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Skivt2

The 2014-2015 Ski Season Thread

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Your summary is accurate. The 1st GM for Powdr came in from out west and essentially played "bad cop". He cut back lots of things. He got promoted and moved back west. The guy who took over was a long time employee, a local guy who really understands the place and was the CFO for Killington prior to Powdr taking over. He got to play "good cop" and restored some of the things that were part of the Killington culture. He does now report to the first guy. I'm sure he has to justify his decisions financially.

The biggest factor in the success of late season may actually have something to do with Irene ironically. The storm destroyed an underutilized part of the main base loge. The replacement is a beautiful deck with two European style umbrella bars, a grill area and a small bathroom building directly at the bottom of Superstar. People are coming from the whole northeast to ski and hang out on the deck at the u-bar. Local musicians entertain in the afternoon. The deck has a expansive view of the lower steep section of the trail. Crashes and big airs both receive loud critiquing from the deck. Theoretically with the spring passes, the massive number of day tickets we are seeing and the concession sales, it may have be been a worthwhile business venture to extend the season. The fabulous weekend weather this spring is definitely helping. Sunday was very crowded with the main parking lot quite filled with cars plus people parked down the access road. In reality that picture vastly under represents the true number of patrons as many come for a while and then go. Parking spaces turn over throughout the day. Overall the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly with folks clearly enjoying themselves. For the pass holders, the commitment to a long season makes the season pass a very good value and many people you talk to say it's one reason why they chose Killington as their home.

Killington definitely set their sights on June this year. Unfortunately the trail now has a bare patch all the way across at the top of the lower steep section. By the looks of it there is maybe 3-4 feet or more of coverage everywhere else on the trail with a pile still at the top. Either they push the snow around and give up on June, they make snow to cover the bad patch, or we are looking at a section of walking for the rest of the season. I think most folks are fine with walking a little bit since the alternative is hiking uphill and a closed u-bar. We know we have 4 more days to enjoy. There are rumors that the mountain will also be open the following weekend through Monday June 1st. If so I will have 95 days, 5 short of the 100 day club. The mountain rewards skiers with 100 days by giving them a hat, a bumper sticker and their name published in the yearly marketing magazine. Long seasons are celebrated at the big K.

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It was a fairly standard practice back in the 30s, 40s, 50s while looking for investors of new ski resorts.... invest and we'll give you lifetime passes. Powdr Corp was the first company I know of that tried to take those away at a ski area. As you can expect it was sort of a PR nightmare and they recanted.

Edit: I'm not sure if they recanted. I think the Lifetime pass holders lost in court now that I'm googling it.

They did not recant. One issue was that they were re-sold to other people etc. It was messy.

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If someone bought one in the 1950s, and they were 20 at the time, they would be at least 76 today. I would have honored them

Pretty cool they had them

What's happening now is some areas had "family lifetime passes" which is causing friction now that the original investors are passing away. I've seen that issue brought up but can't remember the ski resort right now. It's also hard because back in the 1960s obviously they weren't really thinking about what the world would be like 50 years down the road and I'm sure the legal speak back then wasn't as air tight as it might be now.

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Thanks for the summary skivt2....so it was actually the current ownership that got rid of the early and late skiing only to bring it back under the new GM.

 

It is definitely nice that KMart does that...it kind of feels like a local thing (or at least catering to locals), yet the mountain is obviously a big time destination resort. It's the A-Basin of the east.

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Your summary is accurate. The 1st GM for Powdr came in from out west and essentially played "bad cop". He cut back lots of things. He got promoted and moved back west. The guy who took over was a long time employee, a local guy who really understands the place and was the CFO for Killington prior to Powdr taking over. He got to play "good cop" and restored some of the things that were part of the Killington culture. He does now report to the first guy. I'm sure he has to justify his decisions financially.

The biggest factor in the success of late season may actually have something to do with Irene ironically. The storm destroyed an underutilized part of the main base loge. The replacement is a beautiful deck with two European style umbrella bars, a grill area and a small bathroom building directly at the bottom of Superstar. People are coming from the whole northeast to ski and hang out on the deck at the u-bar. Local musicians entertain in the afternoon. The deck has a expansive view of the lower steep section of the trail. Crashes and big airs both receive loud critiquing from the deck. Theoretically with the spring passes, the massive number of day tickets we are seeing and the concession sales, it may have be been a worthwhile business venture to extend the season. The fabulous weekend weather this spring is definitely helping. Sunday was very crowded with the main parking lot quite filled with cars plus people parked down the access road. In reality that picture vastly under represents the true number of patrons as many come for a while and then go. Parking spaces turn over throughout the day. Overall the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly with folks clearly enjoying themselves. For the pass holders, the commitment to a long season makes the season pass a very good value and many people you talk to say it's one reason why they chose Killington as their home.

Killington definitely set their sights on June this year. Unfortunately the trail now has a bare patch all the way across at the top of the lower steep section. By the looks of it there is maybe 3-4 feet or more of coverage everywhere else on the trail with a pile still at the top. Either they push the snow around and give up on June, they make snow to cover the bad patch, or we are looking at a section of walking for the rest of the season. I think most folks are fine with walking a little bit since the alternative is hiking uphill and a closed u-bar. We know we have 4 more days to enjoy. There are rumors that the mountain will also be open the following weekend through Monday June 1st. If so I will have 95 days, 5 short of the 100 day club. The mountain rewards skiers with 100 days by giving them a hat, a bumper sticker and their name published in the yearly marketing magazine. Long seasons are celebrated at the big K.

 

Nice summary.  That's awesome when business design works.  There's a lot more than people think to providing late season skiing than just making a lot of snow.  You need to have the set-up that makes it work.  Killington has the geography (KBL elevation at 2,000ft for snow preservation), a high-speed lift that services one primary run, easy access to the parking lots, the new bar set-up, and you mentioned new bathrooms at the base of the lift.  That is huge.  Its the little things that make it convenient, and in my opinion no other mountain has the ability to do what Killington does late season.  Superstar is steep enough and although its what, only 1,200 vertical feet (?) it is more than enough to keep folks interested.  They aren't just giving a 800 vert intermediate cruiser.  

 

It's a really good study in what to do for developing a late-season market.

 

Its definitely a perk for Killington pass holders...and Killington holds an interesting part of the market in that it can be considered the first real resort you come to from the south that has terrain closer to the northern VT resorts.  There's a definite difference in the type of skiing from Mount Snow/Okemo/Stratton, and Sugarbush/Stowe/Smuggs/Jay Peak.  Killington is sort of the dividing zone in that, so if you are coming up from say the Hudson Valley, or CT/MA, its the right ratio of drive time and terrain.  Add in the longer season, and its a good perk to stop folks from going further north, or in enticing them to drive past the other southern VT areas.  If I lived where I grew up in Albany, NY.... I'd be a Killington pass holder. 

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I forgot to mention they have huge jugs of ice water and cups at the u-bar for free as well right near the bathrooms to make water exchange very convenient. Hydration is key to warm water skiing. We always throw the bartender a $20 tip in spring without ordering anything from the bar to thank them for keeping the water cold and flowing. A surprisingly large number of women are there as well both hanging out and skiing/snowboarding because killington has made it such a great place to be. I think the comparison to A-basin in the spring must be accurate although I have never been to A-basin myself. It's a snow beach. It's a bar with a ski lift for entertainment. It's just a ton of fun.

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I'm in the early stages of planning a trip out west next season....won't really commit to anything until probably November or even earl/mid December.

 

How many of ya'll have skied out in the Rockies? I have done some of the I-70 resorts like Copper, Keystone, and A-Basin....but I'm really intrigued by the southwest CO scene. Telluride especially, but Crested Butte looks fun too.

 

 

It's a trip for my father's 65th that I'm going to surprise him with after all the ski trips he took me on over the years. He's a pretty darned good skier, even in his advanced age, so no need for any pampering terrain. I was thinking about planning Lake Tahoe as we did that area many times over the years, but figured going to a place we haven't been yet (all of the Rockies outside those 3 resorts) would be more of an adventure.

 

 

I'd be interested in anyone else's experiences out there.

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Jackson hole is A basin on steroids great town too for the family. Grand targee is close buy but not as big.

Steamboat has an airport close by  https://www.goalpine.com/ so you don't need to rent a car,plus they almost always have the bigges base and their ski school is awsome for the kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Vail is huge and like sking in europe ( cutting lines and different languages) oh and $$$. Steamboat would be my pick

if you never been there and have a family and if theres alot of powder  http://www.steamboatpowdercats.com/

You cant go wrong with any place out west (except last winter)  :snowing:

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Had my last ski day of the winter this past Sunday at Killington.  It was good fun - Superstar was crazy with that many people on it.

The trail on lookers left was open and you had to slide across the mud in a few spots - fun the first few times at least.

 

The bar set up they have there is perfect for spring.

 

Ended this season at 30 ski days and over 300k vertical feet.  Only averaged 10-11k per day due to a huge number of half days (or less).  This was the first year I had a season pass anywhere and I enjoyed it greatly.

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Jackson hole is A basin on steroids great town too for the family. Grand targee is close buy but not as big.

Steamboat has an airport close by  https://www.goalpine.com/ so you don't need to rent a car,plus they almost always have the bigges base and their ski school is awsome for the kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Vail is huge and like sking in europe ( cutting lines and different languages) oh and $$$. Steamboat would be my pick

if you never been there and have a family and if theres alot of powder  http://www.steamboatpowdercats.com/

You cant go wrong with any place out west (except last winter)  :snowing:

 

Thanks for the response.

 

Yeah I was def thinking of Steamboat...esp if I do early season. They have good early season snowfall, so if I went in mid January or earlier, I might do them.

 

Vail is probably a bit out of the budget, lol. Plus, I don't like lift lines...they can crowd up on weekends. But I've heard their back bowls are amazing. It would be really awesome to try sometime.

 

Jackson Hole is pretty ridiculous...just awesome vertical. Another good one if I go early since they pile it up in November/December. Though the north face of Telluride is just extremely tempting....3100+ feet of vertical straight into town (the whole mountain has close to 4k...but just the north face alone is a straight 3100 drop right into downtown).....just awesome:

 

 

1_13_07_airtime.jpg

 

 

 

 

Telluride can be hit or miss though early on, so I'd probably only go there if it was February. Or, if there was early season dumpage.

 

 

 

Hopefully El Nino delievers out there this year. Colorado actually wasn't terrible this year...esp late in the season. It was more brutal out in Cali and the Cascades.

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Snowbird is unbelievable.  At the end of the first day your whole perspective has changed.  You look down crazy steep chutes and all you are thinking about is how to shred the heck out of it.

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I've always wanted to try Solitude or Snowbird

Never been to Solitude but have been to Snowbird.

First thing you notice is that the mountain is large and rugged and steep right down to the base.  It almost looks scary until you get your skis on that superior Utah snowpack.

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Never been to Solitude but have been to Snowbird.

First thing you notice is that the mountain is large and rugged and steep right down to the base.  It almost looks scary until you get your skis on that superior Utah snowpack.

 

 

"The best snow on earth" they claim in Utah. It would be really fun to ski one of those places after one of their 2 foot dumps. (and they get a lot of them)

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Never been to Solitude but have been to Snowbird.

First thing you notice is that the mountain is large and rugged and steep right down to the base.  It almost looks scary until you get your skis on that superior Utah snowpack.

 

Snowbird is the only place I've honestly been scared.  I was with some of my dad's friends (who are Killington pass holders) and we were exploring the mountain...I was back in high school and pretty cocky at the time.  Which is funny thinking about my skiing ability then and my ability now after 6 years of 130+ days per season, haha.  But we got sort of on the fringe of the resort and they don't mark much out there.  You may see a rouge "Cliff Zone" sign or something but for the most part, you figure it out on your own.  I remember we ended up somewhere which required a traverse over wind-swept roots and sharp rocks, with a full 100+ foot exposed fall below.  I think it took like an hour to get 4 of us through there, luckily with no issue. 

 

Snowbird is the real deal.  It almost makes Alta look tame.  I'm not sure what it is, but Snowbird is so "in your face" that when you are riding up the tram you are like, "where the hell do the mortals ski?"

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I've been to Alta, Snowbird, and Solitude several times...multiple years of trips as it is the most convenient western area.  My favorite trip was with my dad, we were only able to get out there for 4 days.  But SLC is so easy, you can leave after work on like a Wednesday, and be in SLC at like 10pm, and sleeping up at Alta prior to midnight.  We stayed at Goldminer's Daughter right at the base of Alta, and it started snowing the next day.  That first afternoon the lifts shut down due to thunder and lightning (in February) with 1-2" per hour graupel.  I've never seen anything like that.  Just puking dippin' dots which ski really, really smooth but the atmosphere must've been cleaning out 0.25-0.4" QPF every hour for like 3 hours straight. 

 

After like a half foot of graupel with thunder and lightning, the lifts re-opened for 90 minutes at the end of the day and that was some ridiculously good skiing.  That night the cold front or whatever came through and it snowed 2 feet.  I don't think I slept at all.  Just keep looking out the window into the Alta parking lot as it vomited snow.  The plows up there working the parking lot are like the size of houses.  Like those 20 foot tall Caterpillar trucks.  Then around 5am they issued an Interlodge which is the most commonly used marshal law in the United States, making it illegal to go outside while they are conducting avalanche control in the canyon.  After listening to bombs going off for 2-3 hours, it lifted at 8am and we could go skiing.  The road to the resort was closed due to avalanche debris, so everyone coming from SLC was out of luck at the moment. 

 

For the first 2 hours of the day, it was only like the 500 people staying up in the canyon for the entire resort.  I've never had a powder day like that before.  2 feet of overnight snow and empty chairs going up.  Best day of my life on skis.  Right place at the right time.

 

But Utah gets enough of those storms that stories like that aren't all that uncommon. 

 

My one complaint of Utah is if you are going with non-skiers or are looking for that "ski town vibe", its sort of lacking in that.  Its like visiting a major U.S. metro area that happens to have sick skiing right next to it.  So you don't get that like "rustic town in the Rockies" type feel of the Colorado mountain towns, or Jackson Hole.  You aren't watching herds of wild animals wandering the fields.  It really is a major metro area with huge mountains for suburbs.

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Sounds amazing and yeah, it must be common because we had an interlodge and thundersnow the one time I visited too.  The ensuing powder day was not at the level you're talking about though.  On the way out I almost got stuck there for another event, my airport transfer was basically the last vehicle down the road before it got closed for control work.  This trip I'm recalling was ~20 years ago now, and it stands as some of the best skiing ever for me.

 

Maybe the most memorable thing about Utah (from another later non-skiing trip) is the looks my future wife and I got going out with me wearing:

post-1816-0-87015500-1432227044_thumb.gi

with her in the tightest and shortest outfit she could find.  It was trolling before the internet.

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I've been to Steamboat twice and would really recommend that place.  The terrain isn't as rowdy as other places, but still plenty steep enough for 95% of the skiing public.  The tree skiing is unreal and they get some good NW flow upslope dumps...especially Dec/Jan are their big months.  I think it was January 1996 they received 216" during the month, which is obscene for Colorado.  Even the town stats show 111.6" at the Steamboat Springs station that month.  That's like Weymouth, Mass type snowfall, haha.

 

Steamboat has a really cool town though, and I remember a great free town shuttle and we never needed a car once we were there.  They have great snowmobile tours around that area of NW Colorado on the Divide, fun hot springs, and generally a lot to do outside skiing.  And it really feels like that postcard mountain town.

 

Southwest Colorado is incredible, too.  I've only done Durango for skiing, but have driven around Silverton and through a bunch of the mountain passes out that way like Red and Molass.  That topography is absolutely sick.  It was a little tough to get to, if you fly into Albuquerque, NM I think it was like a 4-5 hour drive from there to Durango, CO.  Snow out there is very elevation dependent, so even some of the mountain towns when I went in March were melting out, but there would be 10 feet of snow on the ground like 2,000ft higher.  Southwest Colorado is a whole different feel from the rest of the state.  The mountains are steep, sharp, cliffy with huge relief.  I bet Telluride and Crested Butte are awesome spots in March and would definitely want to hit them sometime.

 

I doubt I'd ever do another trip of I-70 in Colorado...that was far too crowded and just had a different feel from either NW in Steamboat or SW in the San Juans.  If you are going to do the skiing with easy access to a major metro area, go to the Wasatch in SLC.  Vail's back bowls are sweet, but they face south so the conditions were variable when I was there in March.  A-Basin was sick...kind of a small area, but was so high up there, you like park in the alpine, haha.  That's like a "little area that rocks".  What's funny though is that Beaver Creek I thought had the best expert skiing, and there aren't many experts there.  That was actually my favorite of A-Basin, Vail, Breck...just because you could find powder really easily in the trees.  Beaver Creek is the place that you ride escalators to the lifts and its all rich and famous....but once up on the mountain there was absolutely no one skiing the expert terrain.  Entire high speed lifts with 2,000 vertical feet of glades that were straight up empty.  Like creepy empty. 

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I've been to Alta, Snowbird, and Solitude several times...multiple years of trips as it is the most convenient western area.  My favorite trip was with my dad, we were only able to get out there for 4 days.  But SLC is so easy, you can leave after work on like a Wednesday, and be in SLC at like 10pm, and sleeping up at Alta prior to midnight.  We stayed at Goldminer's Daughter right at the base of Alta, and it started snowing the next day.  That first afternoon the lifts shut down due to thunder and lightning (in February) with 1-2" per hour graupel.  I've never seen anything like that.  Just puking dippin' dots which ski really, really smooth but the atmosphere must've been cleaning out 0.25-0.4" QPF every hour for like 3 hours straight. 

 

After like a half foot of graupel with thunder and lightning, the lifts re-opened for 90 minutes at the end of the day and that was some ridiculously good skiing.  That night the cold front or whatever came through and it snowed 2 feet.  I don't think I slept at all.  Just keep looking out the window into the Alta parking lot as it vomited snow.  The plows up there working the parking lot are like the size of houses.  Like those 20 foot tall Caterpillar trucks.  Then around 5am they issued an Interlodge which is the most commonly used marshal law in the United States, making it illegal to go outside while they are conducting avalanche control in the canyon.  After listening to bombs going off for 2-3 hours, it lifted at 8am and we could go skiing.  The road to the resort was closed due to avalanche debris, so everyone coming from SLC was out of luck at the moment. 

 

For the first 2 hours of the day, it was only like the 500 people staying up in the canyon for the entire resort.  I've never had a powder day like that before.  2 feet of overnight snow and empty chairs going up.  Best day of my life on skis.  Right place at the right time.

 

But Utah gets enough of those storms that stories like that aren't all that uncommon. 

 

My one complaint of Utah is if you are going with non-skiers or are looking for that "ski town vibe", its sort of lacking in that.  Its like visiting a major U.S. metro area that happens to have sick skiing right next to it.  So you don't get that like "rustic town in the Rockies" type feel of the Colorado mountain towns, or Jackson Hole.  You aren't watching herds of wild animals wandering the fields.  It really is a major metro area with huge mountains for suburbs.

 

 

That's friggin' awesome.

 

 

Your story isn't too dissimilar to my April 1993 story in Colorado except we didn't get quite as much snow....it was the first time I had ever skied deep powder. We were at Keystone (nowadays I would have loved to do A-Basin Pali lift after powder) and it was typical bluebird skiing the first day with temps in the 50s. Then at night, upper level low moves in and temps plummet and it starts ripping snow. Keystone is pretty high...like 9500 foot base elevation....so the temps were really cold when that storm moved in. We're talking around 20-23F....it was pure dumpage for the next 12-18 hours. Next morning had at least 14-18" fresh and we got another 6-8" during the day. Classic front range crush job in the spring.

 

 

One thing amazing about AltaBird is just how ridiculous the snow dumps are there and most of the time it is so light and fluffy. I was out in Tahoe one winter where we got 60-70" in 2 days, but it wasn't champagne for sure. I mean, the stuff wasn't wet either, it was just more like that 12 to 1 snow we see around here when the temps are like 24-25F. So it can get a bit dense when it starts to pile up that deep.

 

 

 

 

As for that ski town vibe, I'm definitely drawn to that. One reason I am thinking about Telluride...everyone talks about how cool that town is during the ski season. I've been there in summer actually...I was only 6 years old though, so I don't remember much. Jackson Hole and Steamboat are cool too...though Steamboat is definitely a bit bigger. But I've still heard it is a really fun town. I'm sure I'd love Aspen too, but it's mad expensive to stay there.

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I've been to Steamboat twice and would really recommend that place.  The terrain isn't as rowdy as other places, but still plenty steep enough for 95% of the skiing public.  The tree skiing is unreal and they get some good NW flow upslope dumps...especially Dec/Jan are their big months.  I think it was January 1996 they received 216" during the month, which is obscene for Colorado.  Even the town stats show 111.6" at the Steamboat Springs station that month.  That's like Weymouth, Mass type snowfall, haha.

 

Steamboat has a really cool town though, and I remember a great free town shuttle and we never needed a car once we were there.  They have great snowmobile tours around that area of NW Colorado on the Divide, fun hot springs, and generally a lot to do outside skiing.  And it really feels like that postcard mountain town.

 

Southwest Colorado is incredible, too.  I've only done Durango for skiing, but have driven around Silverton and through a bunch of the mountain passes out that way like Red and Molass.  That topography is absolutely sick.  It was a little tough to get to, if you fly into Albuquerque, NM I think it was like a 4-5 hour drive from there to Durango, CO.  Snow out there is very elevation dependent, so even some of the mountain towns when I went in March were melting out, but there would be 10 feet of snow on the ground like 2,000ft higher.  Southwest Colorado is a whole different feel from the rest of the state.  The mountains are steep, sharp, cliffy with huge relief.  I bet Telluride and Crested Butte are awesome spots in March and would definitely want to hit them sometime.

 

I doubt I'd ever do another trip of I-70 in Colorado...that was far too crowded and just had a different feel from either NW in Steamboat or SW in the San Juans.  If you are going to do the skiing with easy access to a major metro area, go to the Wasatch in SLC.  Vail's back bowls are sweet, but they face south so the conditions were variable when I was there in March.  A-Basin was sick...kind of a small area, but was so high up there, you like park in the alpine, haha.  That's like a "little area that rocks".  What's funny though is that Beaver Creek I thought had the best expert skiing, and there aren't many experts there.  That was actually my favorite of A-Basin, Vail, Breck...just because you could find powder really easily in the trees.  Beaver Creek is the place that you ride escalators to the lifts and its all rich and famous....but once up on the mountain there was absolutely no one skiing the expert terrain.  Entire high speed lifts with 2,000 vertical feet of glades that were straight up empty.  Like creepy empty. 

 

 

Haha, awesome...I was just mentioning how I heard Steamboat was a really cool town before you posted this. It's probably my top spot to take my dad if we end up going early season (like early January or something).

 

Funny you mention Beaver Creek being good for expert stuff...I was reading about it a few weeks ago on some forums and they all talked about the tree skiing there. Very unnderrated. Almost like a "known secret", haha. They said the same about Keystone....very underrated tree skiing even though the rest of Keystone has a rep of not being all that steep. They were raving about going to that place on powder days to find great stashes in the trees that don't get skied out within a few hours.

 

 

Talking about A-Basin, we skied there on that same April 1993 trip. Really fun and just an ungodly amount of snow up there with the elevation so high. It is no wonder they like to try and ski there until July 4th some years. I'd love to go back there sometime and ski the Pali lift in spring...something I wasn't able to do back in 1993 since I was not a skilled enough skier yet.

 

Crested Butte is one of those mountains I'd love to try with another expert skier. They have some absolutely filthy stuff that would probably scare the crap out of me. Another underrated resort for really great terrain is Taos, NM....I've heard really good things about that place.

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That's friggin' awesome.

 

 

Your story isn't too dissimilar to my April 1993 story in Colorado except we didn't get quite as much snow....it was the first time I had ever skied deep powder. We were at Keystone (nowadays I would have loved to do A-Basin Pali lift after powder) and it was typical bluebird skiing the first day with temps in the 50s. Then at night, upper level low moves in and temps plummet and it starts ripping snow. Keystone is pretty high...like 9500 foot base elevation....so the temps were really cold when that storm moved in. We're talking around 20-23F....it was pure dumpage for the next 12-18 hours. Next morning had at least 14-18" fresh and we got another 6-8" during the day. Classic front range crush job in the spring.

 

One thing amazing about AltaBird is just how ridiculous the snow dumps are there and most of the time it is so light and fluffy. I was out in Tahoe one winter where we got 60-70" in 2 days, but it wasn't champagne for sure. I mean, the stuff wasn't wet either, it was just more like that 12 to 1 snow we see around here when the temps are like 24-25F. So it can get a bit dense when it starts to pile up that deep.

 

 

As for that ski town vibe, I'm definitely drawn to that. One reason I am thinking about Telluride...everyone talks about how cool that town is during the ski season. I've been there in summer actually...I was only 6 years old though, so I don't remember much. Jackson Hole and Steamboat are cool too...though Steamboat is definitely a bit bigger. But I've still heard it is a really fun town. I'm sure I'd love Aspen too, but it's mad expensive to stay there.

 

Yeah for Alta and Snowbird they get the best mix of snow and liquid equiv to build base depths that you can find out west I think.  The topography lends itself to the front end QPF dumps, followed by NW flow CAA upslope on steroids coming off the Great Salt Lake.  They will still rack up like 35-50" of winter-time precipitation.

 

This winter was very dry, and they ended up with 27.98" for 323.5" of snowfall.  http://www.alta.com/conditions/snowfall-history

 

They can really get some solid QPF bombs of graupel and dense snow on the front side (but its not "wet"...its like dry dense, haha). 

 

Re: Ski towns... yeah Steamboat is bigger or at least continues to grow.  I did two trips with the fam about 10 years ago so not sure what's changed.  I think the benefit of the ski towns is if your wife is joining you and isn't skiing or something.  It gives the significant other something to do, shopping, walking around...and then it gives you two something to do once done skiing.  If you go stay up at like Alta or Snowbird, you are there to ski and then go to sleep unless you stay in SLC.  But to me staying in SLC isn't as fun because if you get hit with a storm, half the fun of a snow weenie is being there for the storm.  Watching it pour rain in SLC isn't as much fun when watching the SNOWTELs rack up 2-3" per hour up at the ski areas.  Colorado ski towns though have ski towns anywhere else beat I think.  In general, the mountain towns have that mix of quirky and upscale at the same time. 

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Best snow: Utah. never skied Snowbird but Alta multiple times in deep snow and it's awesome. Solitude is great...not dissimilar to a NE ski area. Concur with comments made about SLC though; however, the nice thing is dropping down to 3,500' at night which allows better recovery. If you are skiing 4-5 continuous days it helps. Just don't think you can beat waking up every morning and asking yourself which one of 8 world class ski areas within a 45 minute drive do you want to ski today?

JHole/Grand Targhee: JH might be the most continuously demanding skiing I've done...everything is steep. Again, lucky to be there a few years back with great snow. Targhee is really nice but terrain isn't as difficult, relatively. Stayed in Jackson which rolls up pretty early. I think the nite life is in and around the base of JH.

Telluride: Skied there two years ago - some really technical terrain which is only hike accessible and snow dependent. fun mountain but the face overlooking the town in the picture, get's sun baked in PM and then freezes up as lifts close. Plenty of great terrain even without the hike too stuff - 95% of ski area can't be seen in that picture and the town is really cool. good restaurants and everything is within walkable distance. you can fly into montrose which is about 75 minutes.

 

As my son documented here in 13-14 ski thread, we had planned to ski Telluride and Taos ago but it stopped snowing in N. NM after xmas so added an additional day at telluride and then went down and skied wolf creek for two. Wolf Creek is awesome -gets amazing snow sitting high up on the continental divide alone with no lodging within 25-30 minutes. We did the Albuquerque drive, it's a lot of driving but through some beautiful country. Taos is pretty special when they have snow.

 

My son and I ski from beginning to end of day, after 4 days at Telluride felt like we had skied the mountain. Places like JH, given the difficulty, I feel like you'd never get bored. Spent five days at Whistler - in the village - place is enormous and the terrain is challenging - you'd need to ski everyday for a season to hit everything.

 

PF - first day at whistler just below the blackcomb glacier, my son and I followed some folks into the sapphire bowl area in near white out conditions. I was bringing up rear and by the time I caught up with my son, he was standing on what we thought was the edge of a cliff...my stomach was in my throat as he slowly side stepped his way back up to me. realized later he was not quite as close as we thought but it was very, very scary as a father.

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My son and I ski from beginning to end of day, after 4 days at Telluride felt like we had skied the mountain. Places like JH, given the difficulty, I feel like you'd never get bored. Spent five days at Whistler - in the village - place is enormous and the terrain is challenging - you'd need to ski everyday for a season to hit everything.

 

PF - first day at whistler just below the blackcomb glacier, my son and I followed some folks into the sapphire bowl area in near white out conditions. I was bringing up rear and by the time I caught up with my son, he was standing on what we thought was the edge of a cliff...my stomach was in my throat as he slowly side stepped his way back up to me. realized later he was not quite as close as we thought but it was very, very scary as a father.

 

Yeah that stuff out west is the real deal, which is really part of the fun though.  Not knowing if some glades lead to some giant cliff zone or something.  Or even if you end up in some technical stuff that requires complete attention.

 

That's part of what I like about the Mansfield backcountry is the Kitchen Wall stuff is about 1,000 verts of cliffy trees. 

 

But speaking of Whistler-Blackcomb...in my opinion that is the best ski resort in North America and probably the world.  I have an affinity for well run resorts and that place was designed great.  For the size and scope of that place it runs like a well oiled machine.  The village was very well planned, as was the lift set-up.  I would love to sit in on one of their daily mountain operations meetings.  The scope of the operation there is hard to fathom from someone used to East Coast mountain operations.

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I'd love to ski Whistler but I'd probably wait for one of those nice cold first-year La Ninas to do it to really get the full experience. :lol:

But even their crappy years are pretty good.

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Agree, Whistler Blackcomb is awesome.  Great terrain, great walkable village with lodging and restaurants and entertainment all within a few hundred feet of the lifts, but the bottom of the mountain can get icy depending on the weather, which really isn't a big deal since you can always ski higher up where the snow is better.  Most Memorable runs:  coulior extreme, blowhole

 

I also really enjoyed skiing the Salt Lake City area (I've skied Alta, Snowbird, and Brighton).  I also echo some of the sentiments about Jackson Hole, unrelenting challenge from top to bottom, and Grand Targee is a nice side trip for a day for a more mellow but wide open skiing experience.  

 

I'll always have a soft spot for Steamboat, where I spent my first full winter on skis, being a ski bum washing dishes at Hazies which was the restaurant at the top of the gondola and skiing four days a week.  Truly awesome tree skiing.  Never really cared for the locals in town, but I will always remember seeing the Spin Doctors play an outrageous show in a small bar before they hit it big on the charts.  

 

Now a days I feel blessed to hit Berkshire East when the woods are open. 

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