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Alta v Vail v JH in Mid January 2007

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Do you ever find the more you read about new places, the more confused you end up!! Well, maybe it is just me after researching hard for my ski trip to the States!!

I am heading to the US ski fields for the first time in mid January 2007 for 2 weeks and want to go to 2 places for a week each. I have tentative flights booked to get me to Vail and Jackson Hole from the 15th onwards and thought i'd open it up to see if that is too early for these locations, or are there better options?

You guys are an intelligent bunch (?) ..... let me know what you think!

i know no one can forecast the weather but i'd imagine you'd have an idea where is good at this time of year.....

cheers
post #2 of 18
Both of those should be pretty good by mid-Jan. Perfect time to go, as it will still be relatively quiet.
Which of those you will prefer will depend to a certain extent on your skiing level.
post #3 of 18
Absolutely prime time for both Vail and JH in my opinion. Alta is good for a much wider time frame than the other two, so I would be inclined to save that for some year when you come earlier or later.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
thanks guys, i got that nauseating feeling in my stomach when i read other people hinting (in other threads) that it may be too early or the snow too skinny for full expedidition of the mountains. the last thing i need is to fly in from australia and spend the week picking rocks out of the bottom of my new skis.

Does canada get snow earlier than the states?? i went to whistler for xmas once and the was no shortage of the good stuff.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by skievo
thanks guys, i got that nauseating feeling in my stomach when i read other people hinting (in other threads) that it may be too early or the snow too skinny for full expedidition of the mountains. the last thing i need is to fly in from australia and spend the week picking rocks out of the bottom of my new skis.

Does canada get snow earlier than the states?? i went to whistler for xmas once and the was no shortage of the good stuff.
skievo:

As the others have already said, the last two weeks of January are prime time in almost any of the northern Rockies resorts. I live in Jackson Hole and I consider those two weeks - year over year - to be the very best time to be here for powder skiing and minimal crowds.

Why not plan on Vail for the first week and then head for either Alta or Jackson Hole depending on snow conditions? You'll find plenty of lodging at either place that time in January.

If you come to JH, look me up. :
post #6 of 18
Nobody yet has mention the vastly different personalities of each resort.

Alta is all about skiing. Minimal lodging/town/nightstuff exists at Alta. Most skiers (skiers only BTW) that stay at the mountain are serious about two things: the steep & the deep. Rustic would be the key word here. SLC down the canyon is a much more urban but lacks the charm of a ski town.

Vail is all about the glam and little about the skiing (ducking for cover now). THe town is all fur & Bogner, with more of the visitors interested in being seen than skiing (not entirely true as the lifts get mobbed - but it sure feels that way). There is an extensive village with all the action (eating & nightlife) close by.

JH is also much more about the skiing, but also has a great town. It may very well be a perfect combination of great steep & deep with good nightlife/eating. My only concern is the SE aspect that tends to mush things up in a hurry, but that's what Grand Targhee is for.

Powdr
post #7 of 18
I agree with Powdr...Alta and Jackson are all about the skiing and the skiing at both places is FAR superior to Vail...bigger snowfall, steeper, better terrain and the crowds are not as bad as Vail. I live in Colorado and ski Vail frequently, however, I make 2 trips a year to UT for a real powder fix. Vail is the best relative to other nearby Colorado resorts but CO's snowfall is FAR less reliable than Utah or Wyoming whatever time of year. If you can still change your tix I'd plan on skiing in Utah where you have 5 or 6 areas that average 500 inches a year and Wyoming where you have Jackson Hole and Grand Targee.

As far as nightlife, yes, Vail has them both beat, however, there are places to go in Jackson and Alta. It's a pretty simple, if you want your best chance at big powder days hit UT/WY. If nightlife/restaurant scene is the priority hit Vail.
post #8 of 18
What are your priorities for a ski vacation spot other than the snow depth? do you prefer an upscale experience, on a budget or something in between. I agree with everyone's perception of the diferences between the 3. What are your vacation preferences?

I do want to interject that Vail does have some incredible terrain.
post #9 of 18
Your safest bet is Alta. With an average snowfall of over 500 inches a year, (which the other two can't say,) it's a sure thing for good contitions.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
i love it when i get into the office, sit down with a list of a million tasks to do ......... and promptly punt them all to get on with the serious business of ski trip planning. Brilliant responses all round and i guess Vail could be in some serious trouble of being axed for alta.

I am more concerned with getting decent snow than the nightlife. Don't get me wrong, i love a beer and chasing chicks but i can do that here in sydney. I would be more keen to write myself off skiing all day and have a couple of beers afterwards.

Given the humble australian dollar gets pulverised by the $US, i am thinking budget for sure. are there cheap options to stay at alta? everytime i read about that place it is getting huge wraps!
post #11 of 18
my vote would be for Alta. However perhaps check out accom in Snowbird, from where you can ski to Alta as well as Snowbird. It is a little cheaper in my searches. Also use VRBO and other owners rental sites for price comparisons. This will save some money.

However at the end of the day, skiing in USA is expensive from Oz, so, if spending the money make sure you get the best you can afford. That means I'd spend more to ski Alta rather than saving a little money to ski a much lesser resort. Not saying Vail or JH are lesser, just depends on what you want as others have said.
post #12 of 18
my vote is for JH. seeing as how its the only one of the 3 ive been to. Im going back jan 2-9. just in time for the new years storms. When i was there last year same time we got dumped on
post #13 of 18
For Budget lodging You can stay down in The Salt Lake Valley when skiing Alta or Snowbird or any of the other local mountains. You can get 10 world class mountains all with in an hour of each other. After a taste of Utha Powder it is just an easy 4 to 5 hour drive up to Jackson. Keep an eye on the weather and keep your plans open in two weeks you should be able to get some excellent conditions.
post #14 of 18
I've skied all three, and live in Colorado. Vail is very different from JH/Alta. There is good intermediate skiing in Vail, and you can hit a number of other resorts if you wish (Beaver Creek and Copper are within 20 miles). The amount of terrain at Vail is impressive as well. But, it simply does not have the pucker factor that you can easily find at JH or (duck for cover) to a lessor extent, Alta.

If you are an expert skier, and want to ski an incredible variety of terrain, I'd vote for JH. It is a skier's mountain -- lots of alpine terrain, cliffs (if you want them), steeps, and an incredible amount of vertical elevation. It's amazing to ski to the bottom of the Sublette lift and realize that you've got another couple of thousand feet to go!

Alta is also an amazing ski area, and while it has some incredible terrain, I don't think it has the variety of expert terrain that you'll find at Jackson. Further, with the backcountry now open at JH, it is pretty easy to hire a guide or, if you've got the training and equipment, drop through a gate on your own to ski Cody Peak, Rock Springs bowl, Green River Bowl, or other terrain.

Mid to late January should be good conditions at all three resorts unless we get a drought. Personally, I don't think you can go wrong, but it does depend on your skills, how hard you want to push yourself, and what you want.

Lodging at Vail will be exhorbitant, but you may find some deals. At Jackson, you can find cheap or reasonable lodging. I stayed at the Hostel X last year and it was funky, clean, comfortable, and cheap. Not sure my wife would have enjoyed it, but I did, and I often stay in 5 star hotels on business. And as others have noted, you can stay down-canyon in Salt Lake (although the road sometimes closes with big storms).

Mike
post #15 of 18
We're all making some assumptions here. Unless skievo is looking for a steady diet of 40+ degree slopes there will be more than enough to keep him happy at Vail. I've skied in Australia, and since this is his first trip to the U.S. Vail may in fact be a more appropriate choice terrain-wise that Jackson or AltaBird. Vail could also work well as training for one of the other places. I do see skievo has been to Whistler, and if he likes the upper mountain steeps there he will enjoy JH and AltaBird.

The wariness about rocks in January coming from so far is in fact well placed. But these areas are among the elite in snowfall and thus highly recommended at the time he's coming.
Quote:
Does canada get snow earlier than the states?? i went to whistler for xmas once and the was no shortage of the good stuff.
It's a little more complicated than that. Whistler is also on the short list for most consistent early season snowfall. There's a mild tendency for Canada/Northwest/Northern Rockies to get more snow early and California/Utah/Colorado to get more snow late, but you really want to look at the specific climate record of each ski area. Most regions have a few areas that get much more snow than others nearby. Details on my website http://bestsnow.net .

With regard to costs SLC is the cheapest, then Jackson. Outlying parts of Vail, served well by the local transit, are probably cheaper than on the hill at Alta or Snowbird. Vail Village and Lionshead are most expensive. But January is cheaper than Christmas or February.

I would still recommend doing first Vail (lesser crowds), then Jackson (optimal snow) because the timing is so perfect for those areas. The Cottonwood Canyons are good nearly anytime, and he'll probably be back some other year. Bob Peters and I are in agreement on this one.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
thanks for the info all round, much appreciated.

Cheers for the the link tony, i forwarded it on to a few mates who will now no doubt spend more hours analysis statistics than working on their career progession.

to be honest, i am just an intermediate skier but improving. i am off to whistler for 18 days prior to the States so should have progressed in that time. i'm not saying i will be an expert and hocking off cliffs, but i'd expect some improvements. i definately like getting off piste.

i am actually a snowboarder who has returned to the planks. i've had a couple of trips to canada (whistler/fernie/LL/red mountain) and NZ previously so have a reasonable level of mountain experience, but most of it was snowboarding. so while the skiing is improving i don't have any misconceptions about these mountains or my ability.
post #17 of 18
From description of ski ability Vail will be an excellent fit. There will more than enough challenge in terms of moguls and variable ungroomed snow. The most serious criticisms I hear about Vail are crowd related. 2 of my 3 trips there were in mid-January and I saw no problems.

On the other hand, the Canadian areas skievo has visited all have lots of steep and tough skiing. So neither JH nor AltaBird will be a shock.
post #18 of 18
glad to see you back on the planks! Vail is more of an intermediates mtn, but of course there is good stuff to be found. I think at your skiing level you will totally enjoy it. Jackson Hole can be very very cold in January, but the resort and the town have some of that original Western feel to it. Alta is the "mecca" so to be a real skier around this place you have to make a trip out there for sure, but don't forget Snowbird next door. Each place is unique from each other and that is part of what skiing is all about.
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