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Vail or Telluride Early February?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am now officially obsessed with finding my vacation Mecca. Looking at either the first or second week of February (can you say "value season girl"?), I am torn between Vail and Telluride.

I have not skied Telluride so there is some mystery there. I ski ungroomed/groomed single blacks, occasional doubles, love bowls, trees, some steeps, and fresh powder (always fun to state the obvious). I have an amusing disdain for long lift lines and crowds. I skied Vail late February this year; terrain was great, crowds OK but I hit the warm week and suffered through some crappy conditions. On a side note, I love Steamboat's dry snow.

I need a little nightlife and some shops for apr├Ęs ski leg stretching. However, this trip is about SKIING...everything else is fluff. I have considered Park City area, Solitude, Big Mountain, Big Sky, Copper, Whistler, Keystone, Mammoth, Aspen and Jackson. The finalists are Vail and Telluride, for an unreasonable list of reasons I will not bore you with.

Would Telluride have good all-over coverage early February? Is it a worthy competitor to Vail? Or is Vail the answer? How does the consistency of Telluride's snow compare to Vail? My life has ground to halt over this quest. ALL HELP IS APPPRECIATED!
post #2 of 21
coverage, TRide is normally good in Feb. The skiing will be comparable to Jackson (the blues, double blues, blacks and double blacks are similar in difficulty). TRide does have lot more legitimate greens than Jackson.

Vail has huge amounts of terrain, and huge amounts of crowds, especially on the weekend, with the front range hordes.

I skied TRide at least twice a week for three years, and experienced nothing in the way of crowds, at least as compared to the front range resorts. A lift line at TRide, expect to be in line nearly 5 minutes...oh the horror!

Snow conditions, TRide is about 50 air miles from Moab, that should tell you how dry the snow can be.
post #3 of 21
Although I've only skied there once (in February on bullet proof ice), Telluride was interesting...seems like they had a good mix of challenging off piste terrain, groomed runs and there was nobody there. You won't find nearly as much in the way of wide open, treeless bowls. I think they get something like 300 inches/year versus Vail's 360+, however, you don't have anywhere near the number of skiers on that snow as Vail has and that makes BIG difference. Coverage was fine, though as you found out at Vail...Colorado is a big crap shoot as far as reliable ski conditions since we don't get the big snow storms that they get in the west. In my opinion, the town and mountains of Telluride are much nicer than Vail. I ski Vail regularly and love it, however, on bad days it's really bad and on good days it's not uncommon for monster lift lines.
post #4 of 21
Telluride is beautiful, has great terrain and it's not crowded. It's hard to get to, so if you're not disuaded by the travel issues, GO THERE. Vail is easy to get to. You can go to Vail any time.
post #5 of 21
I've been to Vail many times (got married there), so it's the one place I will keep going back to again and again.

Last year we added on an extra week in Telluride on a friend's (one of Telluride's top instructors) urging, and it was great, a really enjoyable week.

The mountain is a lot smaller than Vail, but there were very few congested spots. It has a little bit of everything, bowls, ungroomed steeps, trees, groomers, lots of fun bumps.

It's a lovely, very atmospheric and friendly town, enough restaurants, bars and shops to keep you busy. We stayed at the New Sheridan Hotel, which I can't recommend highly enough.
post #6 of 21
Vail has infinitely more terrain than Telluride and I love skiing there, but IMHO Vail has no soul. It is a plastic ski town built from scratch in a strip along an interstate highway. The skiing is fantasic but often crowded.

Telluride is a 125 year old mining town in a box canyon in the most beautifull setting of any ski area in this country. If you have never been there you should definitely condsider experiencing it. Unless they are having a very bad year the coverage should be fine in February. There are virtully no lift lines at Telluride. You do not need a car to get around Tellurride and can stay in town or the mountain village and travel between them on the free gondola and walk everywhere. The town has a very intimate feel compared to Vail, and plenty of night life.

Telluride's drawback is the absence of any bowls, and the fairly narrow runs compared to Vail. It also lacks advanced intermediate terrain. Lots of packed crusiers, and lots of farily steep bump runs, but not a lot of double blue type runs. If you are an expert skier that doesn't mind black diamond runs you will enjoy it, but the terrain is challeging. If you are not up to the challenge you may find yourself feeling like there is not much skiing for you compared to the seemingly endless variety at Vail.

Having skied both places many times I would recommend going to T-ride, bringing your bump skis, and prepare to be charmed. At Vail I always seem to feel like a tourist, after a couple of days in Telluride I start to feel comfortable and begin thinking about quiting my job and becoming a full time ski bum again.
post #7 of 21
I've been to both several times in February. Vail is a great place. Seemingly endless terrain for most levels of skier. The "entry points" (Eagle Bahn gondola and Vista Bahn chair) tend to be crowded, but the people quickly spread out as they go up the mountain; crowds are infrequent in the Back Bowls. There are countless restaurants of all types in the village and lots of nightlife. I've never had a bad time there.

That being said, I agree with mudfoot. Telluride has less terrain, and certainly less variety of terrain than Vail. It has some nice places to eat (the Honga/Lotus Petal has some of the best sushi I've ever eaten) and some nightlife. But, it is definitely a special place with, in my opinion, the most spectacular scenery in North America.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShellBee
...
The mountain is a lot smaller than Vail...
so is everyplace else in North America (except Whistler).
post #9 of 21
When conditions are cruddy some mountains ski well. Both Vail and Telluride ARE NOT those mountains. If you end up at either place in crap conditions your ski plans are going to become a lesson in icy / crusty / bulletproof boilerplate. You might get off a little easier at Vail as long as you stick to the front side.

Moral of the story: wait till X-Mas and plan your vacation once you can see some snow totals.

(I realize some people can't do that, but if you have even remotely have the option you should.)
post #10 of 21
In terms of terrain, mudfoot has it exactly right. There is somewhat of an advanced intermediate gap at Telluride vs. the endless variety at all levels of difficulty at Vail. I agree on ambience and scenery advantages of Telluride.

Regarding snow conditions there are 2 major issues in general: whether you have adequate coverage and how well the snow preserves. Vail wins the coverage issue by a large margin, with 356 average snowfall vs. 256. Telluride wins the preservation issue due to higher altitude, less sun-exposed terrain and lower skier traffic. So in December/January Vail is definitely preferred, and in March/April Telluride would usually be better. February rates to be good at both places. I'd probably say Vail early February and Telluride late February, but that's splitting hairs.

Vinn's advice of "wait until you see where the snow is" is always sound for any choice of ski destination if you can do that.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot
...It also lacks advanced intermediate terrain. Lots of packed crusiers, and lots of farily steep bump runs, but not a lot of double blue type runs. If you are an expert skier that doesn't mind black diamond runs you will enjoy it, but the terrain is challeging. If you are not up to the challenge you may find yourself feeling like there is not much skiing for you compared to the seemingly endless variety at Vail....
Must disagree, slightly, on this. Altho' I wouldn't really consider it a bowl, the Prospect "Bowl" area does have what I would consider advanced intermediate bumps.
post #12 of 21
Mudfoot has it exactly right: the main difference between the two areas is character. Telluride is better also for steeper skiing and paradoxically has amazing beginner terrain. It is a mountain town. Vail is a resort. It's a matter of taste. T-Ride may be smaller, but if you're game, they also have a heli operation. Google helitrax (i think). You will be happy and think you made the right decision either way. (look for an El Nino year which favors the southern areas. If it's El Nino, go T-ride; if it's La Nina, go Vail; if it's neither, flip a coin. Tony Crocker can tell you if that's right or an old wive's tale.)
post #13 of 21
if you have the time, there's also the hut-to-hut skiing from TRide to Moab.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles)
if you have the time, there's also the hut-to-hut skiing from TRide to Moab.
Agreed! A hut trip is a great idea! Not sure how much gear you're hauling over though. Sleeping bag and backpack required. Some huts are really easy to get to. There's the San Juan hut system and some of those have easy access. Lots of huts near Aspen too.

www.huts.org
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles)
if you have the time, there's also the hut-to-hut skiing from TRide to Moab.
There is no hut system from T-ride to Moab. It's a desert that rarely accumulates snow until you hit the La Sal range in Utah.

Popular to bike T-ride to Moab. Impossible to ski.

There is a hut system from Telluride to Ouray. However, it is extremely avalanche-prone, not well-traveled (breaking trail) and requires a guide. And a week+.

A really bad idea.
post #16 of 21
The El Nino(Telluride)/La Nina(Vail) correlations are in the expected direction but very small for both areas (11-12%). Not really a decision making factor. It's a key driver if you go far north (Lake Louise/Sunshine) or south (SoCal and Arizona) where the seasonal correlations get into the 50% range.
post #17 of 21

My bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisc
There is no hut system from T-ride to Moab. It's a desert that rarely accumulates snow until you hit the La Sal range in Utah.

Popular to bike T-ride to Moab. Impossible to ski.
Sorry, my bad. I had just been posting on mtbr, and had a momentary lapse. However, I believe a mountain bike hut system is now in operation on that route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisc
There is a hut system from Telluride to Ouray. However, it is extremely avalanche-prone, not well-traveled (breaking trail) and requires a guide. And a week+.

A really bad idea.
Disagree here, check on local conditions, hire a guide if you want to do it, and enjoy. And you'll see of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles)
Disagree here, check on local conditions, hire a guide if you want to do it, and enjoy. And you'll see of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
Why do I say a hut tour is a bad idea? This thread is about a woman who is choosing between Vail and Telluride -- looking for short liftlines and apres ski. The San Juan Hut System is not for skiers like her. It is a different type of experience, a backcountry experience.
post #19 of 21
Love the info you guys provide! We too are in the decision stage of where to go this Feb. Having skiid Vail but never TRide. Our group has people that require greens as well as blues, not blue/blacks...do you think there is enough of these at TRide? We're going w/o 2/11/07.
post #20 of 21
on the Mountain Village side, yes.
post #21 of 21
Telluride is one of the best green destinations anywhere. Chair 10 is a high speed quad over 2 miles long serving all green terrain with nice snow. How many areas have that? It's the blue/black runs that are in short supply (whichever of Plunge or Bushwacker is groomed), though the quality can't be faulted.
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