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First Time Out West--Where Should I Go?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Following an upcoming B-day "of significance" my relatives have decided to spring for my first ski trip to the West. I may go with my friends or I may go with my family if they choose to go--they like skiing but they know that I will ski all day, every day, so they may take a pass and get a vacation from me instead .

I'm perfectly fine with skiing in the east all winter, but I always get a bit depressed after my last week of skiing (I skied the last day at a couple of different Eastern ski areas last year). So, my plan is to head west late season--after the ski areas in the East have closed. Say, late May or early June.

I'm guessing the trip will permit 5 days on-mountain. I'd rather spend quality time at one or two ski areas than try to hit every ski area in the west.

My favorite area that I have skied in the East is Mad River Glen. I am more interested in trees and bumps than in steeps. I do not particularly enjoy groomers. I would like to try skiing powder if any such thing exists late season. A bowl with a chair lift at the base of the runout is fine for me, I'm not looking for a full-on backcountry experience.

To sum up:

1. Trip "out west" in late May/early June of '09
2. 5 days on mountain
3. Not looking to tour lots of differnent ski areas (1, 2 or 3 at most)
4. Advanced skier, fine with most eastern double blacks
5. Prefer trees and bumps to steeps
6. Would like to try sking powder, if there is any left
7. However, no great desire to "earn my turns" in the backcountry

My question, where should I go?

Your advice is appreciated.

Ski the East
post #2 of 26
Put Snowbird and Mammoth on your list.
post #3 of 26
You have very few options in late May/early June. What options you do have will definitely have highly variable conditions and more than likely leave something to be desired.

Go search through these forums for all the threads related to skiing in May and June - everything still applies. Search for words like "May" and "June".

I would strongly encourage you to take a trip in early April. You can book your ticket in February after it's clear where all the abundant snowfall will be and there's a decent chance you can have a big snowfall at night and bluebird conditions during the day.

If you insist on skiing in June for the novelty of it, go to A Basin or Snowbird or something.
post #4 of 26
not many resorts open at that time. How about Whistler?
post #5 of 26
I'd say snowbird but wait till February at least and you can assess it from there. Obviously the farther you can move it up the better...
post #6 of 26
You will be able to make this choice beginning of May and still get good deals.
post #7 of 26
Snowbird, Mammoth, Mt. Hood, Whistler, Arapahoe Basin. But count on eastern conditions at that time of year.

Agree with early April option gives you better odds.
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
You will be able to make this choice beginning of May and still get good deals.
This is key.
Because there is no crystal ball, to know what resorts will have the best conditions at that time, you may want to wait until the end of April to see who's got the goods.

A prime example of what can happen with conditions is the Mothers Day at Abasin that the SkiDivas did this year. We anticipated the Montezuma bowl being closed and spring like conditions, but were greeted with 10" of fresh and still snowing!
Last year(07) I skied Abasin on the same weekend and was greeted with warm spring conditions.

Because most people have switched gears to summer activities, good $$ can be found for last minute deals!
post #9 of 26
What Vinn and Weems said. If you can do April, there are many more resorts open and you have plenty of choices. Conditions in May are less predictable and you have fewer choices in terms of resorts. Vinn and Weems live in Colorado and know what they are talking about.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski the East View Post


Let's see how sunshine fits.

1. Trip "out west" in late May/early June of '09
-Open until may 24 long weekend.

2. 5 days on mountain
-sure

3. Not looking to tour lots of differnent ski areas (1, 2 or 3 at most)
-Good, because lake louise closes the last weekend in april

4. Advanced skier, fine with most eastern double blacks
-They usually can keep the dive open pretty late in the season. Goats eye will likely close early/mid may.

5. Prefer trees and bumps to steeps
-Sunshine isn't known for its trees. Most of the good skiing this late in the season would be above the tree line anyway.

6. Would like to try sking powder, if there is any left
-Storms in may are not rare. You have to get lucky with timing though.

7. However, no great desire to "earn my turns" in the backcountry.
-There is plenty of ibounds terrain at sunshine.
Banff is something to consider. It might not be the perfect choice but if you can get a deal......
post #11 of 26
Agree with others who say April will likely be better and no reason to book lodging well ahead of time. Airfare is the only reason to book in advance, but I would hold out on this until at least Feb or March (and longer if you don't get a screaming deal).

I have never skied there, but Winter Park/Mary Jane is known for their bumps (and I think has a relatively late season).
post #12 of 26
I don't know about that late in the year, but the front range may be the ticket if you want to try 2-3 different mountains. Many Jane, Breck and A-Basin? They all have what you're looking for- especially the Jane. Bumps out the @ss and trees that can get you into whatever level of trouble you want to be in. Breck for sheer variety and A-Basin because they have their lifts running so late in the season, you could almost go swimming afterwards.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoWork View Post
I don't know about that late in the year, but the front range may be the ticket if you want to try 2-3 different mountains. Many Jane, Breck and A-Basin? They all have what you're looking for- especially the Jane. Bumps out the @ss and trees that can get you into whatever level of trouble you want to be in. Breck for sheer variety and A-Basin because they have their lifts running so late in the season, you could almost go swimming afterwards.
By that time of year, Abasin is the only one open.
post #14 of 26
by the time June rolls around, you could start to look at the southern hemisphere! Argentina, Chile, New Zealand.....
post #15 of 26
I did some late April skiing in Colorado a few years back. We got a powder day at A-Basin.
post #16 of 26
anyone do any late season helicopter or snow cat skiing worth noting? Alaska? British Columbia?
post #17 of 26
Mammoth.

If Tioga pass is open, drive across the park and check out Yosemite valley.

Have lobster taquitos at the momart on the way back to mammoth.
post #18 of 26
Definitely look at mid to late April versus end of May/June. All you'll find at the extreme tail end of the season are 'patches' of skiing. Certain parts of Whistler might still be open, but you'll be riding up to the top of the mountain to find it and skiing ice in the morning and mashed potatoes by noon.

If you still want to ski in May, excellent early to mid-May skiing can be found at both Whistler and Sunshine Village in Banff www.skibanff.com. Whistler will be partially open and SSV will be fully open that time of year. Prices in Banff will be rock bottom at that time of year because, although skiers know it for the skiing, winter is actually low season there and hotel rates are at their lowest for the year (tourist traffic in Banff is five times higher in the summer than the winter). Prices tend to be slightly lower in Canada for skiing, anyway, and you have a slight advantage with the currency exchange (but not much).
post #19 of 26
if you are going in late may/early june, In Utah, the only place I know that I would say would have decent snow then is Alta or Snowbird or maybe solitude or brighton.

Early May... i would still hit up one of those four resorts...

If you are aiming for April, i probably would still suggest the four above, but some people have mentioned some other resorts in CO, like A-Basin, and I don't know anything about those, so....

but if you are going during regular season, dec - march, I would highly suggest Vail for a first West Coast trip. It's my favorite "all types of skiing" mountain. Granted, I haven't been to Whistler, but Park City is supposedly a mountain full of all kinds of different skiing, and I hated that place. So, go to Vail. You will love the skiing, it's huge, and the town is pretty cool. not the cheapest resort out there though : ), and it could get busy (even though we had pretty much no lift lines at all when we went in Dec!!)
post #20 of 26
Don't waster your first trip coming out when there is little open and you're going to get spring conditions. Make time in your schedule to come out earlier when the goods can be got.
post #21 of 26

Don't be silly

If we're lucky the last eastern resort will close the last weekend in April. And typically by the third week in April will be on limited terrain.

Go to Snowbird early-mid April, they have deals you can book last minute for lifts and lodging at the hill for around $100 (may be better this year!) And there is an excellent chance for winter conditions especially if you can be flexible and follow the 10 and 14 day outlooks from the NWS
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
Don't waster your first trip coming out when there is little open and you're going to get spring conditions. Make time in your schedule to come out earlier when the goods can be got.
What he said.

You may hit good conditions and freshies in late May, but it's not as common as good stuff in March and April. March is high season (lots of snow and good weather - a great combination), so, as others have said, early April is a good choice. The snow is good, the traffic is light, the weather is warm, you have lots to choose from, and prices are lower. Why pass on some of the best days in the West to catch a few more so-so days back East?

Late May/early June gives you a limited selection and a high probability of, um, "spring conditions." This is code for frozen death cookies in the morning until it thaws, an hour or two of magnificent corn, followed by heavy mashed potatoes getting deeper and heavier with every run. Mashed potatoes can be fun, but it's definitely an acquired taste. The required skill set isn't necessarily straightforward, either.

Your probability of a good experience is higher in early April. I've done my share of skiing in May, June and even July, but I've lived in the West for nearly 30 years (Colorado, mostly), so I can pick and choose. You have to take what you find wherever you go. The chances are better in April.

Invest wisely!
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
Don't waster your first trip coming out when there is little open and you're going to get spring conditions. Make time in your schedule to come out earlier when the goods can be got.
Yep. Come in February or March.
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 

I can't ski the entire eastern season, then go west

I believe I hear what y'all are saying:

1. My basic premise that ski season runs significantly longer in the west was flawed. There isn't necessarily a huge gap between the ski seasons in the east and for most western resorts. Many western ski areas plan to close in mid to late April. To get good snow, I should show up by early April at the latest.

2. However, if I still choose to ski late season, Sunshine, A-Basin and Mammoth stay open the longest and are the recommended options.

Whistler is out because most of the folks that would consider joining me (other than my family) have already skied it and would probably prefer to try something new/different.

3. If I come in March or early April I can add, Snowbird/Alta, Winter Park/Mary Jane, and Vail to the list of recommended options.

4. It's not necessary to get tickets/make reservations now. Wait and see what weather conditions are like and what deals are offered. Waiting to see the weather/snow conditions may help me choose where to go.

Thanks to everyone for the helpful and useful advice.
post #25 of 26
Arrive at Snowbird or Mammoth on April 15 and you'll have the entire mountain - in a normal year, the east is for all intent done by then... really excellent snow storms at that time are not uncommon.

Snowbird is great that time of year 'cuz you can trek down to SLC and enjoy the climate that we just don't get back east. Afternoon temps are tees and shorts and the Temple gardens are beautiful.

Get a room at the Cliff Lodge at the base. Enjoy all that's offered.
post #26 of 26
Why take your trip of a lifetime, (at least that will be what your first trip would be) in sub-optimum conditions. Great Skiing is always dependent on good snow conditions. You are proving nothing by waiting until April when you have a very good chance of slush and hot baking sun. Leave that time of the year for the locals or someone on their third trip of the season out west.

Make it easy on yourself. Hop on a plane to Salt Lake, Jan to mid-March(it gets dicey after that with high sun and slush chances go way up), ski half days on your travel days, stay three nights in a $75/nt hotel and you'll spend less than a $1,000 and you'll have a decent shot at powder like you've never seen before and for sure terrain that far surpasses anything you've experienced in the East.

I live in Pennsylvania, but wouldn't waste my time driving to areas that can't begin to compare to Western skiing when for an extra $450 airfare i can ski out west, and the lift tickets are much cheaper in SLC, it is only a couple hundred dollars more, maybe, considering SLC is cheap every way except air. The scenery and experience is incomparable to anything in the East. WOW is all I can say.

Of course, there are other great places to ski besides Salt Lake, and I've been to most of them. I'm going to Aspen in December, and the terrain looks as good as anywhere. But make it easy on yourself and it is more likely to happen. Little Cloud Bowl here I come, AGAIN!

Some Snowbird shots. Pretty much everything is open for lift-served skiing! (why I'm a Devotee)
#1 - You won't find that back East! The Cirque
#2 - Little Cloud Bowl - my favorite place on planet earth. Look at tiny lift to get perspective.
#3 - Mineral Basin - it won't look like that publicity shot, but all of that you see is open for skiing and often full of pow. And it is twice that big.
These are just a small part of one resort of many!
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