5 Ski Bundle top tips
15 May 2012 | James
When to come
Unlike Europe there is less emphasis on Half term and Easter as key high season dates. Although Presidents Weekend is generally to be avoided, it is only a holiday weekend (third Monday in February). Spring Break is the main school and college time out - usually spanning the last 3 weeks of March, and can be a little busier than our normally uncrowded slopes. It is worth remembering that in general the ski slopes of North America are less congested than the Alps. If you want to avoid the masses, here are our suggested times of the season: most of January and early February; late February to mid March; and all of April
Rocky Mountain High - The reliability of snow in the Colorado Rockies is directly related to the high altitude of the ski resorts. Most ski resort towns are between 7000 and 9500 feet, with the tops of the ski areas topping out at up to 13,000 feet. If you are at all concerned about the altitude there is one great piece of advice we can give you - In addition to the standard advice of drinking plenty of water and not drinking too much booze, it is arguably a good idea to spend a night in Denver (the 'mile high' city at 5280ft). Most flights from Europe arrive late in the afternoon or evening which means that if you head up to the ski resort first thing in the morning you can still get a decent day of skiing.
On mountain dining - For those of you who love to while away some time at a lovely restaurant on the mountain, it is important to select your North American ski resort carefully to make sure there are some options that offer more than the standard fast food style fare. Here are some great options to consider;
Aspen Highlands - Cloud 9 - Quaint and cosy restaurant with
Vail - The 10th - Modern alpine cuisine
Whistler / Blackcomb - Crystal Hut - Famous Belgian waffles and wood-oven baked lunch specialties
Canyons - The Farm - Contemporary mountain cuisine
Telluride - Alpino Vino - Fine Cheeses, antipasti, renowned wines
Keystone - Alpenglo Stube - Wonderful lunch spread in the comfort of sheepskin slippers!
Whilst European ski critics like to highlight the lack of on mountain fine dining, it is worth noting that the range and selection of restaurants in most larger North American resorts more than makes up for any such short fall.
Car Hire - Make sure you get an 'all inclusive' quote. Sometimes the cheapest rates are exactly that and serve no better purpose than to entice you into a 'bare bones' rental where they will try to up sell you at the airport. Having the right level of insurance is a key component to safe and hassle free driving. All inclusive rentals will not necessarily prevent the up-sell, it just gives you the peace of mind that you can say no.
In-bounds off piste skiing - One of the most appealing qualities for any advanced / expert skier coming to North America is the range of off piste skiing, or 'back country' skiing that is in-bounds. These in-bound bowls and un-groomed high alpine slopes have all the freedom of traditional off piste skiing, plus the safety of ski patrol managing avalanche safety and being there to help you out of a tight spot. Corbet's Couloir (short video for those mad enough) in Jackson and the Palisades at Squaw Valley are all within the ski area, though one look might make you wish they weren't!