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Need help planning a CO trip for my family (09/10 season) - kind of long

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I live in Denver (originally from PA) and am in the process of planning a week long trip for myself and my family (they still live in PA) the week of Jan 3-10, 2010. I have a good starting point, but am looking for input so I can make some final decisions in the next few weeks or so and get everything booked. Tenatively, I am looking at a 6/7 night trip.


The group:

1) Myself - Level 8 (not quite level 9) skier - I like to spend most of the day challenging myself (bumps, trees, steeps, etc)

2) My girlfriend - Level 5 skier - prefers harder greens, easy/medium groomed blues (although I am hoping to get her up to small blue bumps/easier blacks next year as I think she has the ability but lacks confidence)

3) My parents - not sure what level but average skiers at best - my dad does ok on blues, can make it down a black run, but I don't know that I would call it "skiing it", my stepmom is probably more of a green/blue skier  - I really want both of them to take a lesson

4) Brother - snowboarder - will stick with me for some but not all of my runs

5) Brother's girlfriend - she is a never ever


My top choices for where to go:

1) BC/Vail - they came this past season for 3 days at BC - had a good time for their first time to CO. I would most likely stay in Avon (cheap) like last time, ski 3 days at BC and 2 days at Vail. Positives - Closest to Denver (we are driving), I know both mountains, my girlfriend and I will both have Epic passes so no extra $$ for our lift tickets. Negatives - Since we both have Epic passes, Vail/BC/Breck are where we will be spending the majority of our ski days when the family is not here.

2) Aspen/Snowmass/Buttermilk/Aspen Highlands - like the idea of 4 mountains to choose from, fairly close drive, have never been there so am looking for any insight as to where to stay/where to ski/terrain/etc., Classic Pass is nice (assuming they bring it back)

3) Telluride - farthest away but looks like a beautiful place, based on what I have read seems to have good steeps/challenge for me, like the fact that it is a true town, would most likely buy T-cards for discounted tickets for everyone

4) Steamboat - not sure on this one as I can't seem to find any discounted ticket options. I could always buy a Rocky Mountain Super Pass+ and get some WP/Copper time, but that might be more than I am looking to spend. If I weren't a tax accountant, I would say no biggie but I only got 3 days of skiing in from Feb 1-April 15 this year.


The criteria:

1) Looking for a place with something to keep everyone busy - I know this can be had at Vail/BC. For Aspen, can it be had at any of the four mountains or only certain ones? Telluride is obviously the smallest if you group the other ones - how does it compare?

2) Nightlife isn't that big of a deal - we mostly just hang at the condo after skiing. My brother is a cook, so he makes the food. We may go out to dinner one night, but other than that mostly just eat in.

3) Overall cost matters somewhat, but I am confident that by booking this early I can find similar priced accomodations at each place. I am picking up the tab for the majority of the lodging, but I would still like to save as much as possible on everyone's tickets. As mentioned before, Vail/BC would be no extra cost to two of us, and it seems that I can find discounted stuff for both Aspen and T-Ride. 

4) In a typical year, what place would have the most consistent snow/snowfall totals by the first week of January. I know that Vail usually has the back bowls open by then, but not sure on the other two. This may be the deciding factor if it appears everything else is pretty much the same.


Sorry for the long post, but that's the basic idea of the trip. Opinions are greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 3

I'd strongly endorse Aspen/Snowmass.  Yes, with searching, you can find reasonable accomodations.  And yes, there is something for everyone.  Buttermilk is a great beginners area, Snowmass has something for everyone (including the expert -- some of the stuff in the Hanging Valley is every bit as steep as Highlands Bowl), Aspen Mountain has great intermediate and expert terrain, and Highlands has great expert terrain, with a good bit of groomed intermediates runs as well.  Personally, I think there is much more varied and challenging terrain than Vail/BC (although I do love BC), and it will give you something else to explore.


I'm pretty sure they are bringing the Classic Pass back -- its been around for the past 5 years or so.  I think Aspen/Snowmass is some of the best ski terrain in Colorado, so go for it.



post #3 of 3

I would endorse Aspen/Snowmass with some caveats.  The mountains are stratified, so the stronger skiers will want more time on Aspen and Highlands.  If you don't mind not skiing together every day this would not be an issue.


The other issue is that Aspen/Telluride get ~250 inches vs. the 350 at Vail.  What this means is that the steepest terrain like Hanging Valley is not open first week of January ~50% of seasons.  Aspen has had outstading early seasons the past 2 years, but people have short memories. Snow accumulation is usually gradual.  So I generally recommend both Aspen and Telluride February and later.  Snow preservation is superb, better than Vail (altitude and higher percent north exposure), so March is on average the best month.

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