Snowmass ski school or Buttermilk?

Old Dec 28th, 2012, 05:40 PM
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Snowmass ski school or Buttermilk?

I was wondering your opinion on whether I should take a beginner lesson on Snowmass mountain or Buttermilk mountain? My hotel is in Snowmass, but I am willing to go to Buttermilk to learn if that is the better beginnner lessons. (better greens)

Which mountain has less crowds and better greens?

Thank you!
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 05:58 PM
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How much have you skied - or snow-boarded?

You might call the ski schools and ask - and I have never skied at Buttermilk - reportedly the easiest mountain of the 4 in Aspen - but Snowmass was huge and I would think had some easy terrain - down toward the bottom of the hill?
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Old Dec 28th, 2012, 06:37 PM
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Both areas will have ski schools. the benefit of Snowmass is the convenience, as you're already there. the benefit of Buttermilk is that it's a quieter area with less traffic and congestion, which can be a good thing for beginners.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 04:21 AM
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I like Buttermilk for beginners. Both will have good beginner lessons, so you are in a good place.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 05:58 AM
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Just to show you how unknowledgable about skiing I am, I had to open up your post to wonder why the choice was between a ski school and drinking buttermilk!!
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 06:40 AM
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Snowmass is more convenient. Buttermilk is appealing for true beginners as it usually has less traffic (except for the terrain park crowd). What level skier/boarder is your husband? Is he taking lessons too? If he is an intermediate or better, I'd go with Snowmass.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 07:09 AM
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Thank you for the replies everyone.

I have only snowboarded once so I am a beginner. My husband is like an advanced beginner. On our last trip to Beaver Creek, CO the last day of our vacation he went on a blue run but had a few spills.

Tom's comment about Snowmass having all the beginners at the bottom of the hill perhaps turned me off a bit and gave some good insight. I don't think I want to be at the bottom of the hill where all level of skiers are coming in from their respective runs.. It might make me intimidated.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 08:15 AM
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A loooong time ago, I took lessons at Buttermilk and loved it. At that time a beginner could ski the top of the mountain, picking up a lift in the middle and only going all the way down at the end of the day. There was a place to get food and warm up either in the middle or at the top. I'm not sure if it still is that way, but if so, it was great for new skiiers. I also spent a day at Aspen Highlands and except for negotiating the "knife edge" there were plenty of trails a beginner could handle there too.

Hopefully someone who has been there in this century can tell you if it is still that way.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 11:11 AM
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The top of Snowmass is one huge bowl - or at least a good part of it - perfect for wide open powder skiing.

And while most of the runs will funnel down toward the bottom - where there seem to be more green runs at Snowmass - I wouldn't worry too much about being "buzzed" by more advanced skiers - especially if you are in a ski class. The instructors keep an eye out for that - as does ski patrol - and most skiers give the ski classes a wide berth.

emalloy- fyi - ski areas don't change that much once they are cut into the hills. They may add more runs or spread to some adjacent areas - but the central runs/areas pretty much remain the same.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 11:12 AM
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Begin your trip with lessons at Buttermilk. When you are comfortable on those greens, spend your days at Snowmass.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 12:33 PM
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Emalloy - I have been there this century and last century. Have spent a week at Snowmass nearly every year since 1980. Most ski areas have the mid mountain lifts and restaurants which are very important in the Spring when the lower slopes can get soft from warm weather.

Jill, Stay at Snowmass. You gain absolutely nothing going to Buttermilk other than the wasted time on the bus. Historically Buttermilk was considered the beginner's mountain and one time was mostly green. Aspen ski corp has been working for the past 10, 15 years to change that image with more advance slopes and less emphasis on beginning skiing. There will be more beginners at Snowmass than Buttermilk because of the size of the resort.

The whole east side around the Elk camp lifts is all green from top to bottom. At one time Snowmass was about 15% green, 10% black, and 75% blue. With the expansion of the Elk Camp side of the mountain, I am guessing greens could be closer to 40%. And some of the blues have been moved to green which they probably should have been in the first place. But in either case, it is an excellent mountain to learn on with wide open spaces that handles crowds very well.

You will always have some jamming at the base of any mountain because there are limited exit points. But Snowmass handles it better than most because of the long final sweep down to the base has dozens of exit points.

I am not aware of any bowl at the top of Snowmass nor am I sure what you could call the top of Snowmass. High Alpine lift is the highest (as I remember) and it dumps you on top with no bowl in sight. It is in the middle off of the Naked Lady lift. Also the site for Gwen's. Great restaurant that requires reservations and a fat billfold or a great credit card.

The most wide open area is off the Big Burn lift- the site of a huge forest fire that removed most of the trees. Maybe that is Tomsd's bowl. It is a wide open area but not bowl shaped that is great area to cruise in but the wind can be bad because there are few trees for protection. There is a groomed green run from the top of Big Burn to the bottom.

You will enjoy it. I have often posted that Snowmass is my favorite area and would be my choice for the last run of my life.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 12:44 PM
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fmpden - thank you so much for post. That is amazing that you have skied Snowmass every year. Are you aware of the best place to locate discount lift tickets? Since we will be skiing for 9 days, any discount will be great. Also, what happens if you get injured on day 4 of a 9 day lift ticket? Just curious.....

Thanks!
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 12:52 PM
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fmpden - one more question - I looked at the trail map for Snowmass and I was wondering which blue run has been converted to a green? Right now the trail map shows all runs coming from Big Burn as blue runs. Thank you.
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Old Dec 29th, 2012, 04:44 PM
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I used to ski with a group of fraternity brothers every year at Snowmass for over 25 years. Once we were young and agressive and now pretty mellow. Last year one of the group actually brought oxygen tanks with him. Not sure who will make this year.

Remember the run's ratings are relative to each ski area and somewhat arbitrary. The blue runs at Jackson Hole are nothing like the blues at Snowmass. So color is not an absolute guide line with an exact line between colors The blues off of Big Burn are not very demanding if you stick to the groomed runs. It is steeper which probably is way they are classified as blue but very broad or wide. It can be easily skiing because you can make long, shallow runs across the face.

As I remember there used to be a bunch of blue runs off of upper Elk camp but I think now all of Elk is green.

Discount tickets for Aspen are hard to find if they exist at all. There are some preseason offers but you are too late for that unless it is next year. My experience with injuries is that you can get a refund for unused portion. It may not be a stated policy but a case by case policy. I would not get a nine day pass (if it existed) because of the potential for a bad weather day and I doubt if you have the conditioning for nine straight days of skiing. At my prime the best I could do with three or four straight before I needed a day off.
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 08:39 AM
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fmpden - this trip is actually for next winter so we can take advantage of preseason offers? Where can I get those? Thank you for the great advice on not getting a nine day pass. Perhaps we will just get the 3 day pass and when I called they said they would offer me an "extension rate" (which is less than full price) to add on more days to my pass. She said they don't advertise the extension rate on their website, but locals know about it.

Also, is there any adventurous experience you recommend? We have seen dog sledding, paragliding, snowmobiling, and sleigh rides up to dinner (Pine Creek Cookhouse.)

Thanks so much!
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 02:25 PM
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Thanks fmpden - and it was the Big Burn I was thinking of - which I guess is not truly a bowl - but huge and wide open like bowl skiing. We had a nice powder day there, pretty much just skiing that for the day, as there had been a fresh drop of 3 feet of light powder that day.

We were lucky actually - and had over 100 inches of light Colorado powder during the week, and we spent most of the time at Ajax and Aspen Highlands, but did get over to Snowmass for a day.

And yes, when skiing hard - three - or four days in a row and you pretty much need a day off. Gives one a nice break to check out the other things in the areas.
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 03:12 PM
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Hi Tom! Are there any adventurous experiences you recommend? (that are worth the money) We have seen dog sledding, paragliding, snowmobiling, and sleigh rides up to dinner (Pine Creek Cookhouse.)
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 06:32 PM
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Labor day weekend is the big kick off of the ski season sales. The best prices will be that weekend and for a few weeks following. The big promotion is season passes, and bundled tickets - four packs, special discounts, etc. Just registered on the Aspen's web site and they will sent you promotional information. Although these deals are not limited to locals you sometimes have to be present to purchase 'cause they take you picture for the pass. If you ski for nine days a season pass might be cheaper BUT don't know the price of an Aspen season pass. Probably pretty high since Aspen makes almost no effort to attract front range skiers (too far to drive) so they are not very responsive anyway. The number of day skiers at Aspen is smaller than most other areas.

You can get front range ski passes for around $500 depending on the benefits that you want. So at a $100/day walk up lift price you can pay for a season pass in a hurry.
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Old Dec 30th, 2012, 08:17 PM
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As for things to do - that's really up to what peaks your interests, the weather, cost, etc.

While I have parachuted (Airborne training a looong time ago) and used to also fly small airplanes a bit - also a long time ago - and took some hang-gliding lessons (after moving to San Diego - off the sand dunes by Puerto Nuevo, Mexico - an hour or so south of here) - and the new paragliding is supposed to be the more nimble combination of the two (parachuting and gliding - and one of my hang gliding instructors swears by it) - I would still not do it in an area where I did not know the wind conditions, etc.

The instructors may be fine - but consider me a Doubting Thomas - relying on oneself first.

The other activities are always fun - and it's your oyster. Just riding the bus from one of the mountains to another can be a scenic treat - and walking around the town of Aspen is fun. Maybe a spa treatment or hot tub time - with some bubbly?
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Old Dec 31st, 2012, 08:22 AM
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In the valley on the road to Snowmass from the main road is a hot air balloon launch site. Hot air ballooning works extremely well at that time of year so that could be an option. Cross country skiing is available if you want a break from downhill. And, then there is the largest hot tub in the world (about a city block) known as the hot springs pool in Glenwood Springs, about 45 mins down valley.
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