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Winter Park vs. Copper

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am planning a trip out west the week before Christmas with my girlfriend. We are both beginners. I am debating for several reasons:



WP usually has more snow

It will be less expensive to stay in the WP area (5 nights @ WP 445 vs. Frisco 550)

Copper appears to have better/more beginner terrain

Copper has better nightlife



Thanks in advance for the good advice.
post #2 of 16
You really will have a great time at either place. I've skied both quite a bit around that time and while I prefer the skiing at WP, being beginners you should have plenty of good terrain at either. WP usually does seem to have more snow but again if you are planning on staying mainly on the groomers either one is going to be ok. Copper is naturally segregated so you will have more beginner runs close together and will be skiing around more people who are at the same ability level as you. There also is a lot more nightlife around Copper than there is in WP, your not that far from Breck which has a great town and good nightlife.

I don't know if that helps much, but if I were a beginner and had to pick one I would say go to Copper this year explore some of the towns around there at night and get a couple more days of skiing under your belt then hit WP next year.
post #3 of 16
Winter Park expanded its beginner area last year. It is very large and segregated also. It has its own lift system of I think four lifts now. It's also nice in that it's not at the bottom of the mountain so you get to go up to mid mountain from the first day. Plenty of green runs and easy blues outside the real beginner area too. Also, it's closer to Denver and Berthoud Pass is beautiful, really gives you a Colorado mountains feel. (but then I am partial to WP - cant' you tell! )
post #4 of 16
Keep in mind they're owned by the same company, so there's going to be some things that are consistent between both.

As far as skiing goes, I don't think it'll matter. Both offer similar choices, though I suppose I would lean toward Copper. I think skiing out of the Union Creek area is one of the least intimidating areas in Colorado.

As far as lodging, well, again both of them offer similar choices and similar prices. Lodging at the mountains is quite comparable although Copper does have better lodging on the high end. With WP, you have the option of staying in the town of Winter Park. With Copper you have the option of staying in Frisco. Lodging in both towns is comparable.

I would base all this off the lodging/air package around the time you want to stay. There is a deal with Frontier for lift tickets or something if you show your boarding pass.
post #5 of 16
I would agree with the previous posts that you cannot go wrong with either Winter Park or Copper Mountain -- both are great mountains with excellent ski schools and plenty of novice terrain. One of advantages of Copper is that you can also try out the other Summit County ski resorts (Keystone, Breck and A-Basin) and Vail and Beaver Creek are just on the other side of Vail pass. The only thing I would warn you about is the timing of your trip -- mid-December. I have skied the Front Range ski resorts in December when we were blessed with a lot of early season snow. But I've also had to wait many years until January. It is gamble. Fortunately, much of the snowmaking on both mountains is concentrated on the green runs.
post #6 of 16
I would again refer to http://people.montana.com/~jbraun/coloearly.htm , keeping in mind the expert terrain expansions that occurred on both mountains. For your purposes look at the years before ~1996.

I prefer Copper's terrain, but that early in the season I'd vote for Winter Park.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the great advice guys! Tony your data make a compelling case for WP. After last winter (4 days) I am at a level where I am comfortable on all greens. On this trip I would like to develop proficiency on easier intermediates. To that end, should I take a lesson? If so, is instruction significantly better at either location?
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedMenace
Thanks for all the great advice guys! Tony your data make a compelling case for WP. After last winter (4 days) I am at a level where I am comfortable on all greens. On this trip I would like to develop proficiency on easier intermediates. To that end, should I take a lesson? If so, is instruction significantly better at either location?
Knowing instructors from both, I'd say it's a tossup, blue terrain is more extensive and considerably easier at Winter Park (Mary Jane considerably different - blues much harder than Winter Park side of the mountain).
post #9 of 16
I know this sounds like a broken record to everyone who reads these forums, but you would be well advised to plan your trip a bit further out from Denver than the two resorts you have targeted. ..During that pre-Christmas period, there are days the day skier crowd from Denver makes these wonderful paradises little more pleasurable than a crowded interstate highway moving at a crawl.

Two very good options lie in wait for you just down the road from your intended targets. Beaver Creek is just outside the focus of most of Colorado's urban ski crowd, and is well suited to emerging beginners wishing to 'stretch' their skills. An even better option would be the Aspen Group. Buttermilk is custom tailored to the emerging beginner, and several of the areas at Snowmass would fit your needs nicely. Both of these new options come with the full spectrum of options and activities a well round vacation focuses on. ....Except the day skier crowds of the nearby Denver metropolitan area!


Good Luck!
post #10 of 16
On another recent post, asking about President's week I think, I was in absolute agreement with feallen that the questioner should go to Aspen instead of the places closer to Denver.

In this case I disagree. Aspen gets its snow gradually, and Buttermilk will be likely mostly man-made in mid-December. Also the week before Christmas is far less crowded than the week after. I skied Vail/Summit County Dec. 17-21, 1995 and had no crowd problems whatsoever. Go to Winter Park for 1) more natural snow, 2) lots of easy blues on the Winter Park side of the mountain.

In the early season, if you want to get farther from Denver, Steamboat is the place to go.
post #11 of 16
I have to respectfully disagree with Tony Crocker on this one. In 2001 I skied the Aspen group early in the week before Christmas and made the mistake of going to Copper the Friday before Christmas, on the beginning of my trip back home. ...The place was a nightmare, and there wasn't any evidence whatsoever of snow conditions on the mountain being better than what had been experienced throughout the Aspen group.

...The two of us were both appalled at the difference in skiing conditions and ambiance we had encountered, so we did some asking around in the Summit county area as to neighboring conditions. Numerous skiers told us those crowded condtions were anticipated on all nearby Denver areas for the period, and especially on Friday, Saturday, and Monday of that pre Christmas week. Needless to say, we decided to forego an extended stay in the area and headed for less crowded areas. (I would suspect the ensuing high altitude migration of the past 5 years has made the crowding problems even worse.)

The other part of the response with regards to snow makes little or no sense from the standpoint of a beginner request. First of all, it is all a weather risk situation, and all of these Colorado areas have similar risk levels for early snow. Altitude may have a slight advantage at this point early season, but that altitude will also be working against flatlanders from the Big Apple. Secondly, snow quality is of marginal value to emerging beginners searching for uncrowded, well groomed, yet gently sloping runs. And finally, if the decision does lean towards snow quality, Beaver Creek would be the better choice; as they spend a lot of money on cloud seeding, which has proven itself with positive incremental differences on early season snowfall (even in light snowfall seasons). Steamboat is also a good option.

I contend, and stand by the assertion that crowds are a potential problem in the Denver vacinity during this time period, as well as complications associated with AMS and sleeping options above 9000 feet altitude.
post #12 of 16
Every year is different WRT conditions. I think you have to look at the stats over time to get a good idea of your probability of good snow.

FWIW, I went to Summit County last year the week before Christmas, and the only really crowded day was at Breck on Saturday, and I attribute that to a snowboard competition. The rest of my stay was not bad at all especially at Vail & Copper. And there was hardly anyone at Loveland on Sunday. I will likely do the same trip this year; of course it depends on conditions. If WP has the snow I will head there, same for SB or Aspen. Try to keep your planning as flexible as you can, i.e. don't book lodging until you know they've got the goods.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by TerpSKI

FWIW, I went to Summit County last year the week before Christmas, and the only really crowded day was at Breck on Saturday, and I attribute that to a snowboard competition. The rest of my stay was not bad at all especially at Vail & Copper.
This is a very good point! 'Crowded' and 'Unbearable' are certainly relative terms based on what a person is used to. For easterners and far westerners, the term crowded likely translates to percentages of the day spent waiting in lift lines, while my comments are associated with whether or not there ARE lift lines. - - Two very different perspectives!

For those used to dealing with lift lines, my previous comments on crowds are likely 'nonsense'; but for those used to open spaces and a day full of skiing without hassles, there is probably some merit. ..I must admit RedMenace's home locale indicates considerable tolerance for lift lines and other crowded area complications.


_
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedMenace
I am planning a trip out west the week before Christmas with my girlfriend. We are both beginners.
I would stay in the town of WP, there's enough to do at night there at least for a few nights and you can walk to many restaurants/bars if you're staying downtown.
Then ski a day or two down the road at Sol Vista. It's a smaller mountain, (around 1000 ft vertical) cheaper lift tickets, but laid out well and is PERFECT for your abilities and a great way to warm up to Colorado.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Feallen you’ve hit the nail on the head in saying that the word crowded is relative. I skied Keystone last year the Saturday of MLK day weekend and didn’t mind it at all. However, the Sunday of Presidents’ day weekend at Mt. Snow was pretty intolerable.

BTW I have confined my choices to Copper and WP because I purchased the RMSP.
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by feallen
This is a very good point! 'Crowded' and 'Unbearable' are certainly relative terms based on what a person is used to. For easterners and far westerners, the term crowded likely translates to percentages of the day spent waiting in lift lines, while my comments are associated with whether or not there ARE lift lines. - - Two very different perspectives!

For those used to dealing with lift lines, my previous comments on crowds are likely 'nonsense'; but for those used to open spaces and a day full of skiing without hassles, there is probably some merit. ..I must admit RedMenace's home locale indicates considerable tolerance for lift lines and other crowded area complications.


_
You're right it is totally relative, however, I have skied all over the rockies at various times and usually choose my trips to avoid crowds (i.e. before president's week, during January after New Year's etc.) and my experiences as outlined above are relative to my other Western ski trips.
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