ABC's ski bumming season 2017, Part II, North America - Page 7

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  1. #61
    You planning on South America for summer? Great adventure. i'm jealous.

  2. #62

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    Leaving the snow behind -- road side views:

    IMG_0964.jpgTahoe, a month ago, tons of snow

    IMG_1081.jpgColorado last week, not nearly as much snow (still snow on the peak if not easily visible from the highway), but the scenery is great.

    IMG_1107.jpgThe long mind-numbing stretch through the Midwest. With or without snow, it's never been my favorite. (I spent 6 years living there, knew for sure I wanted to get out of dodge by then)
    Last edited by abc; Apr 24, 2017 at 10:44 AM.

  3. #63

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    It's time to do a season summary and reflection. But I'm a little distracted by the epicski.com shutdown. There're threads and PM and photos I need to pull out of there before the light gets turned off.

    It's particularly sad because during my season of travel, I met quite a few "bears" from epicski.com. And those people showed me their home mountain, and make my trip much more enjoyable had I been all alone by myself. Though in a way, it's a lucky thing that I've got to meet so many of them and skied with them THIS winter. Now I have their phone number and they're my "real" friend rather than just a user name (on a dead website no less)!

    Let me get the "numbers" out of way first:

    Cost:

    - Passes: MCP + Epic Local ~ $1000 (Why TWO passes? Originally, I bought the MCP well in advance, at a relatively low price, because I thought I'd be taking a couple week-long trips while working full time. The Epic pass I had to pay more because I only realized I need it in late November after I got the pink slip)

    - A set of winter tires + rims: ~$1000. In a typical winter, I put in several thousand miles driving to the mountains in VT or day tripping to the Catskill. So some of that cost for the extra tires are offsetting my "usual" winter driving cost. Also offsetting, rental car cost for my otherwise 2 week trip out west. Even if I rent an econo-box, the cost of that come pretty close to my winter tires. And if I ended up having to rent an SUV, that would be MORE than what I paid for the snow tires.

    - Mileage (wear and tear): I put in very close to 10,000 miles from leaving my garage to pulling back into it! That compare to about 2-3000 I normally put in each winter on skiing trips.

    - Gas: As from above, a bit more than the multiple weekend trip all over the northeast of my otherwise winters skiing the northeast.

    - Lodging: I don't have the precise number. I got to crash with friends in various stops: Summit county, Park City, some part of my Tahoe stay too. But had to shell out big bucks in Whilster. More reasonable are Jackson and Sun Valley, while SLC was pretty cheap (still, even "cheap" adds up). Still, that works out more or less in the same ball park as my typical winter travel ("more" than less).

    - Food, not any worse than eating out when working in NYC. I did a fair amount of cooking, while staying in friends' place and when my lodging is a condo with full kitchen (the Whistler week). Cooking was necessary for more reason than just cost saving. I need to stay healthy in a full 3 months trip. So eating right is important. Restaurant food everyday wouldn't cut it. In practice, after the first week, I started craving for veges and fruit!!!

    I'm beginning to like cooking in a condo over eating out in a restaurant. A lot more relaxing with no one keep coming to ask if I'm done with a dish yet (hinting I should hurry up so they can have the table for other people). I can also control portion much easier too.

    Bottom line: I wasn't exactly "roughing" it. Though I didn't exactly splurge either. I travel in style (BMW, AWD, snow tires). Stay in decent places (Super 8, Best Western, Holiday Inn etc). Ate well (both restaurant and self-cooked).

    So it cost a bit more than my usual of skiing locally on weekends and taking a couple week-long trip out west. I got to enjoy a good many of different mountains I've not skied sufficiently before. See different part of country from the car and on skis. Met many great people who're crazy about skiing like myself.

    It was great fun! And well worth the bit of extra cost.
    Last edited by abc; Apr 26, 2017 at 8:06 AM.

  4. #64

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    Mar 2008
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    Enjoyed following your winter. Spending an entire winter in the Rockies is on my bucket list so I read with great interest. I suppose it going to be back to the the grind for you and east coast skiing as well. Good luck with the job search and enjoy the summer.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ

  5. #65
    I am so glad you took the time and effort to share your story with us! The costs were what they were. The memories though will truly last forever.

  6. #66

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    Continue on summary of the season:

    Mountain Impression:

    With the 2 passes, I hit a total of 16 mountains! I had high hope to "checkout" or "know better" many of those mountains that I hadn't skied enough of, many of which I did.

    No surprise: I've skied many times over the year, of these mountains. So no surprises there:

    A-basin: Always good snow. Awesome terrain. Poor visibility whenever it snows, or even just cloudy day.
    Vail: Big, hard to get from 1 place to another. Expensive parking. But when the condition is right, it's great (didn't hit upon such condition. So only went twice.
    Beaver Creek: Posh, quiet, good snow preservation due to lack of skier traffic. But I'd be damned if I will again pay $10 parking to ski half of the mountain!
    Jackson, Snowbird, Alta, Mt Rose: Awesome terrain, awesome snow, if you can get there (Snowbird/Alta)


    Exceed expectation:

    Whislter! -- Fan-freaking-tastic!!! I lucked out with excellent condition while there. (OK, not perfect since it's always snowing and we can't see sh*t much of the time). But the snow quality exceeds expectation (expectation was heavy wet snow). Terrain... there's so much terrain, just impossible to describe. Read my trip report if you want the blow by blow.

    I went in to Whistler with pretty high expectation. It was exceeding expectation. So you get the idea.

    Northstar -- A "Sleeping Beauty"! Northstar is a sleeper. A mountain I didn't bother to even try when I lived in the SF Bay Area (ok, individual lift ticket was expensive) The mountain is basically ONE HUGE GLADE! Runs are cut into the forest and groomed to provide cruising runs for those who can't or don't want to ski trees, which is basically 95% of its clientele. That leaves the 5% of us who LOVE glades the ENTIRE mountainside worth of endless glades to play in, powder and freshies and all that! A lot of the trees are widely spaced, a pleasure to ski with no pressure. Think of Northstar as a bigger version of Bretton Woods, with a lot more snow and a lot fewer skiers.

    Keystone -- Like Northstar, I didn't pay much attention to it because it's low elevation compare to other Summit County mountains. Snow quality IS an issue because of that. However, its tree-lined runs provide shelter in stormy days. When other more exposed resorts had massive wind holds, Keystone has all its chairs running. Plus, the trees in Keystone are seldom touched, even days after a fresh snowfall.


    Disappointment:

    Park City -- (I mean the Park City part of the combined Park City/Canyon) I was hoping to get to know this mountain since I haven't skied it for 20 some years. But the weather didn't cooperate. I arrived a few days after a storm, it got really really warm. The busy skier traffic didn't help either. I did get two powder days while in the area, but spend those 2 days in the Canyon side.

    That said, it's probably condition related. Had it not been for the extreme heat wave, it might have been less scratchy despite the lack of recent snow.

    Sun Valley -- I skied it 48 hr after a foot of snow. I wouldn't have known they had a dump had I not been looking at the weather. The snow had been baked by their famous "sun" into typical east coast like packed powder. Though there were some leftover in the trees. Just nothing to write home about.

    Squaw -- I only put in 1 day at Squaw despite spending 2 weeks total at Tahoe. The reason being, they're almost always on wind hold! The day I went was enjoyable thanks to the help of a friend who knows it well. But I never got a chance to go use my 2nd free day due to massive wind hold the remainder of my stay.

    Breckenridge -- I had high hope with Breck but unfortunately the snow didn't cooperate. This season, Colorado got a long dry spell AND heat wave in the 2nd half of their season. So the time I was there wasn't ideal. Breck is well known for frequent wind hold for their signature top lift the Imperial chair. Although it was technically open many of the days I was there, it operating so sporadically! I only managed to ski the Imperial Bowl on ONE day! Further more, majority of Breck's lift goes too far down in elevation. So it's really slushy in the warm weather they had this year. I'm a big spring skiing fan but even I couldn't deal with the heavy slush at the bottom of EVERY RUN!

    Not saying any of these mountains are bad. But they all have pretty serious inherent problem that handicap them in the eye of us visitors.

    Insufficient data:

    Kirkwood & Heavenly: Condition was such I only managed to ski one day at each. Kirkwood was great on the day of my visit. Heavenly not so much. But one day isn't sufficient to form an impression.

  7. #67
    Very glad you completed trip safe and sound. Well done! I think finishing a big trip like that in one piece is the prime directive.

    I always pause/think twice before commenting negatively on a ski area based on limited exposure, especially a big one because there could be a lot you missed. For example, I have a fair number of days (~10 ea) at Park City and Breckenridge in the last 2 or 3 years and they both have plenty of gapers but also plenty of good advanced terrain with low traffic. On the other hand, even though I skied Whistler (first time ever) for four days in March in good snow, the visibility was so poor much of the time I have to reserve judgement because I just didn't get to see and ski some of the best stuff.

  8. #68

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    Well, I typed a message but it disappeared. So I'll just re-type a different one...

    I always pause/think twice before commenting negatively on a ski area based on limited exposure
    That's why I termed them as "meeting/exceeding/missing expectation"! Especially "big name" resorts, carries with it big expectations! If that expectation is condition dependent, the condition had better be a "norm" rather than a rare occurrence.

    Park City is definitely a anomalies this time around, which I recognized is due to unusually warm temperature. What's unmistakable is the crowd, and the long lift lines. It's way more crowded than the Canyon side, which I used to ski a lot of. So I'm somewhat biased. Coming from the east, I have relatively low tolerance to crowd. I didn't pay the big buck to go out west to be in a crowded mountain with scraped off groomers.

    Whistler exceeds expectation in its "normal" condition, which we saw -- lots of snow and the top was in the clouds most of the time! Granted, I was there more days than the rest of the gathering group. So I did get to see the top when it's NOT in the cloud. And I also got the one big powder day (ok, half day) on the day you left. That day, the top was totally socked in and the top lifts didn't open till almost mid-day. But Whistler is so big that even without the alpine sector, it still got a lot of great terrain to play with. The other aspect that it exceeds expectation is, although everyone warn of crowds, we didn't had much problem with that!

    Contrast that with Squaw, which had frequent wind hold that shut off easily 50% of its terrain! Add the typical crowding situation, that makes a bad situation worse! I lived in California for a few years. Even adding that period, I still haven't gotten to see all of Squaw!

    Breck is different. I was there for nearly 6 weeks, over two part of the season. The problem is not just the Imperial chair, it's also the flat bottom run out. On really warm days, the slush really sucks. I mean SUCKS in that it sucks your skis to a dead stop! It's not it doesn't have good skiing. It's just the good days has a narrow weather condition! No wind, not too cold, not too warm...

    And also, both Squaw and Breck are in stiff competition against 5-6 other mountains with 1/2 hr driving distance. So their "minor flaws" can be a major show stopper!

    (another mountain has that same similar flat run out: Alpine Meadow. I knew that from previous experience. So I didn't even go there this time around because it's been relatively warm -- not an unusual condition for Tahoe)

    Looking at the list of mountains that "meets" expectation ("no surprise"), I've skied them many times. So I knew what condition to go there or NOT go there. Part of the problem with Squaw and Breck had been, I didn't ski them enough in the past because they're more finicky to weather. And this time around, I have more time to wait, and STILL I didn't get to ski them that much because the condition that makes them good are not that often met!
    Last edited by abc; Today at 1:01 AM.

  9. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by abc View Post
    Well, I typed a message but it disappeared. So I'll just re-type a different one...


    That's why I termed them as "meeting/exceeding/missing expectation"! Especially "big name" resorts, carries with it big expectations! If that expectation is condition dependent, the condition had better be a "norm" rather than a rare occurrence.

    Park City is definitely a anomalies this time around, which I recognized is due to unusually warm temperature. What's unmistakable is the crowd, and the long lift lines. It's way more crowded than the Canyon side, which I used to ski a lot of. So I'm somewhat biased. Coming from the east, I have relatively low tolerance to crowd. I didn't pay the big buck to go out west to be in a crowded mountain with scraped off groomers.

    Whistler exceeds expectation in its "normal" condition, which we saw -- lots of snow and the top was in the clouds most of the time! Granted, I was there more days than the rest of the gathering group. So I did get to see the top when it's NOT in the cloud. And I also got the one big powder day (ok, half day) on the day you left. That day, the top was totally socked in and the top lifts didn't open till almost mid-day. But Whistler is so big that even without the alpine sector, it still got a lot of great terrain to play with. The other aspect that it exceeds expectation is, although everyone warn of crowds, we didn't had much problem with that!

    Contrast that with Squaw, which had frequent wind hold that shut off easily 50% of its terrain! Add the typical crowding situation, that makes a bad situation worse! I lived in California for a few years. Even adding that period, I still haven't gotten to see all of Squaw!

    Breck is different. I was there for nearly 6 weeks, over two part of the season. The problem is not just the Imperial chair, it's also the flat bottom run out. On really warm days, the slush really sucks. I mean SUCKS in that it sucks your skis to a dead stop! It's not it doesn't have good skiing. It's just the good days has a narrow weather condition! No wind, not too cold, not too warm...

    And also, both Squaw and Breck are in stiff competition against 5-6 other mountains with 1/2 hr driving distance. So their "minor flaws" can be a major show stopper!

    (another mountain has that same similar flat run out: Alpine Meadow. I knew that from previous experience. So I didn't even go there this time around because it's been relatively warm -- not an unusual condition for Tahoe)

    Looking at the list of mountains that "meets" expectation ("no surprise"), I've skied them many times. So I knew what condition to go there or NOT go there. Part of the problem with Squaw and Breck had been, I didn't ski them enough in the past because they're more finicky to weather. And this time around, I have more time to wait, and STILL I didn't get to ski them that much because the condition that makes them good are not that often met!
    I think your assessment of Breck is right on. We skied there like 5 times this season and they were mostly of snowy days except the last. One snowy days it was awesome and the run outs were not that big of a deal. In fact, the run outs can be avoided by skiing pods or lifts. However, when it warmed up near the base things got sticky and it made us decide not ski Breck in the Springs.

    March here was way out of the norm so we will see how things are next year.



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