 y.o. advanced but no expert skier, ski 25-30 days per year. I really love Taos but there are somethings that may or may not fit your style. 1. Grooming is not a big deal at taos, there are big bumps and they are everywhere. 2. Taos is know for the ridge, that is why everyone wants to ski there and based on what I have read that is probably not for you. There is some hiking at 12000 ft that can wear you out and they are not just challenging it is hard. 3. As Jamesj said earlier, Food and culture is not like any of the other resorts you are considering and is really interesting. The wine festival January 19 - 30 is worth the trip by itself. 4. If you stay at Taos Ski Valley you have much more of a European feel but staying in Town is a much different almost bohemian feel much like Santa Fe. If staying in town you have a 30 minute mountain drive each morning and afternoon. Like I said I love it, but compared to the Co. and Ut. resorts you are comparing to, it is daylight and darkness. I have been to PCMR and Deer Valley each of last three seasons and I recomend them highly.
post #24 of 48
Go to Utah! Taos is great but is definately for agressive, experienced skiiers. My friends are strong intermediates and they struggled. Park City, Deer Valley, and the Canyons are all nice and very close together. Alta and Snowbird are tougher but a good intermediate would still have fun. So many choices........
post #25 of 48
somedays being over 50 feels kike being over 50 on other day I just love out skiing somebody 30 years younger then me. by the way the only utah resort that you might want to cross off your list in Snowbird. Alta has lots to offer a true intermidiate skier.
post #26 of 48
Thread Starter 
BTW, what will be the expected temperatures at Snowmass in early March?

post #27 of 48

check the chart


there's no telling, of course, but when i was there the first week of march in '98, learning to ski, the conditions could not have been better.
post #28 of 48
Early March is absolutely the primo time for best mix of snow and sun in Aspen. I've been there twice in early March. Both times it was 42 degs and sunny - perfect, except for a brief disruption during the middle of one of my ski weeks when it snowed 30" in 30 hrs - even more perfect.
post #29 of 48
I can't believe Deer Valley hasn't gotten more mention. For someone looking for intermediate groomers and good service, it has to be on the top of virtually any list.

Snowmass, Steamboat, & Heavenly are the others that spring to mind for that sort of terrain. It really depends on what you're looking for in a town and amenities.
post #30 of 48


The only resort on your list that I've been to is Telluride. Went there in the summer and fell in love with the place. Liked it so much my wife and I bought a place in Mt. Village.

Like you I'm a "blue-double blue" skier. Telluride has a rep as an experts mountain. The early runs (leading into Telluride) are all black or double black (with the exception of Telluride Trail). On the other side of the mountain (reached by free Gondola) are lots of blue trails. Lift 4 (main village core) and
Lift 5 provides bunch of blues. Lift 10 leads to some easy long cruisers down the mountain. Above lift 10 and lift 5 is Prospect Bowl. This is a new area with some nice blues and glade skiing for the non-expert. I would also recommend above Prospect Bowl taking lift 14 upto See Forever (12,250') on a blue sky day. You'll have some of the most incredible panoramas you'll ever experiece. Nice Blue all the way down the mountain into the village core or jump to the other side of the mountain and ski into Telluride for lunch.

The people are great, the views are incredible, the skiing is always at least good and at times sublime, and the food is yummy (cheap to $$$$$). The only downsides are it expensive and it is tough to get to. Both of these factors contribute to the non-existent lift lines. In Feb the only wait you might have is early on a powder day when the locals come out. Then the wait is maybe 2-3 minjutes at its worst.

Go to Telluride you wont be orry.
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