Anyone skied A-Basin?
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k_alice
January 13, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Hi! We're heading off to Colorado in about 10 days. We're considering spending a day at A-Basin, in part because they have really cheap lift tix (buy one adult, get one kid free) which is a huge discount compared to other area resorts. Based on the on-line reviews I've read, it looks a bit too challenging for the (beginner) friends who are coming with us. So maybe just my husband and older son would go - my husband is looking forward to a challenge, after many seasons of mid-Atlantic boarding. On the other hand, the lessons look like a great deal, so maybe that would be a good place for kids to take lessons? Any feedback would be welcome!
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 13, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,723 posts
Have driven by A-Basin, but have not skied it. It is not especially known for being user friendly to beginners, however Connie Lawn's trip report (
http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=818&mode=search ) seemed to indicate some friendly groomers. They have a couple of short beginner lifts at the base and one chair serving lower mtn blue and green runs. So it might work. As you may know Keystone and Loveland, both about 4-5 miles from A-Basin in opposite directions have more extensive beginner and low-intermediate terrain.
k_alice
January 13, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Thanks, I hadn't seen that trip report, which is helpful.

Yep, I know about Keystone, etc. but it's the price that really made us look more closely at A-Basin. Their full-priced adult ticket is only $58, and throw in a free kids ticket that makes only $116 for a full day of skiing for our family of 4. Even with discounted tickets at Keystone (about $75 for adults) we're looking at closer to $240 for a day of skiing. That's enough of a difference to make us look twice at A-Basin.

That said, I saw on goski.com that the vertical drop at A-Basin is only 1600 feet! That's only 600 feet more than Wintergreen. Of course, the altitude and views are probably more spectacular...
JohnL
January 13, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
 Quote:
That said, I saw on goski.com that the vertical drop at A-Basin is only 1600 feet! That's only 600 feet more than Wintergreen. Of course, the altitude and views are probably more spectacular...


If you can actually compare Wintergreen and A-Basin in the same sentence, I'll have what you're having...

Terrain, total acreage, snow conditions, challenges, variety, etc., it's like comparing grade school baseball to the majors.

Can't comment on the beginner terrain.

I'm not a fan of Keystone. The different mountains/peaks are front to back (to get to the back terrain you are forced to take numerous lifts) versus left to right (you can park at the terrain you primarily want to ski.) Some areas have some of the front to back layout of Keystone, but not to the same extent.
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oldensign - DCSki Columnist
January 13, 2008
Member since 02/27/2007 🔗
437 posts
I skied A-Basin in shorts on July 4th. Girls were skiing in bikini's. We had a cook out in the parking lots. Too cool.....

Althought I hear this doesnt go on all year. \:\(
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
January 13, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
Don't worry about the vert, from the top of Lenawee it's a long way down. All the real goods at Keystone are 1400 to 1600. You might want to make it a weather decision.

But it's really apples and oranges. A keystone is a big resort with fast lifts and wide slopes. An abasin is a throwback ski area with great lines and soul. It's just one day, you could try it out and see what you think.

Have fun.
snomonster
January 13, 2008
Member since 04/2/2005 🔗
16 posts
I skied A-Basin and would recommend it. Its beautiful there and a down to earth resort. The trip report above sums it up
I skiied Pallavicini on my teleskis- it took a long time to get down.

No comparison to Wintergreen whatsoever........
fishnski
January 13, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Can you all Imagin A ski area with 2000' vert 150 miles as a crow flies west of the Washington monument with an aggresive snowmaking management? Add that to about 1 to 2 foot of freshies by next Sunday...It would be foolish to spend such good money on a trip out west...."Almost Heaven " Mount Porte Crayon, WV!!.....1600' vert Nose bleed A-Basin...who would need it?.....DAMB IT !!!!!
Denis - DCSki Supporter
January 13, 2008
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,220 posts
I have skied it. There was some excellent looking green/blue terrain, not a lot of it, but I was there for steeps, trees, and steep trees, like most everybody. You can probably do better for blue/green at Keystone or any of the other summit county places. OTOH, A-basin is a must stop on any tour of ski shrines and ski culture in North America. If that interests you - go.
Norsk
January 13, 2008
Member since 05/13/2003 🔗
315 posts
I spent (misspent?) much of my youth skiing A-Basin. Do not, repeat do NOT, miss the chance to ski it at least once if you are intermediate or above. Scenery alone is worth it. Down to earth, serious skier/boarder culture alone is worth it. Challenge alone is worth it. Etc etc. However, 13000 feet at the top on an exposed ridgeline can get mighty chilly on a cold January day. Recommend some selectivity on choice of day unless you are a native of Fairbanks.
k_alice
January 13, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Quote: "Do not, repeat do NOT, miss the chance to ski it at least once if you are intermediate or above."

Well that sounds like pretty compelling advice! From some of the pictures I saw, the scenery did look pretty spectacular. And I read on their website that they actually have a "restaurant" where they provide grills and you can grill you own food, while enjoying the views from 12000+ feet. Not that I think I'm planning on skiing with meat for grilling in my backpack, but I love the down-to-earth/welcoming attitude that suggests. I think we'll see what the weather is like, and if it looks promising, we'll head to A-Basin with our boys, and maybe our friends will go elsewhere.

I guess mentioning Wintergreen and A-Basin in the same sentence is pretty provocative! \:\) And yes, I know, the mis-statement of the weekend. I realize the two are like night and day. I was just a little surprised that the vertical drop wasn't more, given the altitude and reputation.

Anyway, this is great feedback, and we're definitely tempted. Thanks!
kwillg6
January 14, 2008
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,031 posts
Just to echo what's been said. Check the weather reports before you go. I don't do Vermont in January and I don't do A-basin unless it's gonna be a non-windy or sunny day. I hate wastin $$ so I can become an ice cycle and miserable.
songfta
January 14, 2008
Member since 05/10/2004 🔗
44 posts
A-Basin also expanded this year, almost doubling in size. They just opened the Montezuma Basin quad last weekend, to rave reviews.

That said, A-Basin isn't the most beginner-friendly mountain, but the place has lots of fun blue cruisers. Also, it has the highest lift-served terrain in the USA, so take care when you first get out there - the altitude can get to 'ya.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
January 14, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Speaking of altitude: I do not remember your sequence one you get in Colorado, but I usually try to spend my first night in Denver to help get used to the altitude. And with A Basin at 12K feet, that is important.
I will also mention that the town of Breckenridge is quite nice, or at least it was when I was last there about 8 years ago. And if my memory serves me right, I think they have a festival with ice sculptures in late Jan.
The Colonel \:\)
songfta
January 14, 2008
Member since 05/10/2004 🔗
44 posts
Yeah, Breckenridge is a nice place to stay, if a bit pricey. You can get more bang for your buck staying in Dillon, Silverthorne or Frisco: each are close to the major Summit County players (A-Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain).

I'm heading out to Summit County from the 24th to the 28th. Should be fun.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
January 14, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
The Breck ice sculptures are next week tue thru fri.

I absolutely love Frisco; Dillon not so much. However, you cannot walk onto the slope in Frisco, unless you are Denis and make your own slope, but you can in Breck.

Thus, the pagamony family will be in Breck at 150 yds from the slope all next week (and it was equally cheap). If anyone wants to hook up, send me a pm. yeah, I suck at skiing, but I can buy beers. Maybe I'll make a separate thread for that.

And yes, we will be hitting the legend.
k_alice
January 14, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
We'll be in CO Jan 24-29, staying in Avon. Our first choice condo in Breck was taken, second choice in Keystone taken, so we ended up in Avon. So obviously we're skiing at Beaver Creek, and will definitely do a day at Copper, which isn't too far down the road. My husband skied at Copper years ago and wants to go back, and the coupons from the "E Book" make it an excellent deal (2-for-1 adults, $27 kids). I realize A-Basin is a bit of a drive from Avon, maybe too far to make it worthwhile esp. considering weather. In any event, I'm totally pumped to get out there.

My dad went to Breck for the first time in December and had an amazing time so we're sure to be back to Summit County.
songfta
January 14, 2008
Member since 05/10/2004 🔗
44 posts
Pagamony: good point about Breck and the slopeside access. However, you are traveling with family - I'm traveling alone. So the cost of lodging and whatnot is a bit blunted.

Also: I waited until late in the game to book my trip, so Frisco was a lot cheaper. And if there's a plus: I'm a little bit closer to Copper, Vail and Beaver Creek, if I choose to venture a little off the beaten path.

But any way you look at it, there's a wealth of options: A-Basin, Keystone, Breck, Copper, Vail, Beaver Creek - even Loveland or Cooper Spur. Such luxury!
Denis - DCSki Supporter
January 14, 2008
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,220 posts
Beaver Creek has great terrain for all levels. For your husband, who is looking for a challenge, there is an area called "royal Elk Glades" or something close to that. When you get off the lift (don't recall the name of it) turn right and don't drop in there. Traverse out until you reach the area boundary rope, then ski down. By traversing way out you get rid of most of the competition and all of the snowboarders who have trouble with traverses. It's fantastic, the trees get a little tight then you'll see an opening of 5-10 turns, then it tightens again, then the pattern repeats 4-5 times. Eventually you reach an access road, turn right and ski down the road (some skating required) to a lift. You can't get lost because the road is obvious and crosses everything both within bounds and beyond the rope. (It's even better beyond the rope.)I like B Cr a lot. To me it has more soul than Vail. It is also full of Texans and few Texans ski powder in the woods. \:\) \:\) \:\) Be sure to wear your Redskins hat!
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
January 15, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
Hey songfta, I would never sneer at a chance to stay in Frisco - that's always a good call. The owners of the frisco hotel are particularly nice, tia amo is great, the butterhorn is good for breakfast, and you still get access to the summit stage. It's all good, very good. We'll overlap a couple of days, so if you see a goofy tall gaper in green shell and long red skis or family in tow, shout out. -Dave
MangyMarmot
January 15, 2008
Member since 12/25/2002 🔗
183 posts
I love A-Basin.
My first time there, I was a slightly tentative intermediate. Freaked me out at first, riding up the lift, the first thing i saw was the trail Pallavicini. IT's GNARLY.
But there's plenty of trails that won't make the hair raise on your neck.
Plus the vibe is GREAT. REally old school. Lots of locals.
mm
songfta
January 15, 2008
Member since 05/10/2004 🔗
44 posts
Dave -

I'll keep an eye out for 'ya! I'm tall, blue Briko helmet, chalk-colored jacket and black pants. Often skiing like a lapsed racer (which I am).

Rudi (songfta)
JohnL
January 15, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Avon is not a bad place to stay. (I've stayed there several times on trips to Vail/Beaver Creek.) Love the name of the liquor store...

Echo what Denis said about Beaver Creek. It is a loooot less crowded than Vail (though maybe more expensive on the slopes for tix and food.) Unless you are staying/working at the base, you'll need to take a bus up to the slopes. There is a large parking area above Avon at the mouth of the canyon (Beaver Creek is at the top of the canyon.) The town of Avon is also well-served by the shuttle service which also takes you to the ski area. If you've stayed there before, you'll know this...

Beaver Creek has some excellent, uncrowded, corduroy groomers; some of the best in the West. It also has some of the best steep bump runs around. The Royal Elk Glades, mentioned by Denis, is on Grousse Mtn. It is an experts-only section, serviced by an insanely fast high speed lift. With the exception of the glades, every other trail on that mountain is mega steep bumps (maybe one double blue run down.) That lift will outlast the fittest individual.

One mountain over is the Birds of Prey section. The world cup downhill run is there; it is generally skiable by an intermediate (unless you're going 90 mph in a tuck.) It is worth skiing it, trying to imagine how a DH goes down that stuff.

The Rose Bowl lift can be less crowded, serving up some nice groomers and easier blacks. The Larkspur and Strawberry Park Express lifts serve up some relatively mellow terrain and are still a bit less crowded than the center section lifts. There is a wide-open bowl under the Larkspur lift for intermediates to get a feel for skiing off-pisted.

If you are staying in Avon, Copper Mountain is the most accessible area in Summit County. It is a great mountain for all abilities. Roger Z had an earlier there on DCSki about Copper and Breck. (In bad weather, Vail pass, which separates Vail/BC from Summit County, can get sketchy and is the most likely stretch of road to close.)

Enjoy!
k_alice
January 15, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Thanks for the advice! I've actually never been to Avon, and I was wondering what our best option was for accessing the slopes. I guess our options are: (1) town of Avon bus, (2) drive to Beaver Creek parking lot, (3)10 minute walk to new gondola in Avon. I have no clue which is the best option, in order to maximize time on slopes.

I know our friends will be excited about the long groomers - any advice on a good place to start the day? We'll probably split up later in the day - we already read a few reviews of the Birds of Prey, which sounds pretty cool. The Larkspur lift area sounds fun for my older son, who was thrilled with some (fairly tame) off-piste skiing in the Alps.
JohnL
January 15, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
I think I last skied Beaver Creek in ~2002, so my info will be a bit dated. I just did a check check of their on-line trail map and saw the new town lift.

Quickest way as a group is probably to drive to the main parking lot and take the shuttle up (this is what I've generally done.) I can't remember if the town buses take you directly up the mountain or if they stop at the main parking lot and you have to take a second bus up. If the town buses go directly up, they may be a better option for seating. Ask someone when you get to Avon. (On long routes, by the end of the route the buses can be completely filled. But buses are slower than cars to get from point A to point B. Seating space versus trip time trade-off.)

The new gondola could be a good option for those starting at a different time from the rest of the group or lose who want to milk every last second on the mountain at the end of the day. It is neat to take a town lift. (Park City is another place that comes to mind having a town lift.)

Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch used to be separate areas; they are now part of Beaver Creek. I've never skied those sections, but haven't heard any great things about them. (They should be less crowded if holiday crowds are unusually bad.) They are pretty much there for ski-in, ski-out access; ie, more real estate than skiing. The town gondola takes you to those areas. You will then need to take several lifts to get to the good stuff (and the main area.)

For starting out (and ending the day), the Centennial Lift. Some great cruisers under the lift to get warmed up. Once the lift lines get bad, head up and out. For lunch, I like the Red Tail Camp; it is small, but on a sunny day, the deck is great. The lodge at the top of the Centennial Lift attracts more crowds but IIRC it has a lot more space and a nicer view. There is a decent happy hour place or two on the main walkway through the village (at the bottom of the Centennial lift) to the bus stop.

The very top of the mountain is quite flat (served by what is now called the Cinch Express lift.) I wouldn't spend much time on that lift, but it probably has the best beginner terrain. When I last skied it, the Westfall lift (looks like it is now called the Birds of Prey Express lift) was an extremely slow double. Judging by the name, they have since upgraded it. Some great steep terrain under that lift (may be more bumped up if the lift is now a high speed.)
JohnL
January 15, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
One last thing, check out Beaver Creek's home page. Looks like they are running a ticket special at the end of your stay. Two tickets for $92. Looks like you don't have to enter the competition to get the deal.
k_alice
January 15, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! You just saved us literally hundreds of dollars in lift tickets!!!
JohnL
January 15, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
 Quote:
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! You just saved us literally hundreds of dollars in lift tickets!!!


I guess I picked a good day to be out sick...
jimmy
January 15, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Laurel Mountain Fever?
k_alice
January 15, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Well, we're pretty thrilled! It added up to a lot of discounts for everyone in our group. I've been reviewing your advice with the Beaver Creek trail map, and it's all very helpful. We're very excited, and even more so now that we're getting a great deal. Thanks again!
k_alice
January 30, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Despite no one in our party wanting to leave, yesterday we came back from a fabulous trip to Colorado. Two days at Beaver Creek, two days at Copper, lots of fresh powder, plenty of sunshine, stiff muscles, and huge grins.

We started Day 1 on the new gondola from Avon, which is really short, and probably not the best bet unless you want to ski in Bachelor Gulch. Although it looked like there were some nice beginner/intermediate trails over there, we mostly skied around the Beaver Creek village area. If you take both Centennial and Cinch Express, you get a pretty decent amount of vertical... and the terrain parks are at the top of Cinch, hence my 9-year-old begged me to go up that at least 4 times the first day. Our friends mostly hung out on the long green cruisers, but gave themselves a few challenges and all felt like they had improved. My husband gave his muscles a serious workout on the moguls over by the Birds of Prey and Larkspur lifts with our older son. As JohnL suggested, we liked the area under the Larkspur lift, and my husband and 11-year-old had lunch at Red Tail camp. We also liked Spruce Saddle cafeteria and ate out on the upper terrace in gorgeous sunshine on Day 2. Saturday was the "Talons Challenge" but no one in our party managed to do all 13 black-mogul runs in the one day - I decided that big moguls are really not my thing, although my kids both do much better! I liked the President Ford run - a nice black/ blue groomer. But there was a lot we didn't ski in 2 days, and I'd be happy to go back to Beaver Creek.

I've heard the village at Beaver Creek is Disney-esque, but I don't care, we thought it was great. Around the family skate rink, they have sofas grouped around gas fires to warm you hands, and we gratefully collapsed on these after our first day of pounding the slopes. On Sunday night they had family skate night, during which it started snowing and was too picturesque to be true. Plus, you can park right under the village for free for 2 hours.

Our two last days were at Copper, and both days the Vail pass was pretty sketchy. Once on the mountin, conditions were mostly great, except for the last 2 hours of skiing of the whole trip, when the snow was really coming down and visibility was limited. I loved that Copper has so much terrain above the treeline, it reminded me a little more of the Alps. And it was really cool that there is a very easy beginner trail (Rendezvous) pretty high up, so our friends could enjoy the specatcular views too. I know my kids will also claim that the terrain parks and half-pipes are better at Copper, and my husband loved the glades.

Finally, I had posted some questions earlier this fall about altitude sickness, and no one in our party suffered any effects, except perhaps waking up at night more than usual. But no big deal, we didn't even really cut down our alcohol consumption! It may have helped that we were staying in Avon, which is only at 7500 feet.

Thanks again to everyone for their advice (esp. JohnL). We couldn't have had a more successful trip!
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
January 31, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
Nice trip, but you are supposed to post pics! \:\)

We went over to Avon last week but decided it was probably not where we want to stay. When they finish the gondola center it will be nicer. We also decided that BC proper looked way too expensive!

But no A-basin trip ? sigh - just gives you a good reason to go back. Some A-basin stoke (shameless self-promotion!)
k_alice
January 31, 2008
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
I thought Avon was OK, but I can't compare to other towns since it was our first trip out there. Our condo was fabulous, but about 1/2 the price that one would pay at Beaver Creek Village (thanks, VRBO). The hockey enthusiast of our group had fun skating around with the local kids on the lake behind the condo, which the town of Avon clears for skating. Beaver Creek is expensive, but with some research and planning, you don't have to spend a fortune.

No A-Basin this year, it was too short a trip, and a bit too far from Avon. Next year, we'll need a longer trip! Hope you had a great trip too!

Pix are not yet downloaded to my computer...
songfta
February 5, 2008
Member since 05/10/2004 🔗
44 posts
I was out in Summit County from the 24th to the 28th - click here for pictures from Copper Mountain, Keystone, Beaver Creek (not in Summit County, but still nice) and Loveland Basin.

Never made it to A-Basin on account of an unfavorable wind forecast on the pre-planned day (the 26th), so we hit Keystone instead. I have two write ups of the trip on my blog: here and here . All told, it was a great time.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
February 5, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts
Thanks for the photos. Great!
The Colonel \:\)
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