Alps vs. Far West
Peoples impressions of snow conditions can vary depending on the type of weather they have been lucky or unlucky enough to experience while they have visted or lived in a particular resort, so take my opinions for what they are worth.
Originally Posted by keir
prickly...Just don't get your comparison of Alps to Far West - would think that like Colorado(mid West or south central united states if you read the text books) i would think it requires a totally different type of ski to Europe.From reading this site the closest snow conditions to ours in europe seems to be the East coast , wetter heavier snow and lots more ice. As you say nothing scientific just points of view from different people
I skied Utah extensively as a teenager, Tahoe off and on as an adult (18 days at Heavenly last year), a limited amount in the Central East Coast about 20 years ago (that was enough for me) and am getting out about 3 days a week this year in Les Arcs. I have also skied in Chamonix (1 week 4 years ago), Colorado, Jackson Hole, and a day each in Oregon and in New Zealand. Other than when I have been on a snowboard, a demo of Dynastar Big Troubles Thursday and some demoing in Kirkwood 3 years ago, all of my skiing has been done with a 75 mm waisted ski or less.
I don't think the snow conditions that I have experienced in the Alps are exactly the same as Tahoe or Oregon, but I can understand the comparsion. To me, the similarities are that unlike Utah where the powder is usually light, here (Les Arcs) and Tahoe it can be light, but is probably medium or heavy more often than not. I also find that snow quality can be much different at the top here and in Tahoe than at the bottom of the mountain, which at times can get rain while the top is getting snow. For me, the major difference between the two is that Tahoe seems to be much more likely to get a 6 foot/2 meter dump than here (although I think that they tend to measure/estimate the snow in Tahoe a bit more liberally (like maybe eyeballing a part of the mountain where they know it tends to pile up and reporting 48'' to 60'' new while most of the moutain seems to have 2 to 3 feet). On the Les Arcs website, they give precise reports for 3 different parts of the mountain which are not overstatements and, annoyingly, even seem to forget to report new snow (or maybe I miss them and they only mean new since the last update as they do not give last 24/72 hour totals like some places). At times I feel the grooming makes the piste conditions more hardpack here than in Tahoe, and maybe more windpacked as well, so this might be where Prickly is coming from.
Maybe it is the fact that the mountains are so much bigger here (which I realize is not exactly snow conditons), but I would never dream of comparing the Alps to the East Coast. Maybe this is because I have never been to Vermont or any of the better East Coast areas, or because it rained the entire day of my first East Coast experience (a day trip to Liberty where I did not see an inch of snow until after I walked from the parking lot around the lodge which I remember blocking the view of the entire "mountain" and finally saw the limited amount man made stuff on piste only with not a millimeter of snow under you as you rode up the chair lift.
I have never skied Whistler/BC, but think that is probably the closest North American comparision to what I have experienced in the French Alps.
My experience with wider skis is very limited, but I think that you need less width to stay on top when the snow is heavier rather than when it is lighter. However, when it is lighter, it is easier to ski in the snow
assuming that you know old school powder technique and don't have a ski that is prone to tip dive. IMHO, while waist size is important to overall float, tip dive is a function of tip stiffness and width compared to tail as well as your technique.
While I think that very good skiers can make almost anything work in most conditions, a 75 to 95 mm ski is probably a good choice for a one ski quiver in the Alps and Far West for many skiers with a tendancy to go a bit wider in the Far West than the Alps.