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Question: Economical Skiing Out West for One

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
 I live in New England and have always skied in Mass, Vermont & Maine.  I think I'm ready to ski out west this year.  My questions are this:

1) I'm a mid to high intermediate skier whose never skied real powder.  I need a place with some groomed trails I can be on after I tire of trying to learn to ski in the powder. Where to go?

2) I'm going to be alone and it seems that all ski and stay packages are "based on double occupancy".  How can I make skiing alone affordable out there?

Thanks for your input!
post #2 of 19
rent VW minibus, find old mattress..

it will be hard to find ski "packages" that will cater to single vacationers unless you look hard. maybe call some resorts to ask about lift ticket+ accomodation rates for single rooms if they can mashup a deal for you.
or you can try to find a ski buddy to split rooms with.
or you can camp out in the parking lot. most important thing about camping out in a van is a hotplate not a gas burner so you dont have to open the windows.. 

all places have a frontside, and all places in the west have some sort of off piste trails. since its your first time you dont really need to go for the resort with the best off piste trails. so i'd pick the places based on your budget.. avoid vail heavenly aspen if you are going for affordable
post #3 of 19
welcome to epicski penguini.  One approach as a very economy minded single is to consider good ski areas that have hostel/bunkhouse type accommodations nearby such as Brighton Lodge at Brighton, UT, or the more pricey lodges at Alta, UT.  These two ski areas would certainly provide good odds for a powder experience.  Others:  Abominable Snowmansion near Taos, NM or Rocky Mtn Inn and Hostel, Winter Park, CO. The hostel type accommodations tend to generate opportunities to make ski buddies on your trip.
The two areas mentioned in UT have an advantage for singles because you can get to them fairly easily with public trans from a major airport without need for car rental. If your budget is more on the high end then scout out the dorm room offerings for singles at the various lodges at Alta: http://www.alta.com/pages/lodging.php  Not exactly low budget, but perhaps good value because many include two daily meals.
post #4 of 19
Summit County Colorado - - -
2 1/2 hrs from Denver International Airport
Keystone
A-basin
Copper
Breckenridge

Get a motel room in Frisco or Dillon.

SLC Utah - - -
1/2 hr from SLC airport
Solitude
Brighton
Snowbird
Alta

Get a motel room in Midvale.

With SLC you have PC areas about a hour away - not economical to stay there though.

Also, Powder Mountain in Ogdan about 1 1/2 hrs from Midvale, or 1 hr from the airport - I'm sure there are economical motels in the Ogdan area, although I've not stayed in that area.

I prefer Utah - Alta/Snowbird  for what conditions you describe you are looking for, but I'm sure others will have their preferences.

Note; The motels in Midvale normally sell discount lift tickets, also you can get discount lift tickets at Canyon Sports (4 locations).
post #5 of 19
"Economical skiing".

You could join a group tour. 

Skiing powder is not as hard as people make it out.  Take a lesson, get some tips and you will pick it up quickly, especially with today's wider shorter softer skis.

Every resort has groomers.
post #6 of 19
I agree with Steve2ski's recommendations.  Either Summit County or the SLC suburbs near LCC or BCC or good choices.

Just to correct a common misconception - the conditions out west are not powder everywhere and all the time.  Even on a powder day most of the green and blue terrain will be groomed.  And you will be lucky to get one or two good powder days in a week stay.  Most of the time you will be skiing on packed powder.   
post #7 of 19
Summit country is not the most economical.  Its a good choice if you want to be able to choose between 3-5 resorts to maximize your chances of seeing fresh powder, but with transportation to Summit county costing $80 each way, and lift tickets costing ~$85/day, there are definitely cheaper ways to ski out west.

Loveland (CO) lift passes only cost $59/day, but it is almost as far as Summit county (it is in Clear Creek County).

Utah would probably  be your best bet.  Lift passes are a tad cheaper than CO.


As for going alone...just about everything will be full price
post #8 of 19
Utah is the best option for cheap. This is because there are rad mountains really close to a major city. SLC is not like a resort town where everything is ultra high-priced. It doesn't hurt that the Wasatch usually gets a lot of snow either.

There are lots of places you can ski relatively cheap if you try hard ( Silverton, Bridger, Baker..), but SLC is pretty easy to pinch a penny.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimH View Post

Just to correct a common misconception - the conditions out west are not powder everywhere and all the time.  Even on a powder day most of the green and blue terrain will be groomed.  And you will be lucky to get one or two good powder days in a week stay.  Most of the time you will be skiing on packed powder.   

And real packed powder. Not that east coast icy packed powder.
post #10 of 19
Homewood, Boreal, sugarbowl are various degrees of affordable.  Heavenly can be affordable.  They dont check for tickets on the upper runs, so you can go to the nevada side and hike up just to the side and ski the lifts for free.  Dont worry, they are owned by Vail COrp that are the vilest evil corp.
Quote:
Originally Posted by juhocha View Post

rent VW minibus, find old mattress..

it will be hard to find ski "packages" that will cater to single vacationers unless you look hard. maybe call some resorts to ask about lift ticket+ accomodation rates for single rooms if they can mashup a deal for you.
or you can try to find a ski buddy to split rooms with.
or you can camp out in the parking lot. most important thing about camping out in a van is a hotplate not a gas burner so you dont have to open the windows.. 

all places have a frontside, and all places in the west have some sort of off piste trails. since its your first time you dont really need to go for the resort with the best off piste trails. so i'd pick the places based on your budget.. avoid vail heavenly aspen if you are going for affordable
post #11 of 19
 If I were going to go exploring on the cheap, I'd consider Bozeman MT, hit Bridger Bowl, Snow Bowl and the like.
post #12 of 19
Welcome to EpicSki.

Where ever you go inquire about a mountain host that can show you around the mountain and keep you out of trouble. 

Understand some deep powder dangers.   Do a Google search on Tree Well Deaths and NARSIDS.   You don't want to ski alone in waist deep powder.  If you fall and your skis come off it could take an hour to find your skis under the powder.  At high altitude that could really stress your heart. 

Drink lots of water at high Altitude.

Days Inn in Midvale , which is close to UTA TRAX and UTA Ski Bus Station . Ask about their ski package which includes lift tickets and daily ski bus transportataion to 4 different ski areas including Alta and Snowbird. . Its ~45 min bus ride to Alta and Snowbird.  The good news is the hotel is next to the start of the bus line so you will be the first on the ski bus so you can get a seat.  Its complicated but I have take mass transit for 45 cents from the Airport to the hotel with my ski gear.  We had nothing better to do that day but to figure this out.  This hotel is near the trax train station that you can take into Salt Lake for entertainement and food. 

Jackson Hole - www.HostelX.com  about 300 feet from the lifts.  No morning commute.  Just walk to the lifts in the morning.  No rental car needed lots of shuttle buses.  Best plywood rooms money can buy.  Hey you said cheep.  At least they are clean.  Best part is location location location.  No morning and evening commute.  Lots of other single skiers to talk to in the downstairs great room. 

Powder Mountain is also an excellent place to learn skiing in powder. Excellent mountain hosts that will show you around the mountain for free.   Not sure how you get to Powder Mountain without a rental car.  I always had a rental car when going to Powder Mtn. 

Good luck. 
Edited by catskills - 1/25/10 at 5:13am
post #13 of 19
 My 2 cents is either SLC or lake Tahoe.  Both Reno and SLC generally have inexpensive flights.  Both places you can use public transportation and not having a rental car is a real savings.  Do some searching and see what suits you.
post #14 of 19
I second flying into Reno and taking the bus shuttle to Tahoe. There's tons of hotels/motels in S. Lake Tahoe. We discovered this last weekend that you can take a bus shuttle to Kirkwood and get a lift ticket  for less than the lift ticket to Kirkwood alone. ($70 v. $74)
The snow tends to be wetter in the Sierras (hence the term "Sierra cement") so, if it hasn't snowed for a while, you'll run the risk of hard pack. Not that Utah is that much better-I've snowboarded on ice in The Canyons in February during a dry spell. Do you have a ski club in your area? If so, have you explored going on a trip with them? You get group rates and instant buddies....
post #15 of 19
Easy Boston Ski and Sports club, Great trips with other solo travelers. Prices are reasonable
post #16 of 19
You are actually in better shape since you are intermediate.  I would say 3 places to try are cheap motel in salt lake city, Reno, or lake tahoe.  Like a motel 6 for slc or reno, or a casino for lake tahoe.  For tahoe, mount rose, Homewood, sierra ski ranch.  For SLC alta.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greatpenguini View Post

 I live in New England and have always skied in Mass, Vermont & Maine.  I think I'm ready to ski out west this year.  My questions are this:

1) I'm a mid to high intermediate skier whose never skied real powder.  I need a place with some groomed trails I can be on after I tire of trying to learn to ski in the powder. Where to go?

2) I'm going to be alone and it seems that all ski and stay packages are "based on double occupancy".  How can I make skiing alone affordable out there?

Thanks for your input!
 
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by greatpenguini View Post

 I'm going to be alone and it seems that all ski and stay packages are "based on double occupancy".  How can I make skiing alone affordable out there?
 

You didn't say where you're based. Do you have anyone to ski with?

I ask because I went through the same process like you some years ago. Itching to go out west but couldn't figure out how to do it economically. I bumbled along and found it out eventually, the slow way though. So, here I'll share with you the "proper approach":

JOIN A GROUP!!!


You can research the millions of choices till your face turns blue. Or you can do it easily by joining a group who had done it many times before and knows all the best place to ski, to sleep and to eat.

There're a few practical ways to find a group to go with:

1) Local ski clubs: You don't have to live in the city of the club, as long as it's at the same gateway city where the flights are leaving from to take advantage of the transport arrangements (with a few exceptions, most ski resorts are some ways away from the airport, requiring a rental car: extra expense!). The club trips usually takes advantage of "packages" and you get roommates if you need one.
 
2) Local ski shops: Almost all serious ski shops offer group trips, basically to bring together other single skiers just like you! Same advantage as ski clubs. Though the shop would need to make a bit of money for their work so it might be (ever so) slightly more expensive than clubs. Still, not having to spring for the car and a single room, you'll usually come out ahead.

3) Epic Gatherings!:

- First, there's the "official" gathering! I did last year's gathering, and will be going to one next week! :o) The "bears" here have great insider information to find economical places. I went to Jackson Hole last year for the gathering. It worked out to be one of the least expensive trip I've ever managed! And this year to Salt Lake City, is also a relatively inexpensive destination. You can also find people to share an apartment, which bring the expense down considerably and still live in comfort.

- Besides the "official" gathering, there're also the informal get-togethers. Just last week, I gave a ride to another bear to a mountain near home. It cost nothing extra for me to do so and he saves half of the bus fare, even after insisting to pay the tolls, which I would have had to paid even if driving by myself. So it's a win-win situation. If you watch the get togethers, you might be able to join one that's forming. I went to the LGC (Let's Go Colorado) 2 years ago and that's what got me hooked with the gatherings.  

 

post #18 of 19
One of the best times to ski is the weekend before Thanksgiving. I'm sure you think its crazy to plan a ski trip so early in the season with no guarantee for snow, but you can make some amazing turns for next to nothing. Every year, I save three Southwest Airlines frequent flyer tickets for myself and my two teenage sons. Southwest is the key.  You can wait to book until just hours before departure, move your flights multiple times at no cost  or cancel altogether for no penalty as long as you use the money within one year.   This past November, I heard Mt Baker had 80" in 5 days and I was hooked.  I discovered this news on Wednesday, November 11th, and reserved my airline tickets for Saturday, three days later.  We flew into Seattle, skied Crystal for half a day (great snow, knee deep)  and started for Bellingham.  We heard Baker was going to turn to rain so we diverted to Whistler. My son surfed the net from the car and we found a suite at the Westin in Whistler (slope-side and very nice) for $150/night.  We skied knee and waist deep powder for two straight days at Whistler and tickets were reduced to $50/day for early season.  Admittedly, the entire mountain was not open, and we did have to drive a bit.  Also, we had to be willing to take a chance on finding lodging but usually the resorts are happy to have your business that early in the season.  In years past we have had knee deep powder at Brian Head (southern Utah on November 12th and stayed slope-side at Vail (Lionshead base) for $100/ night for a two room suite. An added bonus happens when coming home to see the Warren Miller movie , seeing the segment on Crystal Mountain, and saying, "I was there last week!"
post #19 of 19

I've skied all over the West for the last 30 years mostly by myself. There are off beat places to stay almost everywhere. I've stayed in cheap places where the price of the room is the price no matter how many people and that price is still less than half of what the package deals are per person double occupancy. As long as you're not going in peak season, a single can go almost anywhere on the cheap. The Internet makes scoring a good deal easy if you do the leg work. But the cheapest deals are not on the Internet (except for youth hostels). There have been many times I've driven into town and found a cheap place just by driving through (you can smell cheap even with the windows rolled up) or hitting a tourist info stop. That tactic won't work in Vail, but it can work well any where there is a town 20 minutes away from the resort. An economy rental car and some winter driving skills can give you a lot of flexibility. Think about this approach for your next trip.

 

For your first trip, Steve2 has nailed it. When I started, I did one of the cheapies in Silverthorne (near Dillon) (First Interstate Inn - a real 2 star disaster).  I've done SLC and stayed in Midvale often (e.g Motel 6/studio 6 ). With tax either of these should run around $50/night for 1 person. From your description I'd recommend Utah if the snow is more important and Co if you want the feel of staying in the mountains.

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