Overrated ski resorts
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Roger Z
November 18, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
JohnL et all I was worried about the "hijacking the thread" rule so I thought I'd start a new one. Question: what ski resorts- out west, overseas, or here at home- are overrated? Feel free to debate any suggestions made, just don't make the debate personal!

My vote: Jackson Hole. Round II:

Jacskon Hole is for sissies.

Just kidding.

Ok, here's where I was coming from: Jackson Hole has advanced terrain, but while some of their double diamonds are steeper than their blues and some of their single diamonds are worthy of recommendation (I'd suggest hitting Bivouac Woods and Bird-in-the-Hand as two very nice runs), it's nothing that you can't find at any other ski resort. Alta and Tower 3 chutes, Moran Face, Saratoga Bowl, these are standard blacks and double blacks for out west.

When you stake your reputation on something, you better deliver. JH doesn't in my opinion. I have routinely hit terrain as steep or steeper at other resorts who don't brag nearly as much about their expert terrain as JH does, and that's why I was and am disappointed in the mountain. Case in point: Winter Park in CO brags about it's mogul skiing on Mary Jane, and I'd say they have every right to. Their mogul runs are some of the best I've ever skied.

On the other hand, mountains that don't brag about stuff but deliver are even more worthy of praise. Northstar doesn't bellow about it's glade skiing, but it's phenomenal. And Alpine Meadows nearby ironically has some black diamonds that are steeper than their double-blacks, and both of which are steeper than JH. But Alpine advertises itself as a homely, family ski place, not as an expert hangout, and consequently when you find yourself rippin' on eight inches of fresh pow in the trees down a 45 degree line that's about fifteen or twenty feet wide, you're thinkin "NICE!!!"

So my opinion of JH is based on what it's reputation was all about, and frankly, I didn't think it lived up to it's reputation. Whistler lives up to it. Winter Park lives up to it. The snow in Utah is as legendary in person as it is in the legends. JH? Doesn't do it.

As far as cold goes- I stepped out of the tram on and was blown backward by a 70 mph wind; other locals assured me that was pretty typical January weather. The day before the wind was over 100 mph on the summit and still they ran the tram. There's not many mountains in the world where you expect to get knocked over by hurricane-force winds upon exiting the summit lift. The other consequence of this gentle breeze was that the fresh powder at the summit was windblown cement.

All this said, JohnL I respect your opinion too about JH. Just want to keep things lively!
Denis - DCSki Supporter
November 18, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004
2,171 posts
I too was seriously disappointed with Jackson. I was only there one day, went in ignorance and did some stupid things. Friends say that it does not reveal its secrets easily and that I need to give it another chance. They claim that most of the good stuff is on the sides of ridges and in other places that can't be seen from a distance. Perhaps I will go back for another look but it raises the question, why bother when there are so many other great places in the west. On this trip we violated one of the cardinal rules; never leave good snow to find good snow.
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JohnL
November 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Shoot, I've been called a lot worse than a sissy. Why not call me a gaper while your're at it?

Jackson Hole markets itself more as "the last remnants of the wild west" than it does as an extreme terrain mountain. IMHO, the reason that many skiers (and some ski writers) consider Jackson Hole an "experts" mountain is that Corbett's Couloir is located there, there is virtually no beginners terrain, and a lot of the black terrain is above the limits of intermediates who ski groomed runs. Both of my trips to Jackson were with mostly intermediate skiers, and they dismissed the mountain as being too hard or not having enough groomed trails.

To expect that the blacks and double blacks at Jackson Hole to be far tougher than any others out west is too high a standard. Also, have you skied any blacks and double blacks at Keystone, Vail, Breckenridge, Park City, Deer Valley, Heavenly, and even Northstar?

I also disagree with your assessment of Alta and Tower 3 Chutes.

I think why Alpine Meadows doesn't market itself as an advanced mountain is that they are afraid of scaring off intermediates and families, and it would be very difficult to compete with Squallywood one ridge over.

And as you're praising the bump runs at Mary Jane, be aware that I've heard that half of Outhouse may be groomed this year to allow intermediates better access to Mary Jane from Winter Park.
JohnL
November 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
My post from the original thread:

On to Jackson Hole. I do think the expert terrain at Jackson is a bit overhyped compared to the terrain at other areas in North America. It can be an expensive place to stay and ski at, but it is certainly less than Vail, Aspen, etc. (I just checked the ticket prices for JH; the prices have gone up a lot since I was last there.) I don't think Jackson is any colder than any big mountain out west. From my experience, the snow is similar to Colorado snow. I don't see the comparison to the snow of the Pacific Northwest at all. Maybe Roger Z. hit some bad luck and caught some high moisture storms?


Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Most of the advanced terrain isn't much steeper than their intermediate terrain, with a couple of obvious exceptions (Corbetts).


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Did that come out as you intended it?

Jackson Hole is a bit of a peculiar mountain in that as you are looking up the mountain from left to right, it consists of a series of ridges and gulleys coming straight at you down the mountain. A lot of the steep stuff flows from your right to left (or left to right) instead of straight at you. Hope this description makes sense to those who haven't been there. Some of the steep terrain is hidden in those ridges and may not be obvious that it exists. Jackson Hole Trail Map

That said, I can't see how someone wouldn't consider the following to not be steep: Tower Three Chutes, Alta Chutes, Expert Chutes, Bivouac, the Cirque area, the stuff above the Casper Traverse, the stuff around Cheyenne Bowl. It is certainly much steeper and tougher than the intermediate runs at JH. They certainly hold their own against advanced terrain elsewhere.

For most of the above mentioned trails, there is a lot of steep terrain in the adjacent woods. The Moran Face/Moran Woods area mentioned by Roy had some rocking terrain to play on. IMHO, it's some of the best on the mountain. It's not as steep as the rest of the expert terrain, but there are a couple of very short steep faces.

The Hobacks are certainly over-rated as expert terrain goes. They are nowhere near as steep as the ski mags make them out to be, they get a lot of skier traffic, and the combination of sun exposure and lower altitude makes for frequent challenging snow conditions.

Roger Z., opinions aren't right or wrong, they just are. I was a bit surprised that you didn't like the terrain at Jackson Hole.
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JohnL
November 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Denis,

A couple of comments from your Jackson Hole report.

You won't find any real cowboys in the town of Jackson or any tourist town for that matter - too expensive. I suspect there are real cowboys in neighboring towns. There is an impressive array of wildlife between Jackson and Yellowstone - the Wild Elk refuge, long horn sheep, tons of moose, buffalo, etc.

Unless you are skiing Corbett's or want to do 4K vert laps, I'd avoid the tram for regular skiing. Rendezvous Bowl to the Hobacks really isn't all that challenging, and as I've stated on a previous post, the Hobacks can have some sketchy conditions. Plus, the tram normally has long lines. I don't think the Jackson Hole tram is any more of a cattle call than the Snowbird tram.

If you were skiing groomed runs, you probably weren't over the best terrain. A lot of the good ridge shots are pretty obvious from the Sublette and Thunder lifts.

If Targhee had bad conditions, you indeed had incredibly bad timing. Targhee/Jackson Hole seems to get early snow and is often better in January/February than in March.

I'm not saying Jackson Hole will be at the top of your list for expert terrain, but if you time it better, it will move up the list a lot more.

Also, do you have any links for trips to Taos? I was a bit disappointed in the mountain. I was sick during the trip, so I couldn't do much hiking. Would that have made a difference?
Denis - DCSki Supporter
November 18, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004
2,171 posts
Thanks, John. I'm sure I will go back at some point; definitely after retirement when I have more time. I'd love to give it the careful look it deserves and would also love to do some of the delicious looking stuff in Teton Pass. We had plans to do this with Russell Rainey, the tele binding designer who lives in Wilson, but it turned out he was out of town. Avi danger has got to be pretty severe in there and without a local to go with me I probably wouldn't try it. Still every time you drive through the pass there are at least a dozen cars parked at various points. They tell me with 2 cars to shuttle you can get 2500 ft. descents from 500 ft. of climbing.
SCWVA
November 18, 2004
Member since 07/13/2004
1,049 posts
Killington is by far the most overrated resort on the East Coast. Killington's website says "world's most extensive snowmaking" If thats the case, they must not ever turn it on.
KevR
November 18, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
Ah shoot RZ, wha'dya trying to do, incite a riot?

of course JH is awesome but you have to ski down from the tram and GET OFF THE TRAIL, even the trail stuff is pretty good but there's not alot of really crazy stuff on trail really. Ok, so I wouldn't really know unless you count hobacks which was pretty hard but I skied down it so it can't be that hard.

Anyway, here's what it seemed to me. If you fall on a double-black diamond at JH you look likely to get hurt. I mean I didn't check every one. But many seemed to end in cliffs or other outcroppings, or certainly seemed ready to trap the unsuspecting ... "cliffed out" I think is the term. A little slip here, a little misstep there.. OUCH! The single blacks on the other hand meant a likely trundle in the snow and that's it...

JH seemed to have this in droves -- the stuff that you can really get hurt on kind of stuff, from under the tram and even around the other areas, the tree skiing also, and so on -- PPPPLLLENTY.

And let us not forget the out of bounds skiing they support and the inbound but NOT MARKED AS OFFICIAL trails areas...

There is so much, so much to slacken the mortal coil..

Ok so maybe these days there's a lot more of that everywhere ... I'd guess that's true.

Let's take Alta/Bird etc... they seemed to have a LOT of crazy stuff too, but JH seemed to just have more, or perhaps just the attitude to go with it. Still I think its earned.

I recall the ski patroller congratulating my friend on his ski down Corbets. Then he (seemed?) to casually mention the TRAIL BEHIND the tram, a double cliff jump that has to be landed "just right" if he was interested. Hmm, can't say I recall anyone speaking of such things elsewhere, although I am sure those in the know...

Then there's Whistler...

Crush
November 18, 2004
Member since 03/21/2004
995 posts
Steep ! Deep ! And I'm a man because I ski the steepest and deepest! And I drive a hummer! LOL!

Yeah I hear ya' .... you guys know I am weird but the fact of the matter is if you look around in the nooks in most western resorts you can find stuff just as steep and sweet as Corbett's. I know a little place at 99-ninety at The Canyons that is narrow and well past 45 degrees. Instead of rocks you have trees, but whatever ... you need to stay away from both of them! But everything has to have it's litmus test so I guess Jackson Hole is it for now ... unless you are comfortable with yourself and your skiing and don't have to prove anything ... just enjoy!
KevR
November 18, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
Steep, deep .. whatever. My favorite run BY FAR last year was the relatively easy stuff off of one side at Brighton. I think ... GASP .... there may even have been some blues on it. And I liked it why? Cause it had 2 ft of fresh fluffy powder and it was like skiing on a magic carpet ride. I mean just floating on along, no troubles, no worries -- what a buzz. So fine, could I have hiked all over tarnation and found another 1ft hanging off some hidden hideway back up some craggy peak? probably. But... wait, that does sound cool -- where is it again? You say there are 2 more ft, not just 1? Ok. Now how do you get there again? Uh--uh, take the first lift to the right up and then.. Yeah, and just behind the trees to the left, ok -- and then...

Crush
November 18, 2004
Member since 03/21/2004
995 posts
.. right on, cousin!
JohnL
November 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
What's a trundle in the snow?

Is that something you see on CSI or on Cinemax?
catskills
November 19, 2004
Member since 06/29/2004
53 posts
Quote:

I too was seriously disappointed with Jackson. I was only there one day


I am liking this discussion. For all you folks that don't like Jackson Hole please please don't go there. Everyone else that has not been there, please listen to the above comments and staty far far away from Jackson hole. Ok I give. JH happens to be my favorite place to ski. The fact that some of you folks don't like JH is just fine with me. Personally I don't care about the marketing hype on any place. I either like it or don't like it. JH I happen to like a lot.
tromano
November 19, 2004
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
I will preface this with the comment that I have hardly skied anywhere at all outside of the Mid-Atl. Which is much less compared with some of you guys. What can I say I am poor grad student. That said it seems there is a lot of judgement going on here based on advertising and images and preconcieved ideas in light of a startlingly small ammount of evidence or real experience.

I agree that when you experience something for the first time and it isn't all that you hoped it can be a let down. For example if you go to an expensive resturaunt that just opened that all your friedns said was the best and you go and get terrible service, they lose you order etc... then anyone would be pissed. But in rrality, its a new place, they just opened, they are haivng staff problems. Come back in 6 months when its sroted out and you will probably find a much different situation. If not then you know its bad mangement. This is exactly what has happended to me ata couple of times when goign to new resturaunts. This is true of every thing, a new movie coming out etc... I rmemeber when Titanic Came out everyone I knew raved about it. Then I went to see it and almsot threw up twice in the theatre at the smarminess of it. Ugh, worst movie evAr!!!

My take is that you cannot judge a resort based on 1 or 2 trip, even if its a long trip. Conditions change, seasons change. I think you really have to go a couple of times throughout the season, and perhaps over a couple of seasons to really "know what a place is like". Before you have enough information to make a reasoned judgement about it. The ski areas out west are huge by my reckoning and it would take a long time to ski the whole area, and you still don't get a good feel for it with out going over a couple of times to really investigate. That takes more time than most vacationers take, maybe a season . You have to live there.

I don't blame the resorts for hyping their products. This is what they are supposed to do. It's called marketing, we DC Skiers all know about that. They are in business too. Come on, its god eat dog, and people won't ski your resort if you don't tell them about it. And if there are some resorts out there that are really, really great, but that aren't advertising, then by all means these guys are not doing their jobs.

It is interestign that all you guys have the same opinion about JH. I guess that sort of implies that maybe there really is somthing missing there. And I certainly don't plan on taking a trip to JH any time soon. Mostly due to economic reasons and because it just doenst sound too good right now.

--tromano
JohnL
November 19, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Valid points about first impressions aren't always right and sometimes you may have really bad timing. However, for the average person, how many movies do they see and how many dinners out do they have in their lifetime? How many major ski vacations do we get to have in our lifetime? With all the choices out there for ski vacations, how expensive the vacations can be, and how little vacation time many of us have, I'm not sure if it's reasonable to give a resort several week-long trips before you give up on it.

I think it's reasonable for a veteran ski traveller to have explored 95% of a mountain within roughly three skiiing days, even for the big resorts out west. Especially if you know how to scout out terrain, talk to a lot of locals (on and off the slopes), and do some basic research ahead of time. One day is probably pushing it for making a good conclusion.

Quote:

It is interestign that all you guys have the same opinion about JH.




??????? You got that conclusion from reading this thread ?????
tromano
November 19, 2004
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
Quote:

Valid points about first impressions aren't always right and sometimes you may have really bad timing. However, for the average person, how many movies do they see and how many dinners out do they have in their lifetime? How many major ski vacations do we get to have in our lifetime? With all the choices out there for ski vacations, how expensive the vacations can be, and how little vacation time many of us have, I'm not sure if it's reasonable to give a resort several week-long trips before you give up on it.

I think it's reasonable for a veteran ski traveller to have explored 95% of a mountain within roughly three skiiing days, even for the big resorts out west. Especially if you know how to scout out terrain, talk to a lot of locals (on and off the slopes), and do some basic research ahead of time. One day is probably pushing it for making a good conclusion.

Quote:

It is interestign that all you guys have the same opinion about JH.




??????? You got that conclusion from reading this thread ?????




John,

I should have addressed my earlier post with who I was talkign to. I didn't mean to minimize your point of view as someone who apparently likes JH. And my post wasn't really directed at you but to the pople who are drawing conclusions on JH in a negative way. I want to ask them if they have spent a lot of time there and do they really know the resort well enought beofre forming that opinion. If they haven't really done that much time there, then it may just be bad luck. I may be totally misunderstanding the discussion.

From my POV I have only ever heard good things abotu JH up to this point. I think that there is deffinately one other distinct impression about JH that I was getting from reading the thread. The title is what resorts are over rated and the discussion is focused entirely on this one resort. I am only drawing very simple conclusions. Except for you and Catskill the other people in this thread as basicly saying that they went to Jackson Hole and didn't think it was that great...

Now there were some people who said that: No its as good as any place out west and better than most, you and Catskills included in that group. Am I leaving any one out? I want to reiterate that I have never been there, or any western ski area. I am just rephrasing what others have said.

It is true that the big vacation is something that is important and you don't want to be screwed up. I mean it costs about 100 times more per person for a weeks vacation that a movie. So yea there aren't many opportunites. But at the same time, you can't give up on a place after 1 bad trip if it has potential. Hey I am a wizards Fan! All I know is potential. If you talk to the locals there and other tourists then you can get an idea if you just came on a bad day, or if maybe your experiences were typical. If there was a local skier who said "You know its not that great..." Then I would take that very seriously.

And I like your idea about scouting out the area and talking to people to find the good spots. Its just like when you are fishing a strange lake for the first time, its not really obvious where the action will be. You may have a few clues from past expereince at similar places but local knowledge is always helpful. Snow is sort of like fish in that respect.
catskills
November 19, 2004
Member since 06/29/2004
53 posts
Hey Tramano if you got $500 you and the rest of the people that don''t like JH and have never skied out west can go skiing out west. Get a cheap flight from DC to Salt Lake City (SLC). Try Soutwest airlines. Transportation from Airport to Days Inn Midvale UT 801-566-6677 will cost you $1.45 by bus/train. Days inn room, lift ticket, and bus fair to four ski areas is less than $60 per day if you share a room. Days Inn has free peanut butter sandwhiches in the morning. Make 4 sandwhiches and you got enough food for the day. For extra callories buy some honey. This Days Inn is right next to train station if you want to go into Salt Lake City at night. Next door to Days Inn is this huge sporting store that sells great Elk Jerky which is your other food group. Warning don't buy the Buffalo jerky.

When you take the bus to snowbird take the TRAM to top and at 11,000 feet drop in and smile. Next day take a bus to 3 other resorts like Alta.

The point is get yourself out west and go skiing. Life is short.
tromano
November 19, 2004
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
Catskills,

Thanks for the info man. I actually have no opinion about JH, never been there, I am curious about it, but at this point... Its probably out of my budget. I am seriously considering going to Utah this winter. And I like your plan. Anythign that can be done on a PB&J budget is right up my alley at this point.

Thanks for info btw.
Roger Z
November 19, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Crap this is fun!

Sorry I didn't get back to this yesterday. Hey it's all good that we have different opinions about different places-- I still don't have a "favorite" place yet but I'll bet if I named off some ones I've enjoyed someone would say "HATED IT" and there ya go. That said, while the idea of going back to a ski resort multiple times has merit, it certainly makes it hard to experiment with different places. As you go to different resorts, you find different qualities that you like and that you don't (BOOOO JH BOOOO!!! ). That also helps give you a feel for the same mountain, but in a different way.

Take my parents, for instance. If I let them plan our family ski trips, we would return to Steamboat every single year. It's a nice place and all that, but it leaves all these question marks out there (is Lake Tahoe any better? Whistler? Big Sky?), so last winter we got to Solitude and Brigthon (seriously sweet skiing), and hopefully next winter (probably staying east for budgetary reasons this winter) we'll get to go somewhere else new as well.

Now, would I go back to JH? Sort of. I'm an advanced skier, but if I went back, I would go to Grand Targhee and take one or two day trips over to JH to vary things up. Targhee's base is incredibly small so it's sort of a brown bag place, and it's not particularly steep (for the most part), but like KevR said earlier sometimes the best runs can be a blue. Targhee skis like someone strung a lift up in the backcountry-- mind-blowing snow that lasts for days. You can never get enough of that (Solitude is similar but steeper).

Any other "overrated" mountains besides Killington? Should I throw another grenade into the room?
Roy
November 20, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
This has become a Jackson Hole is overrated thread. For my opinion on JH, I refer you to two articles I wrote for DCSki. Trip 1 and A Tale of 3 Resorts will explain my opinion if anyone is interested in reading them again.

I have done a lot of travel and visited many resorts across North America (big and small). While some were better than others, all have their spots that are fun. To me, skiing is also about the adventure of discovering that powder patch, untouched corduroy on a midweek ski day, or meeting the local at the pub to discuss how great it is to be alive and skiing.

If I had to rate one place as overrated, it would have to be Vail. I did only go one day but I had a "guide": My friend who grew up skiing Vail since the 60's when it opened. In one day, he basically showed me the whole mountain. But for the mountain, price, and travel time, I'll just pull up in Frisco for the night and head to A-Basin.
Crush
November 21, 2004
Member since 03/21/2004
995 posts
you got that, my cousin!!!!! Vail=Bail LOL! x-cellent aricles, BTW ... yup you said it all!
JohnL
November 21, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Vail ain't bad when as your last run of the day you take the Minturn Mile and end up at the Saloon at Minturn. Tasty Margaritas! Jimmy Buffet land.
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