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East Coast vs West Coast
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Updated 8 months ago
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8 months ago

The first time I ever skied was in high school with a church group at Blue Knob, PA around 1990. My pastor told me to forget “Snow Plowing” and showed me how to turn to a stop. The religion didn’t take but Skiing did.

i have skied in the worst conditions ever on  the east coast; DC weekend crowds, narrow trails, sheets of ice, night skiing, weekend moguls, death cookies. 

My question is this: does the crap we East Coast skiers have to deal with make us better prepared for a trip to the West Coast?

 

 

 

 

 

8 months ago

Yes and no. The snow is a lot more forgiving but the terrain can be more demanding. 

8 months ago

Skiing in deep snow with our east coast carving skiis can also be a challenge. It takes some practice to get the technique down for skiing in deep snow. I have also found that powder skiing tires my legs out more quickly than skiing on east coast hard pack.

8 months ago

Skiing the Mid Atlantic prepares you for skiing the Mid Atlantic, that is about it. It does help if you are a local instructor getting frequent training from top-level trainers.

The terrain is much more challenging out West or in the Northeast. If you ski ungroomed runs, the snow conditions can be tougher, not easier. Crud skiing is a skill that you generally don’t get to practice around here. As Snowsmith said, skiing in three dimensional snow can be challenging. 

But skiing in the Mid Atlantic is fun in itself, because it is skiing. And just being on skis helps maintain your skills for the more challenging areas. Plus, local hills are a good place to do drills or work on learning a specific skill.

8 months ago

For me, the worst conditions and the biggest challenges I have faced have been out West or in the Northeast. (It does get icy out West if you get a vicious thaw-freeze cycle and high traffic areas get scraped bare just as they do here.) 

But all of my best ski days have been there.

8 months ago

Snowsmith brings up a good point. In addition to the challenge of skiing in 3D and the wear on your legs, the altitude will surely have an effect on the level of fatigue. Regardless I’m looking forward to the challeng. Any day on the mountain is a good day in my book.

8 months ago

I learned here and can ski ice with the best of them. But have skied out West for the past two years. Out west the snow is different. it is softer and less hard pack. It is also warmer as the snow falls due to elevation. The type of snow varies too. In Utah the snow is super light and dry. In Washington and Oregon it is heavy and wet.

 

The advances in ski tech have resulted in different skis for different terrain. Out west everyone skis on Fat or mid fat skis. Back here I see lots of folks on that equipment but find a narrower ski with more rocker better for conditions we see (hardpack).

 

I have found that East Coast Skiers will ski in anything and tend to stay on the mountain all day  Western skiers leave when the powder is skied off. Just different expectations 

8 months ago

Me and my Half have only been out west twice…we have skied almost every area on the east coast….After our 2nd trip out west I asked my wife where we should go for another anniversary present ski trip..(thats when we spend money for a trip)…and without hesitation she said Stowe, Vt….`
Thing is…sure…west is best…when its at its best…but unless you are  wealthy and or a  ski jock like the JohnL’s and others in the world..(thats a good thing..) your best bang for your buck is the Northeast…We just missed any “out west” conditions and even though we had a blast it just wasn’t worth the hard earned money we spent….Sooooo…whats the question again?…how do you define East vs west?….

PS Some of us dont have access to big airports and direct great prices…Some of us have expensive hobbies other than skiing…

8 months ago

West has so many more skiable acres that it’s way more likely to be a higher content of natural snow in the base than east or midwest is.  So, it’s usually going to be softer… but sometimes too soft as in snot or crud or crust on dust.  East and midwest is going to be a lot more groomed terrain but harder, more scraped slick by more skiers per acre using it.

 

Bad snow year favors east and midwest.. Good snow year favors west of course..

8 months ago

oldensign wrote:

I have found that East Coast Skiers will ski in anything and tend to stay on the mountain all day  Western skiers leave when the powder is skied off. Just different expectations

Most of the Western skiers are going back to their jobs or back to school after a few hours of locusting the pow, be it for the ski area/service industry or professional jobs in places like Salt Lake City or Vail.

There is a different mindset of being on vacation versus living in Big Ski Country. On vacation, we generally ski from the starting bell to the closing bell, because we may only have 1-2 trips to ski the Big Ski. Since we have limited time out there, we’ll ski no matter what the conditions are like. In Big Ski Country, it is a life-style balance. You are both working and playing in the same week or the same day. I know plenty of folks who would ski a few hours each day, but work the rest. El Crush (where he at?) is a prime example.

I was an example this past week. I had some use or lose SWA flight money. I flew out Monday after work to SLC, got to my hotel at 1 AM. Worked an 11 hour day on Tuesday. Worked 5.5 hours Wednesday (started at 6 AM), skied 4 hours at Brighton in the afternoon on the half-day ticket (got a crazy amount of great skiing in), worked a few hours Wed PM, worked 4 hours Thursday AM, skied 5 hours at Snowbird on MCP, worked a few more hours PM, worked 1 hour Friday AM and skied the rest of the day since it was a righteous pow day, played all day on Saturday with the JimK crew and flew back today. Only had to use 4 hours of vacation time. Most people living in ski country don’t get to ski all day (except for maybe a day or so a week.)

 

 

 

8 months ago

If you are an advanced skier (but not an Expert LOL), the steep meter and fear meter get re-calibrated each time out West. It has taken me close to a few hundred days out West to finally start to get the hang of skiing the steeper and narrower terrain. Some days I have it, some days I don’t.

In the East (including Northeast), you generally don’t face a slide to your death situation. If you explore advanced terrain out West, that is very common. I have seen skiers slide 100 yards down steep stuff out West, in one instance (Tower 3 Chutes at Jackson) that incuded bouncing off of rocks around a dog leg and the stupid sucker was able to walk away. I was the next skier in and my knees were shaking up to my b*lls. Even though it was a standard steep run and I had skied it many times before. On Saturday, had to negotiate a slide-slip or billy goat over rocks above a cliff at Atla. Like touching the cliff rope if you took the *easier* line. JimK handled that better than I did that day, but I had done that several times before. Some days you have the Mojo, other days you don’t. But if you billy goat that line a few times a week, you get used to it. I think.

Edit: I took the wussier line which was the bone head line. While billy goating down over the rocks (above the rope line), I slid a bit sideways down the rocks (skis don’t edge well on rocks) and almost lost my balance. Ski Patroller (adjusting the rope line) below me looked up suddenly and gave me a very dirty look.

Moral: there is a entire world out there that you don’t even think exists. And I know there is more wacked out stuff out there that I won’t even get close to.

 

8 months ago

JohnL wrote:

, I slid a bit sideways down the rocks (skis don’t edge well on rocks) and almost lost my balance. Ski Patroller (adjusting the rope line) below me looked up suddenly and gave me a very dirty look.

Moral: there is a entire world out there that you don’t even think exists. And I know there is more wacked out stuff out there that I won’t even get close to.

 

What do your ski bases and edges look like after that??

8 months ago

crgildart wrote:

JohnL wrote:

, I slid a bit sideways down the rocks (skis don’t edge well on rocks) and almost lost my balance. Ski Patroller (adjusting the rope line) below me looked up suddenly and gave me a very dirty look.

Moral: there is a entire world out there that you don’t even think exists. And I know there is more wacked out stuff out there that I won’t even get close to.

 

What do your ski bases and edges look like after that??

Took rock skis. Already edged them once during the trip… No core shots though.

JimK was on his good skis, though I think he was smarter than I on choosing his entry.

8 months ago

The thing for me that skiing in the mid-Atlantic prepares you for when skiing out West is for your enjoyment of it.   There is nothing like that first time going to ski somewhere out West and just realizing how incredible the large mountains are with so much natural snow, such high verticals, trails and lifts galore, the views, etc..   It does make it hard to come back East and ski that same season (kind of like when you get to fly in First Class you struggle the next time you have to fly in Economy).    

Two of the biggest things to adjust to when skiing out West to me are the altitude (especially if you go to Colorado and not just the skiing, but can hit you going up and down stairs or doing things off of the slopes), the dramatic differences in the climate on the same mountain and the same run down the mountain (could be white out conditions at the top and bright sun at the bottom) and the big difference in vertical drops you’ll be skiing.     

 

8 months ago

As others have said it’s very different types of skiing.

Both are great for what they are.  Where people go wrong is after going out west and then thinking everything in the east is terrible.  The Mid-A is what it is.  They can never add more vertical to these places, they’re small.  But if you know, understand, and accept that it’s great.

The west is a different beast.  I’ve been coming out here fairly regularly for the past 15 years or so.  As JohnL said, it has taken me years to recalibrate how to ski out here.  You can transition easily by sticking to the groomed paths, but the fun stuff is off of there.

I have found myself in dicey situations.  Sometimes when you duck into the trees, or take some side trail you have no idea where it will end.  That’s where things get tough.

Last year at Alta I found myself standing on top of a 10ft cliff with no way down.  I don’t do cliffs, I don’t do jumps like that.  There was a very tiny sliver of snow that went straight down with a very hard turn to avoid trees.  I doubted my ability to do it, but that was the only way, so I puckered up and went for it.  I lived to tell the tale, but the thing is you have no idea what lurks ahead.

I think that’s the biggest difference other than the obvious snow quality.  In the east everything is visible and you know there are no places where you can get stuck.  Out here everytime I take a new set of tracks into the woods I’m wondering what I’ll hit.  Sometimes the route is incredible and I do it again, other times I’m just happy to get to the lift.

I’d suggest going out west as soon as you can.  It’s an experience you’ll never forget.  And once it’s in your blood it’s hard to purge it…

8 months ago

oddballstocks wrote:

 And once it’s in your blood it’s hard to purge it…

Amen to that …… my flight to Denver leaves tomorrow at 10AM.  I’m just killing time in my office right now ….. tick tock tick tock 

8 months ago

C’mon. Ski the East!

I’ve never come across any more technical and demanding skiing than Paradise at Mad River Glen or the Front Four at Stowe. Magic Mountain offers other classic gems. 

I’ve skied the West frequently. Taos is my favorite, as I consider it the “Vermont” of the West. A description local transplants out there from the Northeast heartily laugh and agree. Have enjoyed a couple days doing the Silverton, Colorado experience as well. Hiked Highland Bowl last April. etc etc. blah blah

The West is great. The mountains big. The snow soft. The sky often blue. The air thin.  …but the “locals” are quite thin-skinned when it comes to conditions as well. They hit one patch of ice, they’ll call it a day.  Bowl skiing is actually quite bland - and often, not all that hard. It can be over in 30 seconds. There - I said it.

I proudly rock the EMS wear and a Ski The East sticker somewhere on my get up when I’m out there. Very proud to be an Eastern bred and day-to-day skier. No Western trip yet planned this season, but I do hope to get up to Vermont two or three times.

…carry on. :-)

8 months ago

JohnL wrote:

If you are an advanced skier (but not an Expert LOL), the steep meter and fear meter get re-calibrated each time out West. It has taken me close to a few hundred days out West to finally start to get the hang of skiing the steeper and narrower terrain. Some days I have it, some days I don’t.

Been a long time since I have skied that sort of terrain. I hope my steep meter and fear meter are not permanently broken.

8 months ago

Blue Don 1982 wrote:

oddballstocks wrote:

 And once it’s in your blood it’s hard to purge it…

Amen to that …… my flight to Denver leaves tomorrow at 10AM.  I’m just killing time in my office right now ….. tick tock tick tock 

In SLC as I wrote this.  A blue bird at Snowbird today, another tomorrow.  Even in a low snow year it skis well.  Sure, you’ll have a base hit here or there, but I have those at Laurel Mountain as well, and Laurel Mountain pales in comparison to Snowbird.

Enjoy the trip to Colorado.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
8 months ago

After 40 years of living in N VA I now live and ski in California.  The soft snow and virtually ice free conditions mean that an edge sharpening lasts a lot longer.  It also means that core shots from rocks are a lot more frequent.  There is a local name for the small visible pips of rock that stick up above beautiful swaths of untracked powder - chocolate chips.  The large rocks they are attached to are like icebergs; they are 90% below the surface, lurking, unseen.  They are particularly insidious where the rocks are jagged, of volcanic origin, like Kirkwood.

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