Copper Mountain, CO Jan 19 and 20, 2023

jimk

Active member
I had an exciting crossing of the US in my Subie this past week. Left Wash DC area at noon on Jan 17. Was originally planning to drive I80 to my destination in UT, but a big storm predicting 15-20" in Neb and 5-10" in KS made me call an audible and I headed towards Indiana and I70. On Jan 18 I got as far as KS-CO border when I ran into a 16 hour closure of I70. Amazing what havoc a 6" storm can cause when blowing sideways out on the great plains.

I attempted to partially bypass the closure and took hwy 40 west for about 90 dark and stormy miles until I got to a small town called Cheyenne Wells. It was 8PM and all roads out of Cheyenne Wells were closed. Fortunately the one obvious motel in town had an available room and I spent the night there, glad for it! Next morning, Jan 19 the roads and visibility were much better and I drove 4 hours and skied a PM session at Copper Mtn. Spent the night in Silverthorne Quality Inn. Next morning Jan 20 I skied an AM session at Copper and then drove 7 hrs to SLC in the PM.

Jan 19, hwy 40/287 west of Cheyenne Wells
hwy 40 near limon co.jpg


Jan 19, Carnage on I70 about two hours east of Denver. I saw dozens of wrecks from the day before on the stretch of I70 from Limon to Denver. In fact the eastbound lane was closed for many miles to allow removal of the many wrecks in the center island.
wrecks on i70.jpg


These (Jan 19 and 20) were my first two ski days of the season. I'd been dealing with a medical situation over the last month+ that finally got resolved (kidney stone and extraction thereof). Conditions at Copper were terrific from my mid-Atlantic perspective. I stuck pretty much to groomers across the wide front side of that mountain as I was not in good ski shape. Also, the altitude at Copper is tough for me coming from sea level. Weekday crowds were robust, but not grossly unpleasant. The free parking in Alpine Lot and shuttle bus from there to East Village works well. I have an Ikon base pass that I used to ski Copper.

It was a bit chilly during my days at Copper and I rode inside the chondola a few times to warm up. Believe this chair/gondi pairing is part of the American Flyer lift line There are about four really long frontside chair lifts at Copper that each seem to give you about 2000'+ vertical.
cm chondola.jpg


Copper is huge with lots of skiable acreage. I didn't even get into all the back bowls this visit, but am somewhat familiar with them from a visit last year. Also, Copper may have the most impressive park and pipe scene of any place I've been to in the last ten years. I'm too old for that stuff, but I'm sure the Woodward connection/infrastructure at Copper makes it a mecca for those who are.
cm terrain park.jpg


Since my visit to Copper I've skied four straight days at Snowbird, UT. I'll try to do a quickie report on it next. Conditions superb there too.
 

Attachments

  • cm terrain park.jpg
    cm terrain park.jpg
    375.8 KB · Views: 9

EMSC

Well-known member
Amazing what havoc a 6" storm can cause when blowing sideways out on the great plains.
Ground blizzards on the plains are no joke, for sure.

Woodward connection/infrastructure at Copper makes it a mecca for those who are.
Believe it or not, those jumps will still be in use in July or even August depending on how warm spring/summer is...

Believe this chair/gondi pairing is part of the American Flyer lift line
Close. Actually American Eagle lift. The Flyer is the 6 pack lookers right of the chondola.

It was a bit chilly during my days at Copper
Late Dec through now has definitely been below normal temps with perhaps literal 2-3 days as exceptions. Current 10 day forecast keeps things anywhere from 10 to 30F below normal as well...

Glad you got some good turns in over 'my way'. Copper is a favored place in the front range - when I can get there... And super perfect for your transit needs as well. Literally less than a mile from I70 for free parking.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
I have an Ikon base pass that I used to ski Copper.
Not that a megapass is in my immediate future but it's interesting to weigh the + and - of the various products. I always assumed that Ikon was the better one unless I lived near Colorado's I-70 corridor or Tahoe. I ran across this site with a compare-and-contrast page (some of it is copied below). I'm wondering if this is the experience of FTOers?


Is the Epic Pass Worth It?​

In our opinion: Yes! The only reason it wouldn’t be worth it is if you purchase too many tickets and then cannot go for whatever reason. Epic passes are non-refundable and non-transferrable. This means that once you buy the Epic pass, then you will need to use it or lose it.

The benefit of buying an Epic pass is that you get ski lift tickets at a steep discount over same-day gate pricing. If you buy your Epic tickets in March when they first go on sale for the next year, then you can save over 20%! This doesn’t even take into account the fact that you get discounts on rentals, and aprés ski services like food and drinks as well.

Alternatives to EPIC​

EPIC is one of five nationwide similar ski lift passes. Each pass network has its own benefits, prime locations, and important limitations. While there are four alternatives to the EPIC pass, typically IKON is listed as the most direct competitor.

The first difference that jumps out between IKON and EPIC passes are the varying amounts of Unlimited and Limited ski resorts within each network. Limited typically means that you are allowed to ski anywhere between 2-7 days at each resort in that category. However, average skiers only ski 2.7 times a year, which means this limitation is not really one at all. This only becomes an issue if you are buying a specific pass for your local resort that you plan on skiing often throughout the season.

PassUnlimited Access Resorts Limited Access ResortsDay Passes Available?
IKON1535Yes
EPIC379Yes
INDY076No
Mountain Collective016No
Powder Alliance015No

The table above shows statistics for North American ski resorts only. Most of the passes include ski resorts in other countries like Australia or Italy, but since we are a US-based travel company, we are focusing only on local resorts to us.

Which Regions are best for EPIC Passes?​

Since each ski pass has a specific set of ski resorts within its network, some regions of the US and Canada are better served by a specific pass. Based on where EPIC ski resorts are located, here are the list of regions that we feel are best served by the EPIC pass:

RankState/Province# Resorts
#1Pennsylvania, USA8
#2Colorado, USA6
#3Ohio, USA4
#4New Hampshire, USA4
#5Vermont, USA3
#6California, USA3
#7Missouri, USA2
#8New York, USA1
#9Indiana, USA1
#10Washington, USA
 

EMSC

Well-known member
I'm wondering if this is the experience of FTOers?
Not sure exactly which experience you are referring to.

I always assumed that Ikon was the better one unless I lived near Colorado's I-70 corridor
?? Not sure why I-70

I can say with the Ikon Base I've not had issues with the fact that it has a large number of 'limited access' resorts. I have 3 unlimited's in Colo, with ABasin and Steamboat available 5 days each (except holiday blackouts). I used my Ikon at Revelstoke for 2 days, used it at Norquay for a quick ~hour I didn't post about before dashing to the airport the day after cat skiing too... Plus of course can get a million racer-chaser training days at Eldora. It's very beneficial the vast majority of the time.

Of course with Vail Inc's insanity ticket pricing I now won't touch any of their resorts by buying a day ticket to any of them unless my son is racing there and I can get a parent price. The biggest affect of that for me personally is I would consider a late season day at Breck for the alpine bowls if day pricing were not so ridiculous, but I'll just go to A-Basin or even pay for Loveland instead.
 

EMSC

Well-known member
Good for Coloradans who want to ski Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone?
You write that as though those are the only resorts along I70 that have any merit or something.

We've had the discussion on the other thread about how mediocre Keystone actually is. Both Breck and Vail are the two most skied (and crowded) resorts in the USA annually not to mention wildly expensive even for parking, etc...; so that automatically devalues a day there just by massive hassle factors alone. That leaves Beaver Creek, which is the furthest away of the four making for an even less fun driving-to-skiing ratio for I70 type skiers. Basically I'm not really all that sad about not having an Epic Pass. It was nice once upon a time when I had a free room on the edge of Breck, so 5 minute commutes to good alpine and steeps lots of weekends (they've since moved as Breck was/is being loved to death with massive crowding).

For Ikon: Winter Park is getting pretty crowded itself the last 5 years, partially due to I70 traffic mess and people not willing to put up with the longer commutes to Summit/Vail. But WP/MJ is still both better and closer than Keystone. Copper is only a touch less good than Breck with Tucker mtn now and in some ways better (more long single diamond pitched runs vs mostly steep then flat or just short steeps at Breck). Add in Abasin is much better during the 2nd half of the season than majority of Colorado. Steamboat can be good for early and deep, light powder, but is further than all the others mentioned to get to. Overall that to me makes Epic a lot more 'meh' than you'd otherwise think IMHO.

Just my opinion of course. Funny thing is, I once interviewed for a job at Vail HQ (only ~10 minutes away). I wonder how I would have explained that I hardly ever used my free EE perk Epic pass and instead mostly used a purchased Ikon as a frequent skier.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
You write that as though those are the only resorts along I70 that have any merit or something.
The last time I skied any of the VR group was Keystone and Vail in 2003 and the only reason I went was because friends who were resort employees got us heavily discounted tix. Is there anyone here who's less likely to ski VR joints than me?
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Overall I agree with EMSC's assessment. My caveat is that I like Vail the mountain quite a lot. Vail and Breck sell the same number of lift tickets but Breck has 55% of both acreage and lift capacity as Vail. Vail Mountain's skier visits have been flat for 20 years. Vail's level of congestion has always struck me as very average: busy around the lifts bases and mid-Vail, lots of elbow room in outlying sectors.

Even if I did not think Ikon had the superior collection of areas, I would be on it because of Mammoth unlimited and Iron Blosam week at Snowbird. So also like EMSC, I'm deterred from Vail's resorts by the day ticket pricing. The one I miss most is Whistler.
 

EMSC

Well-known member
Is there anyone here who's less likely to ski VR joints than me?
Not many, lol. You'd drive right past all the closer places and go to Ski Cooper.

My point was, the way you phrased your question comes across as "without an Epic pass why would anyone ever want to ski the I70 corridor?". I'm pointing out that Epic pass in front range Colo is not nearly as strong IMO as the question phrasing implies. That Ikon is a pretty darn good option for I70 skiers.

My caveat is that I like Vail the mountain quite a lot.
I find Vail an expensive hassle logistically at the base, and feel the terrain, while expansive, is not all that steep/great. I'll usually take steep chutes over mid-pitch bowls all day long. Plus, all you have to do is look at the multiple insane video clips of recent years of just how little elbow room there is on a powder day there now.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Mid pitch bowls are what you want on a powder day. Steep chutes have delayed openings for control work.

I had plenty of elbow room for powder on a January Monday in 2015. The lifties said the locals were in mourning because the Broncos had been eliminated from the NFL playoffs the day before.:icon-lol:
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
My point was, the way you phrased your question comes across as "without an Epic pass why would anyone ever want to ski the I70 corridor?".
"Good for Coloradans who want to ski Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone?" isn't phrased as "those are the only ski areas that Coloradans want to frequent." I simply said that the Epicpass is good for those who do (not me and not you).

You were just being argumentative. :icon-lol:
 

jimk

Active member
I like numerous Epic Pass resorts in CO, particularly Breckenridge, Crested Butte and A-Basin. Vail and BC are also great and Keystone ain't chopped liver. I know them better than the Ikon mtns of Copper, WP, Steamboat and Eldora. But my favorite destination in CO and just about anywhere is Aspen, Highlands and Snowmass, also Ikon mtns. Either mega pass presents an embarrassment of riches for a person with the time and budget to visit a bunch of places. In the last ten years I've had the Epic pass 3 or 4 times, Ikon twice, and MCP once, but never more than one mega pass at a time. The last five years I've also had a dedicated senior season pass at Snowbird. BTW, the last two years I got an Ikon base pass as an add-on to my Snowbird pass for $250 last year and then 299 this year. Good deal, but the pass is not upgradeable to full Ikon, which rules out more and more mtns each year as many Ikon mtns are going premium-full pass only. Forgot about Telluride, that's epic too, correct? Great mtn!
 
Last edited:

EMSC

Well-known member
You got all of the big pass allegiances in Colo correct except for ABasin. They switched sides back a few years ago and left Vail/Epic for Ikon. They were being 'loved to death' as it were since Vail makes all Epic resorts including partner resorts unlimited. Whereas Ikon allows resorts to do limited # of days and/or even holiday blackouts. Given the volume of passes sold but with limited days, ABasin is now plenty busy, but not insane like they were for a couple of years.
 

EMSC

Well-known member
So apparently jimk did too good a job of advertising for Copper...

Copper crowds.JPG


No idea how in the world Super B ended up with that kind of crowding last weekend. I have never ever seen a lift line even 1/3 that long at the Super B in all my times skiing there... The good news is decent skiers can easily avoid such lines on multiple other lifts.
 
Top