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Copper Keystone & A-Basin

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Just returned from our annual pre-Xmas Colorado hit & run. Had a great time as usual. Skied Copper, Keystone and A-Basin.

Stayed at Frisco Lodge again. They have a new manager this year and the service seems to be a little smoother and more consistent. Clean room, real (i.e. not continental) all-U-can-eat breakfast, great location.

Flew in late Tuesday (12/12) and on Wednesday & Thursday skied Copper. On Wed. they reported 3" fresh but we found there was more like 6". After a couple years of stumbling around we finally figured out how to do Copper, especially if you are an advanced skier. Park in the free lot and take the bus to the East Village (Super Bee lift). This side of the mountain has most of the below tree-line black runs and there is very little traffic from intermediate skiers (and anyone else) as compared to American Eagle & Flyer. As has been pointed out before, Copper’s layout is brilliant and we appreciated it especially as compared to Keystone’s which we skied a couple days later. We did laps off of Super Bee for a while to warm up, then headed over to Alpine lift and skied some nice long bump runs (Triple Treat, Too Much & Formidable). These runs took it out of us as we were definitely not in skiing shape yet. The conditions were terrific in the AM and still good in the PM, but the powder was being skied off on some of the steeper bump runs exposing some rocks in the ruts. After lunch we skied off of Excelerator lift and found Mine Dump with some huge bumps, luckily the other black runs Brennan’s & CDL were a little more managable.

Thursday we did Copper again. They had a dusting maybe 1” of fresh. We skied much of the same terrain, but also went over to Timberline area and did a few laps on the ungroomed blue trails. This area is a nice change of pace from the rest of the offerings on this side of the mountain. We didn’t get to the bowls this year, I was expecting that the coverage wouldn’t be that great; Not sure how much was open but we did notice Storm King was running.

Friday we decided to try Keystone for the first time. We were very disappointed by the layout which seemed to be a rats nest of intersecting trails of varying skill ratings. It was difficult to get around without skiing dangerous icy blue trails of death. Granted a lot of the black runs were closed which certainly didn’t help matters. Coverage was sparse on many of the trails especially in the bumps. The part of the mountain I really wanted to ski was the Outback, but the lift lines were so long and there appeared to be a lot of lower intermediate skiers heading over there we bagged it and went in for lunch at Outpost lodge. I’m no teetotaler but there was a lot of alcohol being consumed here which made me a little nervous. As you can tell we didn’t really dig Keystone, but I can’t really give it a complete pan without skiing the Outback which I will likely do next time out. In general though Keystone is a much inferior experience than Copper which outshines in just about every aspect.

Saturday we skied A-Basin for the first time ever. Although there wasn’t much open (Pali side was all closed) we really loved this place. It has a very laid back old-time vibe. People were great; cool bar and great food on the grill outside. No new snow and the coverage on some of the trails (i.e. Exhibition) was not great. We skied Slalom Slope and generally went exploring, found some nice runs in the trees and some powder stashes here & there. We will definitely be back to A-Basin, hopefully when more of the mountain is open. This place reminded me of Solitude, Alta Wildcat and the like. Hope it doesn’t change.

Anyone care to share their thoughts on these ski areas?
post #2 of 17
Thanks Terp. Got Passes for Copper this year. looking forward to exploring later in the season. Will refer to your post for navigation.
post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by TerpSKI View Post
Just returned from our annual pre-Xmas Colorado hit & run. Had a great time as usual. Skied Copper, Keystone and A-Basin.

Anyone care to share their thoughts on these ski areas?
TerpSKI, Great review

Living nearby, I'm a particular fan of A-Basin and Copper and I think you have done an outstanding job with your TR description. Hope you soon visit again with perhaps the opportunity of making a run or two with you. Two points I would like to offer in response to your post.

First, I had that initial "crap, the cat is out of the bag" feeling as you describe the beauty and secret of Copper which was quickly erased by my “who cares if they all know” feeling. The fact is Cop works well because of some uncanny balance of folks of all levels respecting everyone’s abilities coupled with a mountain that naturally places each skier in a location best suited for them with space for all and all are happy.

Second, your assessment of A-Basin could not be more spot on. Notwithstanding that snow will befall this place as it does each year doing its Alta East/Kirkwood East impersonation (btw, I have skied Basin in July); your comments of “laid back”, and “old-time vibe” with outside grilling filling the senses are perfect. I have come over the pass many years to find this place my little back yard hill literally parking at the lift especially when sneaking off during the week by myself. No iPod, no kids, no hurries, no worries but rather great skiing and the smell of a burger through the pines telling me its lunchtime.

Note that I’ll certainly I’ll be watching with great interest any negative impact to this most holy of places with planned expansion:
http://www.arapahoebasin.com/?page=s...v_type _id=4&
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post
Note that I’ll certainly I’ll be watching with great interest any negative impact to this most holy of places with planned expansion:
http://www.arapahoebasin.com/?page=s...v_type _id=4&
It'll be interesting to see what happens to Montezuma with some additional parking. It's one of the last bastions of solitude in Summit County. It's not going to help the town, but it's effects shouldn't be too bad. Parking at the main area should still be easier.

Anyway, someone should open a coffee shop in Montezuma. Or buy real estate, though I'm sure it's already gone from potentially affordable if you eat ramen noodles every day to completely outrageous.

With regards to the original review, I think it's dead on. But with 1.108 million skier visits, Copper isn't exactly unknown. It's still my favorite place in Summit Co - there's something for everyone almost all of the time.
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by TerpSKI View Post
After a couple years of stumbling around we finally figured out how to do Copper, especially if you are an advanced skier. Park in the free lot and take the bus to the East Village (Super Bee lift). This side of the mountain has most of the below tree-line black runs and there is very little traffic from intermediate skiers (and anyone else) as compared to American Eagle & Flyer.
NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Take the BLUE bus to the Center village, or the GREEN bus to Union Creek. Move away from the black bus... nothing to see there.
post #6 of 17
I also was in the Front Range last week and was dissapointed by the actual coverage vs. the advertised coverage. Copper claimed 30+ inches mid-mountain but I hit some rocks, including one that did significant damage to one of my skis, on the main section of groomed runs at or above mid-mountain.

I recognize that it is early in the season but at least Breckenridge had the common courtesy to place "early season conditions exist" signs around the area.

I will admit that I have not skiied this early in the season in several years so I may not be in the best position to judge but I will think twice before making the time and money commitment to get my ski jones satisfied in December 2007 unless the areas are claiming a bigger base.
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by TerpSKI View Post
After lunch we skied off of Excelerator lift and found Mine Dump with some huge bumps
The Great White Rocky Mountain Shark Fins!!!

Quote:
Thursday we did Copper again. They had a dusting maybe 1” of fresh. We skied much of the same terrain, but also went over to Timberline area and did a few laps on the ungroomed blue trails. This area is a nice change of pace from the rest of the offerings on this side of the mountain. We didn’t get to the bowls this year, I was expecting that the coverage wouldn’t be that great; Not sure how much was open but we did notice Storm King was running.
Terp-too bad you didn't dump down to Sierra lift and play on both the front and back sides. Definitely still a little bony in spots (it is mid December) ya just need to be careful but still a lot of fun.

I just concluded a 5 day program with a group of teenage British school girls (Level 7 skiers) and we had a blast almost everywhere on the mountain. Copper Bowl was opened on a limited basis. They winch catted Alacante and Rattler-and opened some ungroomed off of Mountain Chief. It is just so beautiful back there-even if the winds were howling anywhere above tree line. There were a lot of yard sales taking place with the sun/wind crust off piste. Kind of fun to watch the girls eat snow, laughing all the time!! And the huge avalanche debris field at the base of Tucker was a sobering reminder how dangerous the Rockies can be.

Storm King was open with some shutdowns due to high winds. There was some directed access skiing on Union and Spaulding but I'm not quite sure I want to be there yet.
post #8 of 17
yep those Rocky Mountain sharkfins will get you..I remember about 3 seasons ago when I was skiing fast under the SuperBee and cored my K2's-a seven inch gash down to the wood-very impressive the edge hung in there-the K2 Axis XP's were a durn sturdy ski.

It is an eye opener when you do that kind of damage to your boards on a groomer
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post
TerpSKI, Great review

Hope you soon visit again with perhaps the opportunity of making a run or two with you...
Hopefully we will be heading out again this year, I'll PM if we do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post
First, I had that initial "crap, the cat is out of the bag" feeling as you describe the beauty and secret of Copper which was quickly erased by my “who cares if they all know” feeling.
(sorry for spilling the beans) Copper is definitely a sleeper. But I don't think you have too much to worry about with Breck & Vail nearby and their PR.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonDenver View Post
Second, your assessment of A-Basin could not be more spot on. Notwithstanding that snow will befall this place as it does each year doing its Alta East/Kirkwood East impersonation (btw, I have skied Basin in July)
I am really eager to come back to A-Basin later in the season with better snow. I may be smitten with this place.

I kind of feel bad about not liking Keystone, because there does seem to be good access to some great terrain, but the overall experience of the place reminds me more of Killington than any other western mountain.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikewil View Post
Terp-too bad you didn't dump down to Sierra lift and play on both the front and back sides. Definitely still a little bony in spots (it is mid December) ya just need to be careful but still a lot of fun.
Wow that sounds great. Yeah, I know I just scratched the surface of Copper, but I will definitely be back and head over that way.
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by TerpSKI View Post
I kind of feel bad about not liking Keystone, because there does seem to be good access to some great terrain, but the overall experience of the place reminds me more of Killington than any other western mountain.
Keystone has some really unique terrain to Summit County but there has to be plenty of snow to really enjoy it. And, Keystone tends to get less snow than other places around here so it's hit-and-miss for a tourist. But if you had hit Keystone with plenty of base on a powder day, I guarantee you would have loved it. Although nothing is very steep, they have some amazing old growth tree skiing and very long 25-30 degree sustained mogul runs. I've had some of my best days at Keystone but as usual it all depends on the snow conditions.
post #12 of 17
If you know how to get around Keystone, you can avoid the "icy blue runs of death", except Mozart (the backside of Dercum Mtn). The Outback and North Peak really have some GREAT terrain, and its one of the most fun mountains around when they get snow.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn View Post
If you know how to get around Keystone, you can avoid the "icy blue runs of death", except Mozart (the backside of Dercum Mtn). The Outback and North Peak really have some GREAT terrain, and its one of the most fun mountains around when they get snow.
What is your strategy for avoiding the 'icy blue runs of death'? I am heading to Summit County this weekend to ski it for the first time and Keystone is on the places to visit.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Talisman View Post
What is your strategy for avoiding the 'icy blue runs of death'? I am heading to Summit County this weekend to ski it for the first time and Keystone is on the places to visit.
I generally don't go to Keystone unless the snow is good. No recent snow with warm daytime temps, there's going to be some icy spots in the morning and shade.

If you find yourself on an icy run, the edges usually have shaved snow that skiis like powder from all the people following each other down the middle and spraying snow to the edges. The same effect occurs when there are lift towers down the middle of a run. For some reason the vast majority of skiers ski down two lanes on either side of the lift tower line. So directly under the lift cable will hold shaved snow.

I really have no problems avoiding icy runs simply by looking for snow. If you look down the run and you don't see tracks on a section it's probably icy so ski somewhere else on the run, edges, middle, where ever the majority isn't skiing.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn View Post
If you know how to get around Keystone, you can avoid the "icy blue runs of death", except Mozart (the backside of Dercum Mtn). The Outback and North Peak really have some GREAT terrain, and its one of the most fun mountains around when they get snow.
If I can't ski Diamondback or Mine Shaft I'll take the gondola rather than ski Mozart. I've heard a ski exec say it was the most dangerous run in CO.

Until you learn your way around Keystone has a way of leading you into the same icy run as all the rest of the tourists. Even on the front side there are soft snow shots to be had.

...sound of crickets...
post #16 of 17

Mozart

I usually take the Gondola, instead of mozart. Then do some runs on the outback. Then move on to the north peak, which has some really nice bump runs. Then head back to the frontside for lunch or the end of the day or whatever. That seemed to work pretty well. But it still wasen't as nice as Copper.
post #17 of 17
Thanks for the tips on avoiding Mozart and how to visually assess a trail for ice. I primarily ski in the East where what we call ice is blue and quite shiny.
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