Ski Area Count 2019

Topics of a general nature regarding snowsports, which don't easily fit into one of our other Liftlines categories. This is also the place to post Letters to the Editor.

Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:32 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Here's my lift-served list, which only covers two continents compared to your six and only 18 years of alpine skiing compared to your 30+.

That would be 40+ years. After 18 years I had only 63 areas, so I would say the odds are high James will pass me by eventually.

No backcountry skiing for James? Whiteface Toll Road? Tuckerman's? I'm fairly sure he has no cat or heli days. Backcountry skiing in the Alps is typically lift assisted (so included in the lift served), and I know James has done that. I suspect he will eventually schmooze a heli drop somewhere in the Alps.

Arnie Wilson's area count was 746 when we met him in Iceland in 2015.
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Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby Sbooker » Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:10 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
sbooker wrote:Northstar California (Our first 'big mountain' ski experience. We quickly worked out skiing in Oz and NZ was second rate by comparison)

Presumably sbooker is less impressed by Northstar now that he has been around both North America and the Alps some more. I'll take Treble Cone or Mt. Hutt in full operation over Northstar any day. Unfortunately Mt. Hutt's advanced/expert terrain was off limits both of my days there.

sbooker covered a lot of ground on that Alps trip this season, as much as any of ours. We never heard any details though. I see a lot of time in the Dolomites (Cortina plus Sella Ronda), which were very lean on natural snow this season. Did the vaunted snowmaking live up to its billing? Were all pistes open? Was there a lot of frozen granular from skier traffic on nearly all manmade snow? At least the Aosta and Austrian areas had plenty of natural snow on that trip.

Did EMSC live in the Southeast sometime to get those obscure places?

My lost area list consists of just Kratka Ridge in the traditional sense of a no longer exiting ski area in any form. Montana Backcountry Adventures and CAT Powder skiing are defunct snowcat operations whose terrain was taken over by lift service, Moonlight Basin and Revelstoke respectively. Chisenupuri is the opposite, lift served when I skied there in 2011; the lift is now shut down but the terrain is used for cat skiing.


Rambling post incoming.

We have never skied NZ in great conditions and if we did in the early days we weren’t up to taking advantage of the advanced terrain.
Northstar was an eye opener for us. Those long blue runs lined with conifers on lovely snow was what we then thought was as good as it gets. Of course my kids were just 4 and 6 and myself and my wife were even more intermediate than we are now so anything more would have been lost on us.
The year later we went to Mammoth in late March. It started snowing late on the afternoon we pulled into the Alpenhof and didn’t stop snowing until the next night. It was the first time we saw a big dump of snow but we didn’t do it justice. That was the trip that got us hooked though. We were impressed by how steep some of the runs were and we loved you could be at one end of the mountain without being able to see the other.
Because of the distance we are from the snow and my reluctance to take lessons for fear of ‘missing out’ on ski time while being ‘stuck’ in lessons we spent plenty of time on groomers for the next couple of years. Even so we went to some great areas and we now realise Northstar is second rate itself in comparison to some of our favourites. We have great memories but some are particularly special. Spending a few days going up and down the Symphony and Harmony areas of Whistler (where the kids first took to skiing off the groomers), Mineral Basin at Snowbird, a snowy day at a virtually deserted Sacajawea side of Grand Targhee and a day at Sun Valley in early 2017 where we lapped a lift on the Warm Springs side for hours in uncontested powder will remain etched in our memories.

Europe was great. We got lucky with snow in the Zillertal on the day we got there. After that first day skiing powder we woke for the second day skiing. My daughters reaction (“Dad they flattened all the soft snow”) probably sums up why we think North American skiing is more suited to us. We like to ski as a family and my wife prefers groomers so hiring a guide and avi gear is wasted. It’s much easier for us to be able to jump on a lift where there is safe ungroomed terrain with a groomer close by. That said the scenery and vastness of the ski areas more than impressed us.
We only skied at Cortina because we had to take a taxi to Passo Falzarego to ski the Hidden Valley run (Emily was dying to do the horse tow thing). Just across the road from the cable car was the lift to the Cinque Torri area so we spent some time there. The Dolomites ‘snow’ was amazing and piste skiing was superb. Well over 95% of the runs were open and we encountered no ice at all - it was like skiing on packed powder. I think we were lucky to have consistently cold remperatures for the few days we were there. The mind blowing scenery, super efficient lift system (I’d prefer less gondolas though) and wonderful cheap on mountain food were all fantastic but the skiing was a bit ‘samey’. We skied the Marmolada glacier and both the Gran Rosa and Sasslong World Cup runs.

When we were based in Aosta the highlight was skiing from Italy into France. (I’ve noted you’ve not skied La Thuile and La Rosiere. :stir: ). La Rosiere is south facing so we spent a few hours skiing soft bump runs because of the steady diet of groomers we had at Pila and Cervinia. Cervinia was the only place we experienced lift lines of any significance and I suspect that was due to lift closures up high. We didn’t get to go over the top to Zermatt so only spied the Matterhorn from the ‘wrong’ side. Even so the scenery of Mont Blanc and the other huge mountains in that region made up for it.

This year will be a few days in Thredbo before we ski Japan early next winter. Even if we experience the famous Japanese powder I think my wife’s love of groomers will make Canada and the US our ‘go to’ areas. Others on here might think Japan will have something to offer all of us?
In February we’ll fly into SLC for our first trip without the kids. We intend to do our first lessons in the hope that Kylie will gain enough confidence to really embrace skiing off the groomers. We will be taking friends. Two couples - one of which are early intermediates who have only skied Oz and the other who are both never evers. As a result we may be a little limited as to what we can do. I hope the likes of Alta, Snowbird, Big Sky and Aspen blow them away. We hope to be at Snowbird by ourselves at the end of the trip so you can push both of us out of our comfort zone.

I’ll try to post some Euro pics.
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Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby Sbooker » Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:27 pm

Europe January 2019.
Attachments
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Europe has great beer. Hofbrauhaus.
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Fresh snow at Kaltenbach for our first day of skiing in Europe.
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Impressive scenery.
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No passport required.
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Tourists in Milan.
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Dolomites.
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Marmolada area where the fought WW1.
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Cinque Torri.
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Even some snow in the Dolomites.
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That’s Les Arcs from La Rosiere.
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Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby Patrick » Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:57 pm

Frenchmen, lifts enthusiasm and monoskier RodoAF is above 500 ski areas visited.

Finnish skier Planet_skier is somewhere in the 300-400 range I believe.

As for myself, I'm at about 150.
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Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:39 am

Sbooker wrote: My daughters reaction (“Dad they flattened all the soft snow”) probably sums up why we think North American skiing is more suited to us.

Personal preferences can't be argued but I'm not sure where to start with the implication that there's very little ungroomed offpiste in the Alps.
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Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:50 am

Patrick wrote:Frenchmen, lifts enthusiasm and monoskier RodoAF is above 500 ski areas visited.

Rodo is a force of nature. I love reading his TRs. That said; I believe British ski journalist Arnie Wilson is still in the lead with somewhere around 700 areas. Rodo will overtake him eventually.
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Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby Sbooker » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:12 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:
Sbooker wrote: My daughters reaction (“Dad they flattened all the soft snow”) probably sums up why we think North American skiing is more suited to us.

Personal preferences can't be argued but I'm not sure where to start with the implication that there's very little ungroomed offpiste in the Alps.


That’s not the implication I was making. If that’s the way it came across it wasn’t intentional. There’s obviously loads of opportunity to ski fresh snow in Europe but to do it safely all together as a family when one of the party prefers groomers is much more of a hassle. I believe three of us would need the assistance of a guide (and avi gear) while my wife would have to either compromise on what she prefers or spend the day by herself on the marked trails.

I was shocked at the extent of the grooming after fresh snow. There was nothing left untouched on the marked pistes.

My experience is that hills in North America are more likely to leave a couple of runs off each lift ungroomed - and those areas are still avalanche controlled. This may not be the case in every resort of course.
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Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:30 pm

sbooker wrote:I was shocked at the extent of the grooming after fresh snow. There was nothing left untouched on the marked pistes.

If it's a marked piste, blue, red or black, expect it to be groomed daily. Some Euro areas have "skiroutes" marked yellow, which are not groomed but still subject to avalanche control.

I expected this answer:
sbooker wrote:There’s obviously loads of opportunity to ski fresh snow in Europe but to do it safely all together as a family when one of the party prefers groomers is much more of a hassle.

James and I exercise our own judgment when to venture off piste on our own and when a guide is necessary. It's a different scenario taking your kids. Each skier should make their own call and not be overly influenced by someone else's call.

As far as divergent preferences in terrain, that's also each individual's call. Liz has no hesitation sending me on my way if I want to ski something out of her comfort zone. With cell service it's usually not that hard to regroup, as we have done a few times even in the Alps.

That's quite a testimonial to Dolomite snowmaking, as I know they were lean on natural snow. I guess Fraser was not overhyping how good it is. Those of us who have a steady diet of Mammoth/LCC are princesses about snow surfaces and can usually detect easily a firm manmade subsurface. When Liz and I were in the Dolomites (in the 2018 season with good natural snow) I noticed that manmade subsurface in just a few places but only one piste in Seceda was overall frozen granular. There were several pistes in that category in SkiWelt and Kitzbuhel in 2017. Saalbach's snow we thought was as good as the Dolomites.

The Falzarego/Cinque Torii sector nominally belongs to Cortina, though I'm inclined to group it with the other isolated Civetta sectors on the World War I circuit. Sbooker had nicer weather than we did; lift closures delayed our arrival at Passo Falzareggo, so we got to ski the Hidden Valley run but it was so late we missed the horselift.

As for next year's March trip, my earlier comment about skiing independently applies even more. Snowbird is one of the worst areas on the planet for "never evers." Don't even think about taking them there. Albion/Sunnyside is the only terrain in LCC reasonable for beginners. It's a waste of resources for your friends (including "early intermediates") to stay up there. You have the right idea to ski LCC at the end of the trip after your friends have gone home.

The trip should definitely start at Aspen/Snowmass. Buttermilk is tailor made for beginners and Snowmass has a ton of low intermediate terrain which should be in the comfort zone of the other couple and accessible to the first timers after a couple of days of progress. Big Sky also has a lot of low intermediate terrain if you have the time to go up there.

If I recall sbooker has been skiing North America on the Mountain Collective. You might want to consider the Ikon Pass instead for this trip as it will add Brighton, Solitude and Deer Valley. Any of those places will be better for your friends than LCC though not as good as Buttermilk and Snowmass.
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Re: Ski Area Count 2019

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Apr 13, 2019 12:11 pm

EMSC wrote:sbookers list is actually pretty impressive for someone living in Aussie land. Those are long flights to the northern hemisphere.

I looked up the shortest possible itineraries to common ski destinations in the north from Brisbane -- these are flight times only and not necessarily the least expensive:
Chitose, Japan: 14:40
Salt Lake: 18:00
Denver: 18:30
Zurich: 22:00

Props to Sbooker for his dedication. My eight-hour flights to Geneva or Zurich are comparatively small potatoes.
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