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Sounding for thoughts on 2010 trip

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Me: 47 skiing since 2 so that's, well more candles than they put on the cake.  Still in good shape. Favorite snow is powder in an alpine meadow or powder in trees or powder in steeps, but pretty much powder.  Free hot springs are cool. I am on sabbatical and have a pretty open schedule.  I would like to do a 2-3 week ski experience.  Mostly inbonds with lift, but I have bc gear and level II avalanche which means I am aware of the danger of unknown back country so connecting with people would be imperetive.  cheap snowcat or out of bond tour options would be great.  As of now traveling alone so that makes it more $$ to do.  hoping to spend under 2k. 

Options:
1) Stay home and drive to Saddleback, Jay Peak, Le Massif, Marble mountain as Url commands and hit chic chocs and newfoundland in the spring. Because I am on the downeast coast, hitting the storms would mean a drive up the day before and hotel lodging.  Some deals midweek, but hard to find individual deals on weekends.

2) Fly to Calgary. Grey hound to Bannf (Sunshine), Kicking Horse and Revelstoke. Stay in Hostels. No car saves big $$ and seems to fit snow bill.  Thinking early February, but not sure how much spill over of people fleeing whistler for the olympics will affect things.

3) Buy Kirkwood 6pack pass- wicked cheap.  Fly by cheapest car/air combination.  Downside is either it is a long drive to and from the mountain for cheap hotel or winter camping. Side trip to Yosemite is a big plus!

4) Wait on Europe to see how the season goes and prices.

5) Been to SLC and it is still a cheap option. Stay down near the base of BCC and LCC on transit line.


Edited by Maineac - 7/24/2009 at 03:18 pm GMT
post #2 of 25
Grand Targhee, reputed to have lots of powder, has snowcat options. bus to Jackson Hole for steeps if it's snowing there.

Crested Butte, if there's snow. great steeps. Monarch Mountain nearby with Mirkwood basin and relatively cheap snowcat skiing by the day. there is a college town outside the Butte for cheap stay and Salida is near Monarch which is very cheap. Monarch isn't enough for 2-3 weeks though.

Wolf Creek, plenty of powder almost all the time, hot springs in Pagosa. Very Cheap. Durango not too far has San Juan Powder cats (skip the inbounds there though). Durango has a city, so there are bound to be some cheap lodging options. If not, there are lots of small towns between Pagosa and Durango where it will be dirt cheap. A little further is Silverton which is lift served back country. You can finish up in Telluride....

Oh, it's fun to tour direct!
post #3 of 25

If powder seems to be your highest priority with back country second, then maybe options 2 and 5 would be your front runners? Since you've done 5 I'd say go for 2. Would interior BC be better in Feb or Mar?

Mom's suggestions for offbeat southern Colorado sound great and might hold good promise for linking up with epicski partners.

If lift ticket prices get to be a big factor in your planning you might also want to look at some of those great season pass deals in Colorado and base a 2 or 3 week visit around Intrawest or Vail resorts there.  Some nice "backcountry lite" opportunities at places like Copper, Breck, Keystone, Winter Park, Vail, A-basin.

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well powder is right up there, but so is cost-flight, lodging, transportation, lift tickets.  Current lean is to fly into Reno (figure that has to be about as cheap as Denver or SLC.  Bus down to South Tahoe.  Cheap lodging and bus shuttle up to Kirkwood.  Kirkwood has a great season ticket price and it seems to have good consistent snow. No car rental is a big savings.

Interior BC probably is second mostly because it projects as a bit higher cost.  I figure February would be better as Kicking Horse in particular has a bad rep for lower elevatons once the sun heats up. Of course weather is fickle ...

Mom, Loved your second suggestion.  Probably would be forced to do some car camping if I went that route.  I will check it out.  Would love to get over to Silverton. Grand Targhee and JH would be great too, but I think I would be limited to a shorter stay due to costs.
post #5 of 25
I rode the bus from South Tahoe to Kirkwood last year, and it worked pretty well.  One downside is that if the weather is really good, it will take extra time to get to Kirkwood.  (That would be true for your own car, too, but you could leave earlier.)  Based on my grand total of 2 days there, its a great mounain.  I'm considering going back this year.


Southern Colorado is a great cheap option, though the car eats up some of the savings.  I stayed at the last place before the road goes up into Wolf Creek pass for something absurdly cheap like $57 a night (don't remember actual number).  It was rustic, but had a "kitchenette" (= sink, coffeemaker, and toaster oven, and snow from outside for my cooler), free satellite internet, and a comfy bed (there were two in the room -- I'm glad I tried them both, cause the other one was dreadful.)  And WC lift passes are cheap, too.


When  we skied CB, we stayed in the town of Crested Butte -- an excellent choice, cheaper and nicer than up on the mountain in my opinion, with a 7 minute shuttle ride to the skiing.  Talking to people during the week, apparently the dirt cheap option is to stay in Gunnison and take a 1/2 hour local bus ride.  Last time I looked, American Airlines and the ski area had changed the pricing to make Gunnison a reasonable airport to use (we went to Denver and made the long drive).  I suspect you could avoid the car in that case.
post #6 of 25
Do the Canada thing. 

More variety with some of the monster areas of N. America.  Most of the ski towns up there have hostiles with packages available including tickets.  Take your BC skis and that should offer some days of cheap and deep.  The capper is of course the dollar exchange, right now you get an extra 11% on the US dollar.  Some of the areas up there offer you a single ride ticket for getting into the BC, that would save some significant $.

If you do Canada, a tip.  Have found that I can get better money exchange in the grocery stores than the banks.  Every little bit helps.

The Olympic crowds may be a factor, but probably not that major as you go inland from Vancouver.  If you are lucky you might get to share some of those mt.s with some of the best skiers on the planet.

Go north young man, go north.
post #7 of 25
^I would second the interior BC trip.  Been there twice, Revlstoke & Kicking Horse this past March.  It was still great in a less than stellar season for them.  I did a TR in March TR: Kicking Horse & Revelstoke. B.C. 2/25-3/7

JF
post #8 of 25

Interesting that you would zero-in on Kirkwood.  Have you been there before?  It’s not usually at the top of the radar screen for most people from the East Coast.  I made a point to get there a few years ago because of an opportunity to visit a cousin.  It is a real fine ski area and skis much larger than what you’d think for a place with a vertical of 2000’. After three straight ski days I was still left wanting for more of the place.  I also skied a day at Heavenly on that trip and other than the lakeside scenery did not like it as much as Kirkwood.  It’s layout is kind of fragmented and it's more touristy, but I am told it is a worthy destination if you take time to really explore the mtn and get away from crowded sections.  Frankly, since I spend a lot of time at ski areas that have no more than 1000’ of vertical and a couple dozen trails I could easily spend 2-3 weeks exploring just those two mountains.  Sierra at Tahoe is in close proximity too, for a third option.  I know you have to draw the line somewhere, but a fourth option - from South Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Mtn is about 3 hr drive.  I haven’t been there, but for a 2-3 week stay in that part of CA you might consider making it part of your itinerary too.  Many consider Mammoth the finest single ski area in CA.

Here are my superficial impressions of Kirkwood and Heavenly from a few years ago:

http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=809

http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=811&mode=search

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your thoughts.  I will take a closer look at the Colorado areas.  Canada does sound great and the 3 mountains I can ride the bus to are all amazing.  4ster your trip report is what inspired me to look at those mountains.  Snow sure looks sweet. To be honest the hostel thing has me a bit hesitant.  Now that I have so much stuff to take with me (alpine and BC) I am not sure about sharing rooms and leaving stuff behind.  Prices go up if I move out of the hostel.  I think if $$ was not an issue then this would be my first choice.  Of course I could opt for a shorter trip ...
The reason I zeroed in on Kirkwood is its relatively low cost-(flight, transportation, tickets, are all on the low end.) high annual snowfall, what looks like amazing terrain, and bc access. I am also pressed to make a decision on Kirkwood soon as the pass deal runs out and so I am looking at it more intensely now.
Jamesj, really enjoyed your articles.
Thanks again for everyones input and please feel free to share more. 


Edited by Maineac - 7/25/2009 at 10:35 am GMT
post #10 of 25
 Utah. Major airport that never gets snowed in, fly Southwest from Manchester. Cheap rental cars, lodging and some great mountains along with some of the best snow on earth. 
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well I bought the Kirkwood 6wood pass.  Just $49 now and another $190 in November.  Money was the primary driver on this.  Canada was quite a bit more expensive if I was not able to get into the hostels.  So now I will wait and see how the winter develops.  I am thinking end of February into early March.  Kirkwood has good elevation and nice aspect to its slopes-mostly North facing from what I have read.  I have seen hotel 6 for as low as $55 a night.  $46 for round trip bus from Reno.  Approximately $350 for flight in.  $5 for bus up to Kirkwood (I will be on this board/TGR/craigslist and checking out shops when I get there) looking for ride shares to get an earlier start.  Free shuttle to Heavenly and Sierra at Tahoe which has some new interesting terrain.  I read that there is a free shuttle up to Squaw from the South Shore so I will definitely hit that up. I will also be looking for partners for back country skiing. If anyone wants to chime in on things to think about or offers of places to stay (will pay) I would appreciate it. 
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post

 I have seen hotel 6 for as low as $55 a night.

I am sure you could do much better than that in SLT, especially for a longer stay.   There are a ton of little motels there, but some are pretty sleazy.  I would just show up and negotiate, but ask to see the room first!  Take what you save and rent a car.
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
I am good on not renting a car.  Kirkwood has a rideshare board and i will post on the reno/Tahoe craigslist for ride share as well.  Shuttles are pretty extensive in the area.  I will want a partner for back country any ways so hopefully whoever i hook up with has a car.  Good thought on negotiating for a room although i will probably do it ahead of time.  I will see what the web sites offer.  anyone have a suggestion for a hotel which might not show up on travelocity say.
post #14 of 25
Also a quick friendly reminder that 90% of Whistler Blackcomb will still be open during the games. Therefore you get to ski and watch the games at the same time!
post #15 of 25
 I think you made a good decision given the time of year you're locking in.  El Nino will be giving BC fits this winter if the predictions hold out.  Tahoe is a better bet weather-wise given what the predictions say now.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Yeah El Nino definitely entered my thinking, also zeroing in on late February, early March as best looking odds for good snow.  Need to start saving all my pennies and nickels.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post
 Shuttles are pretty extensive in the area.

There is one KW shuttle per day and it arrives after the opening bell.  Most of the small cheap motels will not be available on Travelocity.
Stay away from the Driftwood Inn!
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post




I am sure you could do much better than that in SLT, especially for a longer stay.   There are a ton of little motels there, but some are pretty sleazy.  I would just show up and negotiate, but ask to see the room first!  Take what you save and rent a car.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post

I am good on not renting a car.  Kirkwood has a rideshare board and i will post on the reno/Tahoe craigslist for ride share as well.  Shuttles are pretty extensive in the area.  I will want a partner for back country any ways so hopefully whoever i hook up with has a car.  Good thought on negotiating for a room although i will probably do it ahead of time.  I will see what the web sites offer.  anyone have a suggestion for a hotel which might not show up on travelocity say.


Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post




There is one KW shuttle per day and it arrives after the opening bell.  Most of the small cheap motels will not be available on Travelocity.
Stay away from the Driftwood Inn!
 

I would reiterate both of Shredhead's suggestions: (1) you want a car in SLT, especially if you're skiing Kirkwood; and (2) if your goal is cheap, you're much better off showing up and seeing/negotiating for lodging in person.  The area is spread out (only a small area near the Heavenly gondola and the casinos is walkable; lots of restaurants, etc. spread across several miles), Kirkwood is a long ways away, and there are a ton of cheap motels of widely varying quality, few of which appear on any internet site, and most of which are amenable to significant negotiation in-person (especially for a multi-week stay).
post #19 of 25
I would reiterate the above.  2-3 weeks in Tahoe, you absolutely want a car.  That goes for interior B.C. even more IMHO.  Distances up there are big, and public transport not that convenient.  Once of the big attractions of both destinations (also SLC) is that you have multiple areas to choose from.  On any given day one ski area might be preferred to another due to:
1) who got the most snow from the storm
2) whose road is open
3) whose lifts will be open first, or at all
4) whose snow preserved better if no new snow
5) where will be the most crowded
If you don't have a car, you severely restrict your ability to take advantage of the above factors. 
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
All right I am going to spend a bit more on renting a car.  I knew there was just one Kirkwood shuttle and it arrived after the starting bell. 

Does anyone know if you can skin up Heavenly early in the morning or do they get upset about those sorts of things.

Any specific suggestions on cheap hotels?

Thinking about checking out time shares and seeing what deals i can "talk" myself into.
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 

I have booked a flight on February 10 from Boston to Reno on Southwest.  They seem to really cater to skiers with their baggage policy.  My return flight is March 4.  Booked for this time frame  largely because a friend is joining me for February holiday week.
Would enjoy meeting up with folks out there if anyone wants to show me around.  Particularly interested in BC buddies-have all the gear and avy II.

Many of the surrounding mountains discount tickets for season pass holders at other mountains.  Very excited about this trip and still hoping to have it come in under $2,000.

post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineac View Post

I have booked a flight on February 10 from Boston to Reno on Southwest.  They seem to really cater to skiers with their baggage policy.  My return flight is March 4.  Booked for this time frame  largely because a friend is joining me for February holiday week.
Would enjoy meeting up with folks out there if anyone wants to show me around.  Particularly interested in BC buddies-have all the gear and avy II.

Many of the surrounding mountains discount tickets for season pass holders at other mountains.  Very excited about this trip and still hoping to have it come in under $2,000.


Sounds like an awesome trip!  When you get back, let us know if you kept it under $2K and how you did it.  I wouldn't mind trying something similar in a couple years if I end up in Chicago like I think I might.
post #23 of 25
car rentals drop considerably with multi week or even monthly rental.  renting off the airport may save some fees too.   Depending on your job situation, you may be able to get a corporate discount or gov't or university but if you work for neither, check out AAA rates or perhaps rates for the SAMs or Costco memberships ... It may be worth joining one just for the discount given the time your rent.  also, should you drive off a cliff, the tow sure would help    

Don't know the area for driveability, but if  not going for 4wd/awd, getting a compact or mid size, opt for one with traction control
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
I will check out SAMs where I am a member as well as AAA.  Currently have a midsize trhough Alamo as my backup.  Hotwire has the best prices on car rental, but i am not ready to commit $$ to that yet.  I will probably try to undercut hotwires prices on pricepoint.  Interestingly I called 3 rental companies directly and there was not a discount for renting off airport in Reno.  At least based on what they were telling me.
Thanks for the input.

Lee
post #25 of 25
one thing in the pricing off airport, the dialy and weekly rental fee are usually the same but they get ya on the fees.  so, when pricing ask for the total with taxes and fees.  
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