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Late Dec Vail or Winter Park?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Myself and 3 other broke military guys are planning a trip to CO in late Dec or possibly early Jan. The only mountain I have ever skied in CO is Winter Park/MaryJane (love it) but I hear that Vail is the place to go and now that I have built up the skill to fully appreciate it, I'm seriously considering forking out the extra cash and going Vail this time.

Here are the factors:

1. Price: Will Vail be worth it on a tight budget? (We're talking about a lot of Top Ramen here).
2. Snow Conditions for this time of year: If I go to WP I want to be able to ski backside of parsen and maybe even Vasquez Cirque.
3. Of the 4 guys I'm the only experienced skier, I know Winter Park has some VERY easy terrain i.e. Turnpike, but what about Vail? (I want my buddies to have a good time, without getting killed).
4. Last, but not least....Nightlife, don't really need clubs, but DEFINITLEY need a few good bars.

What's your opinion? Winter Park or Vail for this time of year:
post #2 of 23
Vail, has plenty of easy terrain. Never heard the term "same 'ol blue Vail"? 80% of the resort is intermediate or under. Well maybe not quite that but you get the point. The out of bounds stuff is crazy good there.
Vail is expensive, but so is Winterpark at least lift ticket wise. You might look at getting a season pass. http://www.passwagon.com. Especially if you are going to in Colorado around a week.
Snow conditions, it's a crapshoot. Both areas seem to get their fair share. But late December? It could be great like last year or you could be lucky to have more than half the mountain open at either place. Backside of Paresene with good snow might be open. Vasquez Cirque...well hope that November and early December were big. I wouldn't count on it.
Nightlife, bars, etc, hands down Vail is way better.
post #3 of 23
You might want to call around and ask specifically about military deals. I know some resorts have had free skiing for military folks.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinn
You might want to call around and ask specifically about military deals. I know some resorts have had free skiing for military folks.
: NO WAY!!!:

I'll ski anywhere for free! lol. I'll DEFINITLEY check that out! Thanks for the tip!
post #5 of 23
I'd be surprised if any of the military discounts apply for the primo Xmas-New Years timeframe he seems to be talking about. This is a tough call. I think whatever the prevailing conditions are, they will be about the same for both resorts. I would think Vail would have more skiable terrain in any event, and lots of intermediate stuff. Might save money by sleeping in Avon or even Eagle? If you find the crowds heavy at Vail, try a day at nearby Beaver Creek. Also, think about skiing Loveland for a day of more affordable skiing on drive to/from Vail-Denver. I guess I'm saying go Vail since you've already done WP/MJ.
Search these forums for colorado discount threads.
post #6 of 23
I would also vote for Vail on the basis of more skiable terrain at the full range of ability levels. Vail and WP/MJ get almost identical snowfall but Vail seems to get a higher percentage of terrain open in early season. Vasquez Cirque is one of those places that rarely gets open before mid-january.

Biggest reservation about Vail is crowds, but Beaver Creek is a useful escape for that.
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker
Vail and WP/MJ get almost identical snowfall but Vail seems to get a higher percentage of terrain open in early season. Vasquez Cirque is one of those places that rarely gets open before mid-january.
i would respectfully disagree on all points
post #8 of 23
Winter Park, hands down, with a day trip to Loveland.
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by tief schnee
Winter Park, hands down, with a day trip to Loveland.
amen.....i think every trip to colorado should include a day at loveland! book a lesson/guiding with bob booker and you have it made
post #10 of 23
And living in Glendale, California, how many days do you ski in Colorado
every winter? Just curious?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker
I would also vote for Vail on the basis of more skiable terrain at the full range of ability levels. Vail and WP/MJ get almost identical snowfall but Vail seems to get a higher percentage of terrain open in early season. Vasquez Cirque is one of those places that rarely gets open before mid-january.

Biggest reservation about Vail is crowds, but Beaver Creek is a useful escape for that.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
i would respectfully disagree on all points
RG, I know you're a local expert. Please explain.
Thanks.
post #12 of 23

WP or Vail

Very soon you can pick up 4 pack lift ticket cards for $89 in CO to ski both WP & Copper. I remember a trip to Vail last Dec (just before Christmas) & following their snow cat around as to avoid rocks due to lack of snow on most trails. Snow for both can be a tricky prediction that time of the year but Loveland would be a must either way.
post #13 of 23
Vasquez Cirque is touch and go in the early season, but the Loveland suggestion is great. Rusty Guy introduced us to Loveland this past season and it was love at first slide. Tony Crocker has the snow statistics on all resorts for sure, buy my experience is that WP has a slight advantage over Vail in snow cover and is less crowded for sure. Also, if it's expert terrain you're after, WP/MJ -even without the Cirque- is as good as or better than Vail IMO.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom
............ Also, if it's expert terrain you're after, WP/MJ -even without the Cirque- is as good as or better than Vail IMO.
An ounce of MaryJane is worth a pound of Vail.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj
RG, I know you're a local expert. Please explain.
Thanks.
no expertise....just teach there and have akied the resort prior to working there. according to colorado ski country (www.coloradoski.com) only a-basin, loveland, and silverton have higher historical averages than winter park. the first two are largely in part to elevation and a season that spans 7-9 months.

being fair.....last december was a banner month, however, we had 169 inches of snowfall. that's a lot of snow. again that was unusual.

i simply don't recall a year when i wasn't enjoying the cirque by late december.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
While I have the attention of a couple WP/MJ locals, I have a question.

I am planning on venturing onto my first double blacks this season. How difficult is the mushroom patch? Do you think I would be getting in over my head if I was to check it out?

Also, how skiable are the MASSIVE amount of trees that I see on the trail map at backside parsen? Tree skiing is where my pasion lies.
post #17 of 23
EZ
I'm also from AR....
There is a thread in the General Ski Discussions about Military Discounts.
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by villagenut View Post
EZ
I'm also from AR....
There is a thread in the General Ski Discussions about Military Discounts.
Hey thanks!
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eazyrider View Post
While I have the attention of a couple WP/MJ locals, I have a question.

I am planning on venturing onto my first double blacks this season. How difficult is the mushroom patch? Do you think I would be getting in over my head if I was to check it out?
Without having seen you ski, hard to tell.

I would suggest Loveland as having the most doable double blacks for your first foray into them. That said, the most extreme terrain at all resorts is the last to have good enough snow cover that wouldn't need the use of rock skis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eazyrider View Post
Also, how skiable are the MASSIVE amount of trees that I see on the trail map at backside parsen? Tree skiing is where my pasion lies.
Winter Park and Mary Jane has more skiable trees than probably all the cut trails. There are very few places where the trees are roped off. Pretty much all the trees anywhere on Winter Park or Mary Jane are skiable. There is a new lift going in to make the backside of Parsenn more accessible. Double-edged sword there.
post #20 of 23
Some of those trees are pretty tight (backside of Parsenns). Lots of easy trees on the frontside.

Mike
post #21 of 23
The Winter Park side has superb trees that aren't skied as often as on the MJ side. I've found untracked stuff all day long in the trees just off the trails on the WP side days after a storm. The trees off Sleeper (on the MJ side) are my favorites, but I've always found them tracked out very quickly.
post #22 of 23
I would still refer to http://people.montana.com/~jbraun/coloearly.htm as the most definitive source of terrain openings in Colorado. A close examination of the Winter Park numbers does support a very high percentage of designated trails open by Christmas. It also supports Vasquez Cirque almost never being open that early. Bottom line is average 3661 acres open at Vail vs. 1391 at Winter Park. And Winter Park's own website, which I monitor every week during the year, rarely reports more than 85-90% open.

With regard to snowfall both areas have very long term data supplied to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The averages and measuring elevations are very close. Winter Park has a lower standard deviation and thus can be considered more consistent. http://bestsnow.net/ncconet.htm

I will freely admit that my personal experience at Winter Park is very limited. The character of the advanced terrain is very different from Vail, so I'm not surprised by the polarized opinion. If you like wide open spaces and much more acreage, Vail is obviously preferable. Mary Jane is considered the absolute best mogul mountain in North America by several skiers I respect.

If locals say WP's tree skiing is good, and better than Vail's, I'll defer to that. And if locals say that the area's website reporting about only 85-90% open most of the time is BS, I'll defer to that too. I think the character of these two mountains is so different that a decision between them should probably be based on that. Snow conditions aren't as significant a difference.
post #23 of 23
OOOOoooh. Trees at WP/MJ are marvelous. Truly. Fun, easy trees off Parsenn bowl skier's right. Wonderful, steeper trees off Sleeper. Easy trees on Vasquez ridge. steep trees on the pine cliffs or upper arrowhead loop. jeez, if you like trees, then MJ is for you.

trees, trees, everywhere trees. Closest i found in Vail is Blue Sky Basin. Also fun but not as steep.
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