Seeking Colorado advice

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Seeking Colorado advice

Postby flyover » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:45 pm

I'm thinking about a 4-day weekend in January with my wife and 13-year old daughter. We would fly out of MSP on the evening Wednesday the 23rd and return to MSP on Sunday the 27th. Although I would prefer a destination with lower skier density, Colorado is attractive for this trip because the airfares are good, the flight is short, and the flight times are very convenient. I doubt we would ski on Sunday the 27th, so we're looking at 4 nights lodging and 3 days of skiing.

For such a short trip, we don't need a lot in terms of other activities. My wife learned to ski after 30 and is a terminal intermediate but is happy to push her comfort level on occasion or meet my daughter and I at the lift if we choose to ski something beyond her comfort level. My daughter is keeping up with me everywhere except long steep chutes and dense trees. Our family has been happy at MRG and Lake Louise, for example.

I haven't skied in Colorado since 1995 or 96. In terms of areas not too far from Denver International, I remember liking Mary Jane/Winter Park and thinking Copper was underrated.

Where should we go and why?
Last edited by flyover on Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby jimk » Tue Dec 18, 2018 8:46 pm

Do you have a pass for any mountains out there? If not, then considering Liftopia your best bets would be at A-Basin and Loveland which run about $60 per day +/- a few bucks. Buying a-la-cart tickets at the other bigger name places goes for about twice that much per day. Although, three days at Copper off liftopia is "only" $257. Splitting your time between A-Basin and Loveland or possibly throwing in a Copper day would provide some really fun skiing from nice groomers to bodacious steeps and not too crowded either (A-B and Love). You could stay in Dillon/Frisco/Silverthorne area or maybe Georgetown where you could find a motel for 100-120 per night. A small condo would be considerably more.
Sometimes vacationers suffer from altitude for a day or two at those high ski areas, so that might be something to consider on a short duration trip. One of the best lower elevation places to stay for good skiing fairly close to Denver is Avon and ski Beaver Creek, but Vail Resorts don't come cheap. All the big name places are good out there, so if you have a way to catch a price break at any you'll have fun and you are going at a time that should not be too crazy even at busy places.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:33 pm

I think jimk nailed it. A-Basin will give you some serious steeps, some of which your daughter can handle. Last year those steeps weren't open in January, but I-70 Colorado has had a great start so A-Basin is already 84% open. I really don't get why Loveland is at only 65% as it's not as steep and usually gets a bit more snow. My guess is that the wind blows much of it away. My guess is that even Loveland will be close to full operation by the time you get there.

If you're not skiing Sunday, Beaver Creek is an attractive choice to beat Saturday's crowds if you can stomach the lift tickets. The tickets will be less if ordered ahead online.

Liz and I stayed in Georgetown over a 4-day weekend in late April 2015 to ski Winter Park, Loveland and A-Basin.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby flyover » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:43 pm

Thanks. That is helpful.

I am just a little leery of going straight up to A-Basin coming from low altitude. Although my wife and I have always done pretty well with altitude, we don’t have a clue about our daughter as we have never taken her any higher than the Banff resorts. I wasn’t organized/optimistic enough about whether we would make time to head west this winter, so we don’t have passes.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby ShiftyRider » Wed Dec 19, 2018 12:26 am

I'd go to Loveland.

Unrelated...
meet my daughter and I at the lift
I think people were actually taught this. Would it make a difference if spoken instead of written?
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby jimk » Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:40 am

I probably tend to put too much emphasis on lift tickets when budgeting ski trip itineraries. As we all know, there are other big cost factors such as accommodations, airfare, car rental, meals. I have ridden chairlifts at Vail with people who were paying window price for lift tickets, which didn’t seem shrewd, only to find they were nimbly pulling off a spur-of-the-moment ski trip by using hotel reward points for free slopeside lodging and/or flying cheaply with frequent flyer miles.
The other wild card is convenience. A bargain motel involving a 45 min commute each way to the slopes with several young children could be a poor value compared to a more expensive condo at the base of the hill allowing frequent rest breaks during the day and a much better vacation for all.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby flyover » Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:11 am

ShiftyRider wrote:I'd go to Loveland.

Unrelated...
meet my daughter and I at the lift
I think people were actually taught this. Would it make a difference if spoken instead of written?


Nope, definitely not how I was taught, and yes I know better. Just a case of brain rot and too-hasty-and-distracted posting. I'm not lol, but am at least chuckling under my breath because it's worse than you think, Mr. Rider: this particular grammatical error occurred by speaking instead of typing as I used the voice-recognition feature of my ipad to write my initial post.

Back on topic, would it be insane to try to ski some of Sunday at Loveland with a 5pm flight out of Denver? As I recall, car rental return at DEN is time consuming compared to airports where no shuttle is required and, of course, I-70's reputation is concerning.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby jimk » Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:39 am

No, it wouldn’t be insane. Normally, it would be about a 90 minute drive from Loveland to DIA. But you’d probably want to depart Loveland NLT 12:30 PM to allow a little extra for Sunday traffic and get to car rental facility about 2.5 hrs before flight time. And that would be based on clear weather, reasonable Sunday traffic, and no special mob scenes at DIA. I would defer to Front Range local if they weigh-in with something different on this.

FYI, one time about ten years ago I returned my car to a DIA car rental place about two hours before my flight. You’re right, the shuttles from the car rental places to the airport take a little extra time compared to some other airports. When we got to the airport there was a huge line to get through security that I didn’t expect at 6 AM because a bunch of flights out of DIA had been cancelled the day before due to bad weather around the country. I hadn’t accounted for that because the day before I’d been busy skiing Loveland. We missed our flight and my party of two adults and three children had to wait about eight hours to finally catch another together. Everything ended ok and that was a great trip with three snowy ski days at Keystone and one at Loveland.

Old report from that trip: http://www.dcski.com/articles/1022" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby EMSC » Wed Dec 19, 2018 2:18 pm

Definitely not crazy to ski Loveland on a day you are flying. A lot of my friends have done so over the years. Definitely need a fairly late flight: 5p or later with a family. DIA is not ideal for rental cars, but unless something unusual has happened, the other lines go fairly quickly.

Already have solid info from the others above for options on how to plan out a long weekend trip. Can slum it a bit or go for ski-in ski-out. Snow is good so far this year and all but the steepest of the steeps are already open. All the big places will have outrageous walk up window tix. Though Vail Inc places will be the highest.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Dec 19, 2018 2:39 pm

EMSC wrote:Definitely not crazy to ski Loveland on a day you are flying.

I've skied it on both arrival and departure days (once with EMSC!): very easy.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby flyover » Mon Dec 24, 2018 10:23 pm

Thanks for everyone’s help. We ended up booking some cheap flights on Southwest and a reasonable condo in Dillon. We’ll buy our lift tickets online closer in time to our arrival. I’m still on the fence about trying to ski Loveland on Sunday 1/27, mostly because we ended up with a 4pm flight home (the kid has a 7:30 am school start time this year, so we need to get home before it gets too late in the evening).
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby flyover » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:41 am

My historical M.O. on destination trips to regions where there is a choice of resorts has been to check the conditions reports and weather, factor in the likely skier density and hassle factor, and make a daily decision about where to ski. Clearly that will be out of the question on this trip where walk-up lift tickets are insanely expensive everywhere except Loveland. So we have a plan and have advanced purchased our lift tickets for some of the weekend: Loveland tomorrow (should be some new snow and the usual amount of wind), Copper on Friday ($85), A-Basin on Saturday ($79), and maybe Loveland again on Sunday morning on their "flex" half-day ticket.

I've never skied Loveland, and its been at least 22 or 23 years since I've skied Copper and A-Basin. I think I've only got questions about Copper.

First, in EMSC's excellent 12-30-18 report (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12755" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;), he references noobs on the cat that had no idea where to go or what to do. Um, if my daughter and I ride the cat, where should we go and what should we do?

Next, Copper's website does a great job marketing its various restaurants in the village and on the hill, but is opaque about any kind of day lodge. Is there anywhere at Copper we can brown bag our lunch?

Finally, does anyone have any recommendations for the lowest hassle option for free parking and getting on the hill in the morning?

Thanks!
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby EMSC » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:13 am

Flyover, I have to apologize for not seeing this. I've not been on the FTO forums for a week now with many life items taking priority. So I totally missed my chance to help out.

For anyone reading this in the future, the gist of the Tucker cat is that you get dropped off at a Col on the ridgeline and have to hike up the first knoll for 15-ish minutes, then you ski down and try to carry speed (be careful since it can be wind drifted bumps sometimes) over to the actual Tucker mtn which you have to then hike up some more. Though not as much up, more just flat-ish distance. While you can ski down "the Nacho" at the bottom before hiking a second time, the length and effort you've already put in is completely not worth that run. Keep going until you hit The Taco, or go all the way to Fremont 1 or 2. Don't worry, there are huge signs for each of them on top of Tucker.

There are a couple of places you could brown bag lunch at Copper (again for any future readers). There are lockers in the bottom of the lodge at Copper east (eg Super B lift). There are also some lockers in Center Village if you go down the stairs past ski school sign-ups between Eagle and Flyer lifts (closer to Flyer lift).

Parking is easy at all of the resorts Flyover chose. Just make sure to be early on weekends and pow days. Loveland has tons of free parking, Abasin has lot sof free parking, but fulls beyond capacity now on weekends (eg be early or really late after 12:30p), Copper has huge lots with shuttles running. Just go straight after the traffic light that is just off I70 and you will either go right (most of the time) or left into Far East lot a couple hundred yards down the road toward Leadville. Extensive shuttle us options from both free lots. Copper does have closer in parking but it is paid.

Now that I've answered your question AFTER you've already been here :roll: , hope you found out all the stuff I've written by other means and had a great time. Snow certainly wasn't an issue. We've had a decent amount out this way recently.
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Re: Seeking Colorado advice

Postby flyover » Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:04 pm

No worries EMSC, a good time was had by all! Your prior input in this thread and your Copper TRs were very helpful.

After the long weekend, I'm a little behind now at work and at home, but hope to get some TRs up later in the week. In the meantime, there's this:

Co.jpg
Copper on 1/26, my daughter in a stash of untracked snow along the area boundary that runs parallel to the Blackjack chair.
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