Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

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Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby BernardP » Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:34 am

Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

I' m looking into spending a week in Snowmass Village next March 3 to 10. I wonder if this is loo late for true winter conditions. As of now, I think I will be skiing mostly Snowmass, with a day each at Aspen and Highlands.

Aspen is very expensive and I am not enthusiastic about going there to face spring thaw and refreeze conditions.

I have looked on the web for historical weather info, but all I can find are data for Aspen Airport, which show much too warm temperatures.

I would also appreciate comments about crowds and liftlines at this time of the year. Two years ago, I went to Whistler in late February, and crowding was simply unacceptable.
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby tseeb » Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:24 am

Crowds at Aspen? Even during Christmas, President's Weekend and Easter, Aspen is known for the least crowding issues of big CO areas within reasonable driving distance of Denver. This is mostly due to the distance from Denver compared to so many other areas and maybe a little from cost of skiing and lodging, unless you have Mountain Collective and somewhere reasonable to stay.

Weather is what happens and impossible to predict for a specific date 5 1/2 months out. But there is a lot of high-altitude N-facing at three of the four Aspen ski areas so unless it is unusually warm, you should not have spring conditions up high. The lower, mostly flatter parts of Snowmass could be more in Spring conditions and you may want to spend more time at other Aspen areas depending on skiing ability. You could have new snow as CO gets a lot of it between March and May.

I only have one day at Snowmass after March 1 and it was deep new snow. See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=6705 There is a lot of information in 4-page thread at viewtopic.php?f=3&t=9577 - especially Tony Crocker's comments at the bottom of second page that include "In March/April I think skiing at Aspen is better than Vail most of the time. Aspen's mostly north facing steeps are at max coverage and Vail's Back Bowls are more sun sensitive. Only on the biggest powder days would Vail be better in spring."
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby BernardP » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:06 pm

Thanks tseeb for the comments and links, which I read in full. I liked to read comments about Snowmass vs Vail, as I went to Vail 3 years ago and can relate.
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby tseeb » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:36 pm

Did you get through all the comments on my post from 3/31/08?

Especially these:

ChrisC said "I have a pretty favorable impression of Snowmass. It surpassed a lot of my expectations. After Vail, I think it is one the best all things to all people places for Colorado.

However, 12-18 inches might really be too much for some of its intermediate runs."

Tony Crocker responded "I'm not in agreement with ChrisC's overall assessment of Snowmass. The blues are in general very flat, with Green Cabin and the Burn being the exceptions with more normal intermediate pitch. The expert terrain is a big pain to get to, hard to get many runs in a day there. "
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:17 pm

Early March is probably the optimal time at Aspen/Snowmass on average. Coverage is near maximum and spring conditions other than on the flats and sunny exposures would be only in the warmest years.

There are no guarantees as there have been Marches in Colorado with sustained warm and dry spells, notably 2004, 2007 and 2012. Even in those cases I can't say precisely when the warmup started, so the first few days of March may still have been mostly winter conditions. And I'd generally take a dry spell in March over a dry spell in early season with hard manmade snow and less deep coverage.

Aspen/Snowmass is probably the highest profile area that is mostly crowd-proof even during holiday periods. In town lodging at Aspen is expensive. Snowmass lodging is fairly typical for destination resorts, not a bad value at all with multiple people in condos.
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby BernardP » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:36 pm

Yes tseeb, I read all comments in your thread. Very interesting. In addition to Vail/Beaver Creek I have also multiple trips to Utah areas, and went to Steamboat once. Because of this, I can better appreciate comments.

As an eastern skier, my criteria for what is flat and steep are somewhat less rigorous than for people used to bigger and steeper western mountains. Looking at contour maps on Google Earth gives me a good idea of what to expect.

Thanks Tony for your opinion. It's good to know my target dates are around the optimal time, but of course, my results may vary...
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby egieszl » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:50 pm

I've been skiing Snowmass every year since December 1985. My parents and brother, plus his family live in Snowmass Village. I've skied 450+ days there over the past ten seasons. I can tell you whatever you need to know about Aspen-Snowmass. In my opinion, the best ski areas in the United States.

Crowds are almost never an issue. Between Christmas and New Years is the busiest time of year, but even then lift lines rarely exceed 5 minutes and typically top out at 10 minutes max. Saturdays are the busiest day of the week the rest of the year. Village Express out of the base area is busy in the morning right after children's ski school begins at 9:30am. If the line is 10 minutes, the Gondola is probably 5 minutes or less. Elk Camp is the most popular chairlift lift on the mountain. Cirque Platter consistently has the longest wait about 10-15 minutes on a busy day. Many times you can ski right on. Powder days will bring out the locals, but more than likely you'll still be tracking up fresh snow at closing time. Out of 657 lift rides last year I could probably count on my two hands how many times I waited in a 10 minute lift line.

Early March historically is a great time to ski Snowmass with no spring conditions, even at the base and frequent snowfall. However, the past several years the weather patterns have been warmer and spring conditions have arrived earlier. Last year there was spring conditions on the lower half of the mountain throughout most of February, then it cooled down again.

From my notes March 3, 2017 - Sunny, high 32, March 12, 2017 - M-Cloudy, Snow Showers, high 40F, the World Cup Finals were hot with temps at the base areas in the mid 50s to mid 60s, but then March 24, 2017 I had snow showers and a high 33F.

Early March 2016 we had a warm spell with temps in the mid-to-high 40s. The end of the month into April it was back to winter conditions.

Early March 2014 new snow almost every day with temps in the 30s to low 40s.

From my experience, if the state of Colorado is experiencing warm weather the conditions at Aspen-Snowmass are better than anywhere else.
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby BernardP » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:59 pm

Thanks a lot egieszl !
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Sep 22, 2017 6:19 pm

I was hesitant to cite my two late March experiences (one all winter conditions, the other very warm and all spring) due to small sample size. Egiezl's impressions should be more accurate due to extensive experience. I can say once you get to early April, spring conditions will be more prevalent at Aspen/Snowmass than at the highest places in Colorado, A-Basin, Loveland, Copper, top half of Breck.

The one question I would have is about Deep Temerity, which may well be the toughest terrain pod in North America. At 1,700 vertical and lift ratio of 2.15 it's serious work from top to bottom. But it faces directly east, so when I skied Highlands Bowl the first time in April 2011 no one was skiing near that lift due to refrozen conditions. So I'm curious when that terrain usually goes to spring conditions. I would guess early March but might happen in a warm late February.
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Re: Weather and crowds at Aspen Snowmass in early March?

Postby snowave » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:24 am

The wife and I got the Mtn Collective this year, so we might make a trip to Aspen/Snowmass around that same timeframe... so thanks for the insight. I have actually never been there. Also got to fit in Telluride (Late January) and Taos.(no date yet, will watch the snow).
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