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Vail Back Bowl Steepness

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
My wife and I are returning to Vail and I'd like a few opinions about the difficulty levels of some of the trails. I keep watching current conditions, looking at the web cams along and studying the trail maps to get my mind in the game.

This is going to be my 2nd time there and this is my 2nd year skiing. Last time I began with the greens and worked my way up to a few blue trails, namely Whiskey Jack, Poppy Fields West and Cloud Nine. If I can ski these trails with confidence when I return, what would be an easy progression to the next level? Would it make sense to try Dragon's Teeth and some of the surrounding black trails? Are the black trails that surround Poppy Fields considered steeps?

I'd like to advance without getting in over my head. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
post #2 of 18
Well, depends on where your pain points are. The steepness won't be that much greater than whiskey jack (if at all), but the snow will be more irregular and possibly bumped up. So, I wouldn't worry about the steepness, but more about the snow. Either way, there are groomed runs that go to the bottom of all those bowls, so you should be ok there.

Pete
post #3 of 18
Just a suggestion. You could take Upper Yonder, off of chair 17 down to the cattrack and if that didn't work for ya. You could take the cattrack all the way down to chair 36. Upper Yonder usually has a lot of snow, and isn't really that steep. Until you pass the catrack into the lower bowl. Then it can get fun.


Good Luck and have fun:
post #4 of 18
As one guy on these forums said "Vail is perfectly flat, may be even concave".
post #5 of 18
Vails Back Bowls..... three turns of heaven!
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by DropCliffsNotBombs View Post
Vails Back Bowls..... three turns of heaven!
Would that be the first 3 or the last 3? It's Intermediate terrain.
post #7 of 18
How about a group lesson? Years ago that's what we did and there were enough groups so we could say we wanted to go with a group whose primary goal was to explore that terrain. it was great.

the bowls aren't steep, but it's all relative and one person's yikes factor is another's walk in the park.
post #8 of 18
I wouldn't worry too much about steepness. . . there are a few places at the top of Ghenghis Khan where there can be a little drop/cornice depending on the snow, but after that first turn or two it's not a particularly scary pitch. Other than that, China Bowl isn't very steep.

As another poster said, I would be more *worried* about snow conditions. I don't know how comfortable you are in variable conditions, but the snow can range from soft bumps to chopped up powder to morning death cookies/afternoon wet and heavy, depending on recent temps and snowfall. So if you're groomer skiers, I would definitely keep an eye on the snow, because that's likely to give you a harder time than steepness.

Frequently there is a groomed swath near Jade Glade in China Bowl, and Headwall is sometimes a groomer in Sun Up Bowl, which could be a fun way for you to go.

A group or private lesson focused on the Bowls could also be a good time.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
Would that be the first 3 or the last 3? It's Intermediate terrain.
Three turns total per bowl= Intermediate terrain!
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom View Post
How about a group lesson? Years ago that's what we did and there were enough groups so we could say we wanted to go with a group whose primary goal was to explore that terrain. it was great.

the bowls aren't steep, but it's all relative and one person's yikes factor is another's walk in the park.
If you can afford to do so, I'd second the recommendation on taking a group lesson. Not only should your skiing improve, your instructor should take you on the appropriate terrain for your skill level. I've taken a few lessons at Vail and have had very positive experiences. See this thread for my recommendations on how to the the best lesson possible: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=66239. The thread is about advanced lessons but I think my recommendations apply to group lessons of any level. Hope this helps. Have fun!
post #11 of 18
On China Bowl what you see is what you get. I think it works fine to try the groomed swath down the middle then jump off into some fresh snow if you're interested.
I would suggest you not commit to long black natural snow run like Dragons Teeth until you've played around with it along the edges of some of the back bowl groomers.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
It's Intermediate terrain.
I'm no longer an Intermediate (far from it finally!) but when I was, there was a lot of stuff at Vail that I couldn't even dream of skiing. It is NOT all Intermediate terrain. This discussion has been going on epic for years.

For the people who ski the extremely steep stuff, Vail is easy. For us mere mortals it has plenty of extremely challenging terrain. It also does have a ton of great intermediate terrain.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post
I'm no longer an Intermediate (far from it finally!) but when I was, there was a lot of stuff at Vail that I couldn't even dream of skiing. It is NOT all Intermediate terrain. This discussion has been going on epic for years.

For the people who ski the extremely steep stuff, Vail is easy. For us mere mortals it has plenty of extremely challenging terrain. It also does have a ton of great intermediate terrain.
I was only referring to the OP question. Not the whole Mt. However, one time the wind came up rather quickly (+60mph)in the back bowls and well it wasn't Intermediate terrain anymore. If you know what I mean.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post
It is NOT all Intermediate terrain.
True, there is a lot of terrain for never-evers too.

/are snarky Vail comments an internet ski forum meme yet?
post #15 of 18
I'm no Vail expert-but I'll share my impressions of the place just the same:

1. The Back Bowls-if it has recently snowed and remained cold-(if there's been sun-any sun-beware) these massive beautiful bowls are pretty awesome-but, they get baked in the slightest sun (especially after January as the sunlight get's longer as stronger)-so pay attention to exposure, and look for areas where trees grow (it let's you know that it's not getting baked lifeless during the summer) like the 'Yonder Area'-I once ignored good advice and jumped into these bowls to my exhaustion and frustration).

2. Beat feet to the Blue Sky Basin Area ASAP-it has the exact opposite exposure as the famed 'back bowls'-and therefore generally has the best snow on the mountain-a couple of high speed lifts service this mostly intermediate "off-piste area (with some groomers, too). That 'Lover's Leap Area has a little bit of 'steep' at the entrance but it mellows out in a hurry-the Blue sky basin is a wonderful place for an intermediate to play with off-piste skiing.

3. Nothing, at least nothing that a non-hard core non-local can find-at Vail is so steep that a good side slip won't get you through (your bigger issue will be avoiding challenging snow due to exposure and not death-defying pitches and chutes) so don't be afraid to explore at vail-it's tailor made for the intermediate adventurer.

In fact-let me re-stress my thoughts here-for a newbie (2 year skier is still a newbie-nothing wrong with that btw) learning to work challenging snow-more than challenging pitches-will be your next hurdle-coming from the mid-west, you'll need a little of trial and error education on exposure and snow quality. Vail is a good place (and a fun one) to get this education.

Have Fun-Vail wasn't my bag-but it is pretty, and a lot of people love it and for good reasons.

Liam
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
are snarky Vail comments an internet ski forum meme yet?
I was wondering this, too.

Even though I completely understand many of the beefs some people have with Vail, I have to laugh.

Clearly not everyone making the remarks is so *CORE* that they need more *GNAR* than they can find at Vail. Funny how my friend-- who started skiing at two, racing at four, raced HS and NCAA, coached summers in Europe and seasons at a private mountain HS, and is a sick, insane, gorgeous skier-- loves Vail, when she could ski pretty much any gnar you threw at her. She just likes the place. No reverse snobbery for her.

Is it the steepest place on earth? No. Do you run into some really ridiculous rich people there? Yeah. Does it feel a little Disneyland there at times? Sure.

But can you get good snow and a good day there? You bet. Good lord, the first time I went to Vail after learning to ski in the midwest and small icy hills in the east. . . I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Even though I am looking to push my limits a bit, and that's not where I would do it, I still have some amazing days at Vail.

Geez.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info! The information about snow conditions and slopes has been very helpful. Some of you may have talked me into a lesson either private or group. I've had no lessons yet but did my homework. Maybe it's it's time for some perspective from an instructor?

I'd like to go off piste before I leave so I'll have to try the "Yonder" area. I'd also like to see how my new skis handle powder and other non groomed situations. I'm an older beginner (42) so I'm a little more conservative than one in their 20s - not afraid of a challenge though.

Vail does feel a little Disney-ish but I'd like to return this time to work on my skills and not worry about where things are. I'd like to try Utah in the near future.
post #18 of 18
Skied at Vail last Friday for the first time. A great powder day but I only have carver skis. Demod some wider skis and headed to the back bowls. Low ceiling and light conditions changed causing white out conditions. If the light conditions were better I would have skied there all day but took only one run and headed back to the front side down Riva Ridge where the wider skis busted through the chop and I could see where I was going.

Have fun and I hope those new skis work out for you!

Cheers!
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