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The "genuine experience"

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Where I live, I can ski at Whistler, and pay big bucks, or go to Silver Star, Sun Peaks, Big White, Mt. Baker, or Steven's Pass - all of which provide as good or better ski conditions and more a "genuine" experience (IMO) - at a fraction of the price.
The quote is from another forum here at Epic. I'm curious to know if others feel the same as the poster (watch while I put words in his mouth), that large resorts like Whistler, Vail, etc., fail at delivering a genuine skiing experience. What genuine aspects of skiing have the big resorts removed from the experience of skiing their resort?

Does the concept of "wallet share" drive the difference between the biggies and the boutiques?
post #2 of 55
For someone like me who does not ski off piste the big places are too crowded, especially on the weekend. Killington out East is out of control on the weekends. The only time I went to Aspen it was a zoo as well. The only larger resort I have been to without the zoo crowds is Jackson Hole.

Also, being a single traveler - this is where you really get hit the hardest for lodging. I stay miles away just so I can get a reasonable rate on the room. This distracts from the experience though as it's nice to be right near the mountain.

I prefer the mid sized mountains that are not crowded and not as expensive.

That being said money is less a factor for me in deciding where to go compared to having some open slopes where you don't spend as much time worying about whats coming up behind you than what is in front of you.

I look at places like Vail and Aspen as overkill for most skiers who go there. Many are drawn by the square miles and vertical but I would bet the average skier who goes there on vacation or a weekend trip will never really come close to riding all the vertical or terrain the mountain has to offer.

A 1,200 foot hill like Bristol in NY is fine for me.
post #3 of 55
On any given day, I get a whole lot more out of A Basin than I do at Vail.

Vail is a nice day for the overall experience, the size, the back bowls, the crowds(it's fun just to watch people) the restaurants, the shops. If I want to be entertained for the whole day and just cruise around, it's Vail.

Abasin is the place I go when I want the total ski experience. The hike to staches, the steeps, the bumps, the Fat Tire and burger on the deck. I ski my balls of at Abasin. Weekdays it's the place to be for me.

Both have their attraction for me but I understand what is being said and I feel the same way. If I just want to ski, I go to the smaller places. Copper is a skiers mountain for also. For skiing, I'd rather ski Copper than Vail, if it's a weekday.

My ski mountain has 52 trails and 750 vertical. Anything is nicer. I'd rather ski Alta than Park City. I've been to Whistler and would rather ski Fernie. That's just me. My favorites for small are ABasin and Alpental. Any given day, I'd rather ski there than anywhere else. If Ijust want to vacation, Vail and Whistler are the places to be.
post #4 of 55

choices and why we ski

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
The quote is from another forum here at Epic. I'm curious to know if others feel the same as the poster (watch while I put words in his mouth), that large resorts like Whistler, Vail, etc., fail at delivering a genuine skiing experience. What genuine aspects of skiing have the big resorts removed from the experience of skiing their resort?

Does the concept of "wallet share" drive the difference between the biggies and the boutiques?
Huge issue for me and one I think constantly about. For the last several years I have packed my crew up for a trip right after Christmas to Mt Washington Valley. Skipping the long story I will compare 2 choices which are always on the list. Bretton Woods (big ) vs King Pine (little)

The crew is me, mrs, son #1 and 2 (now 19 and 21) and daughter (13)....that is 5 lift tix. Bretton Woods by NH standards is big and it is big $$$...the conditions are nearly always great and the cruising is magnificent. King Pine is little (350 vert) and truly you spend as much time in the chair as you do on the snow. Along with the local hill Yawgoo Valley RI( where I was on ski school staff for several years) and Wachusett, MA it is the place my kids have spent the most time. The terrain is perfect for all levels and it is where I really have taught and continue to teach all my kids to ski at a higher level. Just bought my littlest one some mint Volkl P50 jr's in anticipation of tackling the steep terrain (2 trails) at King Pine for the first time. She is ready. It also is less than half the money, the whole family can ski it with their eyes closed and as a bonus it just happens to have one of the steepest trails in NH (pitch pine) My oldest son and myself are happy to pound it over and over(tho this old dog last couple years has "pounded it" a bit less each year)

Point of this ramble is what do you want out of your ski trip?

Skiing...or more? When I am with the family the reality is I actually want "more". Spending a lot of time on a chairlift with your children is that a bad thing?

I tend to think not.

This year we plan to hit BW day 1....maybe Wildcat or Black or Attitash or Cranmore or Shawnee in the middle...pick 1....the last 2 days?

King Pine

Where we will be all smiles for 2 days paying less than the price of the first day at BW.

Yep we'll get our cruising in....but the real lasting memories will be manufactured at King Pine.

My secret favorite ski hill. www.kingpine.com
post #5 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkierXMan
especially on the weekend. Killington out East is out of control on the weekends.

Also, being a single traveler - this is where you really get hit the hardest for lodging. I stay miles away just so I can get a reasonable rate on the room. This distracts from the experience though as it's nice to be right near the mountain.
Hell Yeah ! Killington is absolutely terrifying midwinter on the weekends. I absolutely refuse to ski killington any time midwinter. The lines are way way out of control. Not to mention their way overpriced lift ticket !! Early and late season only. Only because they are usually first to open and last to close.

I totally agree with you on the lodging around the mountain as well. It is all pretty much tailored to higher end incomes.
Just do what I do, I have a pretty sweet comfortable system where I crash in my X-terra and eat out of it.(power inverters, coffe maker, portable power, dvd player, jet boil, msr griddle all come together for a comfy night of roughing it).When the wife is there; totally out of the question! I guess you could call it roughing it and its not that I cant afford to stay in a hotel. I work very hard for my money and dont care where I sleep as long as I am warm and fed well.
It's just that I am there to ski hard all day long, couple beers after, to the truck for dinner and then bed so I can get up do it again. Usually 2 day stays when I drive 6 or more hrs. 1 way.
This way is a great ski experience for me and my cash stays in the bank. An adventure every time
post #6 of 55
I have to say that the cost does suck some of the joy out of a trip. With just the four of us, a one week trip to Snowmass is going to run about $7,000 when you factor in airfare, lift tickets and lodging etc

I don't care how much you make, thats a lot of money. It would be a lot less if you can drive, but that's not really possible for us (Michigan).

The beauty of the smaller places is no crowds, less expensive lodging and people seem to be there just for the skiing rather than the whole "scene" that you find at Vail or Aspen. I trhink that is what he means by a "truer" experience.

The downside is you have limited options in regards to dining etc. and some of these places are just hard to get to. When your travelling with the family, its tought to fly all day and then get in a car and drive another 4 hours (assuming the roads are good). Hence no crowds and lower prices. It's all a trade off.

It seems that we are willing to pay a premium for convenience, yet I know we are missing out on some really great places. We'll see what happens when the kids get a little older. I hear great things about Fernie and Panaorama. Tough sell to the misses.
post #7 of 55
I thought about this often and I think it's "atmosphere" that drives the "genuine experience", at least from most people's perspective.

When we go to Vail, we go for expansive terrain, snow quality, and the overall skiing that goes with these factors. The glitz is there, but we stray away from it and do our own thing, much as we do everywhere else we ski. I don't think that the mere existence of the glitz detracts from our "genuine experience". From that perspective, I'll contend this "experience" is more of a feeling, rather than a reality regardless of where you ski.
post #8 of 55
Interesting thought. I've been to Whistler a few times and had a great time every time. Even when it was too warm (end of March). I've been there with 25 other people and with just my wife. I thought the terrain was great, and even in mid Feb, the crowds were not unreasonable except for around 1:00 when everyone comes out from lunch. The terrain, conditions and apres ski were all fantastic. I guess that one advantage I have is that I search out and ski the more wild stuff (hike up onto Blackcomb Glacier a lot and ski off the back of Whistler Bowl), so there is no issue with crowds on the hills I'm sliding down.

I've also spent a lot of time in Summit county when I lived there, and worked at Breck. On my days off I'd ski A-Basin, but I still could find places to ski at Breck on weekdays that weren't too crowded. But you have to know where to go.

The questionis, what is a "genuine experience"? I don't think there's a single answer. I like steep, nasty terrain, but I also like a good place to have a few beers with my friends aftr skiing.

I ski Killington for a week every year, and absolutely love it. But I'm doing it in mid December, during the week, when there are no crowds (except the 500 instructors that show up), and the social side of it is just as much part of the "genuine experience" for me. When I think back over the past 13 or so years that I've taken that trip, half of the good memories are simple things such as hanging out in the condo with a bunch or friends, hanging out in the lodge and getting reaquainted with all my friends that I only see once a year at that event, and things such as the beer and pizza with friends at Outback.

To say that a situation like Breckenridge on a Saturday is not a "genuine experience" is nothing more than elitism/snobbery, and trying to say that what you think is most important for you is the only "real" way to do it. Go to Europe. Those people have been doing the "genuine skiing experience" a lot longer than us in the States, and their idea of what makes a perfect ski day is probably vastly different than yours (or mine).

Oh yeah, some of my best memories of Whistler are warming up in the Horstman Hut after a morning of being the guy who is tracking up all that new powder. Not to take away from the memories of skiing the pow, but letting it all sink in and anticipating the afternoon while drinking a hot chocolate and warming up surrounded by people covered in snow from a morning of face shots ain't bad either.

Well, that's MY opinion.
post #9 of 55
Couldn't agree more. None of the big box ski areas remotely know what it means anymore to provide a geniune epxerience. It's no coincidence that the smaller repsorts are operated by families or trustees as opposed to big business. Yes you get modern infrastructure at the big boxes, but you sacrifice that for the unique experiences seen at little places. You will also come across the most genuine people at the smaller places. No fur, no Hummers, no Starbucks, etc. BTW little doesn't alway mean that it has to be rinky dink. Some examples of well done smaller resorts:

Grand Tarhgee
Sugar Bowl
Mt. Rose
Solitude
Silver Mt.
Bogus Basin

I'm sure there are more but that's waht comes to mind right now.
post #10 of 55
I think DJP made a good statement in regards to the experience-

Are you willing to pay a premium for convinience?

Convience means if you want to be near the slope and get to the destination without a hassle you are going to pay top dollar - even early and late season.

All the good advertisements you see for the top resorts (e.g. $700 one week of skiing and lodging at Whistler etc)...then the fineprint dicslaimer - based on quad occupancy. This means for a single skier $2,000 just for the cheaper lodging slopeside(screaming kids in the room next door etc). Factor in rental car, airfare etc ...the most important ski accessory needed is a high limit credit card. And this is just one outing.
post #11 of 55
When I skied Tahoe I was so excited about skiing Squaw, but found the, "Genuine experience" at Alpine to be much more welcoming. That would be my example, what is that experience. Its lots of things, people, ambience, terrain, attitudes.....
post #12 of 55
When I think "genuine experience" I envision a ski area, not a ski resort. The difference being that it is a place focused on skiing and all of the amenities are intended to support that activity. When a place gets like Whistler it begins to loose that focus and include biking, hiking, water sports, golf, shopping, nightlife, etc. This makes a visit more like a trip to an amusement park. Not a bad thing if that's what you're looking for or if you can ignore the things that you don't want. I have trouble with that.

The skiing at Whistler is very genuine, it's just all of the other stuff and the city-like crowds that get me down. The Village really bugs me. I can't wait to get out of there whenever I ski at Whistler.
post #13 of 55
I primarily ski Cannon, a mountain in New Hampshire. It's a mid-sized place by New England standards; you could easily hit every trail there in a day. It has a well-deserved reputation for being windy and cold. I love it there though because of two reasons:
a) The staff actually know the regulars. I've been going there twice a week for four years and the regular lifties never even bother to ask to see my pass. They don't necessarily know us by name, but you are recognized and there's a definite sense of community.

b) The trails have soul, they have character. Wide open, narrow, natural snow only and never groomed, groomed to perfection, tight trees, really tight trees... There is tons of variety! I just get the idea that those trails were cut by skiers -- somebody knew the contours of that mountain and cut the trails to take full advantage. When I go to the "big box resorts", I just feel that their trails were cut by a bulldozer, dynamite, and the marketing dept. Point A, point B, straight line, groom it out. Tons of trails, but most of them ski the same. It just gets boring.
post #14 of 55
Thread Starter 
For skiers, by skiers is one sign of the real deal, I completely agree. And the Villages at Whistler, etc., (so many are modeled after Whistler's) remind me of Epcot, which is fairly well done, but still is a weak substitute for the real thing.
post #15 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
...remind me of Epcot, which is fairly well done, but still is a weak substitute for the real thing.
Nolo, Are you saying that Epcot is "the real thing"? Umm, it's Disney. That little booth called "Germany" is not actually the country known as Germany.
post #16 of 55
Thread Starter 
No I said it's a weak substitute--replica, copy, knockoff. Like the Whistler Village model ski area. I like ski areas that are indigenous, organic, natural, and unselfconsciously cool with what they are.
post #17 of 55

Goin' against the grain

I'll probably get hammered for this, but 'tis ok, I can take it!

AFAIC, "the genuine experience" is a matter of perception. Perception, as we all know, is unique to each individual. A skier that has little or no sense of history and has only visited mega-resorts like Vail will of course believe that to be the genuine experience. A skier that has little or no sense of history and has only visited mom & pop operations will believe that to be the genuine experience. Who's to say one of them is wrong?

Now before the flaming begins, let me give a (hopefully short) synopsis of my own ski history: I learned as a toddler at Powder Ridge in CT (Vertical Drop: 500'), spent most weekends at Okemo, pretty much did my undergrad on the slopes of Mansfield, Sugarbush, and MRG, and finally attended law school in Colorado. I've also been punishing myself for the past 8 years at Tuckerman Ravine each spring. My point is, I've experienced a wide and varied swath of the ski industry.

That being said, I'm not sure MRG is a more "genuine experience" than Vail, Mt. Snow, Whistler, or even Yawgoo for that matter. It's arguably more genuine in the same way that football was more genuine in Jim Thorpe's day, but how many of us wished we were wearing leather bags on our heads instead of the latest technology on Friday nights in high school?

Don't get me wrong, I love MRG. The whole of Northern VT will always hold a special place in my heart because of the history, people, and sheer beauty of the mountains. Knocking Vail b/c they've made the financial decision to appeal to a more wealthy demographic is popular, but is it grounded in reality? There are some hardcore skiers at Vail; there's some hardcore terrain; hardcore weather; O.B. access, etc. In the end, it comes down to the experience you are after.

Personally, I think it's great that skiers, as a group, have all these different experiences to choose from.
post #18 of 55

One more thing

Just an observation after the fact: This forum comprises a fairly narrow demographic within the larger skiing public. This skews both the experiences we desire as well as our perceptions of those experiences.


I'll go so far as to say there's a little bit of Plake in all of us 'round here!
post #19 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr
You will also come across the most genuine people at the smaller places. No fur, no Hummers, no Starbucks, etc.
See now this is just stupid...let me guess you, who are making a generalization about people who drive Hummers, wear fur, and go to Starbucks...truly believe that this makes people less genuine???

I just don't understand why people can't get over thier jealousy...you will try and tell me that this is not what it is...but truth be known if you are honest with yourself you probably hate anyone who is better than you at anything....here you are trying to bring down people who are better at making money...now you could claim that you are just hating on people who show thier money and you can claim to be rich...and blah blah blah

It just erks me when people do this crap...if I want to buy a Hummer...so what...it is my money...if I like Starbucks coffee...so what it is my choice...if you want to hate fur becuase your an animal rights activist...why don't you hate on leather as well...guess what the seats in the Hummers...they are leather...

It just makes no sense to do this...it is one thing to say some guy driving a Hummer that can't even afford to feed his kids is not doing the right thing...but some guy bringing his kids to the ski slope for quality time (maybe they even go to a private school...OMG!!!), with a hot women on his arm with a fur coat, finishing up his Starbucks becuase if he doesn't he will get a headache from lack of caffiine due to his secretary bringing him a fresh cup every 3 hours....sounds good to me...
post #20 of 55
Well, Gretch's post should take some heat off me!
post #21 of 55
Yup, people are people wherever you go.

Very few are genuine snobs, most are just trying to live life.

If other people impact your "genuine experience" then you need to look at the mirror.
post #22 of 55
Quote:
It just makes no sense to do this...it is one thing to say some guy driving a Hummer that can't even afford to feed his kids is not doing the right thing...but some guy bringing his kids to the ski slope for quality time (maybe they even go to a private school...OMG!!!), with a hot women on his arm with a fur coat, finishing up his Starbucks becuase if he doesn't he will get a headache from lack of caffiine due to his secretary bringing him a fresh cup every 3 hours....sounds good to me...
Different strokes for different folks I guess, since what sounds good to me is cramming five best buddies in an old beat up van, then driving 6 hours straight taking turn at the weel, telling tall tales while listening to good music and then staying at the ratiest motel possible in order to be able to ski 5 to 6 days on end. This is freedom at its best: you don't care about appoinments, you only care about the snow and maybe bedding that chick at the bar, the one who is a little on the pudgy side but that a few beers will make the cutest little thing you ever laid upon your eyes upon - for a time at least... I don't need no Hummer, I don't need no fur coats, no bling, no anything: all I need friends by my side and the meanest mountain possible. Money is overrated .
post #23 of 55
As Michael Jackson would say:

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror,
(Man In The Mirror-Oh Yeah!)
I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
(Better Change!)
No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
(If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place)
(Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make The Change)
post #24 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffr
that chick at the bar, the one who is a little on the pudgy side but that a few beers will make the cutest little thing you ever laid upon your eyes upon - for a time at least...
I think we all know that girl.
post #25 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffr
Different strokes for different folks I guess, since what sounds good to me is cramming five best buddies in an old beat up van, then driving 6 hours straight taking turn at the weel, telling tall tales while listening to good music and then staying at the ratiest motel possible in order to be able to ski 5 to 6 days on end. This is freedom at its best: you don't care about appoinments, you only care about the snow and maybe bedding that chick at the bar, the one who is a little on the pudgy side but that a few beers will make the cutest little thing you ever laid upon your eyes upon - for a time at least... I don't need no Hummer, I don't need no fur coats, no bling, no anything: all I need friends by my side and the meanest mountain possible. Money is overrated .

I totally agree that this is what makes a trip fun...friends laughs girls at bars...but that trip can be just as fun if your driving a hummer instead of a van and are staying right at the resort in a nice hotel ripping up the slopes...

the point is being wealthy does not make you a bad person just like being poor does not make you a bad person...

this is what I was getting at...if I made fun of a poor person everyone would jump on my case....and yet it seems accepted to rip on a wealthy person just becuase they have a better car...money is not what you remember about ski trips...it is friends and laughs that you remember....and hopefully not that poor girls face
post #26 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by gretch6364
and hopefully not that poor girls face
That's actually how "wealthy" is defined in some ski towns -- those with enough scratch to make sure they won't remember that poor girls face in the morning! :
post #27 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by gretch6364
See now this is just stupid...let me guess you, who are making a generalization about people who drive Hummers, wear fur, and go to Starbucks...truly believe that this makes people less genuine???
A little testy aren't we? This thread was about ski areas. I see a lot of people posting about how they feel. They can feel any way they want, and they're not stupid as you maintain.

Who are you to flame someone for their opinion about Hummers and furs? Owning a Hummer is an affront to the whole human race. It is a useless machine that wastes resources that can never be replaced. If I had unlimited riches it would never even enter my mind to own a monstrosity like that. Jelous, indeed. Harumph.
post #28 of 55
Quote:
I totally agree that this is what makes a trip fun...friends laughs girls at bars...but that trip can be just as fun if your driving a hummer instead of a van and are staying right at the resort in a nice hotel ripping up the slopes...
Maybe, but probably not, since nice hotels and such don't make for great stories afterwards, such as the time I had to sleep in the same bed as my friend who had eaten beans and... well, it made for a pleasant night There's nothing like a good night of apr├Ęs-ski and then waking up the next morning with a big, hairy guy right next to you, snoring loudly.

As I said in my other post, I don't need a Hummer, nor do I need a sports car or fancy clothing or anything else: once you are ripping it on the slopes, none of these things will add to the experience. I'm quite happy with a roof on my head (and then, I've slept in my car a number of times because I couldn't afford a motel on race weekends...) and the slopes to attack in the morning. I must be realistic, for me, it's either skiing or having a "supposedly" nice car or such other luxury items and I only care about one thing, and it's skiing.
post #29 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune
Owning a Hummer is an affront to the whole human race. It is a useless machine that wastes resources that can never be replaced. If I had unlimited riches it would never even enter my mind to own a monstrosity like that. Jelous, indeed. Harumph.
I love how some people are just lead like sheep...have you even looked at MPG ratings...a Hummer (H2) does not have the worse gas mileage...try taking a look at some of the dodge trucks and suvs with the hemi...or hemicypherical head...which is not all that efficient...you just single out the Hummer becuase that is what you have been taught to do...try forming your own opinion for once...

Oh and what is that makes a Hummer useless? Do you even know anything about them? Towing capacity...off road prowes...chick factor...Like I said...a sheep...

quick get out of you lazy boy and go vote the evil republicans are going to take away your social security...:
post #30 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffr

As I said in my other post, I don't need a Hummer, nor do I need a sports car or fancy clothing or anything else: once you are ripping it on the slopes, none of these things will add to the experience. I'm quite happy with a roof on my head (and then, I've slept in my car a number of times because I couldn't afford a motel on race weekends...) and the slopes to attack in the morning. I must be realistic, for me, it's either skiing or having a "supposedly" nice car or such other luxury items and I only care about one thing, and it's skiing.

That is all good, but nothing you said makes it wrong to own nice things...just becuase you can't afford it (either can I) does not make it wrong if you can
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