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Need advice: Revi, Utah, Squaw?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Appreciate any suggestions as we try to firm up our plans for next February....

Family of 4, Toronto-based: 20 yo boarder and 17 yo skier, both experts (instructors), want thrilling steeps. Mom and dad more into blues, some blacks, bowls.  The last 3 years we've headed out to Whistler (love it), but son's university break coincides with Olympics and Prez Week... so where to go? 

1. Fly direct to Kelowna, ski a couple of days at Silver Star, drive up to Revelstoke for 3-4 days. Crowds should be ok, but in an El Nino year will the snow be? (Revi quotes 40-60 ft in Selkirks so one would think even a bad year would be okay..)
2. Fly to SLC (2 flights), then ski Snowbird? Solitude? Snowbasin? or?? How bad would crowds be that week, Tuesday onwards? i.e. what is typical lift line wait? 
3. Go with El Nino and ski Squaw, fly to Sacramento or Reno (2 flights), any affordable accommodation suggestions? And again, what could we expect in crowds? (really hate that, and we always ski early to avoid them.)

Excellent terrain for our various abilities and reliable snow conditions are our main considerations. Other than that, prefer easy transport options and slopeside condo lodging. Nightlife not crucial, though some good restaurant options would be nice.
post #2 of 14
I'd pick Revi first every time but that's just me....you probably can't go wrong with any of your choices.
post #3 of 14
Presidents' Week is going to be problematic at all US resorts.  Well, let me be fair.  The Presidents' Weekend will be a nightmare, but the midweek probably won't be horrible (less than a normal weekend, but significantly more than a normal midweek).  Since you're talking about starting on Tuesday, it probably won't be the worst thing in the world.

How long will your trip last?  Sounds like a week?  In which case, unless there are particularly good single-resort deals, you might want to switch it up some.

In general, if you're able to wait, you should.  Presidents' Weekend will sell out quickly, but the week probably won't.  The longer you wait, the better sense you'll have of the conditions at your respective choices.

I've skied the Tahoe and Utah areas, and think both could be a good option.  For Utah, I'd probably stay somewhere in Salt Lake or on I-80, to allow access to a few different places.  With a snowboarder, you'll be excluded from two of my favorites (Alta and Deer Valley), but there are still many excellent options.

I know Tahoe better, though.  If you're going to hit multiple North Lake Tahoe resorts, my recommendation would be to stay at Granlibakken, just south of Tahoe City.  It's convenient to restaurants (and has an awesome breakfast buffet), reasonably priced, and has lift ticket and shuttle deals with the resorts you'd want to try -- Squaw, Alpine Meadows, and maybe Northstar and Sugar Bowl.  (In fact, they have a shuttle that takes you straight to the back side of Alpine, which is a mix of long blue groomers and open black bowls, and feels like a step back in time.)  If you're going to stick to a single resort, try to get a condo using Craigslist or this board.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice and suggestions. Yes, it'd be a week, but coming from TO, discount 2 days for travel.

Having never skiied at US resorts, can you give me some idea of "less than normal weekend, but significantly more than normal midweek"?  i.e. average lift line wait mid-day? 

We're used to interior BC resorts where > 10 minutes is long; even at Whistler, I didn't find the lines bad during Prez Week last year - admittedly a poorish year - and March Break another time ...We always started early and skiied the upper half at busy times.  

Thanks for the lead on GranIibakken - looks nice - if we go for Tahoe, we'd probably spend most of our time at Squaw.
post #5 of 14
Less than normal weekend > normal midweek almost certainly means less lift lines than Whistler in Feb IME, particularly if you've done the 9.30 Village Gondi, 10-11 Emerald,11-12.30 Harmony gongshow.
post #6 of 14
We ski President's week out West every year, because that is when my son has off school (in other words, we are part of the problem).  

Generally, New England has that week off while the rest of the country only has Monday off.  I did find some places that have Tuesday off too (web searches for local school calendars will tell you where to avoid).

So the weekend can be crazy, but the rest of the week isn't bad.  True, the main feeder lifts at the bottom of the hill can be a jam in some places, but you can usually stay away from choke points if you think about it ahead of time.

My strategy has been to ski somewhere obscure or out of the way Sat-Sun-Mon and then not worry about it for the rest of the week.  Even Monday is starting to calm down, I suspect because a lot of long-weekenders are travelling home.
post #7 of 14
Hello TO.  Although Tahoe has multiple "big mountains", it is still primarily a weekend heavy, midweek empty place to ski.  I am a 30+ year Squaw Brat and you will have no trouble with mid week days at Squaw during the President's holiday.  The weekend will be popular, but 10 or 15 minutes is a long lift line at Squaw.  The exception to this will be the if its a powder day and you are on one of the most popular lifts like KT.  But the lifts are fast so the lines move along and what time you do lose in line you make up a bit on the chair (and there are exceptions to that as well).  If you choose to go Tahoe I would definately suggest flying into Reno.  If you fly into Sacramento its not only a much longer drive but you will be exposed to the weather.  If there is a storm (they come from the southwest) you will be slogging over the pass whereas Reno is a 45 minute drive from the side of the pass where the resorts are located and a very easy drive.  Also, you might be better served to find a condo or cabin in Truckee.  Years ago development was pushed out of the Tahoe basin to nearby Truckee and having grown up a Tahoe brat (I'm 54 now), Tahoe City feels now feels dead while Truckee has really grown and includes four or five really good restaurants that are good enough to compete in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Lake is amazing and beautiful, but you could go check it out without staying there. I hope that helps.  
post #8 of 14
I would try to stay away from resorts close to large populations, like Denver, SLC or San Francisco.

I was at Squaw last year and the whole week was fairly crowded with CA "ski week".  I bet Squaw will be even worse this year with the discounted pass situation.  

IHMO: Alta and Snowbird are always kind of crowded in high season, especially powder days.  Solitude and Snowbasin would be much less crowded, but Snowbasin doesn't have any housing.

Kelowna would be good, but you do have to worry a little about el Nino.

Aspen won't be crowded and would also be two flights with directs from either Denver or Chicago.

Crested Butte, Telluride, Steamboat and Jackson all have directs that you could connect with from YYZ.
post #9 of 14
My school break is the week after presidnet's day weekend.

Went to Alta/Snowbird/Solitude last year and skied wednesday through saturday. Lines weren't much of an issue, but saturday was spent at Solitude.
post #10 of 14
Originally Posted by D3TO View Post

Appreciate any suggestions as we try to firm up our plans for next February....

2. Fly to SLC (2 flights), then ski Snowbird? Solitude? Snowbasin? or?? 

My group is heading to SLC from So Ontario, and we're actually flying out of Detroit, as Northwest/Delta fly direct from there.  From TO, you should be able to do it in under 4 hours (it takes me 3.5 from Niagara-West area).  As well, the prices are up a bit right now, but you can often get a round trip for under $200CN including taxes.  Your total travel time is 4 hours to Detroit + about 3.5 to SLC + 0.5 to the resort.  This is comparable to 0.5 your house to YYZ + 5 to Vancouver + 2.5 (or more) to Whistler.

Originally Posted by D3TO View Post

Thanks for the advice and suggestions. Yes, it'd be a week, but coming from TO, discount 2 days for travel.

The last bonus is that if you're hardcore like my group you can grab an early flight from Detroit (7 or 8) and get into SLC by 9 or 10 and still get in a full day (albeit a tired one) on the mountain.  On your last day, you can grab a 4 or 5pm flight back to Detroit, for another full day on the mountain... no lost days!!! (and no rest for the wicked!)

Just my 2 cents.

Edited by JoeSchmoe - 8/18/2009 at 12:19 am GMT
post #11 of 14

Our southern hemisphere season has been terrible, so I bought the Squaw bronze pass (and a Heavenly pass). As there's an airfare price war, this made me rather greedy to add a third (or first) trip over the Pacific via New Zealand for 20-29 November 09. The accom on sale to the public in the Squaw resort looks great at $US125 a night. Squaw, unlike Heavenly's early bird pass, doesn't have blackouts in November. And there's an El Nino which reputedly is great for you guys, and horrendous for we on the other side of the Pacific. So I'm tempted to add another trip.

But will Squaw be skiable on 20 November 09? I'm not greedy and I'm used to 1ft deep ice that turns to ice cream. Anything better than that is ok with me.

post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by veteran View Post

But will Squaw be skiable on 20 November 09?

Highly doubtful, perhaps a White Ribbon Of Death.  That's way too early to plan anything in the US. 
post #13 of 14
What shreadhead said.
post #14 of 14
Thanks guys. Those airfares were so tempting though.
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