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Monarch to Wolf Creek

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Starting to think about a ski trip to Colorado. In the past I keep going back to Summit County. I have hit Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Vail the last 7 years. I am looking for something a little different. Copper has been my favorite out of this group, but after going there the last two years I am thinking of trying something else. I am thinking the trip will be sometime from Early January to Mid-February. Just depends on if I get a new job.....

I am thinking of going to Monarch for 2 days and then drive down to Wolf Creek for 2 days of skiing. I hear these two mountains have lots of snow to be had, and thats the kind of conditions I am hoping for. They seem like smaller mountains so I am leaning towards splitting my trip up between these two mountains.

I am looking for snow and lots of it. I want to get better at skiing powder conditions.. Getting pretty good at the moguls and now I want to learn to get better in the powder. Copper wasnt bad for this, but if your not getting consistent shots then it can get skied out pretty quick.

Consider myself an advanced intermediate and ski almost any single black diamond and a some double diamonds. I enjoy moguls and some bowls but I look forward to getting better in powder and in the trees. Could you guys compare runs at Monarch and Wolf Creek to Copper Mountain. That will let me base what I can handle. Also keep in mind that my wife will be in tow and she is an intermediate....

Is Monarch on the east or west side of the pass????Is this pass pretty nasty??? I plan on staying at Monarch Lodge it seems nice enough and its the closest to the mountain.

How is the drive from Monarch to Wolf Creek? I plan on staying in South Fork because I am hearing the drive is easier...

Would like any information you guys can give me....I am coming from the Southeast....Any comments would be great.....

I would like to know anything you can tell me about the mountains, the towns and the drive.

Hit me with the goods Bears.....
post #2 of 20
Monarch is a sweet little low key area. Good enough terrain especially with Mirkwood Basin. The lodge is just a few miles from the resort. I want to say 5, but I think it might be less than that. The resort sits just east of the Summit of the pass. That side is not nearly as nasty as the west side of the pass. You don't have the crazy traffic of I70 so even if it is snowing, it's generally a mellow drive. Staying in Salida is another (and cheaper) option than the lodge. I think Monarch lodge is nice, but it's expensive to eat, drink, and stay there. Especially when compared to Salida with is 15 minutes down the road. Just throwin' that one out there.

The drive from Monarch to Wolf Creek is pretty chill. It's one of my favorites. The Sangres at sunset during the winter can give you an amazing show. It's a couple of hours to Southfork. The drive can be rather white knuckle if it's snowing. Fortunately the San Luis Valley is basically a high mountain desert. You probably won't have much trouble getting to Southfork.

Wolf Creek, well it gets puked on. They seem to be in the storm track and are off to a good start. I can't say much about the resort, everytime I go down there I hit the backcountry on the pass. I can say that the bc there is amazing. Needless to say you should have snow.

Both places are a mom and pop vibe, much different than the crowds at Copper. They both get a a lot of snow. You should have a good time.
post #3 of 20
Monarch is on the East side of the pass, but it's so close to the summit of the pass it doesn't make that much difference. I love skiing at WC especially if it's dumping, but truth be told it's only great if theres a huge dump and you know where to go. There are lots of flat run outs etc. at WC and the best shots take sometime to discover.

Monarch is fun. If I was you, I'd do Monarch and Crested Butte. Stay in Gunnison and split your time beween the two. The driving time to either is easy. If there is a huge storm, the drive to CB is easy. CB is a great place to ski.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info guys....Keep it coming....

Anybody care to discuss the Orcs, Mirkwood Bowl and Southbound.....Can you compare it to something at Copper So I know what I am getting into. From the pictures Orc looks easier than going down Mirkwood Bowl. I know conditions play a major factor in how it will ski, but I am just looking for an idea of what it will be like.....

I have skied

Copper Bowl
Matchless
Six Shooter
Julies Vision

Union Bowl
Kaboom
Revenge

Resolution Bowl
Cabin Chute
Saw Tooth

I also really enjoyed skiing Far West...That was some really nice terrain out there.
post #5 of 20
Though I haven't skied Copper or Crested Butte in a while, my take would be there would be similar type skiing at both places. I've never skied Monarch, but I'd agree with MisterK as an approach to your trip......then there is Telluride and DMR/Purgatory.

The vibe at Monarch sounds similar to Wolf Creek (& A-Basin) and is appealing for that alone as is Salida & Poncha Springs, and Del Norte or South Fork towards Wolf Creek..
post #6 of 20
I really like Monarch. Mirkwood is hike-to, and lots of fun, but kind of a short shot. We were lucky and found plenty of powder there last year - even days after the storm. Monarch has relatively cheap cat skiing, but you have to reserve a spot on the cat in advance. check their website for it.

Wolf Creek is a perfect place to "learn" powder. the Alberta lift accesses a large area of ungroomed glade skiing. there are some runs and some slots cut through the trees, but it's more just tree skiing. If you stay off the ridge or the gated waterfall area, it is not very steep, so it's a perfect learning environment.

IMO, you are better off staying in Salida than the Monarch Lodge. It's a bit long in the tooth if you know what i mean. Last I heard the Super 8 (?) in Salida was owned by a renowned hotelier from Santa Fe who wanted to move his family to a small town, so it's not your average motel... I've not stayed there, but sounds like it'd be worth a try.

PS: Crested Butte is great, but if it's powder you're primarily interested in, Wolf Creek has a better chance. However, since you're driving, you can always choose which one to hit depending on the storm track. The perfect situation. Have FUN
post #7 of 20
Well, my advice is totally OT, but if you really want to learn/better powder skills, why not Grand Targhee in WY or Alta, UT?
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Alta seems like an option....I have been studying Alta for a while. However, I have been looking at Wolf Creek for years and this year just might be my chance to hit it up. Figured since that mountain isnt that big and I keep hearing great things about Monarch I would do the double dip.....I know a few people that have done Wolf Creek and they seem to love it, so thats how my fancy with the mountain began...

Grand Targhee seems like its "a trip" to get to so I am thinking about getting some experience in the powder before I head up there because I dont know when I will make it back.

I have also had my eye on Sweitzer(sp?) and Silver mountain in Idaho too....

I have been driving right past Loveland for years and looking at the snow on that mountain is making me think about hitting Loveland, but its probally best to wait until I am heading back to summit county to work that one in. Might try to pull of a late season trip to summit county so I can kick it with you bears. I would love to hang with you guys at Vail....For me that place is so big its scares me so skiing with people who know the mountain sound like a treat.
post #9 of 20
Monarch is nice, its small & little tough if you have snowboarders in the group. Bottom 1/3 of the mt gets flat. We go 2-3 times a year because the kids always seem to have a race there each year. 1100 vertical ft. maybe 800 ac. Mirkwood is fun, lots of hiking. Last year when we were there in March the snow was a 10+ Snowing so hard you could not see the person next to you. Then when the sun returns, WOW! As others have said, the Monarch lodge, bet it was a nice place back in the 70s!
Wolf Creek, I have skiied, for the past 40+ years, Its all about the Snow! I have never skiied in Any Snow that can Beat It! Last year we were there when they got 110+ in four days! 1600' of vertical & 1600 ac. in size.
When in South Fork, make sure you have breakfest @ the Hungry Logger!
Just an FYI. Taos N.M. is within a fewe hrs of the area. If the El nino kicks in, Taos could be well worth the effort to get there!
1 day Monarch
1 day Taos (snowboards not allowed, sorry!)
2 days at the Creek!
A day or 2 in between to rest up for the next. ( stop over in Santa Fe NM.)
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobcatalum05 View Post

I have been driving right past Loveland for years and looking at the snow on that mountain is making me think about hitting Loveland, but its probally best to wait until I am heading back to summit county to work that one in. Might try to pull of a late season trip to summit county so I can kick it with you bears. I would love to hang with you guys at Vail....For me that place is so big its scares me so skiing with people who know the mountain sound like a treat.
If you have not hit Loveland, it is worth the stop. Easy on and off access and great skiing. Weekends are not very crowded, and weekdays are great. There is nothing better than a powder day at Loveland during the week. nothing gets tracked out!

As for Monarch, I have gone there a couple of times for three day weekends. Have stayed once at the Lodge. It is about five minutes from the ski area, and they sometimes have very good specials for ski and stay. Last year my wife and I went for $78 a day for room and 2 lift tickets. It is stuck in the late 70's/early 80's, but was clean and comfortable. I did not notice the food being expensive. You can drive to Salida for dinner in 15-20 minutes, if you like.

I really enjoyed skiing Monarch. The crowds are like Loveland, almost non-exsistant. There are a few neat areas to ski if you like trees. There is a small meadow on the right side (looking up from bottom) and on the far left there is a run called Gunbarrel. There are some nice trees to the skiers left of that as well. I found the best part of Monarch was that after a long morning of skiing, you could come in a get a meal (including soup and salad) for around $7-$8, or about what a bottle of water costs at the Summit county resorts.
post #11 of 20
Wolf Creek is the place to be this year... they're getting hammered with every little storm! They should have 200" easy by the end of the month.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn View Post
Wolf Creek is the place to be this year... they're getting hammered with every little storm! They should have 200" easy by the end of the month.
Am thinking 200" by the end of the Week!
post #13 of 20
I just went to see how much snow WC picked up last night, but the site is down. I looked at their webcam last night around 11:00 and there was around a foot on the picnic tables on the deck. With the flow of moisture pouring up from the South into the pass' funnel I expect they have some serious snow up there this AM.
post #14 of 20
I'm not big on driving distance on ski vacations. It takes up valuable time you could be skiing, drinking and sleeping. Monarch and CB wouldn't be too bad driving wise from Gunnison and the lodging is cheap. There is a cat operation at Monarch called Monarch Snowcat Tours. If you want fresh tracks all day this is the way to go.

If you are sticking with lift served only, Alta will be your best bet for freshies.
post #15 of 20
I'm not sure about Alta being the best for freshies if you are looking to learn powder skiing. WC gets over 500 inches a year and is so far from any urban area that midweek there is nobody there. It lacks the long steeps that Alta has going for it, but there are few better places to cut ones teeth in the deep.

BTW they had 23" of new in the last 24 hours and it should snow hard up there for the next 24 hours at least. They will likely get more than 50 inches out of this storm. The high altitude means very light dry snow too.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterK View Post
I'm not sure about Alta being the best for freshies if you are looking to learn powder skiing. WC gets over 500 inches a year and is so far from any urban area that midweek there is nobody there. It lacks the long steeps that Alta has going for it, but there are few better places to cut ones teeth in the deep.

BTW they had 23" of new in the last 24 hours and it should snow hard up there for the next 24 hours at least. They will likely get more than 50 inches out of this storm. The high altitude means very light dry snow too.
Unless you can drop everything and go when there is a storm fresh powder will still be hit or miss. If it hasn't snowed in a while you need to know somebody that can take you to the goods if it is your first time there, right? At Monarch you could have the snow cats take you to the powder even if it hasn't snowed in days, same thing at Alta. You might not get as much snow per dump at Alta but the chances of having something (more consistantly) when you are going are better.

But then I would be happy anywhere but the East right now so my judgement is likely off.
post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Been looking at the Wolf Creek(getting "pownded" as we speak) and Monarch trip as well as flying into SLC......The thing is that it isnt going to cost me that more much $$$$$ to fly and ski at SLC for the same amount of time. Its a hard decision. I am also really excited about the chance of skiing at 4 different resorts in 1 trip. I collect the trail maps of the places I ski and then I frame them and hang'em in my office at work.

What do you guys think. I am a Adanced Intermediate that will ski almost any single black diamond at most resorts. I am looking to get better in the powder and most moguls are not a problem for me. The wife however is an intermediate that doesnt try to push herself to hard.

I need something that will work for the both of us.

The trip to Colorado looks like fun, but the trip to SLC looks like it will be easier as I would fly in and ride the bus unless it becomes a huge hassle then I will rent a car. Never been to SLC and that is a plus. Also alot of the runs in Utah seem to intersect each other and that seems to be a bonus as the wife and I can ride the same lifts and split off and meet back at the bottom....

Comments are most welcome.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobcatalum05 View Post
Its a hard decision. I am also really excited about the chance of skiing at 4 different resorts in 1 trip. I collect the trail maps of the places I ski and then I frame them and hang'em in my office at work.
Does this help?

http://www.alta.com/pages/pod.php
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattL View Post
While I would give it a try that may be more powder than I can Handle. Beggers cant be choser's but I would like to start off on some stuff that just knee deep not waist deep. Skied mostly moguls last year at Copper and when I hit the powder I had a few problems I had never had before. I think some of it was my ski's were fast as he$$ causing me to slide a little bit on some of the runs and I was to much in the front seat. Had never fell on a powder run before and I still cant figure it out today. Maybe it was something I was doing in the Moguls. Skied powder on other trips and never had a problem, maybe it was the skis maybe it was something I was doing????? Anyways I want to get better to were I can ski anything comfortably so I am gonna learn even if the ski god's dont like it.
post #20 of 20
OK listen to MOM. If i read your criteria correctly, you should not heed these Utah aficionados. You want to "learn" to ski powder; your wife is an intermediate but i presume you want to ski together.

Alta is a legend and a must do. But getting to the powder there is highly competitive and you really have to know your way around all the hikes and traverses. (search on powder stashes and complaints about powder etiquette to get an idea) Those powder hounds wait with panting tongues and then zoom in and gobble it up as fast as they can.

As said before, Monarch will take you to the powder in the cat, practically guaranteed. (there's a not very good article about it in this month's Skiing) But do get on the website and reserve a seat. It's not like you can just show up and assume you will get on.

And I still maintain that Wolf Creek (when having a good snow year like this one) is just about the very best place to learn to ski powder there can be. You can find powder in the Alberta lift area days after a storm. The pitch (unless you are in the waterfall gated area or off the ridge) is very user friendly. There are open areas, treed areas and shots cut through the trees. You and your wife can lap the same lift, her on groomers and you in the powder. It's near impossible to get lost and she won't feel like you left her. It's a whole lot cheaper than Alta and you won't be intimidated by all the hot shots trying to prove their stuff.

South Fork is fine, but don't be too intimidated by the pass. They do an excellent job of sanding and plowing.
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