East goes West
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jimmy
April 20, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
Made my first ski trip out west this year. Eastern sliders like to say if you can ski the conditions here you can ski anywhere. Alta had signs up warning us of "hard snow conditions", that caused a chuckle. I'm curious about others first impressions of the Western Experience.
KevR
April 20, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
My first stop was Telluride for 3 days several yrs ago now. I had not skied much in several yrs and ended up working for a guy that was a life long skier, ski instructor (now ex) and had planned yrly (some times bi-yrl) trip out west. I just happened to be "in the area" on business and he approached me and said a group would be in such and such condo at that time, swing by. SO -- that's what I did! I was absolutely stunned. I think maybe not so much from skiing which i could hardly really take advantage of, but the scenary, conditions, vasteness and relative emptyness of it. I was hooked and have been back every yr, trying to get to more and more of the mountain... (actually not specifically to Telluride, just out west... although at this pt i am seriously considering re-tracing my steps)
nakedskier
April 20, 2005
Member since 02/3/2005
91 posts
Made my second trip out west April 2nd and 3rd. Hit Vail and Beaver Creek. Last year it was Heavenly and Squaw out in Lake Tahoe back in January 2004. Each time, I agree with KevR, the view, the snow, hugeness truly sends me skipping to the lifts like a little school girl! Vail and Beaver Creek were no exception! I was truly impressed with the village that both Vail and Beaver Creek created around their mountains. Everything you want is right there! Point in case, my gf was having a huge problem with her rental boots. We took them to three different sport shops around the Beaver Creek village until we were satisfied. And it's not the problem of they don't have the tools to help, they kept telling us that we would be able to get it cheaper at such and such store. We spent that Sunday morning going to different shops until we found a price to fix her boots we were happy with (sidenote: didn't really fix the boots, got her a footbed insert). While she was doing that, I went in and found a grocery store and bought a "cheap" lunch on the mountain. And this is all within walking distance to the lifts! Unbelieveable! Now I just wish I had the money for one of those condo's in the base village.

Vail and Beaver Creek have the largest FREE public transportation system in the country (at least, that's what they advertise). I was able to park for free in a strip mall lot and take the free bus to the lifts and village!

I guess I made it known, I love it out there and that's one of the major factors I decided to go to school out there! Well that and of course, it's a respectable program and great professors, yada yada....
JohnL
April 20, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
My first trip out West was nearly 15 years ago (Vail and Beaver Creek) and I've skied out West 1-3 times a year since. Rough life!

Waiting to hit the slopes on my very first day out West, I still remember how long that bus ride to the mountain seemed and I remember running up the steps from the bus stop to the lifts to get my skis on as quickly as possible. I seem to have a lot less energy and bit more patience this days. (Except on powder days.)

Believe it or not, I was surprised at how "short" the mountains were (I grew up skiing New England.) I guess I was expecting Matterhorn-sized mountains. The vastness of Vail's back bowls was amazing. Having ski areas be a stone's throw from the interstate (Copper, Vail) with villages extending right up to the lifts was new and different. I was surprised at how warm the temps were (trip was in March) and how bright the sun was.
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KevR
April 20, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
yeah bring suntan lotion!

Also, yeah, the verts not that amazing. it typically 2.5-4k i'd venture. The mountains are high but you have subtract the 1 mile up they start off with as there's a geologic buldge in that part of the country that pushes the crust up. Supposely will actually burst one day and destroy most of it -- or that's what i read. Enjoy it while you can!
JohnL
April 20, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

Alta had signs up warning us of "hard snow conditions", that caused a chuckle.




I skied Alta a day this past January that had conditions that were worthy of an Easterner calling them "firm." (Though obviously not as bad as skiing Vermont after a rain storm when temps have plummited 30 degrees in 24 hours.) If you ski out West often enough and avoid the groomers, you'll ski plenty of runs that will rattle your fillings. All it takes is lack of snow for a couple of weeks, warm days and cold nights, and skiing a face that has not yet been softened by the sun. Those "Ice Warning" signs out West usually are on groomed runs with heavy beginner/intermediate traffic. For a Mid-Atlantic skier, those signs are a joke. If Mid-Atlantic areas used the same signage standards, there'd often be more signs than sliders on the trails.

Quote:

Eastern sliders like to say if you can ski the conditions here you can ski anywhere.




I used to believe that until recently. I don't know what is more entertaining: a Westerner skiing really nasty ice for the first time or an Easterner skiing deep powder/crud for the first time. There are many Western locals who are surprised when they encounter an Easterner who can ski powder/crud well.
JohnL
April 20, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

Also, yeah, the verts not that amazing.




There are a some lifts (Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Snowbird, etc.) that have impressive vertical, but many lifts out West don't service 2K feet of vertical. Even at a place like Whister/Blackcomb (5K vert?), you are pretty much skiing the upper 2-2.5K of the mountain during the day. (Or you should be.) Plus at many areas, you don't see the entire mountain from the base village, so the mountains seem shorter than they really are.
MadMonk
April 20, 2005
Member since 12/27/2004
235 posts
Skied Utah (PC, Canyons, Alta) this Jan and loved it. Skiing soft moguls was actually enjoyable. Best of all if you wiped out it felt like you were falling into a big down comforter as opposed to bouncing and sliding 1/2 mile on "packed powder."
Roy
April 22, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Not my first but one of my early trips to A-Basin, I encountered the same type of signs. Except this one was "Caution Ice". We spent the day skiing knee deep powder as it snowed over a foot that day. And had been snowing consistently the week before.

Learning to ski powder is easier for an Easterner than learning to ski ice is for a Westerner.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
April 22, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004
2,644 posts
In the mid 1970's I made a college spring-break solo road trip to Colorado. This was my first ski trip to the west, which is an awesome revelation for any young mid-Atlantic bred skier. I slept in my 1969 VW Bug some nights. I don't think I paid more than $15 for a motel room. One of my first stops was Vail. Halfway up the mountain my chairlift crested a ridge and before me lay Mid-Vail, a large, open bowl area. There was a lodge there surrounded by outdoor grills and 15,000 people partying in the March sunshine at 9,500 feet. I was about 21 and I said to myself "wow, this is the big-time!"

Since then I have come to feel that while huge ski mtns are schweet, great fun can be found within the confines of a 1000-2000' vertical ski mtn anywhere. But, no doubt, that combination you can get at Western elevations of nice, sunny days and good powder/packed powder conditions is hard to beat.
Crush
April 22, 2005
Member since 03/21/2004
994 posts
yeah I guess I made the ultimate East goes West transition .... just three pics of a great season in the West ... oh yeah ... got proof I put in 102 days so far ... and Snowbird confirms to stay open till the end of May :-)

.. my friend Nicole and me on a good day ...


Yup this was fun; thanks Jeff S. for this one at Deer Valley ...


... thanks Lance B. of the Fagowee ski club for snapping our most-excellent day out and about; damn you were right it was 3-4 feet!!! ...
jimmy
April 25, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
Those pictures make me wish I'd stayed. My only previous experience outside the MidAtlantic was a couple days at Mt. Snow and a day at Northstar Tahoe.

I agree the horizontal is more impressive than the vertical, I remember saying a lot of wow oohhh look at that, 15' of snow as far as I could see!

While many of the lifts only serve 1000-1500' I think the pitch was more than I'm used to, no run out in that vertical. The groomed traverses, one cat track wide were pretty interesting with traffic going at different speeds, don't look over the edge unless that's where you want to go narrow. We made a few ungroomed traverses and the uphill ski felt like it was above my downhill hip.

The variation in snow conditions and temperature from the top to the bottom or depending on exposure was amazing. We even found ICE, I can't even edge or wedge, boilerplate, hope i don't fall on this ICE at Park City; the wind at Snowbasin was incredible.

I think I am a good intermediate skier, our group stayed pretty much on the groomed blues, blacks and some bumps. I was very much challenged by that and I know I came back a better skier. I'll be back.
bawalker
April 25, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Speaking of being out west... how is Mt. Hood? My gf's family is from the Oregon area and a Mt. Hood trip is like 2-3 hours at most. I'm planning on heading out there sometime next year but am not sure what to expect, what advice should I heed, etc. Plus her sister snowboards at Whistler, the crown jewel that I want to ride someday.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
April 25, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts
Mt. Hood is great. It's a huge mountain that offets the possiblity of almost 9000 ft. of vertical in one run from the summit. There are 4 ski areas on the mountain. The major one is Mt. Hood Meadows on the east side which has lots of good steeps. It is hugely popular with NW snowboarders. If you go please please use the outdoor board check and don't bring your board inside the lodge. That's the most dangerous place there with all the juvenile boarders carrying them around at head level not looking at where they're going. Timberline on the SE side is much more mellow, but offers access to the upper mountain. Lifts stop at 8500 ft., climb from there.

I'm going there next week. Summit attempt on Mon. I'll report. Here's are reports of an earlier trip with the same group;
http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0205b&L=skivt-l&D=1&O=A&P=9581
http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0205b&L=skivt-l&D=1&O=A&P=16606
http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0205b&L=skivt-l&D=1&O=A&P=21190
Crush
April 26, 2005
Member since 03/21/2004
994 posts
You may want to check it out another year ... this season was pretty bad there. In the past ( I was there two consecutive years for master's race camp) in July it can be great or rainy but the hill is good.... if you are in a race camp. In the summer the general public is restricted to one lane and each race camp gets their own lane. As for the "on-season" I suspect it is pretty good. Mt. Hood has basically no trees, all fall-line, a very steady 30 degree pitch (think consistant turns for speed control or you'll be wailing-n-bailing) and a way-good resturant in the lodge.

But this year for the summer ... I'll let my race coach Olle tell the story (see below from an email sent to me)...

".....Dear Skier and Rowmark Supporter,

Rowmark Ski Academy's traditional Masters Summer Ski Camp at Mount Hood has
been cancelled this summer (2005). Unfortunately, the state of Oregon and
Washington has been struck by a drought this winter. It is our opinion that the
unusually low snow cover will not provide the quality ski training experience
we are used to in the third week of July. In the early 90's I was conducting a
ski camp at Mount Hood in August that required us to walk in gravel and rocks
for 6 minutes to reach the mid station of the upper lift. Being the only team
left on the glacier during that August camp I have experienced what it can be
like. We have followed the weather and snow reports daily from Mount Hood in
the last two months and have been in contact with the Oregon State Governments
Meteorology Department and don't expect conditions to change significant.

We have looked at other camp alternatives but nothing has been decided at
this date.
If we have a replacement for Mount Hood it would possibly be at the end of
September to early October. I will let you know within the next three weeks if
we find an alternative.

The Masters Camp at Park City, Utah will be held in early Dec.

If you have any questions you may call me at 801-xxx-yyyy or send me e-mail.

Sincerely,
Olle Larsson ...................."
bawalker
April 27, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Is Mt. Hood officially open during this time, or is this something only private parties, instructors, and racers have access too during the summer? Cause heck if I could even get out there in the summer to work on turns for fun I'd gladly do it.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
April 28, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts
Timberline at Mt. Hood is open all year, except for a couple of weeks in Sep. when they do maintenance on the lifts. Summer skiing is on the Palmer snowfield which is permanent although technically not a glacier because is not ice at the bottom and doesn't creep downhill. They had a terrible snow drought until recently, worst in 50 yrs. at least. But in the last 6 weeks that has turned around completely. Yesterday they reported 73" at Timberline lodge at 6000 ft. That's about half normal but it will be plenty since we're going higher up. The lifts will be running only lower down than 6000 ft. They don't run in winter. Typically the Palmer doesn't open until June.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
April 29, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts
Mt. Hood, here I come. Leaving tomorrow morning.
http://www.skitimberlinelodge.com/photos/DailyPhoto.shtml
Report on return.
jimmy
May 9, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
Just read Jon's article on the main page about his February trip to Vail. He reprted that he suffered a bit from altitude sickness. I remember being slightly concerned about this but never felt any symptoms. At what elevation does this become a factor? Is it a concern in Utah?

Denis should be back soon?
JimK - DCSki Columnist
May 9, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004
2,644 posts
The altitude thing varies widely among people, even within the same person. Meaning you could get it one vacation based at 7500 feet and not get it the next trip at 9000 feet. But some people are inherently more susceptible than others. Also, once you get it, it seems to be more likely to reoccur in future. Here's one of many discussions on epic about it: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=13552&highlight=altitude
Prevention? Try any or all: medicine, water, ease into it, sleep low, reduce alcohol, be in shape.
Following most of these except taking medicine, I've actually done better with it in my 50s, than when I blew off all the cautions in my 30s.

Speaking of caution, is there a medical group/practice in N. Va or DC area renowned among skiers for knee expertise?
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
May 9, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
3,059 posts
Altitude sickness can happen to anyone, and at varying altitudes. That is why some recommend that when going to a CO area you arrive the night before and stay in Denver at 5000 feet to get a bit acclimated to the altitude.
As for Utah, I have skied there many times. I have had a bit of light headiness which I deemed altitude exposure. But whatever, it goes away in a day or so, at least for me. Now the problems associated with shortness of breath, exertion and exhaustion at altitude are a different matter. Guess getting in shape helps with this, although you read that athletes going to compete in Denver ar at a disadvantage.
The Colonel
jimmy
May 18, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
Thanks JimK, Colonel. I guess sleeping in SLC helped the most. I did substitute nicotine patches for cigarettes, ya think i'd JUST QUIT, drank plenty of water thru the day and plenty of 3% apres. My group pretty much gogogoes from the drop of the rope until the liftie tells us NO MORE . I was pretty tired first day at Alta, don't know though it might have been from more high speed diggers that day than i'm used to in a season, wailin & bailin, always a big when i got up though.
snowcone
May 18, 2005
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
I, sadly, cannot ski CO because of asthma. As far as UT/CA is concerned, our routine is to fly in Sat. morning; while the others ski, I do the shopping for the condo for the week, Sun/Mon I ski lower slopes of PCR,DV or Heavenly, higher slopes Wed, then on to Alta, etc., on Thurs.

Basically, if you work up to a higher altitude slowly you are less likely to suffer from altitude sickness. If you do get it, the -only-- recovery is to go to a much lower altitude which generally does not have ski slopes!! Don't let anyone fool you, altitude sickness -can- be seriously life threatening, toughing it out is a truly dumb thing to do.
jimmy
May 18, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
snowcone, CO is tuff even without asthma, never skied there but did a summer tour a couple years ago. Pikes Peak, Estes Park, up at the top I could really feel the pressure just walking around. I'd really have to clean up my act to ski out there, i think. How is your knee?
JimK - DCSki Columnist
May 18, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004
2,644 posts
Quote:

I, sadly, cannot ski CO because of asthma. As far as UT/CA is concerned, our routine is to fly in Sat. morning; while the others ski, I do the shopping for the condo for the week, Sun/Mon I ski lower slopes of PCR,DV or Heavenly, higher slopes Wed, then on to Alta, etc., on Thurs.

Basically, if you work up to a higher altitude slowly you are less likely to suffer from altitude sickness. If you do get it, the -only-- recovery is to go to a much lower altitude which generally does not have ski slopes!! Don't let anyone fool you, altitude sickness -can- be seriously life threatening, toughing it out is a truly dumb thing to do.




Sounds like you have a well developed a plan of action for your situation. I have a mild case of adult onset asthma that I became aware of about 5 years ago. I take a small dose of Advair each day. The manifestations of asthma in people are varied and mysterious to me. I heard last year that altitude might actually be beneficial in some cases due to less friction between air molecules and breathing tubes at higher elevations?? Less friction equating to less chance for inflamation. I did fine in my trip to ski areas close to Denver in Dec '03 (Eldora, Loveland, Winter Park), all between 9-13k elevation. But I always slept at about 7k or less. Did fine 2 mos ago at Kirkwood skied and slept between 8 and 10k.
snowcone
May 18, 2005
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
jimmy... The knee is not cooperating. Bone doc says there isn't a whole lot he can do about it and suggests my choices are an iffy surgery or pain killers. Hmmm ... Darvocet and coffee, now there's a nourishing ski breakfast! Ya know .. it really sucks getting 'older'!
Denis - DCSki Supporter
May 29, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004
2,170 posts
I'm fortunate to have picked my parents right as far as altitude is concerned. I do have some shortness of breath and can't ski as many turns without a rest on the first day, such as Taos this Mar. This always goes away on day 2 or 3. I don't notice anything below 10K feet and have climbed with a 30 lb. pack as high as 13K after one night at 5 - 7K. I always try to sleep one night at an intermediate altitude before exercising higher, and I drink copious amounts of water. I leave a full camelbak on the nightstand and take some water every time I wake briefly. If that means many trips to the bathroom, so be it. The place that gives me the most trouble is Utah and I suspect it is the combination of altitude and dryness. Summit County CO doesn't affect me even though it is higher than Utah. One thing I wonder is if repeated trips to altitude help help the body learn to adjust faster. I've never read an opinion on that. I make at least 6 trips to altitude each year.
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