2020 location tactics.

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2020 location tactics.

Postby jelly » Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:45 pm

With this upcoming season, and chances of possible limitations on lift tickets and also definitely limits on persons per chair, what is everyone thinking in terms of getting the most out of the less efficient logistics in terms of lift and resort capacity.
If you were a solo or possibly 2 skiers going mid week...Would you lean towards a resort with tons of lift capacity and speed but higher skier and family potential.... or a low density , low profile, smaller local place with slow and fewer lifts.
It’d hard to tell is the season will be very busy as is just bc of the limitations and I would guess it will knock out a lot of family trips, but I could argue that people are nuts to get out and do something and that in turn will make the slopes busier.
What say you?
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:40 pm

I think the safest bet is low density, low profile, remote areas with small local population bases. For these places, "normal" density is well below possible COVID-19 limits.

The high profile places will have capacity limits below "business as usual" levels. Window tickets may not be available at all and day tickets will probably be advance purchase. But if you have a season pass at an area with no advance reservation requirements you may be just fine.

jelly wrote: I could argue that people are nuts to get out and do something and that in turn will make the slopes busier.

This scenario is most likely IMHO at areas within daytrip distance of larger population centers, and maybe some of the weekend drive distance places too. I certainly noticed busy mountain trailheads in SoCal in the spring and beaches popular in both SoCal and Florida since then.

My guess is that business will be slower at ski areas that require air travel to reach.

New Zealand's ski areas were unexpectedly busy during the 2020 winter because the country was safe for internal travel but Kiwis couldn't take winter tropical vacations to Fiji, etc. or any overseas destination. The same may have been true for the New South Wales areas in Australia, where advance reservations got booked quickly. Melbourne had an early winter COVID outbreak that shut down all the Victoria ski areas.
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby jnelly » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:12 pm

That all makes sense, now just gotta find small remote places with a hi speed lifts and it’s a winner !! ( def not essential but a nice bonus )
Lift layout prob more essential anyway, that said, thru your (or anyone else) extensive travels and research, do you have any opinions on which smaller low profile place has lift layouts that stand out to you in terms of efficiency and terrain coverage ?
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:11 pm

Those kind of places rarely have high speed lifts. But lifts are efficient if they climb terrain at a relatively steep pitch of 3-1 length to vertical or so. I have a list of "best uncrowded areas" with interesting terrain, above average snow or both.

Three of the best are unfortunately in Canada and thus likely off-limits to Americans in 2020-21:
Castle Mt. and Red Mt. are both excellent examples of fairly steep mountains that don't need high speed lifts. I can easily get over 25K in a 6 hour ski day. Apex Alpine's top to bottom lift of 1,900 vertical is high speed.
Montana
Lost Trail is not efficient at all but it gets a lot of snow and is only open 4 days a week, so a good bet for powder.
Discovery has no high speed lifts, but the best terrain on its north facing backside is steep enough for the lifts to be efficient.
Wyoming
Grand Targhee's top to bottom lift is high speed. I'm surprised to put it on a list like this but the numbers don't lie. Skier visits relative to ski acreage are low and my own visits agree in terms of both lack of lift lines and low skier density. Targhee is joining the Mountain Collective this year, which could have an impact but unlikely vs. the effect of areas joining Epic or Ikon.
Idaho
Silver Mt. is served by an access gondola right off I-90. But skier visits are low and locals swear by how quiet it is. The lifts are not high speed but it's a decent sized area with above average snow and north facing.
Brundage is very isolated from anywhere but 2 hours from Boise, where it gets some weekenders, but it's deserted midweek. Most of its vertical is served by a high speed lift. Above average snow with well spaced trees.
Colorado
Sunlight has interesting terrain, mostly north facing but no high speed lifts. It's very quiet because it's down the road from Aspen and an easy 1+ hour interstate drive to Vail.
Wolf Creek is extremely isolated, very high and north facing and has an excellent though volatile snow record. There's one high speed lift serving intermediate terrain. The expansive Alberta area is not efficient at all but that helps preserve powder. Wolf Creek is very busy Christmas and Texas spring break but otherwise quiet.
Utah
Powder Mt. has above average snow and sprawling terrain. It is not efficient, so powder is usually degraded by sun or wind before it can be tracked out.

Solitude used to be on this list, but not any more since it allows unlimited days to Ikon passholders.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby tseeb » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:28 pm

What about the Beav replacing Solitude in UT? http://www.skithebeav.com/ I skied there once in mid-70s as friend was going to University in Logan, 30 miles away. Their main lift is 1600' vertical and steeper than 3-1. Full price lift tickets are $50. They are also on the Indy Pass along with a lot of others listed above including Apex, Castle, Discovery, Lost Trail and Silver Mountain.
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:38 pm

I have never skied Beaver Mt. I was not under the impression that its terrain was that interesting. Farther north is Pebble Creek in Idaho, which per admin has excellent terrain but is snow challenged.
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby jnelly » Tue Oct 20, 2020 9:54 am

Speaking fo Brundage and the Boise area... I never see much about Tamarack; and since Brundage is definitely in the mix for this conversation, has anyone ever been there? They also appear to fit the bill for some of these conditions..small, remote, good snow and a few express chairs of all things. Seems like it would play a nice and close #2 for a 4-5 day trip.
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:21 pm

If I return to Brundage, I will surely check out Tamarack. When Tamarack was bankrupt the Wildwood lift was repossessed by lenders and removed in 2012. But apparently it has been restored.

The 2010 NASJA annual meeting was scheduled for Tamarack, but it was closed by the bankruptcy receiver in March 2009 and was never open in 2009-10. Ski Idaho persuaded Sun Valley to host that meeting, and before it I attended a pretrip to Brundage and Bogus Basin.

I drove to that week in Idaho and so had to stop by Tamarack and check out the March 2010 ghost town.
IMG_5969.JPG

IMG_5971.JPG

IMG_5974.JPG


The word from Idaho locals in 2010 was that Tamarack suffered because Bogus is much more convenient and Brundage, only slightly farther than Tamarack, has the most reliable snow in the region.
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby sierra_cement » Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:05 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Those kind of places rarely have high speed lifts. But lifts are efficient if they climb terrain at a relatively steep pitch of 3-1 length to vertical or so. I have a list of "best uncrowded areas" with interesting terrain, above average snow or both.

Three of the best are unfortunately in Canada and thus likely off-limits to Americans in 2020-21:
Castle Mt. and Red Mt. are both excellent examples of fairly steep mountains that don't need high speed lifts. I can easily get over 25K in a 6 hour ski day. Apex Alpine's top to bottom lift of 1,900 vertical is high speed.
Montana
Lost Trail is not efficient at all but it gets a lot of snow and is only open 4 days a week, so a good bet for powder.
Discovery has no high speed lifts, but the best terrain on its north facing backside is steep enough for the lifts to be efficient.
Wyoming
Grand Targhee's top to bottom lift is high speed. I'm surprised to put it on a list like this but the numbers don't lie. Skier visits relative to ski acreage are low and my own visits agree in terms of both lack of lift lines and low skier density. Targhee is joining the Mountain Collective this year, which could have an impact but unlikely vs. the effect of areas joining Epic or Ikon.
Idaho
Silver Mt. is served by an access gondola right off I-90. But skier visits are low and locals swear by how quiet it is. The lifts are not high speed but it's a decent sized area with above average snow and north facing.
Brundage is very isolated from anywhere but 2 hours from Boise, where it gets some weekenders, but it's deserted midweek. Most of its vertical is served by a high speed lift. Above average snow with well spaced trees.
Colorado
Sunlight has interesting terrain, mostly north facing but no high speed lifts. It's very quiet because it's down the road from Aspen and an easy 1+ hour interstate drive to Vail.
Wolf Creek is extremely isolated, very high and north facing and has an excellent though volatile snow record. There's one high speed lift serving intermediate terrain. The expansive Alberta area is not efficient at all but that helps preserve powder. Wolf Creek is very busy Christmas and Texas spring break but otherwise quiet.
Utah
Powder Mt. has above average snow and sprawling terrain. It is not efficient, so powder is usually degraded by sun or wind before it can be tracked out.

Solitude used to be on this list, but not any more since it allows unlimited days to Ikon passholders.


Thanks for this list Tony.

I was planning a trip to Grand Targhee for December but they have cancelled lessons for kids < 6 years old. Tubing hill will be closed as well. So now I have to decide where we should go from Nov 30 to Dec 26. We don't want to ski after Dec 26th as there will be more people. I'm watching open snow to see which location will open early.
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:48 pm

sierra_cement wrote:but they have cancelled lessons for kids < 6 years old.

You had better ask about that anywhere you are considering, as we know instruction is going to be cut back severely in 2020-21. Mammoth, for example, is not offering group lessons at all. You can have a "private group" if you form the group out of your known travel party.

There are lots of small under the radar places. I put fairly demanding criteria of snow/"interesting" terrain to compile that short list by personal observation. Many of those places are not beginner friendly, as that's somewhat the inverse of "interesting terrain."

There are exceptions. Discovery has an ideal balance of terrain at all levels, including an 800 vertical beginner chair that I did not ride. But your toughest filter in 2020-21 is going to be those children's lessons.

In the Mammoth Webinar Tuesday, someone asked about their excellent children's program. The response was related to the school programs Mammoth has for the eastern Sierra communities. Mammoth wants to maintain that commitment, but felt the biggest impediment would be the bus transportation normally provided by the school districts.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby Sbooker » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:40 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Those kind of places rarely have high speed lifts. But lifts are efficient if they climb terrain at a relatively steep pitch of 3-1 length to vertical or so. I have a list of "best uncrowded areas" with interesting terrain, above average snow or both.

Three of the best are unfortunately in Canada and thus likely off-limits to Americans in 2020-21:
Castle Mt. and Red Mt. are both excellent examples of fairly steep mountains that don't need high speed lifts. I can easily get over 25K in a 6 hour ski day. Apex Alpine's top to bottom lift of 1,900 vertical is high speed.
Montana
Lost Trail is not efficient at all but it gets a lot of snow and is only open 4 days a week, so a good bet for powder.
Discovery has no high speed lifts, but the best terrain on its north facing backside is steep enough for the lifts to be efficient.
Wyoming
Grand Targhee's top to bottom lift is high speed. I'm surprised to put it on a list like this but the numbers don't lie. Skier visits relative to ski acreage are low and my own visits agree in terms of both lack of lift lines and low skier density. Targhee is joining the Mountain Collective this year, which could have an impact but unlikely vs. the effect of areas joining Epic or Ikon.
Idaho
Silver Mt. is served by an access gondola right off I-90. But skier visits are low and locals swear by how quiet it is. The lifts are not high speed but it's a decent sized area with above average snow and north facing.
Brundage is very isolated from anywhere but 2 hours from Boise, where it gets some weekenders, but it's deserted midweek. Most of its vertical is served by a high speed lift. Above average snow with well spaced trees.
Colorado
Sunlight has interesting terrain, mostly north facing but no high speed lifts. It's very quiet because it's down the road from Aspen and an easy 1+ hour interstate drive to Vail.
Wolf Creek is extremely isolated, very high and north facing and has an excellent though volatile snow record. There's one high speed lift serving intermediate terrain. The expansive Alberta area is not efficient at all but that helps preserve powder. Wolf Creek is very busy Christmas and Texas spring break but otherwise quiet.
Utah
Powder Mt. has above average snow and sprawling terrain. It is not efficient, so powder is usually degraded by sun or wind before it can be tracked out.

Solitude used to be on this list, but not any more since it allows unlimited days to Ikon passholders.

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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:14 pm

I got a free Indy Pass from NASJA for 2020-21. Liz will probably get the Loveland Pass.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby sierra_cement » Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:31 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
sierra_cement wrote:but they have cancelled lessons for kids < 6 years old.

You had better ask about that anywhere you are considering, as we know instruction is going to be cut back severely in 2020-21. Mammoth, for example, is not offering group lessons at all. You can have a "private group" if you form the group out of your known travel party.

There are lots of small under the radar places. I put fairly demanding criteria of snow/"interesting" terrain to compile that short list by personal observation. Many of those places are not beginner friendly, as that's somewhat the inverse of "interesting terrain."

There are exceptions. Discovery has an ideal balance of terrain at all levels, including an 800 vertical beginner chair that I did not ride. But your toughest filter in 2020-21 is going to be those children's lessons.


I will look into places that will offer lessons. We don't know if school will be remote in January so we cannot plan a January trip. A lot of options for January. But for December I only felt comfortable buying a pass for Targhee.

Brundage website says:
Ski & Ride School – This season, the Ski & Ride school will offer private lessons only. Individuals (or family members in a combined private lesson) will meet their instructors on the snow. Kids Club and Day Care will not be offered this season. Additional information coming soon.


I might not be able to do any family ski trips this season if more resorts do this.
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby snowave » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:30 pm

I have lived near McCall for over a year now, and have a season pass to both Brundage and Tamarack. Both are fun areas that provide a different experience. Tamarack has more vert and steeper terrain overall, but snow quality/quantity is usually not as good as Brundage. Crowds by most people's standards are very low at both, although Brundage does get busier on weekends/holidays.. and Tamarack had its best year to date last year (Ive never been there on a weekend, but I would doubt there's ever much of a liftline even then).

Tamarack got bought again a couple years ago, and they are really making an effort to improve the experience. The village construction that stalled for over a decade is just about finished, and they have taken down some of the domes that served as restaurants, etc.

The Wildwood HSQ chair was indeed reinstalled last year, and opens up more (mostly off piste) terrain on the north end of the resort.

Regarding the crowds at both ski areas, I am a little concerned about the upcoming winter. McCall had one of its busiest summers on record this year and there are some thinking that may carry over to the winter with regional skier visits increasing from places like OR and WA state (as well as Boise, obviously) thanks to the Covid mindset of us being "safe/in the middle of nowhere". I don't expect huge crowds, but the biggest concern is bringing increased cases to the local towns, like most ski areas. If that begins to happen, restrictions will likely begin.

Currently, neither ski area is planning on limiting lift tickets, but there will be more outside based facilities at Brundage, and they are also going to operate their triple chair (normally only open on weekends) 7 day a week to help keep people more spaced out. Of course, it was already mentioned that ski skool will see some changes.

If anyone plans to come here, let me know and I'd be happy to show you around.. that's assuming my knee is ok. I'm having meniscus issues, and might need another surgery. Will know more on that this coming Friday, when I have an appt with Ortho.
Sno..
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Re: 2020 location tactics.

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Oct 27, 2020 6:24 pm

snowave wrote:Covid mindset of us being "safe/in the middle of nowhere"

That mindset is obsolete this month if you look at the top ten states in new cases per M population for the first half of October.
1 North Dakota 9,688
2 South Dakota 7,942
3 Montana 6,154
4 Wisconsin 5,415
5 Utah 4,441
6 Nebraska 4,149
7 Iowa 4,007
8 Idaho 3,865
9 Missouri 3,567
10 Wyoming 3,473

The L.A. Times had a feature article about COVID-19 in Whitefish this week. I still like the "middle of nowhere" areas for 2020-21 in terms of low skier density and no reservation requirements. But at this point COVID precautions indoors should be no different than in California or Florida.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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