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Looking for the best all-around skiing in North America...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I'm an East Coast skier getting ready to take a trip out west in mid-February.  I have been skiing for 20 years, and I consider myself to be an advanced skier.  I'm going on this trip with two other skiers, both of whom are upper-intermediate to lower-advanced.  One of these skiers actually just started skiing last year, but on his 12th day, we tackled the Vallee Blanche in Chamonix.  Needless to say, he can certainly keep up on the blacks and double blacks.

 

I've skied all around Tahoe - Heavenly, Squaw (which I loved), Sierra at Tahoe, Northstar, etc.  I've also skied in France - Domaine de Balme, les Grands Montets, Brevent et Flegere, the Vallee Blanche, etc.  I always go back to Chamonix because I love the skiing and the town so much.  Then, of course, I've skied up and down the East Coast.

 

Anyway, I'm looking for the best all-around ski experience this year.  I'd prefer to try something new and not go back to Tahoe.  I was looking at Vail, Aspen, and Salt Lake City, but I'm really open to suggestions.  I love bowls, and I also love tree-skiing.  Difficult terrain is a definite plus, but I want to make sure wherever we end up going has some easier runs, too.  Travel time is also a consideration.

 

Please let me know where you would go and why...

post #2 of 18

Sol Vista....

 

seriously....

 

how many times in how many ways has this question been asked and answered.....

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your answer, UGA.  Yes, I did read other posts, and yes, I know that similar questions have been asked before.  However, I wanted to ask separately so that I could put in the specific details that pertain to my group.  I would hate to arrive at a resort only to find the runs are too technical for my friends.  If my re-asking this question offended you in some way, you didn't have to answer.

 

Nonetheless, I appreciate your answer and will certainly consider Sol Vista.

post #4 of 18

Utah- 10 diferrent ski resorts within 1 hour of each other and difficulty levels ranging from easy to some of gnarliest sking in NA. Also great snow and weather. 

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skichamonix View Post

Thanks for your answer, UGA.  Yes, I did read other posts, and yes, I know that similar questions have been asked before.  However, I wanted to ask separately so that I could put in the specific details that pertain to my group.  I would hate to arrive at a resort only to find the runs are too technical for my friends.  If my re-asking this question offended you in some way, you didn't have to answer.

 

Nonetheless, I appreciate your answer and will certainly consider Sol Vista.

 

I think he forgot that he signed out of TGR. People here aren't usually such dicks. Sol Vista is just a running joke, so don't even bother.

 

9.9 out of 10 times, I'd say Utah, but for your group, I'm not as sure. Utah is the place to be for steeps, snow and challenging terrain, but I'd say Colorado is probably better for bowls and tamer terrain. Vail is one of the best resorts in the country for open-bowl skiing, and you're also close to Summit County where you can try some of the other resorts. For trees, Steamboat is constantly ranked the best in the country. Note that Steamboat is not any good for steeps or bowls, though.

 

Not sure how long you're staying, but I'd consider doing a little tour--there are a lot of resorts that meet your criteria (or at least part of it) within about two hours.
 

post #6 of 18

For sheer scale, variety, and expanse with challenges and mellow terrain, and far more vertical the Utah, or CO, and long runs, I would look into Whistler-Blackcomb, BC

post #7 of 18

I will admit that I am much more an internet expert than a skiing expert but I am an avid skier too- just stuck a billion miles from any mountains without many days to ski per year. Nonetheless, between studying trailmaps and discussion boards and visiting quite a few resorts, here are the ones I'd pick.

 

Whistler-Blackcomb.  From what I can tell, they pretty much have everything except consistent snow at the base.  8000+ acres is nothing to sneeze at and its not an unreasonable distance from Vancouver to get to.

 

Jackson Hole- Again, pretty much has everything.  Real vertical (4000+ feet), good lifts, good snow, great town.  Big mountain with challenging terrain.

 

Vail/Beaver Creek-  Two massive resorts close together.  Vail has great bowls.  Has front side and has Blue sky basin.  Huge amount of terrain variety.  And has great mountain base lodging, apres ski and dining.  I've skied both and would go back any time.  Beaver Creek seems to be under rated quite often.  Its pretty darn big for a place that no one ever talks about around here.

 

Just up the road... Copper/Keystone/Breckenridge/A-basin.  Got everything you need right there.  Excellent tree skiing.  Bowls.  Steeps.  Variety.  Towns (breck, Dillon, Friscoe are all fun little spots to stay) 

 

Let me stop and make a point that if you go on a big trip you want guaranteed skiing.  Trust me, I know about this well because I do this every year.  With these multi-stop spots you just can't go wrong.  How can you not have a blast when you have 4-resorts within 20 minutes of each other?  Which leads me to....

 

Park City, UT.  Don't bother staying anywhere else in Utah.  Park City is a great ski town.  Everyone here talks up Alta and Bird all the time and for sound reason.  But those two have NOTHING on the convenience of Park City.  You have 3-mega resorts within 6 miles.  Huge amount of skiing.  Half of it practically walking distance with PCMR and Deer Valley back-to-back and The Canyons just a skip away.  Can't go wrong.  PC has Pinecone Ridge and Jupiter Peak if you want adventerous steeps.  Deer Valley has variety and its fun to ski where the staff actually try to help you.  The Canyons is great when there's lots of snow.  So many peaks so little time.  Can't go wrong.

 

Alta/Snowbird/ Brighton/Solitude-  Another 4 resorts in Utah that are practically a suburb of SLC.  Amazing terrain.  True skiing.  Incredible snow.  I've only been to Alta of these four, but everyone here can tell you how great they all are.  Its about 85% of all posts on this forum.

 

Big Sky / Moonlight Basin - One of my "must ski before I die" spots.  I am a sucker for the lone peak type skiing like Mt. Hood or Big Sky's Lone Peak.  Having a massive 4500 foot vertical ski resort on one side and another 4000 feet on another....unbelieveable.  You can ski them both at the same time with one (ridiculously expensive) pass.  But seriously- we're talking runs that are 3800 feet in vertical length from the top of Lone Peak thru snowfields and down into trees and valleys.  That's just incredible.  I gotta go there.  Watch some youtube videos of Lenin and Marx from the top of Lone Peak- or The Big Couloir.  Gotta ski that couloir.  

 

Telluride - One resort.  Remote location.  But again- 4000+ feet of vertical with steeps, chutes, peaks and adventurous hikes galore.  Not to mention skiing big vert down into a true ski town.  Pretty much off the charts.  The only drawback is getting there, and the fact that its maybe not quite big enough for a whole week.  I'd love to go there for 3-4 days though.

 

Aspen/Snowmass - I have not been, but you get a lot of mountains (3+) and a lot of terrain with some really challenging stuff and still, great vertical drops.  Problem with Aspen is you drive past a bazillion other CO resorts to get there.

 

Tahoe-  10 resorts.  One of the most scenic places in the world.  Incredible tree skiing.  This is real tree skiing.  Utah has nothing on Tahoe's giant tree skiing.  Big ski resorts - Squaw, Alpine, Heavenly.  Chutes and steeps at Kirkwood.  Blue runs at Sierra or Northstar.  First off the plane award for Mt. Rose.  All of this and others are within about 1-1.5 hours drive.  Stay in either SLT or Truckee and just have at it with tons of options.  And you get gambling at the bottom of Heavenly taboot.  Pretty cool.

 

Mammoth Mountain-  honorable mention since its not their fault they are located in the worst possible spot.  You have to drive past Tahoe to get there, unless you'r from LA or San Fran- then you have to drive 5-6 hours to get there.  But from what I read and from videos I've watched it has an incredible single mountain just how you want a mountain to be- steeps up top above the trees, then trees down below all with a continuous fall line.

 

Lake Louise/Sunshine Village - Probably the most scenic spot in North America with two massive mountains in the Canadian Rockies.  Its on my "must ski before die" list.

 

A lot of other great BC resorts but I'm not sure they are close enough to hit several at once.  Everybody talks about driving from Spokane to Red, with the possibilty of hitting Whitefish and Schweitzer along the way- but I wouldn't do that if I could pick my other choices.  Revelstoke has the big records but its pretty remote and I get the impression that unless you are going to do heli-skiing from there, its really not set up all that well yet.  Panorama, Fernie, Kicking Horse - all three sound awesome.  But for a trip its best to have many options in close proximity.

 

I don't think anything in the East can hang.  I guess I'd say Stowe/Sugarbush/ Jay Peak as one option, and maybe Le Massif/Mont Saint Anne in Quebec as another.  But I'd not choose either of those until I've gone on down my list pretty far.  Unless its just for the French Canadian culture.

 

Probably a little long winded.  I can talk about ski resorts all day.  

post #8 of 18

For a group, I'd think working at one massive resort with high quality options (and plenty of them) for everyone is critical.

 

Like others have said, Utah rocks, but the joy there is traveling from great resort to great resort (and Snow basin and alta aren't exactly 'close')-but planting yourselves at the lodges at alta and soaking up everything Alta/Snowbird have to offer is certainly a great option.

 

I haven't been to enough mega-resorts, but thinking mid february in this north-leaning snowy la nina year I'd say:

 

Big Sky

Whistler

Lake Louise/ Sunshine

 

And if the California Snow bonanza continues, I'd have to keep Mammoth in mind as well.

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wow!  Thank you to everyone for such informative answers.  Utah sounds pretty awesome.  Not sure Whistler will work just because their are fewer flights and a lot more connections (we live in VA).  I think right now it's between Vail/Beaver Creek and Park City. 


Thanks again for all your help!

post #10 of 18

SLC is the answer.  You could take a plane from DC and arrive at 10:30am, and ski the afternoon, like I did yesterday. Stay in Sandy/Midvale for $65/nt including breakfast and drive about 25 minutes to Snowbird/Alta - the greatest snow on earth.  There you will have the best chance of powder, and if itis not snowing the conditions will likely be prime.  The terrain at Snowbird/Alta is perfect for an advanced, experienced  skier. When you get tired of Snowbird and Alta there are 6 other big resorts to check out. 

post #11 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skichamonix View Post

Anyway, I'm looking for the best all-around ski experience this year.


I would agree that Alta/Bird have some of the best skiing in the US.  But staying in SLC isn't my idea of a "ski experience".  PC is just OK, but then you have to drive an hour to get the best skiing. 

 

Some people love Vail?  I just can't recommend it after they started selling the Epic pass.  IMHO it's not a good value for the destination skier that's buying lift tickets.

 

The best experiences that I've had in no particular order.

 

Whistler

North Lake Tahoe

Jackson Hole

Aspen

Telluride

Taos

Alaska

Fernie

post #12 of 18

I think you'd feel right at home in Vail/Beaver Creek, if you are a solid advanced skier, as opposed to 'expert'.  Vail has an infinite amount of black terrain, but nothing truly steep.  Beaver Creek has some challenging runs, and some great tree skiing. 

 

Aspen is also worth looking in to, a great mountain with a really nice town.

 

Whistler would be my 3rd recommendation.

 

I've also been to Chamonix, I don't think Utah/SLC is what you are looking for in terms of an all-round holiday experience.  No offence to anyone who lives there, but I found SLC truly depressing.  Park City at a stretch maybe, the town is ok and there's a restaurant at Deer Valley that serves raclette.

post #13 of 18

Quote:

Originally Posted by Maui Steve View Post

Utah- 10 different ski resorts within 1 hour of each other and difficulty levels ranging from easy to some of gnarliest skiing in NA. Also great snow and weather. 


Yep, Utah. Many resorts to explore, pretty close to each other. Jackson Hole and Grand Targhee in WY are also nice and can be nicely combined with a snowscootertrip in Yellowstone. But if it's skiing only, Utah is your best bet.
 

post #14 of 18

Quote:

Originally Posted by JoeUT View Post

 

9.9 out of 10 times, I'd say Utah, but for your group, I'm not as sure. Utah is the place to be for steeps, snow and challenging terrain, but I'd say Colorado is probably better for bowls and tamer terrain.  

 

Utah has some real steep terrain. But Powmow is real easy. Deer Valley and PC cover everything. Brighton same thing.

Don't know about Snowbasin.

Alta and Snowbird are steepest. Solitude has nice steeps (Honeycomb) but front side is varied.

 

post #15 of 18

Aspen-Snowmass. No Question.

 

It is pricier than the Utah resorts, but its worth it. You get 3 mountains (plus a beginners mountain) each with its own vibe. Snowmass is big and has some great tree skiing off the Hanging Valley. Its pretty Steep and the snow stays super nice, since most of the double black skiers go to the other two mountains. Highlands has a fantastic bowl with 45+ degree pitches,  and some awesome tree and steep skiing, and the vibe there is super laid back, which is nice. Aspen Mountain itself is ok, but its famous and worth it to spend at least a few hours there. For intermediates, Highlands is great, and snowmass is better. Few crowds, awesome town, and as much acreage as Vail.

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks to everyone for responding!  I've definitely got a list of go-to places now.  In the end, we've decided to fly into Denver, spend several days at Vail and Beavercreek and then maybe do a day or two at Steamboat.  Utah sounds awesome, but we get free lodging at Vail, so maybe next year!  Of course, if I have it my way, next year will be spent in the Alps, so we'll see.

 

Thanks again!

post #17 of 18

Have fun! Try to get as far from Denver as possible on the weekend!

post #18 of 18

Hands Down Utah for 3 reasons: Snow, Accessibility, Cost.

 

SNOW: See license plate. This also might be one case where size doesn't matter... 6" of Utah powder is better than 10" of anything else. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

 

ACCESSIBILITY: The resorts are less than 1 hour from the airport and SLC is very efficient. We did a guys trip a couple years ago when Snowbird/Alta got 2 ft of snow. We flew in on the night of the storm and all of our flights were on time. They rarely have delays and you won't get re-routed to an airport that is 3-4 hours away. Rental Cars are also right across the street from baggage claim, no shuttles.

Park City is a great "home base" if you're going for a week and you can drive an hour when you want to explore another area. Canyons, PCMR, and Deer Valley are all great mountains, although overrated by Ski Magazine, and Park City is the best in Utah for dining/apres ski. You'll find better terrain at Alta/Snowbird (advanced-expert) and Snowbasin/Powder Mtn (intermediate-advanced), but these areas leave a lot to be desired once you're off the mountain. 

 

COST: Your first day is free with Park City's Quickstart Program (www.parkcityinfo.com) and you can pick up discounted lift tickets in Salt Lake at Sports Den or Canyon Sports (http://www.canyonsports.com/discountlifttickets/). Both shops have locations right off the freeway on your way to Park City. Costco has also been known to have multi-day deals. If you're in Park City, check the local paper (Park Record) for 2for1 deals on dining. 

 

I live in Southern CA and go to Mammoth regularly. I grew up going to Tahoe and I've had powder days in Aspen, Summit County, and Whistler, yet I keep going back to Utah every year.

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