I need some help in deciding where to ski with my Fiancee (just us 2) from Mid December 2010 to the end of December 2010, staying from around 10 - 14 days.
A little background information so you can impart some informed advice.
I seriously need advice on where to choose to ski. Because it is early in the season, I want her to be spoiled and ski at a place that has good snow - I don't want her to be scared of packed ice. So I looked at ratings of early season ski resorts, and have come up with the following 3 choices. I have never skied at any of these 3 choices - which why I'd like to share the novel experience with her.
and Breck or Vail CO.
I'm an expert skier and ski in any condition. However, she, has progressed rapidly from beginner to a strong/advanced intermediate skier. I will not bring a car, and my advice is asking you based upon where I will stay (so if I stay in Breck, I will visit Vail for a day, and vice versa). But if I visit Alta, I think I am stuck there (other than visiting snowbird for a day, and probably Salt Lake City for a day).
Why did I choose Alta as a possible locale? Because I hear they get great early season snow and a much higher seasonal average than the other two resorts. But other than that, Alta doesn't seem to offer that much more.
I keep asking her if she has a preference between an area that has nothing to do other than ski (Alta), or an area that is more likely to not have enough snow to ski early on, but has a wide variety of dining and exploration options (Vail / Breck). She is uncertain herself.
I am considering Breck, mainly for it's charming town, and higher altitude to ensure better snow making conditions. (or is that not really a big concern, since the 1,900 extra feet in altitude Breck has over Vail is not really significant?).
I read Vail has their back bowls open 75% of the time by Christmas (which I guess can also mean, only a very select few backbowls are open). And I think she would love the back bowls - but realizing they may not even be open. For this reason alone I am inclined to eliminate Vail and opt instead for Breck. But I get the impression that Vail gets more snow (seasonal average) than Breck, which is possible one advantage of vail (350 inch snow/yr) over breck (approx. 280 inch snow/yr).
BUT I get the impression that Breck is less convenient in getting around from one mountain to another (from Peak 7 - 9). In Breck, I was looking to stay at Peak 7, but since that is a bit far removed from the village, may choose to stay at peak 9. What do you guys think?
To add some background. I'm an expert skier. With my fiancee, we have skied twice together, but our only trip together of any considerable length was at Whistler last year about the same time. She loved it, and loved the lessons and the experience and has taken a strong affinity for the skills required for skiing. But even though she loved the skiing, we both enjoyed having a day off every 2 or 3 days of skiing by doing other trips (exploring, dog sledding, fly-fishing). (We stayed at Whistler for 2 weeks). We enjoyed Whistler immensely because we had a variety of restaurants to choose from for dinner. But other than the dinner variety we had, we were usually too exhausted to do anything fun in the evening, other than going to the pool, or sauna, or yoga/gym. (She complained about going to "school on Christmas day!")
So my hesitation with Alta is, even tho it gets so much more snow, on those days we need a day off, I'm not really sure what there is to do, other than snow-shoe, x-country ski. It doesn't seem there is much to do in Alta - even if the snow may be that good, our feet will get sore in the boots. I had considered visiting Salt Lake city for a day - and will call up the tourist bureau tomorrow (I don't think SLC is that far from Alta - only 45 min, which can be done as a day trip). I heard one benefit of Alta is that it has a world recognized ski school - which is great because I want my fiancee to have great schooling so that she continues to built her confidence.
So, please give me any advice. Is it worth going to Alta, and in doing so missing the opportunities of exploring the fine back bowls of Vail, or soaking up the rustic charm of Breck? Is it worth going to Alta for the chance of better snow and foregoing the choice of doing anything in the evening (exploring shops/window shopping) that Vail/Breck would afford. I also feel staying at Alta for 10 - 14 days is way too long.
Or should I go to Breck and get the chance to explore its wonderful charm - but in doing so I might miss the opportunity of better snow at Alta, and Vail (and Vail's back bowls)? (Whether I stay at Breck or Vail, I will visit the other local Vail/Breck on a day trip just to see what I am missing).
Or should I go to Vail, because it is a large place to explore, with probably???? better snow than Breck, but inferior to Alta.
Let us ignore cost as an issue. (Tho the funny thing i'm finding is that Alta is the most expensive because I'm looking to stay at the nicest hotel there - not that I have much to choose from!).
Chances are, eventually, I hope in our lifetime we will visit the other ski resorts we don't get a chance to visit now. But I'd love to hear what you all advise as to which place I should visit now. Please, if you have any suggestions, please keep it to these 3 choices. I have considered so many other resorts, but suggesting another locale not on the list only throws at me so many other myriad of options (I've considered Beaver Creek too and Grand Targhee) and makes my life so much more confusing.