Originally Posted by SnoWonder
My wife and I will be in Vail / BC (staying on hill at BC) the last full week of January. We will ski 6 days. Wife and I are both reasonably advanced skiers and recreational racers. Although our groomer skills are better than off-piste, we enjoy the off-piste and have been enjoying moguls more, but are too old to ski them all day. We ski single blacks and some doubles at major Tahoe resorts (like Alpine Meadows and Squaw) but don't typically do cornice jumps or narrow rock-lined chutes. Some questions:
1. What are suggestions for how many days to ski at each reosrt? Will be skiing Sunday through Friday so should we avoid Vail on Sunday?
2. Is Birds of Prey open to ski? How is it?
3. How is the race training and NASTAR at BCreek?
4. I'd love any other suggestions of favorite runs for long fast groomers, steep bowls, gladed runs, etc.
5. Since we're traveling by air, we are bringing only one pair of skis each (Head iM75 and Volkl 24 Pro). Any suggestions for demos at Beaver Creek or Vail?
6. Since we are staying on-hill at BC, what is the transportation like around BC and also for getting to Vail. (We've been to Whistler, Park City and Aspen/Snowmass who all have good transportation systems).
I have spent lots of time at Vail (consider it my *home* hill), so here are my suggestions.
Beaver Creek IS a great place to stay, as noted by a previous poster. It's quiet and cush, and a nice place to walk around at night. There isn't TONS to do, but if you're like me and ski hard during the day, it's a great place for lounging in the hot tub under the stars and getting a quick bite and then crashing at night. I would recommend calling Dial-a-Ride one (or more) nights and hopping over to the newish Ritz Carlton at Bachelor Gulch. It's a lovely spot for lounging in front of the indoor or outdoor fireplace with a drink, and an amazing log building in the tradition of the great old national park lodges.
1. I would spend two days at Beaver Creek and the rest at Vail. It isn't necessary to avoid Vail on Sunday, either. I have found in the last few years that locals are heading back closer to Denver on Sunday to avoid the end-of-weekend traffic, which has gotten terrible. Many of them will leave Vail on Sunday morning and ski Keystone or A-Basin or Loveland just to be closer to home. Vail is by no means empty on the weekend, but it is so big, and the population drops enough on Sunday that it's not too bad. Saturdays and holiday weeks, however, are another story.
2. Birds of Prey is typically open, but unless there is a race on the horizon it is (in my experience) usually man-eating bumps top-to-bottom. I have still never skied it groomed, which would be a blast.
3. ?? Can't speak to this one.
4. My usual Vail itinerary is as follows because it keeps you ahead of most of the people if you start early:
- Couple of warm-up runs on Northwoods/Northstar
- Headwall into Sun-up Bowl (sometimes groomed. . . usually The Slot is the one groomed, but it's on two fall lines and generally chock-a-block with people who shouldn't be skiing two fall lines on the back side.)
- Depending on the weather and snow conditions, either drop into Teacup and head up to Blue Sky Basin for a drop in at Lover's Leap/Iron Mask (cornice of varying size, with a few steep turns and bumps in the run-out) and a couple of runs to skiers left at the top of Pete's Express
- OR make some turns on the Genghis Kahn side of China Bowl and then cross over and ski the trees on the east side of China.
- Hop into Two Elk for an early lunch (about 11:15) before it gets crowded and definitely eat some chicken posole (mexican chicken stew with hominy)
- Head back outside while the hordes are eating lunch and have the bowls to yourself. If snow and visibility are good, I recommend Mongolia and Siberia after lunch for a little powder and wide-open spaces.
- End the day with a few cruisers, either in the Berries/Lodgepole area, where you can easily work your way to Bear Tree and get back to the Village without hitting cat tracks . . . or make a few turns in Game Creek on Dealer's Choice or Baccarat.
Two other notes:
- If you get a day when it's just dumping down and visibility is low, I highly recommend the trees in Game Creek, in the Ouzo Glade area. Easy to do laps and nicely spaced trees for the deep stuff. Plus you have reference points and shadows with the trees. Some of the bowls are so un-treed that heavy snowfall means you're skiing *using the force.*
- If it's really windy (especially from the west), you DON'T want to be riding Skyline Express to Blue Sky Basin. And if you do, sit on the side of the chair away from the lift towers. Seriously. They close this one for a reason when it's windy. It can be painful and just a little bit scary!
5. PP mentioned Vail Ski Tech, which I believe is good. If you want super-easy and cush and don't mind paying for it, call Gorsuch in Vail Village. Their demo skis are pristinely cared for, they get you in the computer on the first day and you never have to fill out another form, and they have a very good selection and good employees. As well as an espresso machine in the equipment room! Not the cheapest option, but I have enjoyed it on occasion.
6. I am not an authority on transport, as I usually have a car. . . however, Dial-a-Ride in BC is very convenient and easy, and in-town Vail shuttles run regularly and stops are easy to find.