Vail and A-Basin report, first week of April
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wgo
10 months ago (edited 10 months ago)
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,644 posts

I have been meaning to write up a quick trip report from my family trip to Colorado the first week of April, but I had a work trip the following week and am only getting the chance to write this up now. Apologies in advance for the lack of awesome photos like the ones over on the Utah thread.

My son and I did a trip to A-basin last April but for this year the whole family (me, wife, teenage son and daughter) wanted to go on a trip. We decided on Vail, and planned for a couple day trips to A-basin. Vail the first week of April was a little bit of the roll of the dice due to the lower elevation of the base and the south-facing orientation of the back bowls, but my wife does not do well at high elevation and we had this notion that we wanted to experience the town of Vail at least once. The day trips to A-basin were a roll of the dice due to the fact that we would need to go over vail pass to get there, so any winter weather could make that a longer trip. Spoiler alert - everything worked out really well.

For tickets we all bought 3 day Epic passes. My son and I each bought 2 day passes to A-basin as well, and my daughter bought a single day ticket. We bought early enough that the prices were very reasonable. My wife felt that 3 days of skiing at Vail would be enough for her. We flew into Denver on Saturday, April 2, picked up the rental car the next day, and headed west. One of the schools my son has been accepted at is the University of Colorado, so we did a side trip to Boulder to take a look at the campus and to check out the town:

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After making our way to Vail and picking up our rental gear, who should we see in town but the GOAT herself, Mikaela Shiffrin!

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Vail was honoring her for breaking the all-time world cup wins record.

For lodging, we stayed at the Evergreen Lodge. As far as we could tell this was the one remaining place in town where you could stay for less that $200 per night (although I believe it is slated for redevelopment). It served its purpose as a clean, well run place to stay (and the $1 wing night on Wednesday was budget friendly as well). It is between Vail village and Lionshead, about a 15 minute walk to the lifts in either direction, but with the in town shuttle running every 5 minutes it was easy to boot up in the hotel room, walk 2 minutes to the nearest stop, and go to the covered bridge stop near gondola one. The place we rented from (American Ski Exchange) stored skis overnight for free and was near gondola one, so that worked out well.

Day one was more on the spring side of things. My wife and daughter are both intermediates and it was not difficult to find runs we could all enjoy. Best family run was Riva Ridge, which is marked as black but which is pretty easy apart from the steeper "Tourist Trap" section. With the easy conditions this section is very doable by an intermediate. My son and I did venture out to the back bowls in the afternoon when things were  a little softer (bowls prone to freeze/melt cycle this time of year), and the whole family was able to enjoy Blue Sky Basin.

Day two saw about 6 inches of fresh snow, with most coming overnight and the rest falling throughout the day. My son and I spent most of our time in the back bowls while my wife and daughter stayed mostly front side.

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Depending on where you skied in the back bowls you would either hardly touch bottom or you would hit the frozen layer beneath. My favorite turns were probably the mellow powder turns in Vail's "hidden" bowl, Game Creek bowl. But I am sure there was much I missed. Towards the end of the day we synced up with a forum member from skitalk and took a couple of runs with him.

Day 3 was a day off for my wife. She spent the day snowshoeing at the Betty Ford Gardens and exploring Vail. My son, daughter and I headed out to A-Basin for the day - the roads were cleared from the snow the previous day. We took advantage of some additional fresh snow to enjoy some powder turns in A-basin's fantastic above-treeline intermediate terrain off of the new Lenawee lift, and after lunch my son and I alternated skiing with my daughter while we took a few more advanced runs in the Palli and Montezuma areas:

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Day 4 was A-basin again, just my son and myself. My wife and daughter stayed at Vail and had one of the few upscale experiences we allowed ourselves, lunch at a nice restaurant. They also visited the ski museum:

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My son and I hit A-Basin again, and found some amazing powder turns off of the lower East wall traverse. Then over to Montezuma, where I could enjoy some steep, wide open turns. Then over to Palli, where we skied the Alleys for the first time. If it was not clear to me before, it is abundantly obvious that my son is a better skier than me now - as an example, while we both skied David's run, he was just doing it better than I was. It was after one of these runs towards the end of that day, after getting thru the steeper part, that I twisted my knee and decided to call it a day. I sat on the deck at the base while my son took another couple runs:

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Day 5 was back at Vail with the whole family. My leg was still sore so I only skied for a few hours, sticking to the front side groomers. Skiing for a few hours let me handle the hotel checkout and managing the suitcases - just a tiny bit of paying back my wife for all of the ski logistics she has handled over the years. At the end of the day we met for some Apres at Pepi's before driving back to Denver, where we stayed at a hotel for one night before flying back the next morning.

Overall things worked out as well as they could have. Fresh snow, roads to A-basin clear, and non-ski activities for the family. Only negative mark was twisting my leg - maybe I am at the point where I need to build in a day of rest in my ski vacations. I hope not!


JimK - DCSki Columnist
10 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,944 posts
Nice report!  Probably a very good thing you were in CO and not UT.  The Cottonwood Canyons were really messed up the first week of April.  Hard to believe, but a case of too much snow.    Alta and Snowbird had some epic skiing that week, but were also closed (interlodged) a big percentage of the time that week with guests not being allowed outside their accommodations.
Shotmaker
10 months ago
Member since 02/18/2014 🔗
178 posts

We were at Vail on April 4th with my family and met up with a few guys from Snowshoe while there. It snowed much of the day getting over to the back bowls was interesting as visibility was near zero. Overall a great day really liked the terrain there.

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wgo
10 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,644 posts
Very cool. That was our main day in the back bowls as well.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter 
10 months ago
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
923 posts
@Vail, Game Creek Bowl is solid especially when the visibility on the back side is crap.  That whole open eastern side wall is great with ungroomed low traffic, and the parts just west of the liftline keep good pow for a few days.  Most skiers go down the middle or take the long green route.  Not sure if you skied chair 38 in BSB, but that might be my favorite part of Vail.  I also love that moment when you realize your kid skis better, its like when they first swim by themselves. 
Shotmaker
10 months ago
Member since 02/18/2014 🔗
178 posts

Wish we had more time on the back side. Checked out chair 38 on the trail map in BSB it looks like terrain that we would have enjoyed. We ended up off chair 21 Orient Express skiing Poppyfields  & Shangri-la trees/glades.

My daughter is a better skier technically than me as she put in 130+ days this year. Back when she was racing as a teenager she beat me in the Cup Run Challenge one year but I got her the next. We both have less of a "how fast can you get down the mountain mindset now" as we work on more powder/tree/bump/variable skiing. I'm rusty in these areas as it's been nearly 40 years ago that this was mostly what I skied. East coast piste with my race & race inspired full camber skis make it tricky out west. Never owned an all mountain ski & not sure that will be added soon. I think a powder ski will be happening before that.

pagamony - DCSki Supporter 
10 months ago
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
923 posts

Shotmaker wrote:

Wish we had more time on the back side. Checked out chair 38 on the trail map in BSB it looks like terrain that we would have enjoyed. We ended up off chair 21 Orient Express skiing Poppyfields  & Shangri-la trees/glades.

My daughter is a better skier technically than me as she put in 130+ days this year. 

Shangri-la and Chair 38 are similar steep and trees, but more remote, even fewer people, and better aspect in BSB.   True story, I made my way to the chair 38 lift base and found the two liftie women laying in the snow suntanning.  They waved and started the conversation: "hey there!"; "Working hard?"; "Yep"; "How do I get that job?"; "Just fill out an application they will take you". My new retirement plan. They were still suntanning for the next 4 runs until I left.  

Your daughter has probably skied more in one year than I will in one life.  Well done.  :)

wgo
10 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,644 posts
We unfortunately did not spend as much time in BSB as I would have liked. I did enjoy the Shangri-la trees quite a bit.
Shotmaker
10 months ago
Member since 02/18/2014 🔗
178 posts

wgo wrote:

After making our way to Vail and picking up our rental gear, who should we see in town but the GOAT herself, Mikaela Shiffrin!

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My daughter is so envious of you capturing this pic of Shiffren! She mentioned while we were there that we may see her.

 I think of her as the GOAT of GOATS!



 

wgo
10 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,644 posts

Shotmaker wrote

My daughter is so envious of you capturing this pic of Shiffren! She mentioned while we were there that we may see her.

We were pretty starstruck, that's for sure.

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