jimk wrote:The ski areas would be of mixed quality from grade A+ to grade D-. Or, would you rather ski 1000 days at one grade B quality ski area? Why?
James and Patrick would make the first selection. Admin's track record leans the other way though obviously Alta is an A+ ski area. I would modify the second choice to "Do 100% of your skiing on a season pass at a grade B area you like." Many people opt for that choice to maximize ski time per $ spent and/or prefer the convenience of skiing within daytrip distance. The latter point was made loud and clear by several Easterners during the East vs. West threads a decade ago. I'll
by contending that even James' Tier 1 eastern areas are not grade A's by international standards.
I'd want to know the distribution of the mixed quality. I'm obviously in the variety camp with my 241 ski area count but I have minimum standards. I'm not really interested in grade D ski areas. Grade C's are worth a day if I'm in the neighborhood or to break up a drive. Examples in my experience are Baldy B.C. between Red Mt. and Vancouver and Pomerelle between Salt Lake and Boise.
Grades can be on the basis of terrain/snow or both. Pajarito is a rather homogenous intermediate area in terms of terrain, more expansive version of Snow Summit. But being there on an uncontested powder day was a grade A experience. However that would be irrelevant at a molehill that is too short and too flat to ski powder.
The other issue is regional context. The interior Northwest is full of secondary but interesting areas. But the big areas, Red Mt., Schweitzer and Whitefish, are delightfully uncrowded by national standards, so it's hard to tear yourself away from those if you are in the region only occasionally. I'm more likely to check out a secondary area to avoid crowd situations in Utah or Colorado.
The upcoming season is likely to be the golden age of mom-and-pop skiing. The big name places could be quite unattractive:
1) Rationed skiing with tickets required far in advance like Thredbo. So much for chasing short notice powder.
2) Shuttle buses from remote parking lots (most Vail resorts). Aspen's outstanding public transit system might be considered a negative in the current COVID-19 context.
3) Gondolas and trams.
4) Crowd buildup in lift lines and indoor facilities. We can expect rationed skiing to limit this.
I have renewed my Ikon Pass but it is possible that Mammoth will only be worth skiing during the combination of midweek and shoulder seasons. I see our Iron Blosam timeshare week facing major obstacles without significant improvement in the virus situation:
1) How many of the large eastern contingent will be willing to fly?
2) Who will spend a week in a destination resort if there is ticket rationing and they don't know if they can ski every day? Some people speculate that guests lodging on-site might have ticket priority.
3) Our famous "mess hall" dinners of 30+ people in one condo are the antithesis of social distancing.