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Westward Ho! 2019
25 posts from 10 users
Updated 5 months ago
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 months ago

Westward Ho.  I’ve started another long western ski trip.  This time, if all goes as planned, I won’t return home until grass mowing season.  My wife and I drove out from the East a few days ago.  I’ll try to post here periodically as time goes on.

2/19/19 Luvin’ the Beavers at Arapahoe Basin:  the first place I skied on the trip was a three hour session at Arapahoe Basin on 2/19/19.  I only had a few hours before moving on and my express goal was to ski the new Beavers Lift with its 1501’ vertical.  I spent my entire time skiing the terrain served by this lift (about 8 or 9 runs, I’m slow) and it’s a fantastic addition to the ski area.  I already love A-Basin, but it’s always been a tough place to visit on a cloudy, low visibility day.  That’s what I experienced  But the tree lined groomers and extensive/varied glades of the Beavers is the perfect solution for that kind of day.  All the terrain in the Beavers is dark blue or single to double black diamond.  I did not ski the adjacent and also new Steep Gullies area because it is extreme tree skiing terrain and requires a long hike out and I’m an old guy that’s not that good and on my first day at altitude.  Here are a few pictures which I hope will convey some of the super nice tree skiing in the Beavers.

A-Basin base lodge, it was a cloudy day with poor visibility on the wide open terrain.


The open bowls near the top of the ski area around the Lenawee mtn chair were pretty tough, not quite white out, but close.  And not so fun to ski as a result.


I made an immediate beeline to The Beavers terrain pod.  It starts out above treeline for a few hundred vertical.


This is the upper lift line, great snow and good skiing down this and on either side.


There are only really two groomers back here.  This is Loafer to the lookers right or skier’s left of the chair line.  That pitch under the chair is real steep and so is that part of the groomer where the lone skier is.


This is Davis to skier’s right of the lift line.  Both runs turn very dark blue for the last 500’ of vert.  You can see very friendly glades all around.


Moi above a very aptly named glade.  There is a lot of nicely spaced tree skiing and fair amount of it is only single black pitch.  


This glade to the right and lower on the hill is steeper and is called Baily BrosDSCN7684.thumb.jpg.cc5a372530362f79c4e376fb8adf6c44.jpg

Bailey Bros again. Real pretty back here.



After A-Basin we drove 3.5 hrs in beautiful late afternoon light over snowy Monarch Pass 11300’ to Crested Butte.  I’ll post about my two ski days there shortly.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 months ago

2/21/19, I skied Crested Butte for the first time ever on 2/20 and 21.  It’s a super beautiful part of Colorado with superb  terrain and a cool vibe.  Really liked this mtn, might have to go back again later this winter.  Heading further west tomorrow.

CB base area.

Took about five early runs with friendly Jerry on 2/20.  I met him on my first lift ride.  He was quite a bit senior to me and skied nicely.  Has owned a home in CB for 24 yrs.


Jerry cruising Paradise Bowl with North Face T-bar in background.


CB Peak, elev 12,162’, inbounds ski trails run down those gullies to right.


This is the top of the Headwall area served by the High Lift t-bar, the t-bars serve some bodacious terrain and they are having a good snow year, so it’s all open.


View of the edge of Headwall Glades.


This is up on Headwall too, Rabbit Ears spine.  God’s country!


Looking up at Rabbit Ears.  This helpful local named Scott showed me the route I never would have found myself. As I was taking this photo he told me he grew up in Newport News! CB has terrain that tourists must be very careful on.


View of Headwall area from Paradise Bowl, Rabbit Ears formation is upper left center.


They are having the Prater Cup junior (under age 14) ski races this week on International trail.


Good stuff.


Double Top glades off East River chair.  Mucho great tree skiing at CB.


2/21 got very sunny and pretty in the afternoon.  This one’s for my friends in Canaan Valley, WV!!!


They save one of the best views for the beginner area.


Lovely part of CO, feels remote.


Heading to Utah tomorrow.

6 months ago

Jim, I’m so jealous!  You an old man, nonsense!  Keep it coming!  Wha is your tentative schedule (when/where) for the rest of the winter?

take care, my friend, best to Kathy and Vince, enjoy & have fun!


aka The Colonel

JimK - DCSki Columnist
6 months ago

2/24/19:  On Feb 22 my wife and I drove from Crested Butte to my son’s house in Salt Lake City.  It took about 7.5 hrs and was another pretty drive with a mix of mtns and high plains.  On Feb 23 I skied at Snowbird, UT using my senior season pass for the first time this winter.  Better late, than never:-)  Tonight Feb 24 we are driving up to Montana and plan to ski Big Sky Feb 25-28.  I think we may be going into some very snowy conditions on the roads and the slopes, will switch to my son’s car with snow tires.  Visiting and skiing A-Basin, Crested Butte, Snowbird and Big Sky in the span of seven days might be a new level of craziness for my tendency to do far-flung ski road tripping 😮  After Big Sky we should settle-in around SLC for a long while and get to fully unpack our travel bags.

Departing the town of Crested Butte on Feb 22.  It’s kind of like a smaller, quainter Aspen.  I think they’ve worked hard to retain a historic feel to the place.



Part of the drive from CB to SLC went on US 6 through Price Canyon, UT.  I really enjoy driving around the country as long as the roads are clear.



These are deer on the side of the road nearby Price, UT.  We’ve also seen on this trip a coyote in suburban Kansas City (!), a herd of about 30 Elk beside a country road near Golden, CO, a fox, and lots more deer in CO/UT.


On Feb 23 I skied at Snowbird, it was a pretty day.  This is the classic view of the backside of the mtn, Mineral Basin, from the Baldy Chairlift.  Mt. Timpanogos, elev 11,752 in far background.


This is an area also in Mineral Basin to far skier’s left called Ski Patrol Gully.


This is a view of the front side of the mtn in Peruvian Gulch, the groomer in center is Chip’s Run.  The steeps of The Cirque are behind it between the tram towers.


Hasta luego. 

JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago

2/26/19, one foot new snow Big Sky, MT,

a friend:


another friend


with seven friends in the new 8 pack, this is taking friendship to a new level 🙂


5 months ago

Looks like an amazing trip. May all your days be powdery!

5 months ago


JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago

Spent Feb 26-28 skiing Big Sky, MT.  Stayed at the Lodge at Big Sky.  It snowed most of the time I was there.  Never made a ride on the tram because it was hardly open during that time, but still skied some fun terrain and great snow.

A friend on one of the many fine gladed runs.


Another lady pow-buster:


Friend from Calgary, AB enjoying Montana.



Nice snow and terrain off the Challenger Chair.


Goodbye Lone Peak, must return again.



Next stop on Mar 1, 2019 was a day-long tour of Yellowstone National Park.

We had Old Faithful almost to ourselves.


We saw hundreds of bison, this group came right up to our bus.


Saw lots of wildlife including a coyote about to pounce on something.


Eagle nesting


Lots of strange geothermal activity with wildlife in close proximity.


5 months ago


Great journey with fine photos so far!

I see that you reached Old Faithful by bus.  If I understand correctly, plowing season has just started in Yellowstone.  Is it correct that snowmobiles or the equivalent are needed to get to Old Faithful before March 1 - unless, of course, you’re self-propelled?  A dream trip of my wife’s is to go to Yellowstone in the winter and stay overnight at Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

Safe travels,


JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago

Woody, the yellow bus we rode was equipped with monster snow tires and was an over-snow vehicle called a snowcoach.  We saw a great many snowmobilers in the park and at the motel we stayed at in West Yellowstone the night before our tour.  There were four people on our bus that got off at the Old Faithful area to stay overnight in the lodge and several got on to depart the park after staying there.  We were in the mood for the cushy day trip and that’s why we took the bus.  If you tour by snowmobile you are out in the elements and it was about 20-25 degs day time high.  In a week or so they stop the winter tours to begin plowing the roads for regular visitors and traffic.  BTW, our bus got stuck in 4’ snow at one point and had to get towed out by a fellow monster bus.  The winter tours retain a bit of adventure, even the cushy version.  Jim

Below is excerpt from NPS info:

“Winter in Yellowstone means fewer crowds, frigid temperatures, and steaming geyser basins. Skis, snowshoes, snowcoaches, and snowmobiles become the primary modes of transportation as roads close, rivers and lakes freeze, and snowstorms transform the park into a winter wonderland.

Restricted vehicle access and limited services make winter visits challenging. In a sense, coming during winter resembles visiting before the age of automobiles. People arrive at an entrance, then take a snowcoach or snowmobile (instead of a horse-drawn carriage) in order to see the park.

Every year in early November, most park roads close to regular traffic as we prepare for the winter season. The only exception is the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance, which is open to regular traffic all year. Once enough snow accumulates (usually by mid-December), roads open to “oversnow” travel only. This means the only way to visit Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and other popular destinations during winter is by guided snowmobile or snowcoach, or through our non-commercially guided snowmobile access program. Oversnow travel ends in mid-March, when our plowing crews begin clearing a winter’s worth of snow. Roads start re-opening to normal cars in mid-April.

Most stores, restaurants, campgrounds, and lodges are closed during winter. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge is open, as are a few visitor centers.”

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

Sorry we didn’t have a chance to ski together at Big Sky.

Thanks for the pics and details about the Yellowstone snow coach.  DaveB’s friend wanted to do it but his schedule didn’t match up with mine.  I was showing around my friends from DC who were at Big Sky for the first time on the day he wanted to go.  Plus there was too much new snow to not go skiing. ;-)

My trip report for Big Sky is here.  Not many pics but I wrote up info related to travel, lodging, and noted the good food we found.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago

Great to see you again marzNC.  Sorry we didn’t get to make turns together.  I did ski with diva MaryG for a nice time one day.  Keep me apprised if you come back to LCC later this spring.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
5 months ago

JimK wrote:

Great to see you again marzNC.  Sorry we didn’t get to make turns together.  I did ski with diva MaryG for a nice time one day.  Keep me apprised if you come back to LCC later this spring.

If all goes according to plan, Bill and I will be at Alta Lodge for three weeks in April.  Ended up with friends at Alta each of the three weeks.  Including my friend with kids who learned at Massanutten.  The kids have spring break the week before Easter.  So I’m sticking around to ski with them.  Mother was skiing blues last spring and the kids are advanced skiers at this point (ages 10, 12).  Bill and I have both Ikon and MCP, so certainly going to ski Snowbird some days.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago

3/5/19:  Since my last post on our visit to Yellowstone I’ve put in a day of skiing at Snowbird and then today I made a double play at Park City, UT.  I went snowshoeing with my wife in the morning and skiing in the afternoon.  There is a big snow storm coming to the Wasatch this week, so today/Tuesday might be the last day of sun (hazy) until Friday.

My favorite run at Snowbird on 3/3 was Wilbere Bowl as seen in this photo from the Gadzoom chair.


Several little girls blew by me while I was picking my way down Wilbere Bowl.  Snowbird is a very humbling mountain.:$


This is the view from the place we are staying at in SLC for an extended period.  I like to sip a drink at the end of the day while looking at this out the living room window.


3/5/19 was a morning of snowshoeing on public trails near the Park City Ice Arena.  You can see a gang of fat tire bikers in background.  There were many cross country skiers on these trails too.


In the PM I went skiing at Park City, and started by riding the town lift right over city streets.  Meanwhile my wife went shopping on Main St.


This is a view of Jupiter Peak (center) from the Motherlode chair.


I stayed on the lower mtn today and enjoyed this gladed run in the area of Motherlode/Silverlode.


Now on standby, 2-3 feet of snow is expected in the higher elevations of the Wasatch Mtns over the next three days.  That much snow is a double edged sword as it can really mess up the access road in Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird and Alta.  Those staying slopeside in Utah this week could be in for a treat.

5 months ago

Great pics and enjoyable read!

5 months ago

As of Friday, my wife and I are heading to Park City until the 16th. I’m excited to ski Park City for the 1st time. Atmosphere or culture wise how does it compare to likes of Vail/Beaver Creek or Breckenridge/Keystone? I lived in Vail for 3 years, so I’m trying guage how it compares to the Colorado skiing. Also any suggestions how to ski PC for the week?

Great photos too. 

JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago

padjaski68 wrote:

As of Friday, my wife and I are heading to Park City until the 16th. I’m excited to ski Park City for the 1st time. Atmosphere or culture wise how does it compare to likes of Vail/Beaver Creek or Breckenridge/Keystone? I lived in Vail for 3 years, so I’m trying guage how it compares to the Colorado skiing. Also any suggestions how to ski PC for the week?

Great photos too. 

There should be a new foot of snow by the time you arrive at Park City.  There are some tips here about the town and ski area:

Quick synopsis:
My favorite advanced terrain at Park City, from left to right on the trail map, include the bumps of McConkey’s, the chutes of Jupiter, the trees of Peak 5, the bowls of Ninety-Nine 90, the glades of Tombstone, and the off piste from Super Condor. Most days you’ll find moderate to minuscule lines at all of these lifts. The new Quicksilver gondola very effectively connects the old PCMR and Canyons ski areas and serves its own secluded expanse of off-piste terrain called Pinecone Ridge.

5 months ago

I haven’t skied Park City proper, but I can tell you the Canyons area is quite fun and enjoyable.  Haven’t skied it since Park City took it over, but I’d imagine it’d be less crowded than the main area. It was pretty uncrowded before IME.

5 months ago

Great ongoing account — and your reports are always a good resource for specific information that’s useful to other visitors esp. first time.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago

Getting in some frequent skiing here in Utah.  Was at Snowbird today and it was really puking, ten inches in the five hrs I was there.  I skied mostly off the Gad 2 chair which has trees and is good for storm days.  Although I took one run down Great Scott:


In the midst of it all they were holding some sort of junior mogul contest, these guys were good, esp. considering it was in low viz conditions.





5 months ago

Really enjoying this TR… you’re living the dream! It’s fun to read your thoughts about the various resorts and the pics from Yellowstone are amazing, especially the buffalo. It seems like you ski by yourself a good portion of the time. Either you’ve been to all these places before or are really good at checking maps! I find at new places I get too distracted having fun on the slopes and enjoying the view to keep an eye on what run I need to get to or stay on. This causes a lot of confusion at times. Oops!

I just got back from my first ever trip out west where we skied Deer Valley thanks to the Ikon pass. I wanted to get over to Solitude as well but we were having too much fun meeting up with various friends at DV each day to pull ourselves away. Planning to do Ikon again so we’ll hit it next year for sure. Looking forward to your upcoming installments!

JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago

The snow keeps piling up in Utah.  Snowbird broke 500” for the season today, 10 Mar 2019.  It has snowed approx. 5-10 inches for about 5 days in a row.  Some offpiste areas are really deep.

I got to ski a couple runs with a mixed age group today including some hot little rippers.  They wore me out.

Gateway to adventure in the Tiger Tail area:




5 months ago
Park City received last night and it snowed all day here. Avalanche mitigation happened this morning on the PC side of the mountain. The clouds kept rising and lowering up top. Great conditions.
5 months ago
They received 4” last night.
5 months ago
Having to go to Utah this week for a family emergency. The silver lining in this in I’ll get couple ski days in. Going to drive so kind easy bring my gear along. Going to hit Brighton this week and Solitude next Monday ($60 lift tickets starting in April!). I’ll post some pics.

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