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02-06-2004, 12:01 AM #1
TR: Ski bumming trip Wk 3 - Colorado
Week 3 took me to (expensive) western Colorado for a week of crazy driving and excellent snow. I wanted to experiment 3 places I'd never been to to see if they were worthy of a future vacation, or future retirement
Mon 2nd - Aspen. Thanks to whoever suggested the Days Inn in Carbondale, excellent deal at 52$. Unfortunately, they were out of discount lift tix, so I had to pay the full price, 72$. Ouch!!!
Travelling to Aspen from Carbondale felt like going to work. Over an hour, carpool lane, traffic jams, yuck. I guess all the people that work in Aspen can't afford to live there. No indication of where I can park my car for free, so I get extorted for an extra 7$ at Highlands (the answer is Buttermilk + Shuttle, BTW).
Rant on - I absolutely HATED Highlands. The most frustrating, useless 3600' vertical feet I have ever seen. It has great steeps, but they all end after 500' on a horrible flat traverse below which lies 2000' vertical of out of bounds sweet looking stuff. I even did a run, Deception, with a (very friendly) local, which was supposed to be great. Needless to say, the name of that run summed it up for me - Rant off. Some positives:
- Highland Bowl is really great, had a cool run in there. But at 72$ a tix, I don't want to hike all day. Plus you get an extra mile of the aforementionned traverse.
- Great views
- Great moguls, the best I've seen in the West
- Cool town. Great place to take the mrs or kids for a week if skiing is not your priority.
I was so frustrated by Highlands that I went to Aspen Mountain at 1:30. Had to take the bus because parking is not transferrable. Very similar to Highlands, although it skis a bit better from top to bottom. Still lots of flat spots between the steeps. Maybe I expected too much from Aspen with all I'd heard about it, but I still feel it's a major ripoff at 72$, especially since you get screwed by 30 minutes compared to everywhere else(they close at 3:30).
Tue 3rd - Sunlight. I was going to do Snowmass, but after the previous day experience, I decided to exercise my customer option and went to Sunlight Mountain instead. Tough 10 mile access road to get there. Maybe 20 cars in the (free!) parking lot. This is a rather flat mountain, save for one steep section of about 1000' vertical on the left side of the mountain. However, the flatness actually helped in this case. I was getting bored around 10:30, when I decided to head for the trees. Now Sunlight has a very large proportion of decidous trees that are perfectly spaced and not too steep to allow for an unlimited amount of "on-the-fly, create-your-run as you go". I had more boot deep powder in those trees all day than after the 12" dump at Snowbird the week before. Don't look for this on the trail map, just improvise on your way down. The snow was also very nice with the mountain perfect North exposure. All in all, very recommended to give your wallet a break from Aspen for a day (35$ tix).
Wed 4th - Crested Butte. Crazy 4 hour drive to Gunnison from Sunlight in a blinding snowstorm. Took 2 hours for 55 miles on highway 92 without seeing a single car. This must be a great summer drive... Great deal at the Super 8 Gunnison with a 35$ tix (instead of 64$ at the mountain). This place reminded me so much of Verbier in 2002, great new snow (8-10") on top of a rocky minefield. It even has the instant-sex-change-laucher-poma-with-the-long-lineup to access the good terrain. I was really impressed with CB, it totally deserves it's reputation as the extreme capital of the US. I enjoyed the lack of ropes, european go-kill-yourself-if-you-please feeling of the Extreme limits area. You could spend a lifetime figuring out the different lines in there. It is, however, hard to get to (traverse+hike), hard to get out of (traverse) and hard to get back to (3 lifts, including the launcher poma). It was quite worth it however with the new snow. This is a very rocky place, it would probably be better to visit later in the season when coverage is better. The ski shops must do good business there. This mountain totally beat the crap out of me and I will be back.
Tue 5th - Telluride. Another crazy 4 hour drive in snow. Saw one car on fire and an overturned Cherokee. This was an Epic day, mountain reported 12" of fresh on top, but it was definitely more than that. First real face shots of this vacation. It got tracked pretty fast despite very low skier traffic, which meant that this mountain plays a lot smaller than the 1700 acres they advertise. The new Prospect Bowl area is a totally useless flat piece of land with a very short steep section at the top. The marketing man was very creative in classifying these runs as blue. There is a lot of awesome tree skiing in the lift 9 area that is nowhere on the trail map, just be creative and you will have a lot of fun. The various runs from the top to the village are an awesome 3000' vert mogul fest. It was worth the hefty 69$ tix today, but I wouldn't go there for a full week for the skiing alone. Very cool village and great scenery. Would make a very good combined weekly trip with CB.
This was a great (tough) week. I am spent. Tomorrow's day off is very welcomed. I will be in Montana by the middle of next week to give my wallet a break. If anyone wants to ski, let me know...
02-06-2004, 12:29 AM #2
Nice write-up and great reviews. I'm sure there will be quite a few that will disagree with your thoughts on Highlands and Telluride.
02-06-2004, 08:38 AM #3Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2003
To bad you didn't have someone good to show you around. Both mountains are kind of quirky and if you don't know the score you can get frustrated. Hwy 82 into town is a zoo in the morning. You would have been better off staying at someplace like the Kitzbul and paying a little more and being able to enjoy the nightlife. Then you would have been able to walk to Aspen Mountain or taken the free bus to the Highlands
02-06-2004, 08:45 AM #4
Nice trip report on the Sunshine State. Too bad you missed Vail, that place has the best poling traverses in all of Colorado, you can always tell the Vail locals by their huge lats.
02-06-2004, 09:29 AM #5
Sounds like a blast, but where are all the pictures?
Wait, some mountains charge for parking? Holy crap if I rolled up and had to pay parking I'd be seriously pissed. Definately go find the corporate office and top shelf the presidents toilet.