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Best chance of good snow in mid December?

gingerskis

Diva in Training
#1
The 17-18 season is over for me, but with some of the new pass prices going up in less than a month I am trying to help figure out my family's trip plans for next season and the pass that will get us there (my parents and 2 adult kids). We usually do a 7-8 day trip just before Christmas to avoid the late December crowds...last year we stayed in Frisco and skied at Copper - but unfortunately there was barely any snow! This was one of the worst early seasons Colorado has had in years, but I'm hoping we can go somewhere next year around the same time that has a little better skiing. I understand the bowls and back side stuff are rarely going to be open that early, but a week of lapping groomers gets old quick!

I grew up driving to Vermont but my mom got over the cold and now refuses to go up north lol. What's good out west in December? I know it's hard to predict, but it's also so hard to plan a trip around snow! Is this a pipe dream thinking there's good snow anywhere? We've been talking about heading further north to Jackson Hole or Big Sky, what are those like in December?
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
#2
I grew up driving to Vermont but my mom got over the cold and now refuses to go up north lol. What's good out west in December? I know it's hard to predict, but it's also so hard to plan a trip around snow! Is this a pipe dream thinking there's good snow anywhere? We've been talking about heading further north to Jackson Hole or Big Sky, what are those like in December?
My daughter went with another family for Christmas week at Big Sky a few years ago. She and the teen boy who is also an advanced skier had a good time all over the mountain. That included a run down Liberty on the backside of Lone Peak with a family friend who is a local skier.

Grand Targhee is considered a good bet for early season snow. But there isn't much to do there besides ski. JH is only an hour away, assuming the pass in between is open.

What type of terrain does your family like?
 

gingerskis

Diva in Training
#3
We ski blues and blacks with my parents and sister leaning more towards the front side while I like the more difficult steeps and back side type of stuff. Rolling groomers get old rather quickly for me...I really like a challenge. I took a lot more risks with trying new and unpredictable terrain this season and it improved my skiing tremendously. My mom is the best skier of all of us but has all this new fear recently of going on anything except blue groomers that she can see on the lift...anyways that's not relevant to planning a trip!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
We ski blues and blacks with my parents and sister leaning more towards the front side while I like the more difficult steeps and back side type of stuff. Rolling groomers get old rather quickly for me...I really like a challenge. I took a lot more risks with trying new and unpredictable terrain this season and it improved my skiing tremendously. My mom is the best skier of all of us but has all this new fear recently of going on anything except blue groomers that she can see on the lift...anyways that's not relevant to planning a trip!
In that case, Big Sky is a better fit than Targhee when just considering terrain options. Visibility can be an issue at Targhee because there aren't many trees when it's snowing or foggy. Of course, getting to either is a bit more different than resorts within driving distance of Denver. Lots of lodging options for Big Sky, either ski in/out or a short drive away (10-15 min).

My first trip to Big Sky was for a Diva Week West. One of the Divas who came was from SC. She was an advanced beginner. She enjoyed Big Sky, as well as a couple days at Bridger afterwards. I like to ski Bridger before Big Sky as a warm up. Private lessons are a good deal at Bridger, so that's a bonus.

Unfortunately, the $1 MCP kid price is gone. $99 for kids 12 and under. Still have the bonus day as a pre-selected location. 2018-19 will be the first season that Big Sky is on the MCP.

Check out the ratings for early season snow on Tony Crocker's webpage. Tony has been collecting snow statistics for quite a while. They are used by ZRankings. Can see that Steamboat ranks higher than Copper for Christmas vacations.

http://www.bestsnow.net/fam_ski.htm
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#8
I agree...that's some serious research! My mom and I LOVED Steamboat when we went this March, I'd go back there in a heartbeat and didn't even think of it because of the lower elevation I figured it wouldn't be cold enough for a lot of early snow.
My sense is that most ski destinations were built where there tends to be more snow than average for the immediate region. For early season skiing, it also pays to note how much terrain has snowmaking. I know you don't want to spend the entire time on groomers, but at the same time it's good to have decent coverage on the lower mountain in order to access whatever natural snow can be found at higher elevation.
 

alison wong

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
@gingerskis : perfect timing. I was looking at early season ski trip myself this weekend.

JH is only an hour away, assuming the pass in between is open.
I did not know about this. How often does the pass close?
Does it mean: If I want to hit Grand Targhee and piggyback JH, it's better to fly into Idaho Falls (instead of JAC)?

What about: flight to SLC, base on condition, then decide where to go:
Alta/Snowbird/Brighton/Solitude in the Cottonwood canyons
OR drive up to Wyoming to ski Grand Targhee or JH
OR to Sun Valley?

Similarly, flight to Denver, decide where to go along I-70W as it gets closer to the dates?

(Just tossing some ideas and thinking out loud as I am contemplating mid-Dec trip myself.)
 

Albertan ski girl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
@gingerskis : perfect timing. I was looking at early season ski trip myself this weekend.


I did not know about this. How often does the pass close?
Does it mean: If I want to hit Grand Targhee and piggyback JH, it's better to fly into Idaho Falls (instead of JAC)?

What about: flight to SLC, base on condition, then decide where to go:
Alta/Snowbird/Brighton/Solitude in the Cottonwood canyons
OR drive up to Wyoming to ski Grand Targhee or JH
OR to Sun Valley?

Similarly, flight to Denver, decide where to go along I-70W as it gets closer to the dates?

(Just tossing some ideas and thinking out loud as I am contemplating mid-Dec trip myself.)

Aren't you coming to Banff in December? ;)
 
#11
I did not know about this. How often does the pass close?
Does it mean: If I want to hit Grand Targhee and piggyback JH, it's better to fly into Idaho Falls (instead of JAC)?

What about: flight to SLC, base on condition, then decide where to go:
Alta/Snowbird/Brighton/Solitude in the Cottonwood canyons
OR drive up to Wyoming to ski Grand Targhee or JH
OR to Sun Valley?
I doubt the pass between GT and JH closes that often in December. It's more of an issue during mid-season.

Since I always fly Southwest, starting in SLC is my standard approach. Have driven from there to Sun Valley (4 hours), Driggs for GT (allow 5 hours), and JH (6 hours), as well as straight back to Alta from Big Sky (7-8 hours). There is an express bus service between SLC airport and Jackson, but as I remember the timing isn't the best for a short trip. Once in Jackson, it's possible to use the public bus system and not drive. Also day trip buses to GT from Jackson (town) or Teton Village (JH base village).

If someone needs to book flights well in advance, then flying to SLC provides the most flexibility. If paying for a plane ticket, I would guess that flying to Jackson or Idaho Falls is more expensive than flying to SLC.
 

alison wong

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
Aren't you coming to Banff in December? ;)
I use Google flight tracker, DCA -> YYC Round trip is on my tracker for pre x'mas. I shall see.
The only "issue" I have w/ coming to Banff in Dec. is the short daylight hours, sun rises around 8 am and sun sets around 4:30 pm. I tend to get "depressed" when it gets dark so early....
 
#13
Whistler for mid-December.

@alison wong, if you are considering Sun Valley for mid-December... They do a lot of fun stuff right before Christmas like the tree lighting, and the decorations are really nice especially at the lodge, but you will definitely be skiing on man-made snow and groomers. If you are hoping for any off piste, it's just way too early for that in Sun Valley.
 

Randi M.

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
For early season skiing, it also pays to note how much terrain has snowmaking. I know you don't want to spend the entire time on groomers, but at the same time it's good to have decent coverage on the lower mountain in order to access whatever natural snow can be found at higher elevation.
I think this is key.
 
#16
I love this conversation.

Everyone else around me is crying about a few snow flurries in April. I'm wondering if I should book a place at Sunday River between Christmas and New Year's.
I'll be home for Christmas week. But hope to do a little ski safari in the northeast in mid-Dec before picking up my daughter in Boston for winter break.

Do you need ski in/out? Sunday River seems a long way from PA. What's the attraction?
 
#17
I love this conversation.

Everyone else around me is crying about a few snow flurries in April. I'm wondering if I should book a place at Sunday River between Christmas and New Year's.
I know! What's with the whining? We had sleet for 3 days, and while it rained today while I was driving to and from Massachusetts, I heard Killington got a few extra inches! Yay!
 

Lmk92

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#18
I'll be home for Christmas week. But hope to do a little ski safari in the northeast in mid-Dec before picking up my daughter in Boston for winter break.

Do you need ski in/out? Sunday River seems a long way from PA. What's the attraction?
Ski in/ski out would be optimal, but will depend on price. I'm hoping to get a group to go. We all went together a few years ago (Snowshoe) and had a lot of fun. We've all improved so much since then, I think we'd have an even better time this year.

Why Sunday River? I've read it's one of the places that has the most terrain open in December. Killington is certainly an option, but I've heard it gets way too crazy around Christmas.
 
#19
Ski in/ski out would be optimal, but will depend on price. I'm hoping to get a group to go. We all went together a few years ago (Snowshoe) and had a lot of fun. We've all improved so much since then, I think we'd have an even better time this year.

Why Sunday River? I've read it's one of the places that has the most terrain open in December. Killington is certainly an option, but I've heard it gets way too crazy around Christmas.
Sunday River does have very good snowmaking. I've gone there soon after Thanksgiving a couple times when I was in the northeast for Thanksgiving week. I think being a slightly longer drive from Boston helps in terms of crowds. Although if I lived in Boston, I'd probably go a little farther to Sugarloaf during a holiday period. Perhaps @MissySki or @lisamamot can comment.

A few pics of Sunday River in my TR from Dec 2014. In general, a good place for a get together of families of mixed ability.
https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/i...r-whiteface-early-dec-2014.18818/#post-277603

For that much driving from PA, might be worth looking into Whiteface or Tremblant. Tremblant would be crowded, but could spend a day in Montreal. Whiteface doesn't have any resort lodging, but Lake Placid is a cool little ski town. Not a good mountain for advanced beginners, but confident intermediates get a kick out of riding up the gondola and skiing all the way to the base. That's a blue with a few steep sections, but worth the views. @Olesya Chornoguz has been making the drive for Thanksgiving weekend for a few years. A day trip from Lake Placid to Gore is also a possibility, assuming the weather has allowed enough snowmaking at the base at Gore.

From a skiing perspective, the advantage of Whiteface and Gore is that there isn't any ski in/out lodging. That's probably true of Belleayre too, but being closer to NYC/NJ/Philly that might still get pretty crowded during the week after Christmas. If I were staying anywhere in the Catskills that week, I would be checking conditions at Plattekill for a day trip.
 
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Lmk92

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
Sounds like we are thinking the same. I've actually been trying to get a December trip planned for a few years now. The conditions are never good enough (in my opinion) for a long drive. I think Gore has had, at the most, 20% terrain open. I have not been watching Whiteface, but if they start blowing snow early enough, it might be worth the drive.

For me, the trip to either Gore (5.5 hours) or Whiteface (6 hours) has to be at a time when they have plenty of terrain open. I think I also looked at Tremblant in the past and wasn't too crazy about the amount of terrain open for such a long drive (8 hours). Jay Peak would also be one to watch.

Killington (6 hours) really does make the most sense, but the horror stories of crowds has me wondering if the extra 2 or 3 hours to Sunday River might be worth it. My relatives would likely fly, and I could take an entire day to drive up and an entire day to drive back.
 

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