or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Best resort for starting off piste skiing?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Best resort for starting off piste skiing? - Page 2

post #31 of 47
At Big Mountain we've got areas that are ungroomed all the time, but an easy traverse out of them if you change your mind. So, good for someone just starting to get a taste of figuring out on their own how to get down this hill without having the aid of grooming. Some of them are more blue (Good Med) than black. If you're really just getting into this and if you just want to dodge small trees without the steeps being an issue, you can go to the tree farm on the backside. Elephant's Graveyard is pretty much guaranteed to always have some fresh powder due to the prevailing winds. Once again, you can traverse out if you don't like it. Same with Langley and Powder Trap.

Heading a bit more "off the beaten path" (but make sure you have a way to call someone if you're here mid-week): Elkweed and Movieland, Back Nine. If you want someone around to find the body, then Evan's Heaven, Gray's, Slingshot, Connie's, the trees on either side of Marmot and Black Bear, North Bowl Face, Schmidt's. All these are blacks. If you are here midweek and don't mind traversing IN to something, then Windowpane and Stumptown or Coyote Flats. (Last is OOB, but close.) If you want to test your gonads, then I guess First Creek, Haskill Slide, NBC, Chicken Nuggets, Super Mario and the trees off Big Horn, Picture Chutes, Teepee Town.

Basically, there's trees and powder for all tastes. Some lasts (the powder) for weeks after others always depending on air temps, sunshine, etc. A lot of it is only known by the real diehard gonzo types who don't like sharing.

There are also cat skiing excursions or your own steam to get up to Flower Point (really OOB) and Canyon Creek (avalanche area, watch out and go with a real local).

There are lots of people skinning up various peaks here and lots of telemark skiers hitting all kinds of stuff I've never even heard of. There is a very liberal OOB attitude here (you pay for the search and rescue, so it's your headache).

A good place to come to hunt for secrets while enjoying nice cruising and really low crowds. We make Big Sky look crowded.

Some photos:

Jan 2008 (some of these show the lack of viz we can have to prevent crowds)
March 2008

We had so much snow this year that most days were useless to take pictures because there just wasn't the view.
post #32 of 47
Well, if you are looking for an introduction to ungroomed (off-piste) skiing, why not attend the 2009 ESA at Aspen? There may also be an event at Big Sky (many of us are lobbying for it, this years was fantastic). Either one will provide you with the terrain you desire and the instruction that may help you to ski it well.

Mike
post #33 of 47
i just wanted to second what Bush mentioned about the "Powder Wolves" at both The Bird and Alta.

i consider myself a pretty decent skier [i can keep up with Bush when he dials back to 1/2 speed... ] and on a powder day at Alta folks are no-hold-barred. they ski like Mankind used to wrestle in Japan or how any number of the Gracies practise ultimate fighting. if you've never done much off piste in a resort and you go to Alta on a pow day you best have some serious steeze.

i'd say any resorts in Tahoe (Alpine, Sugarbowl, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Squaw, Northstar) all have decent off-piste options to whet your appetite.

i dig Colorado, too. There's a ton of resorts in a row in Summit County, all of which offer nice off-piste options.

i kinda like Spin's Targhee suggestion. that mountain is nice, mid-sized, and gets some good snow. plus they just opened a bunch of formerly cat access only skiing to hikers.
post #34 of 47
Thread Starter 
Wow thanks for all the suggestions guys, so much to research! This forum is great to get insider info especially on resorts those of us in Europe are unlikely to have heard of.

Cost is a big issue given I already have to pay for a transatlantic flight. I've been to Vail and the prices of accommodation, eating out and lift passes were really steep. I'm inclined to go for one of the smaller and cheaper ski areas mentioned, I don't need huge amounts of mountain to be satisfied while learning. If I can get away without having to hire a car this would save a lot too.
post #35 of 47
In Tahoe, Alpine Meadows open boundary policy makes it an awesome choice. You can go as far OB as you want - or just get some of the awesome inbounds off-piste. At least half the in-bounds terrain could be considered "off-piste". Patrol will come rescue you inbounds if you screw up, and most likely out of bounds too, as long as we can get there with a sled.

Someone else suggested Bachelor - not a bad choice, but a bit tough to get to, plus you are stuck there. With Alpine, you have loads of options close by.

Just saw your last post. Didn't realize you were coming across the pond. Tahoe is easy to get to - you'd fly to San Francisco and then up to Reno. There are places like Granlibakken that have free shuttles that will take you to any of the north shore resorts, plus the lodging deals often include tickets. Nonetheless, hiring a car does give you more flexibility.
post #36 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by narc View Post
Cost is a big issue given I already have to pay for a transatlantic flight. I've been to Vail and the prices of accommodation, eating out and lift passes were really steep. I'm inclined to go for one of the smaller and cheaper ski areas mentioned, I don't need huge amounts of mountain to be satisfied while learning. If I can get away without having to hire a car this would save a lot too.
The other issue is time to the slopes. For a good price, I would imagine a flight into Vancouver should still be direct and as cheap as anything to North America. Once there, getting to the mountain is about 1.5 hours depending upon your transportation. I would not rent a car to save some cash and really, you don't need one IMO. Whistler can be a great place to be in January.
Someone mentioned Tahoe. You would have to fly into Reno, so nothing direct, but 1 hour to a variety of lodging that is likely a little cheaper than Whistler. What you save on lodging covers a car, so you could hit a few resorts, and have a little gambling at night if that is your thing.
Utah is good, as you are 1 to 1.5 hours from most any resort. Maybe you will get lucky as I did last winter and get dumped on every night for lots of pow:. The mountains don't feel as big in Utah for some reason, but the pow is really nice. I haven't done Snowbird/Alta, (pricey) so maybe that would give you a more big mtn feel.
I still love my mountain (Mammoth in CA) but it is a long drive from any airport. Of all the places I have skied in CA/Utah/Colorado, when I really think about it, I only like Whistler more.
Go to Whistler
The off piste skiing there can be amazing.
post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by narc View Post
Wow thanks for all the suggestions guys, so much to research! This forum is great to get insider info especially on resorts those of us in Europe are unlikely to have heard of.

Cost is a big issue given I already have to pay for a transatlantic flight. I've been to Vail and the prices of accommodation, eating out and lift passes were really steep. I'm inclined to go for one of the smaller and cheaper ski areas mentioned, I don't need huge amounts of mountain to be satisfied while learning. If I can get away without having to hire a car this would save a lot too.
Cheap flights to Denver though - you can stay more cheaply in Dillon and ski Keystone/ Breck/ A-Basin/ Loveland cheaper than Vail - too big, too expensive and too many cat tracks.

The other option is to fly to Kelowna in BC (Canada) - direct flights next season and ski either Silver Star or Big White - for a side trip you could ski Whitewater (Nelson) or Revelstoke or Sun Peaks.
post #38 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew R View Post
Cheap flights to Denver though - you can stay more cheaply in Dillon and ski Keystone/ Breck/ A-Basin/ Loveland cheaper than Vail - too big, too expensive and too many cat tracks.

The other option is to fly to Kelowna in BC (Canada) - direct flights next season and ski either Silver Star or Big White - for a side trip you could ski Whitewater (Nelson) or Revelstoke or Sun Peaks.
Go to BC instead of Colorado. Learning how survive in avalanche terrain will be much safer in a Maritime snowpack than a Continental snowpack. Check out were most avy deaths occur. Colorado is a killer!
post #39 of 47
Yeah, just a thought about money and snow quality: Colorado, Utah, Wyoming are far more likely to have powder that's forgiving than the west coast. Does a powder side-bounds newbie want to wrestle through Sierra Cement or whatever they call the same goop in B.C./Oregon/Washington? And if you factor in quick access and cheap accommodations, probably SLC is the winnah. For the price of a condo at Vail, you can rent a SUV, stay in a decent hotel and go to a different mountain every day. Not much charisma, but can't beat the choices. Close second if you don't want to drive would be to fly into Denver, take a limo to Frisco, stay at a decent chain hotel, take local free shuttles to Breck, Keystone, Copper, Vail. Again, amazing mountains at your call each am, fairly cheap, somewhat more interesting surroundings than SLC. :
post #40 of 47
I would agree with Bushwacker, Solitude NEVER has crowds and you can find untracked. I also agree with the times he mentioned as the lowest crowds at any resort.
post #41 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by narc View Post
either US or europe is feasible. I'm a brit btw.
Some good US suggestions so far, but Europe could still be cheaper depending on what you pay for your flight and where you stay.

Check out Eurozone here, or snowheads for more Euro options, but I would suggest Bourg St. Maurice (or one of the Les Arcs/La Plagne villages higher up if you can get a good deal). Bourg typically has lower priced accomodations and your can take the funicular up to Les Arcs in less than 10 minutes. No need for a car and you can arrive by train from London or plane/bus. Although it could vary by exchange rate and the type of package deal you get, daily lift ticket prices here are less than non-discounted tixs at most major US resorts although you might find some good deals at some of the mid-sized US resorts mentioned. Decent cheap eat options include Pizza Bella near the war monument in Bourg and an English Pub (Mad King, I think) in Arc 1800.

Assuming they get the Vanoise Express working again next year, you can access some of the La Plagne off piste that I have heard does not get skied out as fast as places like Tignes because it does not have as much hardcore stuff (but does have a lot of moderate stuff which could appeal to you).

Timing is always hit or miss when looking for powder, but this year was very good from mid-December opening through late Jan and then good again from the second week of March to near closing in late April.

Worth noting that this was the first year in a while that there were no av deaths with the seasonaires, but 2 locals got caught on 14 March with one dying off Aiguille Rouge (where most of the av deaths happen here). Slides all over the mountain that day and the local I was with appoligized for playing it safe and avoiding some of the more interesting spots. With that said, there are flatter off piste areas here and quite a bit that the patrol clears for avs before opening up the lifts that access them.
post #42 of 47
First check the exchange rates. I think you will find some countries significantly less expensive than others.
As much as we need you to bring us back some of our dollars I think nonstop London to Vancouver would be hard to pass up. Whistler is a great ski area, on piste, off piste, at the bar wherever!
That said you can probably ski two more days in Chamonix for the same time away from home so if the cost is the same just go to Chamonix, do the Valee Blanche and you will have started your off piste experience with one of the great adventures available to skiiers.
post #43 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by narc View Post
I got a taste of the off piste this season ....my ability in powder and soft snow is not yet amazingly accomplished so I'm not looking for huge terrain!
Most of the replies on this thread seem to be from experienced powder-hogs, which you say you are not (yet). You would do well to learn to ski out-of-bounds powder and steeps first with a guide. Some of the best out-of-bounds terrain and ski-guides in the world are at Val d'Isere and Chamonix. The next step up would be skiing in-bounds out-of-bounds, such as at Vail and Keystone, where the commitment and danger levels are low but the fun and experience factors are very high. While you're doing that, take an avvy course, buy the gear you need (AT, beacon, shovel, probe, map, GPS for a mininum), and find a like-minded friend or two to ski with, after which the sky is the limit.
post #44 of 47
I just want to make a quick suggestion- if you are going for a Colorado trip and plan on staying a full week or more, a good way to save a bunch of money without really limiting your options might be a Vail Epic Pass. It gives unlimited access to Vail, Breck, Keystone & A-Basin (all excellent places to acquaint yourself with some off-piste action) and is $579. Plus you get to bring your pass home as a gnar-mento (and maybe it will convince you to go back for more "free" skiing later!) Demo skis are easily found in this area, and there's plenty of holes-in-the-wall to stay at in the Silverthorne area for pretty cheap. Last time I was out there I got a 2 bed place with a hot tub for around $100/night. This is basically the recipe I'm going for on my next western trip. I know, they're not the most crazy mountains, but I'm not a super-nasty skier so I'll still have a blast skiing them with my friends from out there.
post #45 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raspritz View Post
Most of the replies on this thread seem to be from experienced powder-hogs, which you say you are not (yet). You would do well to learn to ski out-of-bounds powder and steeps first with a guide. Some of the best out-of-bounds terrain and ski-guides in the world are at Val d'Isere and Chamonix. The next step up would be skiing in-bounds out-of-bounds, such as at Vail and Keystone, where the commitment and danger levels are low but the fun and experience factors are very high. While you're doing that, take an avvy course, buy the gear you need (AT, beacon, shovel, probe, map, GPS for a mininum), and find a like-minded friend or two to ski with, after which the sky is the limit.
This sounds like a good way to go to start with for next season and then do a trip out to the US the following year. Many of the French resorts do seem to offer off piste specific instruction and there are many holiday companies specialising it running holidays for brits.

I've also been looking at La Plagne which seems to have a very good rep for beginner off piste:

Quote:
If you are just learning to ski powder, head for La Plagne. It's the perfect place to practice deep snow turns as there is great off-piste terrain right next to the marked runs. There are also some big open snow-fields and powder bowls to progress to with no hiking required.

Evolution 2 in Monchavin-Les Coches (0033 (0)4 79 07 81 85, www.evolution2.com/plagne) is a great school to take you on your first steps into the backcountry. One 3.5 hour lesson (ski or snowboard) starts at €45 and 4 lessons (Monday –Thursday) costs just €150. When you’ve found your feet you can then take one of their half or full days tours of the Tarentaise region.

Oxygéne in Plagne Centre (0033 (0)4 79 09 03 99, info@oxygene-ski.com, www.oxygene-ski.com) also offer off-piste tuition. They recommend a 3 hour lesson for your first time off piste. Tuition includes all safety equipment (avalanche transceiver, probe, shovel and radio).
post #46 of 47
I am viewing this thread as a novice off piste and powder skier. I agree with the suggestion about Snowbasin in Utah, very nice easy to get to off piste. Brighton in Utah has some decent off piste by the Millicent chair as well. A good trip might be to go to Salt Lake for a week and try several resorts as they are all great.
post #47 of 47
Narc, Since you have family in Denver you are visiting, you ought to stick to Colorado. There is plenty there.

Are you looking for off piste as in Europe, which would translate to back- country out of bounds skiing here? or are you looking for ungroomed, in- bounds (ie safe) perhaps hike-to skiing to practice on - which we call off-piste?

If it's the former, you ought to look into some back country cat skiing that is associated with a resort. In Colorado there is cat skiing at Steamboat PowderCats, Durango/Purgatory has SanJuan Ski Company, Monarch Ski Mountain also has a cat skiing operation. Silverton has out of bounds type of skiing that is lift served, but the terrain is pretty big. These are all a fairly long drive from Denver. The Telluride Mountain Center guides back-country skiing also and then, if money is no object, there is helitrax helicopter skiing out of Telluride.

If it's the latter, there are resorts that have some cat-served and hike-to but in-bounds terrain that would give you plenty to work on. Copper and Keystone and Ski Cooper have natural bowl areas that are cat serviced by the ride and an easy drive from Denver.

Also near Denver: Vail has the Blue Sky basin and the back bowls which are fairly easy lift-served but ungroomed terrain. Loveland has a ridgeline that offers short, hike-to opportunities. Winter Park has Vasquez Cirque, although it's pretty steep and a fairly long walk. (Parsen Bowl has been redone so that it's not really off piste anymore. But there is great ungroomed tree skiing off the Eagle Wind lift at Winter Park/Mary Jane.) I don't know Breckenridge or Beaver Creek, but you could do a lot worse than hopping around the close-to-Denver resorts and exploring.

Further from Denver in the southern part of the state, Telluride is opening new bowl terrain. Wolf Creek has some natural areas that aren't steep. Crested Butte has some lift served 'extreme' off piste terrain that is steeper. but those three are a longer drive from Denver.

all of these resorts have websites that will give you a good idea of what is available.

Utah and Wyoming and Montana have wonderful skiing. Lake Tahoe has guided backcountry clinics through All Mountain Ski Pros. (its founder is a contributor here.) But, again, since you have family in Denver, it just doesn't make sense to spend precious time and money traveling further when you could be skiing a short drive from Denver.

Hope you come across the pond and hope you have great snow and a wonderful adventure. After all, someone ought to get something out of the pathetic dollar:
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Best resort for starting off piste skiing?