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My Weekend In Colorado: A Tale of Fun, Sun and Snow (?) Part II Vail

post #1 of 2
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This part two is a quick snow resort and gear report from my trip last weekend to Colorado. For part one of this Tale click here: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=25790

So, after a good Friday at Breckenridge on the groomers, up at 5:20am on Saturday morning for a big breakfast and then ready and roaring for Vail. But yet again, no sign of fresh on the ground, despite the weatherman. And things looked pretty clear up in the sky too. So back in the truck and off to Lionshead. The wind we had in Breckenridge the day before was no where in evidence. The forecast in Vail Village was for 48 degrees and the snow was already kind of mushy while standing in the ticket line.

A quick condition report here. At this posting the snow at Vail, since the base is at a lower elevation, is starting to go. In the back bowls there was plenty of brown spots and rocks. Apparently the snow gods have not blessed them this year, and from what I saw unless they get more April is not going to be a huge option. Again, check conditions with someone not affiliated with the resort before traveling.

So, back to the narrative. Hmm, with those conditions, which ski to use? Well, since the Solly Scream Hots were working for me pretty good the day before, and it was going to be cold in the morning at least, that's what I picked. It turned out to be a bad choice, but then I am getting ahead of myself. We were on the Gondola by 8:45 with our immediate destination the back bowls. After a few warm up runs we were up to the top and then down the back.

Anyone who has not been to Vail in the last several years owes it to themselves to check it out. They have opened up an unbelievable amount of terrain in the back bowls. I remeber skiing this area in the 70's when you had to take a bus to get back to the main area. Well, it is all lift serviced now, with the latest addition being the Blue Sky Basin. The back bowls at Vail are always great, and all of these new lifts just make it better.

Unfortunately, with that amount of terrain, there is not a whole lot of grooming back there. Big signs warn that you need to be on fat skis (we saw lots) or snowboards. And they were right. First run down the backside things were still really cold. Lots of frozen and refrozen little bumps covered in death cookies and chicken heads, just tight enough together to be a real pain in the back if you know what I mean. So while I could fit the Solly Scream Hots through, it was not a lot of fun. A lot of the territory was bumped up too, with no fresh, so I immediately started thinking I want to get the Dynastar Little Big Fats on this stuff, especially once the afternoon sun hit it.

My friend was on Voelkl carvers and having the same kind of problems, so we decided to switch back to the front side of Vail. And this is where I had my first great gear revelation for the weekend. We were skiing groomers at about 27-29 degrees, so the snow was really fast. And I have had some complaints with the Solly's at speed because they get a little quirky when you run them flat. So I just left them on edge and skiied the runs like a Super G. And I was easily pushing 40mph with no problems. So apparently in my version of this ski, which has the little rods on top, you have to run them on edge to the the torsional stiffeners to work. So I have to retract my review on the Solly's as regards speed. They do handle it, but only if you leave them on edge. I guess those little rods are a little funky if you don't have the edge on. So we were ripping about an hour of just awesome runs, very fast and very fun.

My friend was ready for lunch and I was ready for the Little Big Fats, so back down the mountain we went. And once I got these on, they were the second gear revelation for the day. With the soft shovel and tip, and in the 168, these were the perfect skis to go back to the Blue Sky Basin on. The snow had warmed up a little, so I went back to those nasty little bumps from the morning. The LBF's turned out to be absolutely the best bump/slush ski I have ever been on. With the width, they just floated like little boats through the stuff. I can tell they will work great in powder too, so I can't wait to get them out on that.

And with the titanium top layer, they also really worked well on the groomers on the way back down the front side of the mountain to the truck. You couldn't push em over 25mph because they just didn't have the length to carve on the hard stuff, the turns would start skidding. But at slower speeds and in the bumps, just great. I am very happy with these, and they would probably be my weapon of choice in the back-country-tight-bumpy-and-scary chutes even over the Volant FBs which are not quite as nimble. If these are the predecessor to the 8800 then the 8800's have to be lots of fun too.

So another day accomplished and down to the Lion's Den by the gondola for a little happy hour. Fun guitar player who really knew how to get the crowd going. As we sat on the terrace we could see the cumulus clouds starting to roll in. Yet again, snow was in the forecast, and I was in the mood for serious fresh. But would we be disappointed by the weatherman yet again?

Stay tuned for Part III Loveland... http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=25798
post #2 of 2
Nice to see you learned how to use shaped skis. They need to be on edge. That is how they were designed. Isn't it great when you figure that out.

To bad you did'nt have great snow. Both times I have been to Vail I have had wonderful snow. It's easy to see why it get's top ratings.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › My Weekend In Colorado: A Tale of Fun, Sun and Snow (?) Part II Vail