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Crested Butte/Aspen -OR- Steamboat

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
So my ski buddies and I are trying to plan a week long ski trip out west this year, and want to go somewhere different, so here I consult Epic Ski.

 We've narrowed it down to two options:

(A) Steamboat
(B) Crested Butte (with day trips to Aspen/Snowmass, I see its only 37 miles away)

Some info about us:

There are going to be 4-6 of us.  We're all advanced-life long skiers and ski just about anything.  Ski on and off piste, but usually enjoy skiing 75%, or more, off piste when conditions are good.  As a group, we've been to Whistler, Jackson Hole, Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Park City, Canyons, Copper, Breck, Vail....... Snowbird, Jackson and Breck have been our favorites, but all have treated us very well.

There is a good chance that some of us will be doing a shorter trip to Utah, so something to consider.

Thanks!
post #2 of 29
You're joking about going from Aspen to Crested Butte right?  37 miles away if you are going to skin from Crested Butte to Aspen.  More like 175 miles and 4 hours unless of course you have a helicopter.

 www.mapquest.com/maps


post #3 of 29
 Oh and the directions on Mapquest are off a bit too.  It shows the route as going over Independence Pass which is closed in the Winter.  So add another 100 miles or so...
post #4 of 29

CB to Aspen in the winter is 5 hours. But in the Aspen area we do have 3 great mountains all on the same ticket. Steamboat is flat

post #5 of 29
Crested Butte to Aspen in the winter by snowmobile could be a okay day long trip trip. Pearl Pass is the shortest trip but I believe it is even closed to snowmobiles in the winter depending on the snow pack. Pearl Pass in the summer is still a 3-4 hour trip for a high clearance 4wd vehicle. Independence Pass is also closed in the winter. The only way in the winter is all the way back to I-70 almost to Vail then through Leadville, down to Poncho Springs then over to Crested Butte. So skiing Crested Butte and Aspen is not going to happen.
post #6 of 29
Two things:

The AAA trip planner has info on winter closures, and warns you if the route goes over seasonally available roads.  It is the only one I've found that does so.

Crested Butte is great for advanced skiers, if they have plenty of snow. (It is a very rocky mountain).
My son and I went two years ago (Feb 2008) and had a fabulous time.  I suggset staying in the town of Crested Butte (not the slopeside Mount Crested Butte).  It is an easy seven minute shuttle ride up from the town to the ski area.  Here's the town: town of crested butte

and the mountain

crested butte distant


A view from the top (well, as top as you can get without a lot of climbing)




and an action shot





oooow.. scary sign...



Big grin -- that wasn't hard!




I've never been to Steamboat or Aspen. 
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by CR0SS View Post

Crested Butte to Aspen in the winter by snowmobile could be a okay day long trip trip. Pearl Pass is the shortest trip but I believe it is even closed to snowmobiles in the winter depending on the snow pack.
   I doubt you could get a sled over Pearl in the winter.  The last switchback is very exposed and the cornices that form above it, are very big. The normal winter route is over Taylor Pass and yes, if your a badass, you can skin it in as little as 7 hours.

Kevin:  CB is much more difficult mountain than Steamboat and much of the expert terrain will not open till later in the season.  So if your planning on going before the end of January, Steamboat.  After that, Crested Butte. 

 
post #8 of 29
Like killz said, maybe he has a helicopter.

Just go to Aspen/Snowmass and save on the driving. 
post #9 of 29
Never been to CB, and it has been ages since I've skied the Boat, but my buddies like Aspen best for their guys trip because it has more nightlife than most US ski areas (as long as you don't mind spending some $)
post #10 of 29
As those pics MDF posted show, CB has some exciting skiing -- and much of it is far from any grooming, or snowmaking.  So it does need snow.  Before Xmas can be doubtful for the Black and Double Black areas.  Last season they were hard to open due to unstable snow pack.  When they were all open is was terrific.

Driving from CB to Aspen is a trip.  Go south on US 50 from Gunnison and then take CO 92 over Black Mesa to  Hotchkiss and CO 133.  CO 133 goes over McClure Pass to Carbondale and CO 82 which goes to Aspen.  You can also continue on US 50 past CO 92 clear to Delta where a right turn will get you up to CO 133.  It's longer through Delta but probably faster due to the twisty but fun Black Mesa road.  

If you get to CB let me know, maybe we can make a run or two together.
post #11 of 29
A week at da boat? Look, I love the place for it's trees, but I'd be putting needles in my eyes just for fun after 3-4 days. Not much challenge, but great snow, and (again) trees to die for.

If you guys are really an advanced bunch, after 2 days you'll be looking at the map to get to Asspen (or A-basin).
post #12 of 29
I agree. I'd go to Aspen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post

A week at da boat? Look, I love the place for it's trees, but I'd be putting needles in my eyes just for fun after 3-4 days. Not much challenge, but great snow, and (again) trees to die for.

If you guys are really an advanced bunch, after 2 days you'll be looking at the map to get to Asspen (or A-basin).
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the posts guys.

So I take it Steamboat is mostly intermediate terrain?  Is is really flat?

I'm afraid we might be disappointed if we get there and there isn't alot of good black and double black stuff.
post #14 of 29
 If the upper Mountain by the radio/weather towers is open, there is some pretty fun stuff there.  The mountain isn't flat, it's just not very steep overall either.  They do have steeps, but they are shorter than at other areas.  400 vertical maybe?  Crested Butte has steeps and plenty of that fall and you'll die terrain if you choose.  Big cliffs etc.  

Aspen has it all.  Not as steep or gnarly as the Butte, but plenty to break yourself on.  Three quality mountains and one more to get your jib on because I'm sure you're into that.  The nightlife and restaurants there is the best scene this side of Whistler.  Hands down.  So if Aspen is a possibility, I'd recommend it.  Otherwise, Crested Butte has more of the terrain you are looking for than Steamboat.  
post #15 of 29
Timing is going to be the key. If your trip is late enough in the season, it may be a toss up. If not, and you can, wait until you see which one gets the snow, CB or Aspen. They predict an El Nino year, which should favor CB, but it is indeed rocky and can be thin in a bad snow year.

Have you considered Taos? Check out Simonbda's posts of nice shots of Taos last year. (same snow/timing issues apply there as CB)

By the way, if you choose CB, you can do a day trip to Monarch and go out on the Powdercats; it's a relatively cheap cat ski day.

Second staying in town. CB is one of the more charming ski towns in CO (along with Telluride and Aspen, which is more of a little city.)
post #16 of 29
Timing is key, but not exactly as desribed above.  Aspen and Crested Butte only average 250 inches of light and dry snow, and in an average or worse year much of the steep terrain you want won't be open until late January or early February.  At CB it's relatively unusual to see the whole mountain (Third Bowl, Banana/Funnel) open any time except for epic seasons like 2 years ago.

So regardless of terrain, if the trip is in January it should be to Steamboat.  The converse is true in March. Steamboat faces more south than north. Aspen and CB average 2,000 feet higher elevation with a high proportion of north-facing.  Snow cover is usually at its season max; choose Aspen or CB if the trip is in March.  February you're probably OK either way for snow conditions.

Steamboat averages 50% more snow than Aspen/CB, so your powder odds are defintely better there (18% of days with 6+ inches new vs. 10%).  But short-term weather is streaky; over a week the chance of little or no powder (defined as no days with 6+ inches) is 40% at Steamboat and 60% at Aspen/CB.   In that case you will be much happier with Aspen or CB for the type of terrain you like.  I would call Steamboat a "powder dependent" mountain for experts. 

As an aside, Taos has almost exactly the same snow cover and conditions profile as Crested Butte.  Taos is mildly favored by El Nino, Steamboat by La Nina. Contrary to popular opinion there is no statistically significant snowfall impact from El Nino/La Nina elsewhere in Colorado.
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/Neutral_areas.htm
post #17 of 29
Here's a shot of me from CB Mar 3 09.

http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x40/92Si/IMG_0044-1.jpg

Here's one of the buddy,

http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x40/92Si/Picture129.jpg

It hadn't snowed in a few day's and was warm down low, but the snow up high was nice and dry.

It did snow for a short time one of the day's,
http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x40/92Si/Picture131.jpg

There is some hiking involve to get to some of the better terrain.

A buddy and I spent 90% of our week in Double Diamond stuff. Some was a 15 minute hike but well worth it. The place has to be sick with good snow.
Edited by Max Capacity - 8/28/09 at 4:54pm
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Now I think our group might be past considering CB or Steamboat.  Tahoe has popped up as a possbility but we're afraid of getting heavy, wet snow.

Might say F it and do either Summit Co. or Jackson. 

Its crazy how much time the group of us spends on figuring out where to go.
post #19 of 29
How about Teluride for an option?  Big and meaty with lots of lots.  A town to go play in, South so El Ninio shouldn't be such a factor.  An airport to get into or you could fly into Durango.

If it was wild enough for the real Butch and Sundance, should be wild enough for you guys.
post #20 of 29
You know what you are getting with Summit County and Jackson, as you've been there.  Why not try something new?  Given that you are advanced and mentioned Jackson, Snowbird, and Breck as favorites, I'd suggest two options.  First, Aspen.  Its got over 5000 acres of skiing, and it's got it all.  Want a challenge?  Try hiking the bowl at Highlands.  Don't want to hike?  There's the lift-served terrain off of Deep Temerity at Highlands, the Headwall or the Hanging Valley at Snowmass, or Hyrumps, at Aspen Mt.  Not to mention the tree skiing on Back of the Belle.

Second, Big Sky.  Again, 5k acres.  No lift lines.  The tram, Liberty Bowl, the Dictators, the Challenger lift, and the Headwaters lift at Moonlight.

Try something new.  And something that has enough terrain to keep you interested for more than a few days.

Mike
post #21 of 29
OK, I can help.  I just uploaded a bunch of Crested Butte photos from a trip my friend Steve and I made there in late March, 2007:  http://s89.photobucket.com/albums/k230/carvemeister/Crested%20Butte/?albumview=slideshow

Snow was a bit thin and much of the North Face was closed but what was open was pretty challenging and the Headwall is a blast too!  The town is a real authentic ski town and one of my favorite places.  You'll also notice that the Al Johnson Telemark Race is quite a hoot and not to be missed!!

I loved Aspen too when we were there.  There is far more terrain there of course and much of it is epic!  You can't go wrong with either of those places.

FYI - we just booked a trip ourselves back to CB in early March for a few days with the remainder of the week at Telluride.  Never been to Telly before and I can't wait for that! 
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

You know what you are getting with Summit County and Jackson, as you've been there.  Why not try something new?  Given that you are advanced and mentioned Jackson, Snowbird, and Breck as favorites, I'd suggest two options.  First, Aspen.  Its got over 5000 acres of skiing, and it's got it all.  Want a challenge?  Try hiking the bowl at Highlands.  Don't want to hike?  There's the lift-served terrain off of Deep Temerity at Highlands, the Headwall or the Hanging Valley at Snowmass, or Hyrumps, at Aspen Mt.  Not to mention the tree skiing on Back of the Belle.

Second, Big Sky.  Again, 5k acres.  No lift lines.  The tram, Liberty Bowl, the Dictators, the Challenger lift, and the Headwaters lift at Moonlight.

Try something new.  And something that has enough terrain to keep you interested for more than a few days.

Mike

+ 1     The only thing you would have to worry about at Aspen/Snowmass/Highlands would be knowing if you could do your fair share towards the group adult beverage consumption.
post #23 of 29
I will weigh in with the basically the same input as Crocker.   I would pick Steamboat over either of Aspen or CB unless they are having epic snow years by Dec 25tth.  So if you are choosing now then I would pick Steamboat every time and ski the whole week and I would never get bored.  But hey that's just my opinion......
post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by daysailer1 View Post




+ 1     The only thing you would have to worry about at Aspen/Snowmass/Highlands would be knowing if you could do your fair share towards the group adult beverage consumption.

 

Oh we'll be taking care of that no matter where we go!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

How about Teluride for an option?  Big and meaty with lots of lots.  A town to go play in, South so El Ninio shouldn't be such a factor.  An airport to get into or you could fly into Durango.

If it was wild enough for the real Butch and Sundance, should be wild enough for you guys.

I here mixed reviews about Telluride.  I'll look into it more.


Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

You know what you are getting with Summit County and Jackson, as you've been there.  Why not try something new?  Given that you are advanced and mentioned Jackson, Snowbird, and Breck as favorites, I'd suggest two options.  First, Aspen.  Its got over 5000 acres of skiing, and it's got it all.  Want a challenge?  Try hiking the bowl at Highlands.  Don't want to hike?  There's the lift-served terrain off of Deep Temerity at Highlands, the Headwall or the Hanging Valley at Snowmass, or Hyrumps, at Aspen Mt.  Not to mention the tree skiing on Back of the Belle.

Second, Big Sky.  Again, 5k acres.  No lift lines.  The tram, Liberty Bowl, the Dictators, the Challenger lift, and the Headwaters lift at Moonlight.

Try something new.  And something that has enough terrain to keep you interested for more than a few days.

Mike
 

I hear you on trying new places.  We all want to go to Aspen, but found that lodging is very very expensive.  Some of us are going to Utah later in the season, so we're trying to be money conscious as well since there are two western US ski trips going on.

We actually started the who conversation talking about Big Sky.  Again I here mixed reviews.  Can you comment on snow quality and terrain?



Thanks for all of the responses.  I was playing golf today with one of the guys who will be going out with us and we were talking about how we spend 3 weeks discussing where to go.  Its fun conversation as we're talking about awesome places to go.  I've got the itch to ski big time, now.
post #25 of 29

Lodging at Aspen can be expensive.  But there are deals to be found as well.  Check the Wildwood lodge, where ESA is being held, as well as the Poklodoki (sp?).  You might also be able to score a reasonable condo through VRBO.  Skier visits were down last year, and the economy has not recovered, so there probably are deals you can score if you look hard enough.

 

Snow is, well, weather related.  So conditions can be variable whereever you go.  For all the advice you've received about heading to Steamboat, I can assure you that I skied Steamboat in years when there was not much cover.  You take your chances, or you wait to make these decisions until you know what the conditions are, and likely pay more.  The two times I've been to BS the conditions have been tremendous.  Last April at ESA was the best skiing of my life -- 3 days of waist deep powder.  And I was given the nickname "snowblower" for a reason. 

 

I doubt that the snow conditions at Big Sky differ that much from Jackson, but Tony will probably weigh in with empirical data analysis on that score.  They are more or less in the same weather patterns, although BS is about 100 miles north.  There is no doubt that BS does have areas where rocks lurk, which leads to the rule the locals apply:  if there are no tracks, don't venture there.

I've looked back through the thread and cannot see where you stated when you were thinking of going.  If it is early season (before Christmas), I'd say that you are likely to have major closures in terrain wherever you go.  Even Steamboat has had tough early conditions the past couple of seasons.  The snowpack generally doesn't accumulate to realiably offer good off-piste skiing in CO, WY, and MT unitl the new year.  So, if you want a deal on hotels and airfare from booking now, then pick a place and realize that you may have less terrain than you would really like.  That's kinda part of skiing.  I certainly had less snow than I would've desired and it was much warmer than optimal when I did Steep and Deep camp at JH in 2005.  Did it ruin my skiing?  No -- it's all skiing.

Mike

post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 
We checked out VRBO, but it is still expensive.

We're looking at the week of Jan 30th to Feb 6th.

Hmmm, Big Sky still sounds great!

Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

Lodging at Aspen can be expensive.  But there are deals to be found as well.  Check the Wildwood lodge, where ESA is being held, as well as the Poklodoki (sp?).  You might also be able to score a reasonable condo through VRBO.  Skier visits were down last year, and the economy has not recovered, so there probably are deals you can score if you look hard enough.

 

Snow is, well, weather related.  So conditions can be variable whereever you go.  For all the advice you've received about heading to Steamboat, I can assure you that I skied Steamboat in years when there was not much cover.  You take your chances, or you wait to make these decisions until you know what the conditions are, and likely pay more.  The two times I've been to BS the conditions have been tremendous.  Last April at ESA was the best skiing of my life -- 3 days of waist deep powder.  And I was given the nickname "snowblower" for a reason. 

 

I doubt that the snow conditions at Big Sky differ that much from Jackson, but Tony will probably weigh in with empirical data analysis on that score.  They are more or less in the same weather patterns, although BS is about 100 miles north.  There is no doubt that BS does have areas where rocks lurk, which leads to the rule the locals apply:  if there are no tracks, don't venture there.

I've looked back through the thread and cannot see where you stated when you were thinking of going.  If it is early season (before Christmas), I'd say that you are likely to have major closures in terrain wherever you go.  Even Steamboat has had tough early conditions the past couple of seasons.  The snowpack generally doesn't accumulate to realiably offer good off-piste skiing in CO, WY, and MT unitl the new year.  So, if you want a deal on hotels and airfare from booking now, then pick a place and realize that you may have less terrain than you would really like.  That's kinda part of skiing.  I certainly had less snow than I would've desired and it was much warmer than optimal when I did Steep and Deep camp at JH in 2005.  Did it ruin my skiing?  No -- it's all skiing.

Mike

post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin M View Post

We checked out VRBO, but it is still expensive.

We're looking at the week of Jan 30th to Feb 6th.


That could be because the X Games are the 28th-31.  It's a pretty good time to come to Aspen though.   Slopes are empty, lots of big name entertainment and town if full of talent.  If you do come,  stay in town!

Why don't you guys just wait until the last minute and go where ever its going off?  That's a fairly slow time and in this economy, I am sure your could book anywhere last minute, no problem. 
post #28 of 29
Why not fly into Reno and ski Tahoe???  There are plenty of places (hotels, condos, VRBO-homes) to stay that will put you within 10 minutes of Squaw and Alpine and 30-60 minutes from Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood, etc...

Sounds like our group (6-7) guys does the same trip as you guys each year... we just booked a trip to Tahoe for 2010 and our options were pretty unlimited at this point.
post #29 of 29
That time would be a good time to go to Big Sky.  Or, just come to Aspen for the EpicSki Academy -- you won't regret it.  And it is good value for money.

Mike 
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