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Kirkwood X-mas Crowds?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Considering some days at Kirkwood between Chrismas and New Years because we get 10 free days there on our Purgatory Season Passes. Assuming the snow is good, how crazy can I expect it to be, and how long are the lift lines?
post #2 of 5
Kirkwood definitely gets busy, but it spreads out a crowd very if snow cover is good. This year there are a couple new surface lifts that serve what were formerly side-country lines so even more terrain can be accessed without a hike. The biggest holiday lines form on the backside Sunrise lift and the front side lifts 4 and 11 that serve intermediate terrain. All of those are slow lifts, in fact the only high speed quad worth noting is #6 (Cornice) which can have a morning lineup and will thin to less than a 5-minute wait even on the businest days. Timbercreek is a high speed that serves beginner and perhaps intermediate terrain.

Keep an eye on the weather and snow accumulations. The resort needs 5-feet of snow to cover the rocks and fully open. There is minimal snowmaking capacity. I think its the same ownership as Purgatory/Durango.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks Cirquerider, that's just the kind of info I was looking for. DMR and Kirkwood do have the same ownership, and we've been getting the 10 free days there for a few years, but it is such a long drive (or expensive flight shuttle/rent a car) that it kind of negates the free lift tickets, so we never used them. Thinking about breaking up the drive with a little skiing in Salt Lake City coming and going, but we won't go all the way unless the snow cover warrants it.

Heard pretty much nothing but good things about Kirkwood, and the new sidecountry access lifts are just what me and the wife are looking for, but we don't want to drive 15 hrs. to stand in long holiday lift lines. Should we bring the avi gear? Skins? AT skis?
post #4 of 5
The new surface lifts make the backcountry West Shore lines accessible with an easy traverse instead of hike. That area will still be out of bounds and you should use proper safety gear. A small hike can take you into the Emmigrant Lake basin with the California Chutes and other great lines above, and those definitely require proper procedures. A lot of the resistance to the new lifts is that we're concerned a lot of unprepared and untrained skiers and snowboarders are going to be beyond the boundaries without avy gear.

My friend, if you want some really sweet lines and are willing to hike a bit, there is some really nice places to go nearby. The BackcountryStore in Truckee hosts an online map guide. Check out Waterhouse Peak

Red Lake Peak

Round Top Peak (I actually prefer the east shoulder and Northeast descent off Elephants Back)

Lots more if it floats your boat. Splitter can set you up I bet better than I can.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks again. Looks like we better come fully equipped. I usually don't do a lot of hiking if I'm paying for a ticket, but since we are getting them for free, and the holiday crowds will be using the lifts, some side and backcountry hiking sounds in order. My wife and I always take our all-mountain and fat skis, plus I take my teles. If we throw in the AT skis it looks like a 7 pair trip, plus the avi gear. Good thing we'll be taking the truck and not flying.

We've mountain biked around the lake crest trail, but I've only skied at Hevenly once when it was a complete sheet of ice, so I'm excited about exploring a little in the winter. The links you provided are a great connection. Now all we need are some of those huge early season high moisture storms for a bombproof base before we get there.
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