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Resorts Vertical Feet, important or no?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I am a big ski resorts stats guy and certainly this is one of the first stats I look at, the vertical. Sure you could look at longest run, but killington has that 10 mile Juggernaut trail that is the worst run EVER. So I look at Vert, but in my days of traveling I have found that Vert does not always=quality. Whistler and its 5000+ vert I figured would be the end all be all in this country, but the bottom 1500 seemed not so great. Besides it felt like I was skiing 1500-2000 foot shots all over the place anyway. Jackson Hole on the other hand did ski like its huge vert would indicate. Likewise in the east Mad River may not have the biggest vert but they certainly make the most out of it, every bit of their 2000 vert is consistent steep terrain.

So does vertical matter that much? We skied Alpine meadows and I loved it, less than 2000 vertical feet. Alta is like 2k on the nose. I am starting to think that as long as a place as 1k-2k nice shots I will be happy. Likewise what about Europe, some places have 10k vert, is it the end all be all or simply too much? There certainly is no right answer to this query but it is nonetheless interesting to discuss. I am the kind of guy who studies trail maps constantly and they can be hard to gauge so vertical feet becomes one of the more important measurements.

Alfonse
post #2 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfonse
I I am starting to think that as long as a place as 1k-2k nice shots I will be happy.
Yep.
post #3 of 19
how the vert is laid out matters more than the sheer amount of it.
post #4 of 19
Here is my take...
I think the important stat is:
Enjoyment Factor =
ski lift using vertical rise * (1- wally run out) * consistancy of slope of vertical

In my opion, this factor should be >1500.

Take Breckenridge and you'll see why so many advanced skiers hat it. They simply don't have the vertical or consistancy (yes they do have some great small sections).

-Guy
post #5 of 19
Certainly agree that not all verticals are created equally.
For example Kirkwood's 2000' vert fanning out over miles of ridgeline from the base area skis a lot bigger than Stratton's one peak ~2000' vertical.
I agree that HOW the vertical is laid out is very important, along with personal taste/skill. I like long cruisers so Killington's stretched out 3000' vert is more appealing to me than Whiteface's narrow 3K. Which of those two has the best 2000k vert terrain would be an interesting question. Wildcat is one my favs in East for several reasons, but primarily because their 2k vert is spread out so nicely over a not too steep/not too flat mountainside. The shortest run directly under express chair is 1.25 miles long, many others from summit give you 2.0 to 2.75 miles of nice descents. I guess I like Snowmass, CO for same reason on bigger scale.
Some mind-boggling comments I've seen lately relating to this subject: somebody considered Sun Valley to have lame terrain?? I've never been there, but always heard it had some of the best, long, advanced (if not expert) continuous 3k vert runs in the nation. Somebody also chose Mt. Snow's terrain and vertical over Killington?? You can fit 4 Mt. Snows in K.
A couple telling factoids in this regard are:
1) the ratio of vertical rise to length of key lifts at an area, big verts on short lifts = experts delight
2) whether an area (in North Am) has more than one lift that rises 2000 vertical feet; for example, Stowe, W/B, Snowbasin, Jackson, Le Massif, I'm sure there are more, common characteristic - they are all fairly serious establishments.

You may have seen this thread which touches on this interesting subject...who's got the vertical goods:
http://www.snowjournal.com/page.php?...ic7154&start=1
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzostrike
how the vert is laid out matters more than the sheer amount of it.
I agree, and remain puzzled as to how he didn't enjoy Whistler!

I don't care about vertical feet or other stats - I'd rather see what people here at Epic and at TGR have to say about a place.

Anything on the Jackson/Lake Louise/Whistler/Alta/Fernie axis of awesomeness only need be checked for conditions, imho.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
I did enjoy Whistler, I just thought the huge vertical was overated. Sun Valley is a classic example of vertical confounding different people. Sun Valley has a 3400 foot vert that I believe one super high speed quad accesses and a pretty steep high speed groomer skis right under it. So you can do 3400 foot laps in like 15 minutes, nothing could be better right? Wrong.... If you are an advanced skier I hear Sun Valley is heaven. If you are an expert I here its terrible. I prefer of-piste so Sun Valley is very low on my list, I can ski high speed groomers anywhere, I do not need to fly to Idaho for that.

Alfonse
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
So how about the layout of Montana Snow Bowl Gonzo? At a glance its 2600 vert with a few lifts to access it might seem unimpressive, but when the snow is nice and no people are around I bet Snowbowl makes all of the other mountains jealous

Alfonse
post #9 of 19
Just like everything else, vertical only tells part of the story. There's so much more to a place that stats alone can not tell. Stats are often used by a Marketing Department as a tool to woo guillable tourists and are very subjective. Look at Eastern trail counts. Does anyone actually believe that Killington has more trails than say Vail or Mammoth? Vertical can also be just as deceiving. Whether it's because you can't ski it all in one shot or it's flat, you can't always get an idea of a place by that stat alone. Additionally, some vertically challenged resorts are more fun to ski than taller areas. I can think of Alta, Grand Targhee, Bridger, Kirkwood, Steven's Pass & Arapahoe to name a few that wouldn't impress too many with their vertical, yet have significant pucker factor going on once you get there.


Powdr
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfonse
I did enjoy Whistler, I just thought the huge vertical was overated. Sun Valley is a classic example of vertical confounding different people. Sun Valley has a 3400 foot vert that I believe one super high speed quad accesses and a pretty steep high speed groomer skis right under it. So you can do 3400 foot laps in like 15 minutes, nothing could be better right? Wrong.... If you are an advanced skier I hear Sun Valley is heaven. If you are an expert I here its terrible. I prefer of-piste so Sun Valley is very low on my list, I can ski high speed groomers anywhere, I do not need to fly to Idaho for that.

Alfonse
You will then miss one of the true classic resorts. Ski a few runs with some of the locals, top to bottom w/out stopping at high speed and you will have the legs for just about anything else. There is nothing quite like an uniterupted fall line run that goes on as long as the Warm Srings side runs. Isn't that what you like so much about MRG? Only Sun Valley is longer.
post #11 of 19
Mt. Baker made the top resort lists with the big boys this year but has only 1500 vertical. It keeps me busy. Lots of variety.

The advantage to the mega-vert. at Whistler is that you can pick your altitude. I've never skied there when I've used the whole mountain. Mostly we pick a spot where the snow is great and ski it for a while, then go to another lift. When it's a whiteout on top you can find some great stuff down below, or if it's 1C and snowing white rain at mid-mountain you can hit the peak and stay above it all.

I'm too old and tired to ski more than about 1000 ft. without a blow, so huge vertical is not that big of a deal for me. However, the terrain needs to be interesting. 2000 ft. groomers bore me to tears after a couple of runs, while a 400 ft chute can be a hoot for repeated fun.
post #12 of 19
My area, not big but makes me Happy. I can ski anywhere around The Tahoe area that I want but I buy my pass here. Its the altitude (Although that causes problems on occasion) This place does not have impressive numbers, but for an expert skier it has enough to keep you entertained.

http://www.skimtrose.com
MTT
post #13 of 19
Vertical is important to me I think 2000 is a good start, but also lifts are important, I don't want to stand around waiting for a lift. I think tree skiing , glades and bumps are also high on the list. I'm not interested in buffed out cruisers or even high vertical days, I want challenging terrain and no waiting in line. MRG has that on week days on weekends there could be a line at the single, Stowe has some big vert around 3200' or so and great challenging runs but an awful lift system and an annoying habit of having the front four closed its seems when I've been there and there was plenty of cover on the trails. Jay Peak has decent vert but the tram is useless for accessing anything in a reasoanble amount of time but rest of lift system moves you around to get to the great tree runs.
post #14 of 19
I agree with almost everyone else that vertical is not the most important thing, or even one of the most important, but I find that most of my favorite resorts have a lot of vertical. The total experience of skiing a huge mountain, especially if the challenge is continuous, has its own exhilaration.
La Grave, for example has 6,900ft vertical of very challenging skiing, and Les Arcs (an under-rated resort) has a very good black run with nearly 7,000ft vertical (the most on any black run). This is not so uncommon, especially in France, with many of the best resorts Val d'Isere, Les Trois Vallees, Zermatt, Verbier, in the 6,000 - 7,200ft bracket.
Chamonix's Vallee Blanche has 9,2000ft vert, though after the glacier there is a short walk up and then mostly a long switch-back road.
post #15 of 19
photos for Snowball: Ski patrol perched high above the terrain of Les Arcs ski area in the French Alps. http://community.webshots.com/photo/...66704374xduJbW
Here's the busy slope that he's watching over, the signature ski run of Les Arcs called Aiguille Rouge. From here you've got a skiable vertical of over 6,500 feet:
http://community.webshots.com/photo/...66704389wcLHFk
post #16 of 19
Thanks, Jamesj. Yes, Aiguille Rouge is the peak that the run (and several other runs) starts from. Not sure if it is the name of the run (everyone I know calls it the Villaroger run, but that might not be official). Vertical is 7,045ft if you can ski to Villaroger or, if there is not enough snow, or you want to return by lift to Les Arcs, you stop at Le Pre, which reduces the vertical to 6,640ft.

If you do the Tarentaise circuit (skiing from Val d'Isere to Tignes, through the Vanoise National Park to Champagny to La Plagne to Les Arcs and beyond in one day) you end up at Villaroger (back in the same valley as Val d'Isere) for a minibus to take you home. And if you have been quick enough and the snow is good enough you may ski an off piste run to Villaroger instead - down the back of the mountain from from the Grand Col (just beyond the Aiguille Rouge). This circuit also includes the famous off piste north face of Bellecote (off the back of the La Plagne area) - though which part you ski will depend on the snow and how well you ski. If you are very lucky and ski well enough you will stay as high as possible from the top lift and climb up a few metres and do one of the VERY steep chutes (some are 45ยบ or more) 5,200 to 6,500 ft vertical to Les Lanches (the most and steepest if you climb up to the right: http://www.skilakelouise.com/id17.htm ). But there are easier ways and you don't have to be an expert to ski the circuit (just reasonably competent off-piste). I highly recommend it to anyone staying at Val d'Isere / Tignes (especially from Tignes because you are in less of a rush). There are regular tours arranged by the ski-school, or you can hire a guide. It is a long day with no time to stop at a restaurant (you must take sandwiches) and starts the off-piste with a very long, spectacular, otherwise unskied valley off the back of the Tignes area and, less excitingly, traverses some big ski areas on-piste.
I once did it in really bad snow (mostly crust) with a group which included a lady from the USA, and despite the snow she said it was the best day of skiing she had ever had!
Any of you done it?
post #17 of 19
No matter what those emails say...
It's not the length of the vertical
It's the angle of the slope and how long the lift operates that count.

post #18 of 19
Whistler never impressed me as a skiers mt. I spent two years there and never experienced any great vertical. Backcountry is a different story.

Mad River is a perfect example of vertical. The whole run is skiing. There is a short run out at the bottom but even then you have choices: flat and fast, bumps or rock ledges. Mad River is a skiers mountain. Even birdland for learning skiers has something special about the terrain.
post #19 of 19
I think a place with short lift lines and fast chairs is better than vert any day. If I wanted 9000 feet of vertical in 1 run, I'd go heli ski. Well, if I were richer and had more free time and wanted a 9000...
I find lately I'll turn around halfway down the mountain and go back over the tree line for the better snow rather then cruise all the way back to the day lodge before taking the overcrowded high speed chair all the way back up.
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