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Outback at Keystone?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Even though I am a Coloradan, I haven't skied more than once or twice at Keystone in the last five to seven years. (I tend to be a Vail and Copper girl.) And when I have, conditions have been bad and open terrain limited. That said, I have some friends coming out from the east coast this week who just love Keystone and want to ski there over the weekend. I have been trying to steer them away, given that it's a holiday weekend, and Keystone is likely to be wall-to-wall people. I am not sure I can sway them, however.

If we do end up there, I am trying to figure out the best way to avoid the crowds at Keystone beyond getting an early start. Looking at the maps, it seems like the Outback might be a good place to head, but I know next to nothing about the terrain out there. On the map, it looks quite treed (and I am more of a wide open bowls, steep and deep kind of gal). Is it tree skiing? Chutes? Typically moguled or just more natural snow conditions? Does it tend to get packed with people? Is there someplace better on the mountain that tends to be a bit more untracked and the place to *hide* on the weekend?

If anyone has any insight, let me know, and I am going to continue to push for anywhere but Keystone. No offense to those of you who love it, but my history with the place is poor (tons of scritchy manmade, lots of yellow jackets yelling *SLOW!* and hordes of weekend warriors falling all over the place), and with only a few days to ski on a holiday weekend it seems like someplace big and less crowded (like Vail) might be a better option. . . Give me your knowledge, though, so I can learn to love Keystone!

post #2 of 12
Yeah, go to Vail, Copper, or Winterpark. Loveland is actually a place that is very fun to visit time to time. Keystone is by far the worst place on holiday weekends.
post #3 of 12


Originally Posted by killclimbz
Yeah, go to Vail, Copper, or Winterpark. Loveland is actually a place that is very fun to visit time to time. Keystone is by far the worst place on holiday weekends.
I have skied Keystone twice this year and true to form had some sketchy experiences. The outback is a magnet for tourists. The bowls are reached by a very short hike (5 min) then clipping in to ski to where you want to drop in.
Skiers right is puma bowl which is like contest bowl at Breck. Steep and short. You can ski to the far end of puma bowl and hike up south bowl to get a little more vert. and a better line on the runout. Now there is a very narrow path, Mr Toads Wild Ride, avoid it, if you find yourself on it be careful, it is carnage central. Stay in the trees, where it is safe.
Skiers left is north bowl. It is treed, but following the ridgeline a few hundred yards and it opens up, I actually think this is the best terrain, its called victory chutes but actually the chutes part of that name may be a tad misleading. Personally I think Gorgeous gully would be more suitable. I have found it to be just as quickly tracked out as anyplace else in Summit Co. I did find two cut paths that were nice but the bottom line for me is sketchy. I never have a normal day skiing at that place. They do have great light at that mountain, if your into photography.
Go to Breck instead. Tell them its a bigger, better version of Keystone. Loveland if they have wider skis.
post #4 of 12

how to make the best of it..

Maybe some of this info can help you make the best of your Keystone skiing with your friends...

First, I think Vail and Copper are great too, I would say different than Keystone. Second - I'll admit that I do have a bias for Keystone as it is my "home mountain" where I ski the most. Not that I haven't skied all of Summit County and plenty of other US mountains.

Anyways... If your group is really made up of advance/expert skiers you won't have any problems with crowds - I skied over the holidays and they were quite a non-issue except possibly first ride up in the morning at the gondola.

1. For the Outback - most runs are treed or bumps. However, there is a $5 CAT ride up to the top of North/South bowls that will give you great bowl skiing.

2. The $70 half-day adventure tour CAT skiing. It takes you to the top to ski the new added bowls Berman etc . The ones that everyone oggles at.

3. Bumps Bumps Bumps on North Peak

4. Area 51 has both big and beginner features to do some jumping

5. Do some trees - Outback (skiers right = dbl black trees, skiers left = blue/black trees)

6. Natural ungroomed, non bumped runs -
a) short section under the left on your way down to Diamondback (top of Dercum going down to LaBontes).
b) ski under the Wayback lift from top of North Peak down to bottom of lift below the Outback.
c) Bachelor on Dercum is a blue bump run, but then stay under the lift for natural terrain.

7. Big blue cruisers -
a) laps on Spillway, or Anticipation from top of North Peak to bottom of Outback
b) Dercum - try any of the blues, Frenchman has had some features, on Spring Dipper (a mild blue/gree) stay to right on the bottom for a nice Blue bump run on Santa Fe.

Try to have fun and enjoy the scenery - I find it one of the prettiest places to ski in Summit county. Compared to Breck - You'll find about 25% more vertical per run than Breck. Compared to Copper you have more variety on any given lift. Compared to Vail - well, less crowds, less time spent "getting around mountain", smaller.

Have Fun,
post #5 of 12
Very accurate review of Keystone.

One thing to add here. Although Keystone isn't the favorite of many here, including myself, it's still way better than anything East of the Mississippi. And, there is so much variety of terrain.

Sure, there's no chutes or real steep terrain. But for the skier just looking for a good day of Colorado skiing, it's a great place.

Tip, most people head over to North Peak and the Outback right away. This leaves the fron side wide open for high speed runs and laps.

A great family ski area.
post #6 of 12
I agree w/ Lars. Last time I skied there, conditions were sketchy. Everyone on the mountain immediately headed to the Outback & North Peak. The front-side was underutilized; and at least from my experience had better snow conditions.....on the bues and single blacks, which is where I ski.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the thoughts, folks. Turns out the crew coming out wanted to spend a day or two at Copper, as well, so when my husband and I go up we will probably hit Copper and leave Keystone to them on Monday.

I have learned much about Keystone, however, that I plan to apply on a weekday after a good snowfall!

Wish I were headed up tonight. Dumping down last night and this morning, with perfect temps and sunshine predicted for tomorrow. Will have to wait for Saturday, though, which looks to be almost *hot.*

post #8 of 12
Keystone has some fantastic old growth tree skiing.

post #9 of 12
Originally Posted by breckview
Keystone has some fantastic old growth tree skiing.

This is undoubtedly the best characteristic of skiing at Keystone. The challenge is knowing which glades to try and the various aspects of them. However, they are really nice if you like tree skiing.
post #10 of 12
My quick review of having skied Keystone for the 1st time today and admittedly only scratching the surface of the terrain available.

As stated in another active thread here, getting to the lifts from the River Run area is a complete pain in the keyster.

Took the wife down Schoolmarm(long green) and the carnage was incredible. It was cold and windy, but you couldn't go more than 200 yds without seeing a parent picking up a crying child.

After the mess that was schoolmarm we went to try another green called Toads. Due to absolutely crap signage(front side only as signage on North Peak/Outback was fine) we ended up on a blue called Wild Irishman. The wife was in lessons for 3 days at Breck and advanced to a solid level 4 and can get down(read not fall and be in abject fear) easy/moderate groomed blues without much difficulty. This particular run was groomed at the top and the bottom, but not in the middle. The middle was bumps and after two falls it was clear she wasn't going to make it down so she took off her ski's and I skied down the middle portion with them in hand while she slid down on her rump(she actually enjoyed this and I have pictures to prove it). We ended up at the Montezuma chair and rode that up. After that we stopped at the Summit House to warm up and then skied schoolmarm back to the bottom where she called it a day and went wandering around the village.

I then spent the next couple of hours on North Peak and the outback where I enjoyed myself and although I spotted some of the tree skiing mentioned here, I didn't drop in because I was solo and didn't know where I would end up.

Overall I wasn't very impressed, but I saw the potential that I'll give it another shot on another trip.
post #11 of 12
I really really like skiing Keystone. I love the layout, and the views are phenomial. The Outback I found to be really tough and fun, esp the double blacks.
I really like how there's 3 mountains, and you go over one to get to the next, and then over that, to get to the next. That makes the Outback seem so remote and pretty. I highly recommend checking it out after a good snowfall. Plus the village is alot of fun.
post #12 of 12
I have skied Keystone several times - usually in late March - wasn't impressed except with the trees in the Outback.

But this Christmas we were able to ski the Windows under the Outpost Gondola. They were great! The Bullet Glades on North Peak are a little short - but fun. There are also some nice trees on the way from North Peak to the Outback. Many trees in the Outback - steep ones on the north side (skier's right) and intermediate tree runs on the south side. I think for tree skiing, Keystone is the best in the area.

I also like Keystone's blue cruisers. Steeper than those at Breckenridge and they have some character - steeper faces on one side, flatter on the other. Flying Dutchman is the best, Wild Irishman and Frenchman are OK too.

We did pay the $5 for the cat ride to the bowls above the outback. Tried the North Bowl. Wasn't all that impressed, but my skinny midwestern skis probably had something to do with it. Had fun in the South Bowl last year.

Finally, your Keystone lift ticket is good at A-Basin (Keystone's back bowls), a six mile drive or free bus ride up toward Loveland pass. Ski a few hours at Keystone, finish your day at the Basin, followed by a beer at the bar at the base - I'm beginning to drool. Together, they make for a great resort.

And there is night skiing. Haven't done it yet, but will.

On another thread many complain about Keystone's parking. Hey, it's free and a bus ride is not necessary. If you are staying in West Keysone the free bus takes you directly to the lifts at the Mountain House - no walking!

In the spring the "Beach" at LaBonte's Cabin (base of North Peak) seems to be the place to be for a break. I am not too impressed with the bars/restaurants in River Run (the Kickapoo is OK), but I like the old school feel of the Mountain House and the Summit House.

I have heard several people say that Keystone is underrated and now I believe them.
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