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Opinions on first trip out west

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
It looks as though this may be the year that I branch out and make my first trip out west. I have the opportunity to attend one of two conferences, thereby having the air fare paid by the company. I have a choice: Aspen/Snow Mass in late January or The Canyons in early March. I ski generally in Maine/NH. I am fond of saying that "the farthest west I have ever skied is VT."

Any reccomendations/considerations for choosing one over the other, particularly bearing in mind that it is "my first time"?

Thanks,
Richard
post #2 of 29
Hi, Richard.

It helps to give a little info about what you're looking for in this trip; hard core skiing, easy runs, difficult runs, off-piste, bmps, how important nightlife is, restaurants, shopping, etc.
post #3 of 29
Utah has some of the best snow I have ever skied. You have 6 awesome mountains w/in a short drive from the Canyons.
post #4 of 29
All things being equal, you have a much higher chance of more powder in SLC than Aspen plus, as Phil pointed out, more than twice as many areas to choose from.
post #5 of 29
Those are both nice places and times to be stuck for a "conference". All things being equal I would take Aspen/Snowmass over the Canyons. But your dates and possibly your accommodations may not be equal. Early March might have more pleasant tourist type weather than late Jan, but Jan could provide some cold smoke if that's your thing. The Canyons seems like a pretty specific location compared to the more ambiguous Aspen/Snowmass. If you were slopeside at the Canyons that might be a strong attraction so that you could easily hit the slopes between conference sessions, however I like the terrain, scenery, and layouts of the Aspen ski areas better than the Park City ski areas. With either choice - you're gonna win.

BTW, Aspen Highlands would greatly please someone who likes hardcore NH and ME ski areas.
post #6 of 29
Richard, my advice is go to the Canyons. The Canyons is located right in Park City ... close by as well are Park City Mountain Resort, and Deer Valley and at either place the altitude is not an issue. Park City is a cool town, and the PC Chamber of commerce has a deal for ones flying into SLC in the morning ... present your ticket stub or boarding pass and get an afternoon pass for free.

If you're especially hard core for other slopes, Snowbird, Alta and Solitude are less than an hour's drive away. We went to the SLC area a couple of years ago, and have been back each year since.

Here's a good link: http://www.skiutah.com/
Also the link for the free afternoon - Quick Start pass:http://www.parkcityinfo.com/skiing/quickstart/
post #7 of 29
Both areas are great. One way to look at it might not be where you're going... but where you're leaving.

Weather in recent years has limited ME/NH terrain until early/mid Jan - then the Jan rain/thaw hits before Feb sub zero's. By March there is finally some decent snow accumulation. Unless it's a bad year, there should be decent conditions in the Rockies at the end of Jan.

Personally I'd get the hell outta dodge and rejoice in some open terrain in Jan, then come back and take advantage of NE terrain in March. … or better yet - go for both conferences. Whever you go it's going to be a whole new world. Enjoy!!
post #8 of 29
You may be able to dovetail the January trip with ESA and I prefer mid winter snow over spring skiing.
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys for all your insights so far. Here is a bit more info:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters
Hi, Richard.
It helps to give a little info about what you're looking for in this trip; hard core skiing, easy runs, difficult runs, off-piste, bmps, how important nightlife is, restaurants, shopping, etc.
This may sound odd Bob, but having never been there, I really don't know what to look for. "Bowls"--sounds nice--never tried them. Bumps--I'm sure they're different from the frozen hunks we call bumps here--love to try some of those, powder, hmm--what's that? The deepest soft snow I have ever skied is about 8-10in. So, you see, I really don't know what I'm "looking for".

Nightlife/shopping is not an issue. Between skiing and the conference, I don't expect to have much extra time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese
Utah has some of the best snow I have ever skied. You have 6 awesome mountains w/in a short drive from the Canyons.
Phil and others: Great thought, but the conferences are set up to pretty much keep one at the home base. The lodging and meetings are slope slide. The meetings run 7:00am-9:30AM adjourn then resume and run 4:00-7:00PM. With this type of schedule I don't feel it is practical to be trying to strike out to other areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD
You may be able to dovetail the January trip with ESA
Another great idea. I actually thought of this, but I'm afraid it won't work. Thanks, though. I do plan to go to ESA-Stowe and hope to get "tuned-up" for the trip out west.

I know I really can't go too far wrong either way, I guess it really is a nice problem to have.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiDeC58
...Phil and others: Great thought, but the conferences are set up to pretty much keep one at the home base. The lodging and meetings are slope slide. The meetings run 7:00am-9:30AM adjourn then resume and run 4:00-7:00PM. With this type of schedule I don't feel it is practical to be trying to strike out to other areas...
Perhaps you are not too familiar with the Park City area, but that is plenty of time to sample the other resorts in town. PCMR is a ten minute bus ride and DV another ten beyond that. You would be selling the area short if you did not sample at least one of these other resorts.

Powdr
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiDeC58
The lodging and meetings are slope slide. The meetings run 7:00am-9:30AM adjourn then resume and run 4:00-7:00PM. With this type of schedule I don't feel it is practical to be trying to strike out to other areas.
Park City Mountain Resort is litteraly 10 mins up the road. You'd have no problem doubling up if you wanted to.

L
post #12 of 29

Same places, different time of year.

What are the conditions like middle/end of November in those two areas? Any idea? Or another area: A-Basin and Loveland — they say they tend to open in October, but is it okay skiing in Oct/Nov, or not really?
post #13 of 29
Here's another take based on some of the add'l info provided by RiDeC58: which one of these choices would cost you the most if you visited on your own dime (from Maine)? My guess is that airfare (including connector from Denver to Aspen airport) and accommodations would be more for a trip to the Aspen area than to the Park City area (unless you're talking slopeside Deer Valley). Why not do the more expensive trip when someone else is paying much of the cost, then go on a second western trip to the cheaper destination when you are picking up all the bill?

Of all the possible ski areas mentioned, if I was to be "stuck" slopeside for a few days while mixing skiing and conferencing at only one resort, I would pick Snowmass - a really big, interesting mountain, with tremendous intermediate terrain that I have a hunch would appeal to you.

In any case, both Park City & Aspen are great destinations for good snow, terrain, and après ski.

FOR DC SKI: Thanksgiving skiing even in the most snow-favored locations in the West is something of a crapshoot. I defer to a local on whether the Park City or Aspen ski areas would even be open in mid Nov unless there is a freak snow. Best bets would probably be Alta, UT and Loveland, CO. Only a percentage of their slopes will likely be open before Dec. In the case of Loveland conditions will likely be augmented by manmade snow. But you can probably get some bargains at that time, but for the cost differential I usually prefer to go when snow is more reliable. Search this site for posts on early season conditions by Tony Crocker and you'll get a lot of good info on the topic.
post #14 of 29
Toss a coin. Either way you win!
post #15 of 29
I agree that you really can't lose. Both would be fun and you'll have excellent skiing available either place.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Aspen even though I haven't skied there in over thirty years, so that's where I'd go if it were me.

The point about taking advantage of a "paid" trip to Aspen is a very good consideration. A trip to Aspen would almost invariably cost you more than one to The Canyons if you were paying for it yourself.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Powdr
Perhaps you are not too familiar with the Park City area, but that is plenty of time to sample the other resorts in town. PCMR is a ten minute bus ride and DV another ten beyond that. You would be selling the area short if you did not sample at least one of these other resorts.

Powdr
Hmm... the four mountains of Aspen or the Canyons/Park City/Deer Valley? Sounds like a no-brainer to me... Aspen all the way!
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the help. I think I am leaning towards Aspen/Snowmass at this point, some scheduling issues may swing me the other way, but as you've said, I really can't lose either way.
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by DC_SKI
What are the conditions like middle/end of November in those two areas? Any idea? Or another area: A-Basin and Loveland — they say they tend to open in October, but is it okay skiing in Oct/Nov, or not really?
I don't know about the Utah resorts, but Colorado is dicey in November. We often do not have much snow until the middle of December, although I skied more powder in November last year than I had in my entire 30 years of skiing. So, it's pretty unpredictable.

What you can say is that A-Basin and Loveland will have manmade snow in November. Because of their elevation, though, they may not open as much terrain as quickly as other resorts.

Mike
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by DC_SKI
What are the conditions like middle/end of November in those two areas? Any idea? Or another area: A-Basin and Loveland — they say they tend to open in October, but is it okay skiing in Oct/Nov, or not really?
its called a ribbon of death when they open in Oct/early Nov. conditions and coverage would be better at the resort in april or May at those respective places.
post #20 of 29
As others have said, six of one, half dozen of the other. Skiing is comparable, at least what you'll be on, nightlife and town are comparable, and prices are somewhat comparable. I would worry more about other things such as the dates or the fact that Aspen is 2.5 hours from DIA and The Canyons is 45 minutes from SLC. You're in a can't lose situation.
post #21 of 29
I vote for Aspen/Snowmass also for the conference trip.

First is the price/paid trip argument, which may include a flight into Aspen.

Second is snow conditions. Lower slopes at Canyons/Park City will be springlike in March if it hasn't snowed recently. Your schedule precludes you getting at the better Cottonwood Canyon areas.

With regard to November, I to be a broken record but an advance booked trip is likely to be disappointing. Both Park City and most of Colorado are longshots for having most terrain open that early. You need to wait until the last minute to see where the snow is. Except for Thanksgiving weekend this is a slow travel season and good deals should be available.

And Bushwacker is right that April/May is usually better than November. That's why my median opening day is December 16 and my median closing day is May 26.
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thread Bump:

Due a confluence of totally non ski-related circumstances, the choice has been made and it is going to be The Canyons in early March (approx 3rd-10th) including travel.

I am planning at this point to fly into SLC from Maine by either Southwest or JetBlue. There is a shuttle from the airport to the Canyons. I will be staying at The Canyons on the Company's dime so I don't need to hunt for cheap digs.

So, those of you who know the area:
Do I need to rent a car?
What do I want to be sure not to miss?
Reccomendations for your favorite spots (Level 8, like steep but not vertical, don't huck cliffs).

I will obviuosly need to bring my boots, but think I will rent/demo skis:

In this age of increased airline security, will they let me carry on my ski-boots? I would be up the creek if I checked them and they were lost. (I would wear them if I had to!) Is ski boot carry-on an issue these days?

Any other advice would be welcome.

Thanks
post #23 of 29
Good choice, as much for timing as for mountains -- base should be several feet deeper by March.

As far as whether to rent a car, well, if you're going to go to another resort at all, you may need it. I'd check to see whether there's a shuttle available. Personally, I'd suggest a day at Deer Valley, but I'm weird -- that and Alta are my favorite Utah resorts. DV will give you the most impeccably groomed snow you've ever seen, plus tons of essentially untracked off-piste because that's not what their guests come for. Oh, and the best food on any mountain on this continent.

Speaking of which, another factor on the car rental will be whether meals are part of the conference.

I can't imagine you'll have a problem carrying on boots. I've flown six times since the liquids prohibition went into effect, and the overhead compartments are now practically empty.
post #24 of 29
RideC58,

We stayed near The Canyons year before last. We really enjoyed The Canyons but if you're in UT you owe it to yourself to get over to the Cottonwood Canyons. We were awed by Alta. You don't really need a car to get around the Park City area, but it would give you the option to go over to Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, and for that matter Snowbasin.
post #25 of 29
The Canyons has a free shuttle bus into Park City. Park City is a cool town, one long street with a lot of stores, restaurants, etc. Great old west antiquities, great food.

I don't think you need a car, unless as suggested you want to ski Alta or one of the other resorts, but the Canyons will keep you plenty occupied.
post #26 of 29
Ride,

As stated, no car necessary if staying in Park City area as you can shuttle to PC/DV and restaurants/nightlife. A car gives you the option of the cottonwood canyons if conference times allow it.

Company paying and need to stay at The Canyons, then go for the Grand Summit Hotel/Condo at base or the Gondola.

You should be able to get down almost anything and actually ski 90% of the PC resorts at level 8.

No problem carrying on your boots.
post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 
OK, seems like I can get by without a car and yes I checked and there are shuttles to several other areas.

Any other thoughts/reccomendations will be appreciated. My boots are so customized that losing them in transit was my biggest concern, but most seem to think this is not a problem.

Thanks folks, any other comments/reccomendations appreciated.
post #28 of 29
Another easterner here who's done a few quick trips to Utah. Obviously you're basing in Park City and will focus a lot of skiing there but my impression of that area (based solely on a visit to Deer Valley) is it's the most like eastern skiing of anything you'll see there. No doubt there's more than met my eye, but I'd urge taking a shuttle or renting a car if you can swing a day or two at Alta or Snowbasin, for a very different "wide open spaces" feel.
post #29 of 29
These are two of the best ski aeas in the world, as evidenced by international visitors at both resorts. Unless there is some freaky weather this year you will have a great time at either place and you may be planning your next trip west on your way home. I'd pick the trip based on time available and buisiness considerations. If you can ski one day more on one of the trips then that's the trip to take. The skiing will be great either place!
An after thought, if business is paying to fly you into Aspen you may want to take advantage. Tat ticket's double the SLC cost. Then next year you can go to Park City on your own dime.
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