Skiing in the USA

We moved over to the USA towards the end of summer and plan to return to Europe early next year. Although my focus is usually on winter sports in Switzerland, I have skied extensively in Europe – Italy, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria, France, Andorra and Scotland (where I have skied every resort). I have also skied all of the most well known European resorts, with the exception of Cortina. However my skiing in the Western Hemisphere is limited to a few outings on the East Coast when I lived in greater New York. Work and family demanded all of my attention, and I never got to make it to the Rockies.

The main reason we are in the USA is to enable my wife to support her parents through a house move and a few other domestic issues. That has given me an opportunity to see more of the USA, which I have documented at a microsite called Looking for America – it’s a sort of a blog, but I’m still updating it. It has also enabled me to do a quick road trip to take in a few West Coast Ski Resorts.

I drove off from Texas in a FWD Buick with all-weather tyres. I was lucky with the weather, but if I was to do the trip again I would definitely want winter tyres. I saw at least a dozen cars stranded or which had spun off the road, and on one pass I barely got over even in first gear.

The resorts I visited were Taos in New Mexico, Vail in Colorado, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, Snowbird in Utah and Mammoth in California. My choice was in part dictated by a desire to see as much variety of terrain as I could and, in Vail, experience what is generally reckoned to be the one US resort which competes with the best in Europe. Taos, Snowbird and Jackson Hole are also regarded as having the steepest slopes in North America.

I plan to update this blog with details on all the resorts I visited, but as a teaser let me say that I was thoroughly impressed with my experiences but do have a couple of reservations. More of that in ensuing posts…

Nix skiing in the USA
Nic Oatridge in Snowbird, Utah

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Early Season Skiing in the USA

US West Coast Ski Resorts
Faced with the prospect of Autumn in the USA, I was interested to know if early season skiing was going to be a possibility. Generally European resorts don’t open until December, and often not until Christmas week. This last season there wasn’t enough snow for some well known resorts to open even for Christmas.

I have managed to track down opening dates in North America for last season, and it looks pretty encouraging. Most major resorts seem to open in November. In Colorado Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone and Loveland opened on 7th November with Winter Park opening on 11th and Aspen, Vail and Beaver Creek later in the month. Arapahoe Basin opened on 17th October and Wolf Creek is a perennial early season opener.

Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood in Oregon seems to have a history of opening early.

The major resorts in Canada, on the East Coast and around Lake Tahoe open during November, as does Jackson Hole in Wyoming. Utah resorts open a little later, in late November through early December. Typically resorts have opened when they have enough snow to ski on, so season opening dates are pretty fluid.

I need to do some more research on opening dates for the upcoming season and find out a little more about early season snow and weather conditions, but the prospects of getting some turns in during the Fall look promising!

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