Is there a little of this high standard mentality going on with your assessment of snow quality in early December?
Not really. Check out the percents of terrain open Dec. 1 that I track each season. Last year was particularly grim:
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/120109.htm Most places under 10% open.
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/120108.htm Alta at 66% was the only place on your route over 20% open.
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/113007.htm Another one with places closed or under 10%. FYI it started dumping like crazy in mid-December and turned out to be one of our greatest overall seasons.
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/113006.htm Alta and Loveland 80+% open. Next highest were Brighton and Copper at 48%. Everyone else 1/4 or less open.
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/121609.htm Tahoe just over half open, Utah just under half, Colorado about 1/3 open.
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/121508.htm Mammoth 40%, Tahoe under 10%, Cottonwoods 3/4 open, Park City under 20%, Colorado 2/3 open.
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/121607.htm Tahoe under 20%, Cottonwoods 3/4 open, Park City 40%, Colorado 80+%
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/121506.htm Tahoe under 15%, Cottonwoods 90%, Park City 60%, Colorado 80+%
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/121505.htm Tahoe 30-50%, Cottonwoods 95%, Park City 85%, Colorado 90+%
http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/121904.htm Tahoe 90+%, Utah 90+%, Colorado about 2/3 open.
My Season Progress Reports can be found here http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/snowrpts.htm by clicking through to the Season Analysis page for a specific season, then choosing a Progress Report done roughly twice a month. I have them going back to 1996-97 but with less detail than those listed above.
We get these early season questions every year. Given the length of this trip and its timing, I'm too tempted to lay out the gory evidence in explicit detail to deter future such decisions. The lodging choices of Heavenly, Canyons (worst of the Park City group for snow) and Keystone (lowest natural snowfall of a destination resort in the entire state) are spectacularly unwise for early December.
Mainly as we intend to return in April for 7-10 days to one of the five resorts covered by this pass
Do yourself a favor and make the longer trip in April instead of December. Chop the front end off the December trip and just go to Colorado around Dec. 15 with your Epic Pass. Given the overall cost of a 3-week trip it's well worth paying the airline change fee to move the long trip to April.
Edited by Tony Crocker - 10/6/10 at 2:54pm