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Booked!! Snowmass/Aspen

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
- 10 nights away at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb. for our first trip to Aspen after previous Colorado trips where we stayed in Breckenridge and Winter Park. While at those we also skied Vail and Keystone.
- Flying into Grand Junction.
- Staying at Wildwood Hotel, Snowmass (room only).
- At least 6 days skiibg at Aspen - but likely to ski at Sunlight Mountain (we love to try new areas - including locals' ski hills) on our first day as it's en route from Grand Junction.
- May also go mountain biking at Fruita or Moab - though have heard that the trails can be closed if they get too wet in winter...

Any Aspen hints, tips, suggestions - including food and drink? Does the bus to Aspen from Snowmass run on an evening?

Cheers!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Last time I was there the ski bus stopped quite early 5 pm ? Taxi from Aspen to Snowmass about $40 4 people.

Make sure you ski Highlands at least once. It is where the locals go.
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Quote:

Make sure you ski Highlands at least once. It is where the locals go.


and hike the bowl wink

Go see Aron - if he's still there.
On Snowmass, ski the back side, lots more terrain there than it appears on the trail map wink

Long time since we were last there - 2006 - but considering it as part of a trip for next year.
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Thanks both Smile
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Snowmass has some great skiing if you now where to go. Personally I prefer staying in Aspen. first time I went out there was 1985.
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Finally this Aussie can have some educated input. (Sucking info on Euro skiing from Snowheads).

You'll have a ball at Aspen. Snowmass is a great place to stay. We stayed at the well positioned but certainly 'not flash' Wildwood and loved it. There's good dining options in Snowmass but an evening or two in Aspen is a must. The bus runs until at least 10pm.

Skiing wise Highlands is great (hike the bowl) and Buttermilk is great on a powder day as only the ski schools go there. Snowmass has many many great long blue cruisers along with some challenging stuff.

You will love the no crowds aspect of Snowmass. We did not que once over Christmas/New Years last year.

I would love your thoughts as a comparison to Europe when you return. If Europe is as good as North America for a skiing holiday I'll be in heaven (considering I'll be able to combine it with interesting history stuff which you don't really get in USA and Canada).

Have a great time.
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mountainaddict wrote:

- but likely to ski at Sunlight Mountain (we love to try new areas - including locals' ski hills) on our first day as it's en route from Grand Junction.
Cheers!


Do it. I had more fun at Sunlight v Snowmass
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@mountainaddict, yes, the bus runs late, and usually right on schedule. You'll definitely want to spend most evenings in Aspen. Snowmass sort of tends to roll up the sidewalks around 5 pm. Aspen is one of my favorite towns in North America. Consider on one of your Aspen ski days taking regular shoes and finding somewhere to store your boots and gear so that you can apres there and then return to Snowmass for a quiet dinner.
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Highland is my favorite, definitely hike if you have skills. Snowmass is massive, lots of good terrain, go through the gates. I don't particularly like ajax, find alot of double fall lines, and if they have world cup event they make some of the busier runs super icy for the racers. Town wise, nothing really going on in snowmass, aspen more interesting. The distance between the 2 is fairly decent. Shuttle service is fine, but u may need to wait for the bus and its cold after dinner. We did a yurt dinner, which was nice, if not a little hokey. Make reservations for dinner in Aspen, popular places get busy depending what week in season u go.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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Thanks all for the info so far - it's greatly appreciated. Good news re the bus running into the evening - and a great tip re taking a present ski footwear. (May take dancing shoes too!) <<<Edit: APRES SKI Footwear!! I love predictive toast Laughing

Looking forward to Sunlight Mtn too!

Quote:
Personally I prefer staying in Aspen. first time I went out there was 1985.
We might have too - but found the accommodation costs prohibitive. We've booked a hotel room in Snowmass for 'only' £120 a night - vs £200 to £700 a night in Aspen proper...

Should be good though. Really looking forward to it as we haven't skied the US for years as Canada has been so much better value. Have bitten the bullet as Aspen's on our bucket list.

sbooker What do you want to know?? Mrs MA and I have skied loads of European and Nth American (both Canada & US) resorts (as been skiing nearly 30 years) - not to mention Sth America and Oz. I'm sure that other Snowheads will also be more than happy to advise too!

Europe and Nth America are completely different - both have pros and cons but both are equally enjoyable. Fire away if any questions!


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Sat 23-09-17 12:21; edited 1 time in total
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mountainaddict,

"and a great tip re taking a present ski footwear.[b]"

I'm sure Stanley Unwin couldn't agree more! Toofy Grin
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
mountainaddict wrote:
Thanks all for the info so far - it's greatly appreciated. Good news re the bus running into the evening - and a great tip re taking a present ski footwear. (May take dancing shoes too!)

Looking forward to Sunlight Mtn too!

Quote:
Personally I prefer staying in Aspen. first time I went out there was 1985.
We might have too - but found the accommodation costs prohibitive. We've booked a hotel room in Snowmass for 'only' £120 a night - vs £200 to £700 a night in Aspen proper...

Should be good though. Really looking forward to it as we haven't skied the US for years as Canada has been so much better value. Have bitten the bullet as Aspen's on our bucket list.

sbooker What do you want to know?? Mrs MA and I have skied loads of European and Nth American (both Canada & US) resorts (as been skiing nearly 30 years) - not to mention Sth America and Oz. I'm sure that other Snowheads will also be more than happy to advise too!

Europe and Nth America are completely different - both have pros and cons but both are equally enjoyable. Fire away if any questions!


I'm curious about the extent of the European mega resorts with Miles and miles of pistes. The largest hill I've been to is Whistler/Blackcomb. How does somewhere like 3 Valleys or Espace Killy compare. Do they feel larger and by what degree?
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
We've been to Whistler. It is indeed big and feels big. So us Europeans don't ski somewhere like that and think it's small. However, like with all Nth American areas, you don't get a sense of travelling about like you do in the mega European areas, where you can ski to different villages.

And the other big difference is the number of lifts - which can run into hundreds in Europe. It always amazes us that only four or five lifts can serve so much terrain in places like Fernie. There's an area in Scotland with 40km of piste... & 20 lifts!
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You know it makes sense.
sbooker wrote:
... The largest hill I've been to is Whistler/Blackcomb. How does somewhere like 3 Valleys or Espace Killy compare. Do they feel larger and by what degree?
Yes, the massive European areas are and feel much larger:
  • the 3 Valleys have about 180 lifts.
  • Whistler/ Blackcomb has about 20 lifts, although as stated they make more use of them, and there's not the same on piste/ off piste split you get in Europe.
You need to be careful about precisely what's compared with all these things. You can add up "piste length" with various algorithms and they're not all helpful. Similarly measuring "skiable area". Take a look at the areas on google maps and set the scale to be the same and you can get a better feel for what you get.

Whistler is a good place for people more used to large European resorts to start.
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@mountainaddict, I went to Aspen/Snowmass in 2000 when I was an Intermediate/Advanced (could carve a bit but not much else) and loved it. Thought Snowmass a much more rounded ski area than Ajax with something for everyone. Highlands was good too and had the best (European style) après - big hut at the base with live music and happy hour beer. Would love to go back now I'm good enough to do the back bowls.

Check the lift pass prices! I seem to recall that buying your lift pass a long time in advance was waay cheaper than just turning up.

Definitely preferred Aspen/Snowmass to Whistler, apart from having to take a bus between hills.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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sbooker wrote:
I'm curious about the extent of the European mega resorts with Miles and miles of pistes. The largest hill I've been to is Whistler/Blackcomb. How does somewhere like 3 Valleys or Espace Killy compare. Do they feel larger and by what degree?

For the 3V's, I reckon there's about the same amount of skiing on either of the Courchevel or Belleville (Val Thorens) lift passes as there is in Whistler/Blackcomb. Overall, around 3 times the size. Completely different experience though. Snow is more like North American East coast than Colorado Rockies and BC. Off piste size is probably similar but gets tracked out much quicker in 3V's due to the sheer volume of people. 3-4 years ago I guided a bunch of Aussies around Courchevel/Meribel for a day and they told me they'd done more skiing on that one day than they'd do in a week in Oz. They were done by 3pm.

I was at Whistler before the new lift linking the hills but in general I would say the 3V lift system is more advanced. In peak periods, it really helps if you know the 3V area inside out if you want to get around quickly and avoid the queues. The queues are fast moving though, even at the worst times. It's very rare to take more than 10 mins to get on a lift - I've waited far longer than that at off peak times in many other places. The rest of the time, the lift system is magnificent. I've skied many weeks at both EK and Paradiski also and I think the 3V lift system is much better laid out and easier to navigate.

Although spring is great in the 3V's (if you can ski slush), I would say the absolute best time to go is last week of January, first week of February to get the best balance of no queues, good snow, reasonable weather. Second week of Feb has the major lifts open half an hour later until 5pm and is also perfect if it doesn't coincide with French school holidays. I love the place but if money were no object, I'd live in Colorado, in Snowmass.
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@mountainaddict, Aspen is brilliant, so much going on, a Utopia where everyone appears to be millionaires except the Mexican servants but food etc. is not over expensive. Alternate skiing the different areas. Check with your hosts, you may be able to get a deal on you lift pass linked to your accommodation.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:
Check with your hosts, you may be able to get a deal on you lift pass linked to your accommodation.
We'll certainly check that out Lechbob.

Thanks again to all Smile - really looking forward to the trip.
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Can't add anything on skiing as we were there in September last year, but we had really good fun. We found a bar doing karaoke which was interesting...
We ate in a Mexican called Su Casa - it was mediocre.
We stayed in a placed called Mountain Chalet Aspen - it was pretty basic but super location, parking underground, heated outdoor pool and hot tub, close to the buses and nowhere near the price of the bigger hotels.

I could definitely retire to Aspen. Loved it.
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@mountainaddict, some bar and restaurant recommendations, as others have said the skiing is great and not busy, we lunch late and when we came out everyone had gone home Very Happy
Snowmass, New Belgium Ranger Station, small bar with innovative storage for your ski bits,great place to stop at the end of the day.
Aspen, J bar at the Jerome, even though it's a hotel bar it's quite seperate, nice and helpful staff especially when choosing a craft beer.
Ajax Tavern, they say they do après but not really
Hickory House, barbecue and reasonably priced, book
Mezzaluna OK Italia, we weren't wowed but it was ok
Jimmy's steak can be pricy
Acquolina, great Italian, try the Colorado lamb, can be mid range or expensive depends on what you choose, book
On the mountain, Bonnies is a good place to stop, it's not the big cafeteria style place
Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, the is the American view of a french mountain restaurant, not quite you actually get decent service, can be pricey though depends on what you eat, but worth stopping outside for the view, book
The was a place with gingham curtains that was very average on the main drag in Aspen can't remember what it's called, but did American food.

The busses run late well into the night
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Thanks again to all - all very helpful.

Updated position is that we've decided to knock the possibility of Fruita mtn biking, as part of the ski trip, on the head - we will go back and do that in warmer weather when trail conditions are more reliable.

That leaves us with 10 days' skiing. Currently looking like:

- First day at Sunlight Mtn after driving from hotel at Grand Junction (we arrive there at 23.30 the previous night).
- 6 days at Aspen (staying at Snowmass).
- 2 days at Copper Mtn or Beaver Creek (staying at Glenwood Springs and/or possibly Silverthorne).
- After a night at Parachute (yes, a real town name!) final ski at Powderhorn before 40 min drive back to Gd Junction for late pm flight home.

Has anyone done the Aspen cat skiing? No price shown on the website - so guessing we should fear the worst! Also, the, website says a gondola ride is needed to access the cat skiing...?? So you pay twice then?? ie about £90 for a day's skiing (as part of a 6 day pass) and then pay for the cat skiing on top as well Confused ??
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mountainaddict, You might get away, with purchasing a sightseeing ticket, to just ride the gondola up @ $35. But worth checking with them. I cant believe they would charge you a full day pass to get up there.

I know other areas sell a 1 ride ticket for back country skiers etc. to save them the hike up to the gates.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@mountainaddict, I'm assuming that your are thinking off the Aspen Highlands bowl? when we where they you took the lift to the top and them kicked or got a tow from the snow cat. https://www.aspensnowmass.com/~/media/aspensnowmass/trail-maps/2015_aspen_highlands_sm.ashx
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mountainaddict,

Best to start saving now for Beaver Creek.... When we were there last year they were charging $175 for a day ticket!

Mind, they do have chefs (in full chef regalia) appearing at the foot of the slopes at 3pm, on a daily basis, with trayfulls of free (warm) cookies! wink They might help to remove the bitter taste of the lift ticket prices...

If you don't fancy a full day you could always buy a half day ticket for $120 Toofy Grin

Whilst Beaver Creek is fantastic you would be driving past Vail to get there & it would be better to do a day at each of those. Blue Sky Basin at Vail, and Vail in general, is fantastic & not to be missed. If you can't get cheap lift tickets for either you might be better adding A-Basin or Loveland to your list, as both offer far cheaper lift tickets.
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radar wrote:
@mountainaddict, I'm assuming that your are thinking off the Aspen Highlands bowl? when we where they you took the lift to the top and them kicked or got a tow from the snow cat. https://www.aspensnowmass.com/~/media/aspensnowmass/trail-maps/2015_aspen_highlands_sm.ashx


Think the cat skiing is on the back side of Aspen Mountain, not Highlands - but the bowl is fun and worth doing if conditions are good.
Looking at the website, I'd guess the gondola ride up to the cat will be free as its before the start of daily operations.
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Quote:
I think the cat skiing is on the back side of Aspen Mountain, not Highlands
That's right radar/Bones - it's seemingly an entirely separate set up:

https://www.aspensnowmass.com/plan-your-stay/winter-activities/aspen-powder-tours
I think I'll email them to find out:
a. The cost of the catskiing.
b. What happens about accessing the gondola - especially as (depending on whether we book the catskiing, subject to cost...) that will affect how many days we book an Aspen lift ticket for - as they're a fair bit cheaper in advance.
Quote:
Best to start saving now for Beaver Creek....Blue Sky Basin at Vail, and Vail in general....A-Basin or Loveland....far cheaper lift tickets....
Ta. Hmm....All options are on the table at the moment...Choices....Choices!! wink
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Update re the catskiing: According to this link (From a tour company? Not Aspen ski area?), the gondola ride is included in the catskiing rate - of £365/day:
http://www.powderhounds.com/USA/Cat-Skiing/Aspen-Cat-Skiing.aspx
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