or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › keystone trip report-warning, long report
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

keystone trip report-warning, long report

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
someone on an earlier post of mine asked for my perspective on keystone after my trip. took my family(mom and I, 10yo boy, 8yo girl, 7yo boy, and infant) and in-laws to keystone on dec. 14-19 for four days of skiing. i will try to give you my thoughts(positive and negative) on various aspects of my trip.

location: hey, it's summitt co. -easy 90+ drive and great grocery store(city market) at dillon(?). liked four lane into keystone resort

scenery: beautiful area. scenery from top of mtn. was gorgeous(was that the breck runs in the distance?) especially at night. one thing i miss when skiing in utah is the amount of pines on the trails, not disappointed here. liked better than copper b/c an interstate doesn't stare you in the face.

rentals: rentskis.com by ski school had excellent equipment and knowledgable staff. dave at the shop was very nice

skiing: enjoyed the mtn. very much. mom and I and the two eldest kids are blue skiers and enjoy (what i call) rollercoaster runs-fun cruising with some challenges in between. i've heard on forums before that keystone can get icy in some spots. the first day we skied the resort had only a couple of inches that past week and we found the runs weren't any icier than previous resorts skied. we rarely ski a black(only if groomed) but we tend to find all blue runs at any resort that has a steeper portion tends to get icy. is that because of the lack of holding snow, skiers skidding down, or what? enjoyed frenchman, flying dutchman, springdipper, river run, prospector, and last alamo. we have figured if you can find 5 or more runs that you are willing to go down repeatedly you have found a good place to ski. we even enjoyed schoolmarm until the crowds hit.
our inlaws are bunny hill skiers and were disappointed in the fairly short bunny hill greens. the next step up is schoolmarm which seems to me a bigger jump(especially since you have to go 2/3 down the mtn to reach a lift). i unfortunately took my in-laws down this..they did good until my f-i-l fell. he is 6'4" and in his early sixties and it became survival mode after that. plus the crowds were awful that afternoon.

mozart was the only run we did not enjoy, mainly the upper portion because of the rough snow. i'm a wimp and enjoy smooth trails. when the snow gets cut up and hard to ride thru i don't like it.

crowds: why do i never learn not to ski on a friday and especially saturday anyplace along the I-70 corridor? wed. and thu. were just about perfect. snow was soft and smooth wed. with lack of crowds, 3 inches by thu. morning gave us just enough powder to schuss on. friday was ok in the am but by afternoon crowds were enforce and snow was crap..that is when i took my in-laws down. sat. was just plain bad. by the time the sun had time to soften up the cord it was already so torn up it was just no fun. what makes it worse is there are all levels of abilities skiing the same mess(a quarter in survival mode) and it gets dangerous. it reminded of skiing at breck and why i will never go back there again.

night skiing: nothing is more peaceful than a gondola ride at night, especially with the scent of mary jane permeating the cabin from previous riders. the snow was not as icy as i thought and the lighting of the trails i thought was excellent. fun but cold

snowboarders: sorry, but i hate'm..i know that probably 75% are probably fine but the other quarter ruin my opinion of the whole. you can say anything you want, but i ski behind my kids and i am able to objectively observe who rides more recklessly around other people, it is boarders hands down. quit your whining and just accept it. be it younger or harder to control, your excuses fall on deaf ears here. i laughed when i read another board member write in another forum about the snootiness of deer valley where no snowboards are allowed and the clientle are all rich(which is mostly true). but i will tell you this, it was a wonderful place to ski(may i say again-ski) and not have to worry about your safety. plus the other skiers were mostly at the same level of ability). this comes from a definitely middle class family.

might i ask what is in it for the resorts courting snowboarders? don't most of them by a season pass and bring their own food and drink beer in the parking lots(that's what i'd do). what's wrong with a SKI resort? aren't the skiers the ones staying at your condos, spending money at the shops, eating at the restaurants, renting your skis? i estimated i spent in 5 nites/4days $5,500 on lodging, eating, shopping, rentals, lift tickets, ski school, etc... does your average snowboarder even get close to that in a year? or two? or three? most skiers i know(from green to blue to black) despise snowboarders. i know keystone was a hold out to snowboarding but did they ever market themselves as a true skiing resort? is it just politically correct to accept snowboarding or is it economics?

speed: what is the definition of slow? are the orange slow signs just for show. i will grant you any speed you wish on a blue or black. but to go as fast on a green conjures up the word "pantywaist" in my mind. seeing the boarders and skiers flying down schoolmarm within feet of my kids, wife, and inlaws still makes me shudder. what if my kids had fallen or turned real quick? if you have to boost your ego by whizzing past the category 1-3 riders i think you're just compensating for the lack of something! when you ski greens,ski appropriately for that terrain. do the ski patrollers worry about getting beat up for ripping up somebody's lift ticket over this?

etiquette: i've always thought if you are to stop on a trail you are to stop in a conspicious place and not where someone going downhill cannot see you, for instance to the side or around a slow sign. especially with boarders now deciding to stop where ever the h*** they want to, it has become even more dangerous with skiers stopping anywhere they want. my only bad spill came on a green run came when i went over a crest and i came upon two snowboarders just laying down on the hill talking(one on their cell phone). i fell trying to avoid the crash...can't the ski patrol or some kind of mtn. ambassador kindly remind these folks of what to do
ski school: central reservations made it difficult to check in because we weren't able to just drop them off and let the school do the boots, skis and helmets. so what was a 20 minute check in at copper mtn. was over an hour here. the staff seemed really friendly except they were having to train people at the same time. my 10yo really progressed this trip(linking parallel very well) with his good looking Czech instructor-i think he had a crush on her. 8 yo was a wedger and still was at the end of her two days but skied any blue with excellent and suprising control and speed. my thighs burnt just watching her.

now to my 7 yo. toward the end of the second day of ski school i received a call from ski patrol saying he had a bloody nose and was at first aid. i was at the top of dercum mtn. so headed down. first aid was at mountain house base so i stopped to ask four ski patrollers gathered at a trails merge sign. when i asked they asked me if i was _____'s father? when they did i knew something was wrong. megan with ski patrol(bless you) went with me the rest of the way down. when i went to first aid they told me he was strapped down and had a c-colllar because of complaints with neck pain. i was also told me he was badly bruised and had probably broken his nose. immediately i told myself that i would be the "in control" father but as soon as i saw him i broke down, especially when he said, " daddy." i was then told he ran into a light pole that was padded at that trails merge sign. yes, he thank God was wearing his helmet. the staff, nurses, and Dr. Buzz at first aid gave us wonderful care and attention. ski patrol picked up my wife and infant, and ski school brought my other kids to first aid. his neck was fine and except for a hugely swollen lip, mild concussion, black eyes, broken nose, and sore hip, he came out fine. he was disappointed he couldn't go back out the other two days but was a trooper.

i couldn't ask for any better care. Becky(a head instructor?) at ski school came to the clinic, called later that day, and called also the next day. the only thing we were really disappointed in was that neither of the instructors called or came by. is that a policy because of lawsuits??? were the both in training? i never really got a good explanation on how it happened. should i inquire more about it? by the way, ski patrol told/apologized for not telling me the whole truth when they first called so i wouldn't have an accident myself on the way down.

lodging: stayed at jackpine which is one of the closer of the river run condos to the slopes. still somewhat of a hike but not bad. room was awesome. only trouble was the cheap and nonworking humidifiers in the room the first night(i hate black boogers). it took us several calls the next day to finally get some in which we did get new ones. the hot tub was decent but had a fence around it so you had no view of anything. overall, the best condo we have stayed in anywhere.

area: river run was a nice place. typical stone and timber villages that typifies intrawest/vail resorts master plans. i don't say that in a negative light. i like them myself. just enough shopping and eating places

eating: kickapoo tavern: excellent brisket, don't get the ribs. good food but kids received their food 20 minutes before the adults were served. fritz bistro-good paninni. great northern tavern-excellent, inventive food. pasaino's-moderate italian but great, friendly service. big horn steakhouse-great atmosphere, good food but not for the price. parrot eyes-good mexican grub but limited menu. planned to eat fondue but ski accident prevented. timber ridge food court-not worth the money. also i noted for the first time a large mexican population in the food courts. nothing wrong with this but this is the first i had noted.

reservations/activities staff: when we first got there check in went fine except the lady told me the wrong garage to go into. in fact she had to call someone to find out. when we called about reservations about big horn, we were told no ressies needed. but when got there had to wait 45 minutes(and were told it would be 15). staff always was friendly but anytime we called half the time they would have to ask someone. sometimes we would get cut off and have to call back and start all over with someone else. we realize people need to be trained but we always ski this time of year and never had so many inexperienced staff. again, may i add they were really friendly

in summary, i may sound negative a bit but overall a very positive experience. is it someplace i would recommend? highly for good green and blue skiers but not beginners. will i go back again? yea but not for awhile because i like to explore new places. i really think keystone is little gem and we didn't get to do everything we wanted(tube, ice skate, go to breck to shop, fondue). i would only go on mon-thu(or anyhere on I-70 for that fact). comparing breck, keystone, and copper i would pick keystone for the skiing, breck for the shopping and eating, and copper a good in between. i would ski again at keystone and copper, but as i've said before, never at breck.

thanks for your time.....be sure to answer any of my questions
post #2 of 22

Nice Report

Thanks for taking the time to write this. I hope your 7 yo has recovered and isn't scared off from skiing.

Crowds are a definite bummer. I think that's one of the reasons I like Telluride so much. Since it's so far from any major population centers even the weekends are crowd free. Heading out there 2nd week of Jan and it should really be empty.
post #3 of 22
Yeah, the crowds at Keystone can be pretty bad, especially near the River Run base area.

But the views are definitely awesome, especially from the top of Outback. And yes, that was Breck in the distance. The blues are nice and long, and once you get to North Peak and Outback, not very crowded.

You're right about Schoolmarm being quite a step up for beginners, as a couple of my friends found out -- it is long, so even if they want to quit, they still have a long way to go. Plus it gets so crowded. And there is quite a steep part at the end of the River Run area that scares beginners a lot. On the plus side, beginner's get a big-mountain feel from the top of Dercum Mountain, especially looking down Dillon Lake on a sunny day with the Tenmile Range in the background.

Mozart is the one run I also dislike at Keystone -- it is almost always very crowded (with many people way in over their heads), and can get very icy at the top.

Despite the bad rep Keystone gets as a "not-hardcore" mountain, I like it -- the views and great, and the runs are nice and long (I'm just starting to graduate to blacks). I'm just looking to have a nice time on the mountain when I'm skiing, and Keystone fits the bill. As you found out, the crowds are definitely the downside, so mid-weeks are the best.
post #4 of 22
Watchout, I ski Keystone allot and find your report right on. I enjoy the mountain, great blues, fun bumps. Agree with Faiasy, Mozart could be great but to crowded with people that really should not be there. That does not happen nearly as much with the blues on the front side.

I rarely need to ask questions of Keystone staff but like you find them ill-informed. My infrequent experience with ski school typically leaves me frustrated.
You came the weekend before Christmas, right? We were there and it was unusually crowded for that time of year. I think it was due to how the holiday fell, giving people a week before Christmas for school breaks. I would say that if you enjoyed it then you would love it at a different time of the year.

You ate at the Fritz, shoot we were probably in there, we are all the time. Tom and Shari are good friends of ours.
post #5 of 22
Adding this. For beginners it is best to ski out of Mountian House base. The lift drops halfway to Schoolmarm, making is shorter and the lower part is much less crowded. Plus less people going fast to get to the blues off Schoolmarm.
post #6 of 22
Doesn't anyone but me think that the Keystone snow is much more "east coast" then the other Summit resorts? I tend to avoid it because they snow just isn't of the same quality as the other areas, in my experience.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
speed: what is the definition of slow? are the orange slow signs just for show. i will grant you any speed you wish on a blue or black. but to go as fast on a green conjures up the word "pantywaist" in my mind. seeing the boarders and skiers flying down schoolmarm within feet of my kids, wife, and inlaws still makes me shudder. what if my kids had fallen or turned real quick? if you have to boost your ego by whizzing past the category 1-3 riders i think you're just compensating for the lack of something! when you ski greens,ski appropriately for that terrain. do the ski patrollers worry about getting beat up for ripping up somebody's lift ticket over this?
The reason is that the terrain park is most easily acsessed by schoolmarm. While im sure there are some out of control nutjobs, I would wager most of them are skiing quite a bit more safely than you think.
post #8 of 22
ssh, I find the snow better at Keystone, especially this year when the snow falls have been pretty equal. I think it depends on the runs, Mozart and Elk Run typically are hard packed due to the number of people slip sliding down them. My personal favorite is Big Horn at the outback, a little hard to find, great easy bumps, in the sun, lots of fun. For more difficult bumps, Cat Dancer, it gets little traffic. Groomers I like Frenchman the best. To each his own though, luckily or we would all end up at the same place.
post #9 of 22
Kima, you're right!

Perhaps we'll hook up and you can educate me about Keystone... I've mostly been there early- and late-season. Midseason I tend to spend more at Breck and (now) Copper due at least partially to proximity to my friends' place in Breck.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
Kima, you're right!

Perhaps we'll hook up and you can educate me about Keystone... .
Would love it!
post #11 of 22
I'm considering a trip to either keystone or breck. Breck has a higher elevation, and I was wondering if you found it easier to adjust to the Keystone altitude than the Breck altitude. THANKS!
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
Doesn't anyone but me think that the Keystone snow is much more "east coast" then the other Summit resorts? I tend to avoid it because they snow just isn't of the same quality as the other areas, in my experience.
I dunno, I've found the conditions are usually comparable with other Summit Co. resorts. However, since snow doesn't fall very evenly across the county it's hard to say whether bad snow at Keystone means there's bad snow at any other resorts. Likewise, Keystone occasionally gets a dump no one else does. Though, with A Basin so close you can usually count on them having the best conditions between the two.

Anyway, I personally hate Keystone for so many reasons other than the snow it doesn't really matter.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn
I dunno, I've found the conditions are usually comparable with other Summit Co. resorts. However, since snow doesn't fall very evenly across the county it's hard to say whether bad snow at Keystone means there's bad snow at any other resorts. Likewise, Keystone occasionally gets a dump no one else does. Though, with A Basin so close you can usually count on them having the best conditions between the two.

Anyway, I personally hate Keystone for so many reasons other than the snow it doesn't really matter.
Ditto. I hate the place. I have skied there many, many times, but not for about 7 years. The last time I went, I had enough.

Growing up, I had fun at Keystone though. Especially in my mid-teens years. Used to hook up with my friends and ride the Gondola all night long. Very fun when I was a teenybopper.

Watchout: Great trip report. I enjoyed your complete assessment of the mountain as a family man. It is a completely different look at the moutain from the way I see it as a single guy in complete control of when, where, and how I go to a ski area.

I think that if I somehow magically had kids, I would take them to a small little resort in a far off corner somewhere.

nate
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lizziew
I'm considering a trip to either keystone or breck. Breck has a higher elevation, and I was wondering if you found it easier to adjust to the Keystone altitude than the Breck altitude. THANKS!
I just got back from a 5 day trip to Breck, and didn't have any real altitude problems to speak of. Flying from Pittsburgh, I was concerned that there MIGHT be, so stayed overnight in Denver to acclimate, then headed up in the morning. Also took Gingko starting a couple days ahead of time.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lizziew
I'm considering a trip to either keystone or breck. Breck has a higher elevation, and I was wondering if you found it easier to adjust to the Keystone altitude than the Breck altitude. THANKS!
They are close enough in altitude that I doubt you'll notice.

Note: The biggest part of altitude sickness is dehydration. So:

  1. water
  2. water
  3. water
  4. ginko, iron, etc.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
thanks for responses, but i thought i would get a little more input about snowboarding.

lizziew: i couldn't tell much difference...but let me state this, breck is a wonderful town, charming and real. but being a blue skier i wouldn't return to ski the resort. there is just too many people skiing at the same time, even in the middle of the week. in recent years i've been to vail, keystone, breck, copper, and even winter park and the only resort that was (what i consider)crowded was breck. it must be the ability to have conferences or something. it also seemed to have the most novice skiers i've seen on a hill.

nate: thanks for the compliment. i have only taken my kids twice now and do see things from a very different perspective from going with other adults(i don't have to fight the urge for an ale so hard on my first night at high altitude when with the kids). my eyes have been more open to safety concerns when you are responsible for another human being. it has definitely transferred to even when i'm not skiing with them.

as far as bad snow...unless you are skiing off piste or blacks, i think the quality of the slopes has to do with recent grooming and (here's the biggie) the number of people going down the slopes
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by watchout
lizziew: i couldn't tell much difference...but let me state this, breck is a wonderful town, charming and real. but being a blue skier i wouldn't return to ski the resort. there is just too many people skiing at the same time, even in the middle of the week. in recent years i've been to vail, keystone, breck, copper, and even winter park and the only resort that was (what i consider)crowded was breck. it must be the ability to have conferences or something. it also seemed to have the most novice skiers i've seen on a hill.
Did Breck have Peak 7 when you were there?

Did you start and end your day on Peak 9? In general, I start and end my day on Peak 8. I stay up high, and ski all 4 peaks from the top. Peak 7 has really exceptional blue terrain. Many of the runs off the T can be skied by solid skiers, too. Beaver Run is crowded at times, but most of the mountain isn't.
post #18 of 22
I really like Keystone. My only complaint is that they cannot make snow after 1/31 (nor can any of the Summit Co resorts). So, if you get a warm spring (like we did in '04), the snow can be poor, especially at the base.

Also, the altitude really effects me.

So, I won't be going to Keystone (or CO, for that matter) this spring. Back to UT
post #19 of 22
Keystone is fun for a while....but I prefer Breck...the outback at keystone is fun....Rocky though early season....It seems at Breck and Keystone if you don't want crowds on fri, sat, sunday then don't ski the front!!! Go to the back sides and find some trails that aren't crowded...I don't sit in lines at breck or keystone because I stay off of the highly traveled trails....anyways with a family its hard....But i dont have one so I go where there aren't people and have no complaints....
post #20 of 22
I was at Keystone yesterday, overall I had a pretty good time. We skied from around noon to 6pm. We left early because pretty all the runs for night skiing were solid ice by around 5 pm. I cannot understand why they wouldn't open the quad next to the gondola at the bottom, the gondola was just so slow compared to that. But overall, I had a great time skiing back away from all the rookies on the other two mountains.
post #21 of 22
Watchout, thanks for a fascinating, unbiased read from a perspective I'm very familiar with. I've been heavy into the family ski thing for about a dozen years. I agree with a key point made by uglymoney; consider going to smaller, lesser known ski areas for familiy trips to beat the crowds and costs and still get a very high quality experience. An empty day at a smallish CO area like Eldora or Loveland beats a crowded day at larger places. And those areas are huge to a kid and huge to adults from the flatlands.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucky33
Watchout, thanks for a fascinating, unbiased read from a perspective I'm very familiar with. I've been heavy into the family ski thing for about a dozen years. I agree with a key point made by uglymoney; consider going to smaller, lesser known ski areas for familiy trips to beat the crowds and costs and still get a very high quality experience. An empty day at a smallish CO area like Eldora or Loveland beats a crowded day at larger places. And those areas are huge to a kid and huge to adults from the flatlands.
When I was very young (3), my dad and mom developed a fascination for Jackson Hole, and so when I was (4) we went to the Hole to learn to ski and this became a winter vacation tradition. YES, I was the luckiest kid alive. This played our for about a decade through the mid seventies and into the early eighties.

One year at X-Mas, Jackson had no snow - nada. We always went for two weeks, so we headed that way, but stopped short at Terry Peak ski area in the black hills of S. Dakota. My dad called ahead everyday to see iif JH had snow, but it never snowed, so we spent two weeks at Terry Peak, at a cheap slopeside condo. TP had tons of snow, the locals took care of my sis and I, (very young but good skiers) and all in all, acording to my dad, and from the bits and pieces I remember, it ended up being one of the best family vacations ever, as well as one of the cheapest. No stress on the parents, lot s of freedom for the kids.

At that time, my entire family just wanted to ski, ski, ski, eat, play in the snow, sleep, ski, ski, ski. Oh, and I remember my mom and dad occasionally enjoying a cold beer

So, small resorts for families that love to ski were in back then, and they are in today

nate
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Resorts, Conditions & Travel
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › keystone trip report-warning, long report