Colorado October 23rd - June 9th

AlpineZone

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. #1

    Colorado October 23rd - June 9th

    Well the season officially has come to an end – no California skiing. There were hopes A Basin would give it another whirl for Father’s Day Weekend, but it never came too. I stayed on with AZ to provide trip reports for a season from an east coaster gone west. Overall, we had a great season, probably the most consistent ever from beginning to end considering temps, conditions, snow, etc. Most often the temps ranged from 15 degrees to 35 degrees a majority of the time between November and May. While there were days where the temperatures got as low as 5 degrees on the coldest day and a high of 65 being the warmest (June), coldest days numbered around 3 or 4. Right up into May the higher elevations delivered snow when rain (sometimes snow) was experienced across the Front Range. Also, when it came to wind, there were a handful of days where it was quite windy but overall, I think places like Cannon or Jay Peak often have more windy days IMO. Snow quality is also very consistent with dry packed powder for most of the time. Of course there are the powder days that offer up snow that is real easy to ski but those days came mostly in the months of December, January and April and May. While a few systems came through in early February and late March those two months had a period of about a month straight where little to no snow fell and temps occasionally rose above the freezing mark firming things up to a Styrofoam like feel, so the west is not immune to refreeze. It seems that the significant difference between east coast and western snow is the dryness. The weather systems that hit New England can often be influenced by tropical moisture driven up from the gulf and the Atlantic just like weather systems are influenced from the Baja or other Pacific forces, however the difference in both areas are the distance from the moisture with New England being closer to the ocean but the second part of the equation is the elevation which is clearly visible when you see the difference between the mountains and the plains. It can snow two feet in the mountains and rain in the plains 50-75 miles away. Compared to wet systems coming into New England hit broader areas more consistently. Likewise snowy systems seem to hit the valleys as well as the peaks. Although this year it seemed as though the wet systems had less of an impact up north from the reports I read and delivered snow.

    One thing that really stood out was the more wide open skiing - ranging from bowl skiing to wider cut trails to above tree line skiing. There was a false sense of security knowing the trees were not close by that made it feel safer to open it up. While the terrain ratings are local to the resort, on green blue and black the slopes still felt steeper than back east maybe due to the wide open feeling. The resorts back east are covered with narrower trails that crisscross all over. While narrower trails are a feature that I miss in many respects, the narrower trails often got me thinking about the what if’s like catching an edge, hit ice, skiing past someone without issue. Those are thoughts/fears that escape me on the runs here. Resorts here are large enough to disperse people and using Epic Mix App we were able to see lift line times and knew what to avoid. To put things in perspective, I did include a picture of Beaver Creek and Killington since they are close in size to illustrate the openness. Speaking of trees, I found the trees to be more fun to ski since they can be skied at a constant pace. While I have never been a huge fan of tight trees, I have found plenty of trees that were just as tight and steep as some in New England. The difference is while a Eastern ski area have trees top to bottom where it is not uncommon to have areas only closer to the base that have trees here and the top of the ski areas are above tree line.

    Another striking image was the pure vastness of the resorts and the speed and distance of the lifts, in particular, Vail. There just seemed to be so many options. For example we skied Vail from 10:30 to 4 and skied 14 different lifts and 17 different runs and covered 24,000 vertical feet. Another resort that is a vertical knock out – Keystone. On the front side, the River Run Gondola and Summit Lift cover close to 2 miles and the lifts take you to the top fairly quickly. From a visual perspective, Breckenridge seems the most spectacular as you drive into the town. It seems like the peaks are never ending which gives you that kid in a candy store feeling. Once again to put things into perspective, Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breck, A Basin and then toss in Loveland have a combined acreage that is greater than all resorts in New England. Even though they are fairly good sized ski areas, they get familiar fairly quick but best to focus on one area at a time. However, we did take the ski explore approach at Vail and Beaver Creek.

    The Vibe – well I think it is often better in New England. In part, because the bars and lodges get crowded here and the sheer amount of tourist at Vail Resorts is crazy. I know some resorts get the same way back east (thinking of Killington) but it is different. Even in New England different resorts have different vibes – places like Magic, Wildcat or Cannon where lots of regulars show up vs Killington, Okemo or Loon where masses come to ski/snowboard. While, there are villages at the base of each Vail Resort with other amenities besides the bar or lodge scenes, the idea of Apres Ski with bands playing as the day comes to an end is different as well. I think the largesse of these resorts take away from the experience.
    Now we did ski eight different ski areas – 5 with the Epic Local Pass and then 3 others. Of the non-Vail resorts, the best vibe was at A Basin especially in the Spring – feels like Cannon in many ways. Loveland was not bad either once the season got going full steam. Cooper was very quiet and the bar there really small – many would consider it a feeder resort – a 400 acre feeder but it does stand on its own especially if you consider the cat skiing on Chicago Ridge which adds another 2600 acres. The upstairs bar at Eldora was pretty good but being there only once so far the jury is still out. Eldora is a tweener as far as ski areas go. In between being a feeder resort and a legit hold its own resort with mostly locals Kind of like Pats Peak on steroids. At 680 acres it skis well and there is a whole pod dedicated to advanced terrain. The best Vail resort with vibe is not really at the ski area but in the town of Breckenridge. Talk to the locals and they will surprisingly tell you the best places to go. There is an Apres Ski energy that feels fun and engaging and it is a great walking town too. Even in the summer, we were there mountain biking and that town is hopping!

    Conditions – I have to say conditions are better out here. The powder and packed powder is dry most of the time and ice was rare. My wife was a big fan of the almost always soft runs and powder days. Inside the trees and the bumps have stayed soft most of the winter but did firm up in the spring with colder nights. It kind of reminded me of the 2014-2015 season there temps stayed low and snow soft. However, that being said, the last two months of February and the first two in March were the most firm where locals complained but we were ok with it. No New England ice, but pretty hard nonetheless especially at Keystone. The snow making season here is relatively short generally ending in early December and that ice pack never really builds. In New England the early season can get hammered with wets/warm days that soak up the base and when it refreezes the snow scrapes off easy especially on narrow higher traffic areas. It seems like New England had a pretty good year with some great powder days – if you could get it. The snow often seem to fall during the week which was often the case here as well. One of the differences as mentioned earlier is the elevation where temps stay consistent compared to warm fronts that impact the entire Northeast although apparently less further north. More often we skied powder chop catching a few stashes here and there. The Spring did deliver weekend friendly powder of a couple occasions in May at A Basin which did create some madness. The last two months mid-April to mid-June offered up some of the best Spring skiing that I have ever experienced and it was the same last year as well. The atmosphere at A Basin was incredible and they managed the trails perfectly as well.

    I have to talk a little about the 70. It is often reported as a nightmare which it can be if you travel it at the wrong time. Friday nights are bad, Friday nights on a holiday weekend forget about it. Saturday mornings between 7:30-9 ish can be bad but we have often decided to travel through at times that are earlier than that or after that. If you are a hard core first chair person, then if you leave early enough you are OK. We are OK with a 10 am start on a Saturday. Sunday mornings are generally pretty easy. Now the return home on a Saturday is generally not too bad but the return on Sunday can be. We often ski until 2 then try to get a jump on it, but heading back there is an Express Lane that can be used during peak season for $5 which we do. The alternative is to ski to the end and have dinner nearby then head home later. Alternatively, coming from the Springs, there is the 24 to 9 that is never an issue but a bit further and longer. A quick check on Waze tells us the way to go. The GPS apps are our friend. Is the 70 bad – it can be if you are foolish enough to go at the worst times. We got caught a few times and learned the ropes.

    Overall, we were very happy with our experience and our move – we are here to stay because it feels like a perpetual vacation. Do I want to go ski back east? At this time we really have little interest and probably would not make a trip out of it for that purpose. My wife especially does not want to ski back east because she feels she experienced the spoils of skiing in Colorado (she hates the narrower trails of New England). From here we want to head further West and North. We are hoping for Whistler and or Park City or Tahoe. We also want to target other Colorado resorts like Steamboat. Winter Park, Crested Butte and my wife wants to ski Purgatory just because. But like this season, time fly’s by fast and the best made plans can change which is what happened to us this past season.

    I enjoyed sharing our experience, but will not be doing the same next season. I will lurk from time to time and maybe participate in generic dialogues now and then. But for now I will be weaning my self off this. Everything I have expressed here is my opinion and I hope did not offend anyone.

    I think this tells a story Killington is the top photo and Beaver Creak the bottom. Beaver Creak has about 400 more acres but 5 fewer trails. These were captured at similar eye altitude.

    ktownandBC.jpg
    2012-2013 (39)
    2013-2014 (36)
    2014-2015 (51)
    2015-2016 (47)

    2016-2017 target - 50

    If you take what the mountain gives you, you will always have fun!

  2. #2
    Copper is still open weekends if you need a fix out there. Just a surface lift..... But open. Thanks for the recap. I gotta get back out there. Its been to2 long, 4 years I think.

    Sent from my LGMS345 using AlpineZone mobile app

  3. #3
    Excellently written and a very nice perspective!

  4. #4
    Trying to figure out what perspective that bottom picture of Beaver Creek is taken from. ?

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Lake Hopatcong, NJ
    Posts
    3,636
    Conditions, elevation and weather. Those are the reasons we like the west so much.

    I love the vibe out there. Aspen is my all time favorite, have yet to see a better ski town. Was pretty impressed with Steamboat this year and plan on going back again this coming season. Even had a good time in the Copper Village which is pretty small considering. I enjoy the vibe at most ski areas and we hit the Stratton Village and Lincoln (Loon) this year too and I would say we had good times both east and west.

    Certainly enjoyed my times in the Denver area this past season. People we've met were great and very welcoming. A lot of fun stuff to do off the slopes as well. The boy has made some great connections out there and is looking forward to returning in August. Almost time to start the planning.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ

  6. #6
    Thanks for sharing. Hope to stay in touch next season in one forum or another.

  7. #7
    Do you have any issues living far away from you or wife's extended families back East?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by cps27 View Post
    Trying to figure out what perspective that bottom picture of Beaver Creek is taken from. ?
    Used Google earth at 20000 fr. eye altitude. I like to capture ski areas and compare footprints.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using AlpineZone mobile app
    2012-2013 (39)
    2013-2014 (36)
    2014-2015 (51)
    2015-2016 (47)

    2016-2017 target - 50

    If you take what the mountain gives you, you will always have fun!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by jimk View Post
    Do you have any issues living far away from you or wife's extended families back East?
    Not really! My wife and I love doing things together. We hike a lot now, and do many outdoor things. I have also trained her to ski pretry good so she will try most anyrhing. Weblove to explore and take drives to see new things and we have barely scratched the surface in Colorado. We have had many visitors which is cool too. We thought the ocean would be missed but we have flown to California a few times and the flight is easy and pretty cheap. Already got 7 ocean days in this summer and I much prefer California coast over New Englands.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using AlpineZone mobile app
    2012-2013 (39)
    2013-2014 (36)
    2014-2015 (51)
    2015-2016 (47)

    2016-2017 target - 50

    If you take what the mountain gives you, you will always have fun!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by 4aprice View Post
    Conditions, elevation and weather. Those are the reasons we like the west so much.



    I love the vibe out there. Aspen is my all time favorite, have yet to see a better ski town. Was pretty impressed with Steamboat this year and plan on going back again this coming season. Even had a good time in the Copper Village which is pretty small considering. I enjoy the vibe at most ski areas and we hit the Stratton Village and Lincoln (Loon) this year too and I would say we had good times both east and west.

    Certainly enjoyed my times in the Denver area this past season. People we've met were great and very welcoming. A lot of fun stuff to do off the slopes as well. The boy has made some great connections out there and is looking forward to returning in August. Almost time to start the planning.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ
    You mentioned places we have yet to visit so that excites me for next season.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using AlpineZone mobile app
    2012-2013 (39)
    2013-2014 (36)
    2014-2015 (51)
    2015-2016 (47)

    2016-2017 target - 50

    If you take what the mountain gives you, you will always have fun!

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 2 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 2 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
All times are GMT -5. The time now is 2:10 AM.