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Colorado Road Trip Feb 2019 - Trip Report (on Page 3 of Thread). Now updated with 2020 plans.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
https://www.freshtrackstransportation.com/ski-shuttles/breckenridge-ski-shuttles/
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Nik wrote:
Dougy Giro Any idea if your guy would do a one way Vail to Breck? We're doing a week at each and after a good way to get between the two. Please send me his details if you think so. Other ideas welcome.

Thanks


Bustang to Frisco then Summit Stage?

Do CME not do point to points?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Nik, CME used to do that sort of trip, return or one way.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Nik wrote:
Dougy Giro Any idea if your guy would do a one way Vail to Breck? We're doing a week at each and after a good way to get between the two. Please send me his details if you think so. Other ideas welcome.

Thanks


Bustang to Frisco then Summit Stage?

Do CME not do point to points?


Sorry probably way too late now, but for that trip we have always managed to set up a new Lift / Uber account with a $20 free ride code taking the cost down to $40-45.
I have only once in 4 visits managed to coordinate the Breck - Vail ride with someone other than Lift/ Uber.
It’s so annoying that the resorts are so close but poor links due to being in different counties
ski holidays     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
There used to be a daily skiers bus from Breck to Vail. I think VR stopped it because they wanted to cut down on Breck riff raff at Vail.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Arrived in Downtown Denver last Sat and they'd had a very rare snowfall actually in the city the day before with around 15-20cm on the outskirts.

We spent the night in Denver and then caught the Winter Park Express train from Union Station T 07:00 and that was quite an experience on the Amtrak train as it made it's way up through the Canyons and tunnels and under the Continental Divide.

We were out on the hill with our Guide for the morning at 10:00 and he showed us around the hill.

We defo missed the most of the fresh and it was quite skied out, but still, some fabulous cold snow to be had, as the highest lift is 3,676m.

OH is out on an invitation and your's truly is tagging along and we are being looked after really well.

I'm quite staggered at the how good the piste skiing is, and it's a huge difference to France, where we hardly bother, especially at this time of year with the holiday hordes!

They seem to do everything bigger and more importantly better than France.

The potential slack/side country, inter-piste, trees is again staggering if there was powder to be had and there are just so many "runs" that are just massive mogul fields at the moment, though they do like their moguls anyway.

There is hardly any avy risk and no one anyone rides with security gear even in storms, any runs that might lead into dodgy territory are closed.

We did one of the big off piste routes yesterday, that by European standards was pretty tame, and I explained to our host the difference between the likes of La Grave and here and even any other European resort and he could quite not believe what we were able to do!

We leave for Steamboat tomorrow and the forecast looks promising, I'd be gutted, and would also be a tad ironic if I do not get to experience the Colorado Champagne powder as the potential here is just as they would say, "awesome".

That said I've really enjoyed my blasting around on the pistes, I even went for a narrower ski (Head Monster) at 89mm as the pistes are just so well groomed and so wide and at no time am I concerned at being taken out etc

And everyone is just so damn friendly, we've been joking how French resort Directors should come over and learn a thing or two, especially about queue management Laughing
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Once bitten!

Already got my flights booked for next Jan / Feb after going to Austria this winter.

Steamboat is good fun, and the Texans there love the Brits!
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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!
Quote:


There is hardly any avy risk and no one anyone rides with security gear even in storms, any runs that might lead into dodgy territory are closed.

We did one of the big off piste routes yesterday,



Just to be clear. There is virtually no avalanche risk within the ski area boundary as patrol controls it bombing, ski cutting,and closing areas when necessary. That goes for *everything* withing the boundary both on and off piste. The "slack country" you mention usually refers to anything outside the boundary that can be easily accessed from the resort (hence slack and not back-country). There is most certainly risk of avalanches there and you would be foolish to go there without avy gear.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@boarder2020, yes maybe the definition I used was not quite correct.

There was one gate our "resort guide" showed us that very clearly stated you were going out of the resort boundary, and how that terrain had not been controlled, and if you had an incident you'd be on your own, which raises a whole load more questions re insurance etc.

I have World Wide Cover with the CAF (sort of French Mountaineering Assoc), and I did ask prior to travel would I be covered for out of bounds as in France where rescue etc would be paid for, but I would not like to chance the risk if something did happen and insurance Co paying up.

We must have been into four of five shops yesterday, and two out of resort and none of them stocked any avi gear!

We're driving to Steamboat today so will be interesting to see what things are like there.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Quote:

We must have been into four of five shops yesterday, and two out of resort and none of them stocked any avi gear!

Well you should have asked before hand.

There’s a difference in terminology. Avi gears are sold at “outdoor/wilderness/back country” stores, of which there’re a few near Breck (Frisco to be precise). “Ski shops” don’t carry avi gears.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@abc, we brought our own!

It was just out of curiosity.

And we're now in Steamboat and there is only one shop here after asking around, again out of curiosity, that sells backcountry gear, and as you rightly say it is an “outdoor/wilderness/back country” store.

Just seems a completely different mindset here it would seem, and that's what I'm being told by our hosts.

Out with another guide* today so will again be interesting to hear her take on things.

*not a full-on UIAGM guide - just a local host/guide/instructor
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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.
The ski hosts are just there to show you around the resort. As you say they are not trained guides and may or may not have any idea about backcountry skiing. (Generally they are retired people that do a set number of paying days in exchange for a free season pass).

Yes it's a different mindset. For most there is no reason to go out of the boundary of the ski resort. If you can ski glades, steeps, cliffs etc. all in bounds and avalanche controlled why bother with the hassle of avy equipment and terrain. Of course many of us still like to go backcountry skiing, but usually only once everything is tracked out in the resort.
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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
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
It’s a different mindset because the “resorts” are set up differently than in the Alps.

As @boarder2020 pointed out, going out of resort boundary isn’t so much about the skiing, as you can ski the same terrain inside the boundary.

Going out of bound is largely for the solitude, to get away from the maddening crowd. And also to face the challenge of nature in the raw. Finding your own line (or “stash”) is part of the appeal of the game. So the concept of a professional mountain guide taking the responsibility away doesn’t quite fit in the picture.

True there’re now a growing demand from those who go out of bound strictly for the powder. But it’s still a tiny percentage. Most just don’t find the hassle of hiking and carrying avi & survival gear worth it. So instead of professional guide for simple out of bound (“side country”), the offering is growing in heli guide.
ski holidays     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@boarder2020, @abc, yes agree with all you say, as it's a very different type of ski experience.

Today was classic champagne powder, and being a Saturday and the first storm day on a Saturday in a long time was very very busy. In fact we were speaking to a guy who was going home today after three days of skiing and he could not find any accomodation tonight so he could stay on an extra day!

We had a First Tracks lift ticket so were in line at 07:45 and even then was quite a number in front. We lined up with the resort IT Ops manager who was in good form as it was his birthday and he was having a break from his one-year-old twins and it was a powder day!

He gave us advice on where to ski etc and I think I mentioned my OH is on an invite, so the person who we skied with on the first day, was one of their top ski school people, having done 18years here plus we've had dinner a few nights with various people so we've been fortunate to get a good handle on things.

They all said by 11:00 it would be well skied out!

Think it was our second chair that we were going up and all the to the left and right in the trees as well as under the chair was totally untracked so we asked the people sitting alongside us if we could ski there and they said "yes" no issues.

At the top skied down a little and then I traversed under a rope off into the snow and it was a superb line but a few people were hollering at me from the chair, I was then waiting for the OH on a trail that traversed the line when a ski patrol guy appeared and started to ask what we were doing, so with that just as the OH arrived we put our best English accents on and explained how we'd asked the people on the chair and we thought it was ok, plus we're guests of Steamboat so he then very nicely explained that the area we were in was not for First Tracks and would only open when the hordes started to come up which was only another 15mins or so, so he sort of showed us where he would not mind us skiing (turning a bit of a blind eye) as we carried on our way scoring more untracked to the lift below.

We then took the lift up and as we got off the patrol guides were taking the same rope down, so another great line was had Cool

Then for the rest of the morning was sniffing out stashes and going through various gates that Laura had shown us when we skied with her, as well as feeding the Jays which she had shown us, which was mildly amusing as many others had not seen this so we explained they only came down to an English accent Laughing

Every lift we took a whole conversation ensued as it does and is more or less expected it seems, in which we ended up explaining to the people sitting alongside where we were from, where we skied etc etc which pretty well blew them away when we told them that we spent all winter in the French Alps, and then depending on the type of skier I often steered the conversation round to backcountry and then they would ask about Europe etc

I have to say the lift management of queues was superb and the French could really learn a lesson or two, but there again they have more lift staff at the lifts for that purpose and that's reflected in the cost of a lift pass at nigh on $200 per day.

At no time at all was I stressed standing in line and it was almost an enjoyable experience watching how it worked so smoothly.

By Noon it was getting very chopped up so we called it a day stopping off at a superb Bar and restaurant, the TBar.

Hopefully, snow is due to continue all night and tomorrow, so Monday could be great.

Have to say back home seems we are some of the oldest Geezonaires on the hill, here would seem most are in the 50-60's and we've met a fair number in the 70's !





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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We have just arrived home after our Colorado adventure. The following trip report is lengthy but I had to find something to occupy myself on the overnight transatlantic flight... wink

Things started off badly a week or so before we left home, when Mrs B started to feel unwell with a sore throat and a cold. Then things got worse, as she also developed a chesty cough and was waking daily with gummed up eyes... Sad

The night before the trip an email from KLM invited me to check in online. However, when I tried to do so I was redirected to the Delta website - but was unable to check in or add luggage. We therefore decided to get to the airport for an early check in.

Fast forward to our day of departure - and Mrs B was feeling rather unwell, with sore skin added to the mix. Sad A 4am arrival at the airport didnt help.

All went smoothly at check in. I advised the check in agent that I had tried to check in online and add baggage - but hadn't been able to do so. Although we were expecting to pay (£60 each) to check in 2 ski bags, we were not asked to pay anything. Result! Very Happy

We booked with KLM, and flew with them to Amsterdam, but then flew with Delta on the second leg of the trip to Minneapolis. What a great flight! Excellent service, good food and a great selection of in-flight films. I watched the Hangover for the first time and thought it was one of the funniest films I've ever seen. Very Happy

We eventually landed in Denver at 15.30. The good news was that one of our (double) ski bags arrived. The bad news was that the other double bag didn't arrive - despite us collecting both bags at Minneapolis, clearing immigration and then putting them on the baggage trolley for the Denver flight. When we reported it we were assured that the missing bag would be delivered to our hotel later that evening. Hmmm. We'd heard that one before... rolling eyes

We took our skinny skis for the groomers and bumps; and our fatties for Silverton (and other powder?)

It was 17.30 by we left the airport and pulled away in our rental car - a Ford Focus with all season tyres - and the roads were snow free, so all was good.

We arrived at our hotel in Georgetown by 19.00 and were tired and hungry, so went straight out for food at Coopers restaurant, opposite the hotel. Burgers and fries for two, and a couple of pints, were a bargain $35. Great food too!

We crashed out for an early night, though I was wide awake at 5am through a combination of jetlag and excitement! Unfortunately the same couldn't be said of Mrs B, who slept until 8. When she awoke she felt rough but was keen to get some fresh air and ski a couple of runs. After a leisurely breakfast we discovered that our ski bag had indeed been delivered to reception overnight! What a pleasant surprise!

Then we drove 20 minutes (passing a herd of bighorn sheep on the hard shoulder - great to see) to Loveland ski area, which had great snow (packed powder on piste) and sunshine - but was very windy at the top. We had a leisurely few hours there, though Mrs B managed only half a dozen runs (with rests and coffees in between). She was, however, keen to ski Patrol Bowl at the top of the highest chair (which we did last year), in preparation for the steeps of Silverton the following week. It was a great run on grippy, soft snow and I measured the gradient (with my pocket slope-measurer) at 43 degrees. We were heartened by that, given that the flattest run at Silverton is 36 degrees...

We slept at Georgetown again that night.

Day two took us to Arapahoe Basin, via Loveland Pass - which was a stunning 35 minute drive in the sun. Another late start for us meant a noon arrival, while Mrs B took it easy again. We did another 6 runs, including the exciting Pallavicini (double black diamond), which had great, soft snow and big bumps (and was measured at 44 degrees at the top - though it flattened out to 36 degrees lower down). Again, lots of rests and relaxing in the sun was the order of the day for Mrs B. The bad news was that she was wiped out by the skiing, had to pause a lot on runs and felt really weak throughout the day.

After skiing, we drove to Glenwood Springs - to a lovely motel recommended by Mountainaddict. It was a pleasant 1 hour 45 minute drive, with great scenery - particularly through Glenwood Canyon, which was stunning. The driving over there was effortless - quiet roads, cruise control and Bob is your proverbial uncle. The only downside was that we had to entertain ourselves with US radio and very little in the way of decent music, though we did find lots of country music and lots of music on the God channels... A particular favourite was the song along the lines of, "Huntin' and fishin'. I love them every day. I'm so glad the Lord made me this way." Very Happy Very Happy

On Day 3 we drove to Sunlight Mountain (30 minutes away) to use the lift tickets that we'd ordered online (at $49pp). Mrs B was, unfortunately, showing no signs of improvement in her health and it was snowing heavily when we arrived (at noon again). However, it was a very pleasant drive and it was great to be at a small, local ski area, despite Mrs B's incapacity. By the time we'd got our boots on and walked the 3 minutes to the ticket office (through a deserted car park) the sun was shining. It's a great little set up, but a throwback to bygone days with only 3 slow lifts. However, the slow pace suited us and the snow conditions were excellent. Soft snow and pockets of powder on piste kept us occupied and we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sun at the summit. After lunch we tackled a bump run in the trees that I measured at 48 degrees. It was fantastic! Steep, exciting and no one else in sight.

That night we hit the road again for the one hour drive to Parachute. "One horse town" would be an understatemt, though our hotel was excellent - even giving us a complimentary drink from the bar on arrival Very Happy My enthusiasm was dampened somewhat, however, by the draft offering of a pint of Bud Light... Undoubtedly the worst beer I've ever had Sad (and I'm not fussy).

Things took a turn for the better when we spotted (and visited) a Mexican restaurant opposite the hotel. Lovely chicken Burritos (at $10 pp) hit the spot, washed down with (very palatable) $5 Mexican (bottled) beer.

Day 4 - and (still waking up by 5 am..) it was on to Powderhorn resort, a 45 minute drive away. We went for the latest possible checkout after another leisurely breakfast. What a drive! Stunning desert scenery on deserted roads - a geologist's dream (where my "O Level" came in handy wink) with almost unreal, sedimentary rock formations and buttes. We stopped for lots of photos and a picnic lunch in the middle of nowhere. Hopefully I can post some photos later...

We arrived at Powderhorn at 1.45 and bought $44 pp 2pm (2 hour) lift tickets. Cheaper than Xscape and what a place! Skiing on the side of the world's biggest mesa, overlooking the desert and the distant butte formations. Wow!

Powderhorn has only 2 (1000 ft vertical) lifts - one slow and one detachable quad. We stuck with the fast lift and (Mrs B having picked up slightly in health...) got in 8 non-stop, top to bottom runs. We had the place to ourselves and the snow was fantastic. Skiing in the trees on powdery bump runs with stunning views was just amazing! And the high speed empty groomers were fantastic!

We were the only car in the car park when we left Very Happy Just as were about to pull away a pickup/camper pulled in and we we recognised the driver as one of the lift attendants. We had a chat and he asked where we were skiing the following day. When I told him we were on a Colorado road trip and were driving to Silverton he asked if we knew the road. When I said I didn't, he helpfully told me that we would be travelling on the most dangerous road in Colorado (Red Mountain Pass at 11,000 feet), with a thousand foot drop and no crash barriers. Then he showed us a photo of the road on his phone, pointed out that snow was forecast and explained that we would be on the exposed side of the road ("just the white line then the drop")... Suffice to say we were horrified, not least as the rental car had only all weather tyres Shocked (Have a look at Red Mountain Pass/Million Dollar Highway in Google images and you will see what I mean). Shocked

Then there was the small matter of needing fuel. The car was showing 60 miles left in the tank and I was advised earlier that the nearest "gas station" on our route was 35 miles away. No sweat...

We set off after skiing to head for our hotel at Delta, about 65 miles away - but with fuel available before then at Cedar Edge, 35 miles away. The road from Powderhorn was via a steep mountain pass. Though there was a few feet of snow ploughed and stacked up at the sides the mountain road was snow free. Happy days.

Alarmingly, on the 10 mile (or so) climb the petrol gauge plummeted - to the extent that by the time we reached the pass the gauge was showing only 10 miles left in the tank, with the fuel station at Cedar Edge being 15 miles away. No problem, I thought, as I could freewheel downhill from the pass and boost the fuel economy wink.

Things did not go according to plan, however, as my freewheeling downhill did nothing for the fuel economy. We continued in the diminishing light in the middle of nowhere, descending into a darkened valley with no sign of civilisation. No sign of any distant twinkling lights of villages - only darkness. As the fuel gauge reading hit 5 miles my heart sank and I was beginning to concern myself with formulating a contingency plan for a cold winter's night in the middle of nowhere... Then, without warning, we reached the edge of civilisation. First, a building. Then another. And finally the beginnings of urbanisation at Cedar Edge - and a fuel station! And a whopping 3 miles left in the tank... wink

Our motel in Delta was a welcome sight later, though I had a sleepless night after googling Red Mountain Pass and reading the online comments; and learning about the road deaths there over the years - including one or two snowplough drivers:(

I even resorted to YouTube and found video footage of the entire route between Ouray and Silverton (ie the dodgy, exposed bit).I managed to convince myself that, in parts, it didn't look that bad - though I still had a restless night feeling like a condemned man on his last night. However, the following morning, as the forecast was for snow after 4pm and, as the alternative route to Silverton (which also involved a mountain pass - but less severe, by all accounts) meant a 5 hour drive (instead of two) we decided to go for it and drive, after breakfast, via Red Mountain Pass and the Million Dollar Highway.

The following morning we stopped in Ouray (a lovely Victorian town in a beautiful location), an hour south of Delta, at the foot of Red Mountain Pass to enquire (at the tourist office) about driving conditions and were advised that the road was clear and we should be ok if we took our time - so off we went. Onward and upward! The road was indeed snow free and I was pleasantly surprised by the 12 mile climb (and the 25mph speed limit). It was no worse than the climb to Val Thorens (admittedly without crash barriers) and the views were fantastic. Mrs B later told me that the views from the passenger side (over the edge) were rather disconcerting, however, with only the white line then the abyss. Luckily for me, I didn't feel that level of exposure. Still, I was pleased we did the drive in daylight (as recommended earlier on Snowheads Very Happy).

The 12 mile drive down the other side of the pass was a doddle - again with great views - and we arrived in Silverton just after 1pm. What a lovely town! Victorian buildings on a lovely main street, several bars, restaurants and coffee shops - and a grocery store opposite our motel. And not forgetting the 2 breweries with restaurants! Very Happy

We sampled one of the breweries (Avalanche) and it was small and friendly with a great atmosphere. Though we could only get seats at the bar we had a great night - sampling the pizzas (for $12 pp) and the local brews at $6 a pint. One of their beers was a dark lager (Eier Geier Dunkel) and it was absolutely gorgeous! One of the best pints I've ever had. And their blonde beer was a close second.

We got talking to the owner, who was really pleasant, raved about the Silverton skiing and told us we would have a fantastic time, as there was a 3 day storm on the way. He also said the forecast was for heavier than normal (ie more moisture laden and therefore less light and fluffy) snow... Confused

The following morning Mrs B was still under the weather, so was unsure as to whether or not she could manage the hiking from the lift and the steep skiing. However, she decided to give it a go, so off we drove. 6 miles from town up an ascending snow covered road, which was (surprisingly) ok on our crappy tyres. The bonus was that there was no real exposure, although it would have been possible to leave the road on a few bends and put the car in "the creek." However, the speed limit was 25mph and it was a pleasant, steady drive up. Very scenic and away from it all.

Silverton base area is rather quaint. We had read that it is a no frills operation and that was confirmed by the fact that there is no base lodge and no running water. However, they do have portaloos and a large tent that doubles as a check in point and warming hut - later becoming the apres bar! And not forgetting that the rental kit is given out from the back of an old bus Very Happy

We booked our avalanche rental kit in September (including ABS rucksacks) but got to the rental bus only to be told that they had ran out of ABS packs. They told us not to worry as we could "have one tomorrow..." However, Mrs B was having none of it and said we weren't prepared to ski without one; and they soon changed their tune, saying that someone would drive to the town to get us ABS packs.

The bad news was that they said we would need to miss a run while they went to pick up the packs Sad I was gutted - but Mrs B less so, as she was still unwell.

We then attended a fairly lengthy safety briefing, in which the avalanche risk was clearly spelled out. In essence, there had been a lot of fresh snow and the avy risk was about as high as it gets. We both wondered what the hell we were doing there - then signed a form to say we'd understood the safety briefing. (We had already signed a waiver when we checked in at the tent).

The guides allocated us to groups (of 8 max), based on hiking speed and skiing speed. Bearing in mind that each run involves a 1600 feet chairlift ride to 13,500 feet, followed by a hike of up to 40 minutes (and a climb of up to 1000 feet), we opted for a slow hiking and slow skiing group. Silverton has no pisted runs and the "flattest" run is 36 degrees (I understand that the average black run in resorts is 30 degrees).

We waved our group (of 6 others) and guide off up the chair and by the time they returned to the base of the chair, 75 minutes later, we were in possession of ABS rucksacks.

We headed off up the chair and, after Mrs B explained her incapacity, the guide announced that we would be undertaking only a 5 minute hike at the top Very Happy. Though we enjoy mountain hiking Mrs B struggled on the short hike. Her heart was racing, she was short of breath and was only able to walk very slowly.

Following the hike we assembled in murky, flat light at what felt like a precarious, exposed point above a run called Waterfall, with a mix of anticipation, apprehension and excitement. The guide had already explained that we would be following backcountry protocol and skiing each run one at a time to mitigate the effect of any avalanche. So off he went, a few hundred yards down the run into the murk. We then awaited his signal (that we could barely see, due to the fog) and skied one at a time down to him at a "safe point." The run was steep but wide open - and the snow was untracked, with 8 inches or so of fresh - albeit quite dense, in flat light with just enough definition to follow the guide's tracks. It was exhilarating! We were advised to stay close to the tracks on the right as the left side of the run had cliffs leading to a waterfall - hence the name of the run. Then we all regrouped in trees, where the run became narrow and steep. The trees were only 8 -10 feet apart and I measured the gradient at 48 degrees, at which point the guide advised the group to "ski the fall line." We all looked at each other in disbelief - and took it in turns to side slip... The gradient eased after a short distance but the run remained rather challenging (due to the density of the trees) for a while, before opening out into a more manageable width, without trees.

On reaching the bottom of the run we then had a steep 5 minute hike out, before reaching a run out to a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. From there the Silverton (old, school) bus took us back to base. Mrs B was really tired by then and dropped the bombshell that she hadn't enjoyed the run (particularly the survival experience in the trees) and was calling it a day at Silverton. Despite the fact we'd booked four days she had had her first and last Silverton run...

I suggested that she sat out a run then had a rethink. After a 25 minute lunch break Mrs B sat in the sun with a coffee while I went off with the group for run number two of the day. Of course Mrs B missed an incredible run - fresh tracks and lighter snow, all the way down an open powder field and following only a 10 minute hike. Although it was another steep run I was unable to measure the gradient as I managed to snap my slope measurer in my pocket while skiing.

When I got back to base and described the run Mrs B spoke to the guide about his plans; then (slightly revived) decided to give it another go - this time after another 5 minute hike to a run called Cabin. The light improved and we had fresh tracks on a wide open, steep, powder run before dropping into a narrow, steep gully. Wow! We both loved it! Although I thought we'd acclimatised to the altitude by we reached Silverton (the town is at 2800m), at times the gradients and snow conditions had my heart pumping out of my chest, while gasping for air with burning quads. Though we are fit, it was evident that I had to stop far more often during runs in Silverton than would be the case in France.

By then we had time for 1 more run. Mrs B was very tired, so called it a day, while I decided to go with the group for the final run of the day. The lift closes at 3pm and we had 8 minutes in hand. Much to my surprise, all others in the group said they were exhausted and decided to call it a day - leaving only me and the guide for the final run. And what a run it was! The lift
attendant (from the top station of the chair) joined us and acted as a tail guide, so I had 2 guides to myself for yet another exhilarating, untracked powder run!

Our second day at Silverton (after 24 hours of snow) brought more of the same (including a repeat, scary safety briefing) and our group got in another 4 runs - this time including a 40 minute hike from the top of the chair in punishing winds and temperatures of minus 25C with windchill. The hiking was gruelling but the views made up for it - simply stunning! And then there was the skiing - dropping into steep runs in 12 inches of untracked freshies! Mrs B sat out the longer hikes and got in 2 runs out of the four, involving only short hikes. That day the group voted against a lunch break but in favour of eating between runs, on the hoof, or on the chairlift. Life in the fast lane! The day's group included 2 very pleasant lads from London.

Silverton Day 3 saw Mrs B feeling exhausted, under the weather and deciding to take a day off, while I headed off up the road in a whiteout and strong winds. Fortunately the weather cleared at the base area - just in time for my third safety briefing. One of my group (from the day before) said he was envious of Mrs B having a day off, as he was done in from the previous 2 days skiing! Again we managed 4 runs and some lengthy hikes (again eating on the hoof). My highlight was being first down (after the guide) a variation on Cabin. It was almost indescribable. We emerged from trees, then the entry to the run was over a steep convex drop that meant we couldn't see the actual run. Skiing over the top of the convex bit and dropping into the run in untracked powder felt like a rollercoaster and almost took my breath away! It was simply fantastic! Very Happy

Unfortunately Mrs B had missed a brilliant day on the mountain but, nevertheless, had an enjoyable day in the town watching skijoring racing - skiers being dragged on a rope behind a galloping horse while negotiating jumps and a slalom course through a street in town. She loved it and I wish I could have seen it.

Day 4 at Silverton (after yet another safety briefing) saw Mrs B make her comeback. She did 3 runs (out of 4) and we got more great skiing, and fresh tracks, on runs like Tiger 5, Cabin and Riff. Tiger gully was particularly interesting as a number of different runs feed into it, so it ended up as a fantastic powder bump run. Great fun!

The base tent was great for an apres beer and the atmosphere was excellent. Draft pints for $7 were decent value. We cannot speak highly enough of the guides or other staff. The safety outlook was exceptional and all staff were extremely friendly and helpful - from lift attendants, to car park attendants, to bus drivers to bar staff.

On our final night there we ate out at a very atmospheric restaurant - The Pickle Barrel - and had another great burger. It was a bargain at $11 and draft beer was $6 a pint. We are not usually burger eaters but we've found those in the US to be very meaty and very nice...

Silverton was cut off while we were there, with mountain passes to the north and south closed by snow. We were concerned at the prospect of driving back over Red Mountain Pass 24 hours after it had been closed but Silverton lift attendants advised us that the road maintenance there is exceptional, with much ploughing and gritting, and that the road should be clear. On that basis we took a flyer after skiing and headed off up the pass before darkness, although it was a shame not to sample the apres tent on our final night. All went well, the road was completely free of snow and we were able to enjoy another stunning drive.

Overall, we were very impressed with Silverton. Altough we didn't have light, fluffy champagne powder (we had lighter powder in Val Thorens in December and January rolling eyes ) we nevertheless enjoyed a great back country skiing experience. All other guests in our group were great - very patient and happy to take their turn to go first (or last), after the guide. We would definitely ski there again and think the $179 per day (for lift ticket and guide) represents a great deal. We didn't however make use of the heli, which was offering single runs at an additional cost of $179 pp. Some of our group gave in to temptation - and paid for 3 heli runs to save the hiking!

We encountered all types of snow - from challenging, windblown, breakable crust (at the top of a couple of runs) to powder, to chopped up crud - all great experience.

We would most definitely recommend the Silverton experience and would love to go back. The London lads in our group combined Silverton with nearby Telluride, so that, or Crested Butte, could be an idea for another time.

After our final Silverton ski day we spent the night in Ouray, spotted 4 deer at close quarters in the main street and had a fantastic Thai meal ($13 mains, including rice - big portions!). We then drove 25 minutes the following day (after a short hike to a frozen waterfall and beautiful narrow canyon - Box Canyon) to Montrose and visited the Ute Indian tribe museum there. It was a very moving experience. The tribe had lived in Colorado for thousands of years before being driven out by the US government...

Then it was a four and a half hour drive to our AirBnB in Silverthorne, for 6 days skiing in the Vail resorts (free with our 3 Valleys season passes - when Vail is now charging $209 for a day ticket! Shocked )

We generally had great snow in the Vail resorts - but no legendary Colorado powder (yet again in resort. Excluding Silverton, that's about 4 days real powder we've now had out of about 60 days in Colorado over the years..) We skied Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone and the daily temperatures were torture. Minus 30C with windchill nearly finished us off, despite the great skiing. Riding the lifts was really tough, although we particularly enjoyed the glades at Keystone and made repeat runs (over 2 days) on the bumps of Wolverine, Cat Dancer, Badger, Timberwolf and Bushwhacker. Wolverine might just be our favourite run anywhere - with endless moguls in nicely spaced trees and the place to ourselves! If only Europe had tree runs like the USA...

Though it was generally quiet, weekends were a lot busier on the slopes and we encountered the odd chairlift queue. As others have mentioned above, the queue management in the USA is second to none and staff ensure that queues are well managed - groups of 4 or 6, feeding into alternate lines, no pushing or shoving or trampling on others skis and every chair 100% full. Our longest wait was 7 minutes on three or four occasions and at really busy times we used the less popular singles line to reach the front of the queue a lot quicker.

Sadly, Europe has a long way to go to improve the queuing experience...

From our base in Silverthorne, Beaver Creek was the longest drive (at 50 minutes on a good run). Vail was 40 minutes away, Breckenridge and Keystone 20 minutes and A-Basin 25). Paid parking (of up to $25) was available at all resorts but alternative free parking was available at all, with a free shuttle bus to the lifts.

Beaver Creek and Vail are very much at one end of the skiing spectrum - with Silverton at the other. Silverton has portaloos and a tent, while Beaver Creek has chefs appearing on the slopes at 3pm (in full chef regalia - big white hats and all) carrying silver trays piled high with hot cookies that are free to guests. Not bad if you are paying $209 for a lift pass! And the multi million dollar mansions on the slopes there have to be seen to be believed.

Half way through our week at Vail resorts Mrs B began to shake off her illness and to feel like herself, so the last 3 days of the trip saw us get in a lot more skiing. We finished the trip where we started, at Loveland, and had exceptional conditions of packed powder, top to bottom - the best of the trip in fact. The steep bump runs there were fantastic, with beautiful soft, grippy snow.

That evening, I checked us in online for our return flights and Delta allowed me to add 2 check-in ski bags for free. Another pleasant surprise!

On the mountain we picnicked each day and took flasks of coffee with us, particularly as Vail resorts have really turned the screw on pricing on the mountain. We saw $13 hot dogs, $12 pizza slices (whole, large pizza $40), $28 burger and fries and $7 coffees. It made the 3 Valleys look cheap!

Our motels ranged from £45 to £70 per night (for 2) and most included a decent continental breakfast, with 2 of them offering a cooked option. All rooms were great, very generously sized with extremely comfy beds and it was great to park at the door. On a number of nights we cooked in the room, using the microwave facility (after visiting the local liquor store wink)

All in all it was a fantastic trip - enhanced by the road trip element and the diverse scenery. Mind, some of the towns out in the sticks were eye openers, with trailer parks akin to shanty towns. Duelling banjos anyone? Puzzled
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Bergmeister, great trip, shame about the Mrs but sounds like she fought through!

Little vid from yesterday showing our strategy, ski real close to the in / out bound ropes Cool


http://youtube.com/v/SO2-dBza9mk
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Bergmeister, Great report. Glad you enjoyed Silverton. It's a unique experience and not for everyone. I am in Vail today. 26 inches in the last 48 hours, and yesterday afternoon was virtually unskiable due to visibility (or lack), so today should be fantastic. Lifts open in 45 minutes!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
mr. mike,

Thank you. I hope you have a great day in Vail. The snow sounds amazing.

One of our most miserable days of the trip was at Vail 10 days ago. The skiing was great (particularly in Blue Sky Basin) but the lift ride to get there was unbearable. Extreme cold and wind on that exposed chair up the ridge Sad.

I know what you mean about the visibility in Vail. We had a couple of runs in the back bowls there and it was simply an endurance test. No piste/trail markers in fog, combined with crusty sun baked snow on black runs, made things rather challenging.. Confused
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@Bergmeister, great report. Shame Mrs B was under the weather. Silverton sounded knee tremblingly great-not sure I could manage the combined effect of the steep pitches and avalanche risk!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Perty,

Thanks. Silverton was a great experience and we'd love to go back. Before we went we anticipated being at the top of runs wondering what the hell we were doing there. However, I think the good snow condtions helped, (and a good choice of runs by the guides most certainly did), and we (surprisingly but pleasingly) felt comfortable when we were there. The only time we were concerned was hearing the daily safety briefing - which never failed to be sobering. I suppose that's the whole point of it though... However, the guides were reassuringly fantastic!
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@Bergmeister, cracking report. Thanks! I hope Mrs B perks up soon.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Well, it all sounded OK I suppose.... wink

(Great report! Very Happy )
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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!
@Bergmeister, sounds like a great trip. I have to say though having read some of the lift ticket prices in conjunction with the 20-25% tipping culture it might have put me off my US plans and tipped me back over to Canada for next season.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@Bergmeister Those lads from London sound great Laughing . Funny we didn’t mention SH when at Silverton - who knew we’d used your thread as a source for planning...

Great write up - glad you both enjoyed your week after, that Mrs B felt better and that you managed to roll that Focus over Red Mountain pass again!
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
@Bergmeister, I was interested in your comments about driving over Red Mountain Pass, I've done that in both summer and winter, and it is a bit hairy to say the least. Here's its current status (closed indefinitely till the 10 to 30ft depth of avalanche snow covering the road is cleared).... Shocked

https://durangoherald.com/articles/266288
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
clearvision,

Ha ha! What a small world! Is that "Rope"? Puzzled ("in-joke" - to be explained later...)
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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.
It seems that Colorado is currently experiencing unprecedented numbers of avalanches blocking highways: https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/multiple-cars-buried-trapped-in-avalanche-on-highway-91-near-leadville?fbclid=IwAR0VbbkbfPmcOYP9gaFNjxe2osSxoTJvIfjtnEddofFbWaMyXs3t4eWDeGw Shocked
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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 are here at the moment. I70 was closed due to a natural avalanche sending 6ft of debris into the central reservation. Cars were buried, but no one hurt AFAIK. Then triggered slides and clean up kept the highway closed until 7pm last night. It’s been chaotic for people heading out of Denver.

People say there hasn’t been this sort of avalanche danger ever known before??!

Very deep snow on all the ski hills-lots and lots of avalanche warnings. Interesting.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Despite the dismal state of the £ we've taken the plunge and booked to revisit Silverton next year! Very Happy

We will be following a very similar itinerary to that of last year, but instead of spending a week in Silverthorne we will be spending 3 nights in West Vail (AirBnB) and 4 nights in Dillon.

And again we will be using our 3Vs season passes for 6 days free skiing in Vail resorts. wink

In summary, we:-
- Fly to Denver and hire a car, then spend:-
- 2 days skiing at Loveland (one when we arrive and one at the end of the trip);
- 1 day each at A-Basin, Powderhorn and Sunlight;
- 3 or 4 days at Silverton;
- 6 days at Vail Resorts (with 2 days at Keystone, 1 day at
Breckenridge and 3 days split between Vail and Beaver Creek);
We then
- Drop the car at Denver Airport, before flying to Las Vegas for 3
nights and flying home from there.

We aren't gamblers - other than putting pennies in one arm bandits - but really enjoy Las Vegas. We may go to a show there, after seeing "O" by Cirque du Soleil when we were last there 8 years ago.

Are there any other Cirque shows snowHead snowHead would recommend?

We may also hire a car for a day to visit one of the nearby parks and do some hiking.

Can't wait! Very Happy


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Fri 27-09-19 23:24; edited 1 time in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Used to Ski at Siverston before they put the lift in .... Shocked
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Heading out to the US with a friend this season. 3 months Jan through to March. Armed with an IKON and EPIC season pass and a truck camper. Love this thread, thanks @Bergmeister,! SO EXCITED!

Managed to bag direct return BA flights with luggage to Los Angeles (cheapest place for the truck camper van) for £380 Neutral Definitely looking at a pit stop to Silverton. Itinerary isn't set yet, but we'd like to try kite boarding and splitboarding abandoned ski resorts...

If anyone's in the US this winter and fancies meeting up give us a shout Smile

Monitoring a US forum for useful info too.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
stanton wrote:
Used to Ski at Siverston before they put the lift in .... Shocked


I've not skied there. Only Silverton. wink
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
LittleBullet,

The truck camper sounds good.

Is it is as big & chunky as it sounds? Puzzled

3 months sounds brilliant. Have you skied in the USA before? Puzzled

Remember to let us know when you have an itinerary. wink
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@Bergmeister, haha well it's certainly no nissan micra, chose it because of the price and I think it stands half a chance of handling some snow. All the others were either tiny or way to big and I read somewhere that truck campers are the camper of choice for ski bums in the US.

https://www.truckcampermagazine.com/truck-campers/
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Bergmeister, I did a season in Canada many years ago, but never skied the US.

We're already giddy with excitement, sent your Silverton trip report to my travel buddy and told him "we are doing this!"

Yes definitely will post trip itinerary & reports.
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@LittleBullet,
Wow. Sounds awesome.
If you don’t mind me asking how much was the truck camper to rent? Also have you scoped out where you can park it overnight? Are there plenty of RV parks near the ski hills?
Does the camper have a toilet and shower?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
LittleBullet,

Those campers look great! What a brill idea! That's the same type of vehicle that the Powderhorn lift attendant (mentioned in my report above) was using. He was spending the season in it, in Powderhorn's carpark, and said he loved it.

I would recommend that carpark as an overnight stop with a view. It's stunning! Very Happy

We have a Citroen Berlingo mini camper and love it. I'm sure you will have a great time and, no doubt, have some adventures to report to us. I'm looking forward to hearing about it.
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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!
@sbooker, camper rental was £3.8k for 3months. I'm going halves with my travel buddy which softens the blow. I did extensive research into buying a banger and in the end figured it only makes sense for longer trips (but then you need to apply for a visa). The trip isn't cheap, but we're both looking at it as once in a lifetime and now's our last chance (no kids etc).

As @Bergmeister, said, carparks. I read somewhere there's a whole subculture of carpark ski bums with BBQs and carpark parties. And one snowhead kindly pm'd me saying he stayed in Walmart carparks and used gym showers. RV parks exist but can be expensive so we'll limit that. We're also going to try couch surfing and ski forums to see if we can trade beers in exchange for parking on someone's drive and meeting some locals Smile.

Yes it has shower and toilet, but it's winterised so we're going to get creative. More on that during the trip.

Thanks @Bergmeister, I've added that to my 'places' word document. Does your 3V ski pass give you access to any other resorts? On your point of awful the currency exchange, have you got a Revolute (or Monzo) account? While it won't strengthen the £ you can save yourself some money on charges and rates using them.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Is the camper winterized?
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LittleBullet,

Our 3V's season pass gives us 6 free days in Vail Resorts, so we will be using that in the 2 Summit County resorts (Keystone & Breckenridge), plus Vail and Beaver Creek.

We've already bought Arapahoe Basin and Sunlight day-tickets at a discount (via Liftopia website), at $50 & $55 respectively. A bit of a bargain me thinks. wink

We will also be buying a Loveland "4-Pak", which is 4 (shareable) day tickets for $169 - an even bigger bargain! It's a great, compact, ski area with some very steep stuff and (each time we've been ie 4 days so far) great snow.

We don't have either of the accounts you mention but charge everything to our Halifax Clarity Mastercard. That gives top exchange rates (usually 3 or 4% higher than the best exchange rates on the high street) and doesn't charge a foreign exchange fee wink.

Do you have a rough outline itinerary in mind? Or are you still working on it?

Either way it sounds like it's going to be a fantastic trip and a great adventure! It's no wonder you are already excited!

I've just looked at the resorts covered by the Ikon pass. Wow! That alone would keep you entertained for the season (never mind 3 months). Then when you add in the Epic Pass... Gulp! Shocked It's not a bad conundrum to have though! wink

Will you be only snowboarding (ie not skiing, as you mentioned split boarding)? If you are skiing I would say that you MUST visit Alta, which is covered by the Ikon pass. However, it still doesn't allow snowboarding. It's one of the best places we've ever been! Very Happy
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