Wonky

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Hi all,

Long time lurker...finally getting on board.

I have a conference in Denver next week, so naturally I decided to head out early to get some spring skiing in this weekend (I know...I'm a week late for the Pugski extravaganza.....). I've done plenty of skiing out west but I have never been to Colorado, so I need some schooling on some logistical questions.

1. When I started looking, it appeared A-Basin was the only option for this coming weekend, but I see that changed and Breck and Mary Jane are now also options. Is this true? A-Basin sounds like my kind of place/vibe so I'm happy to continue planning to go there. Are there any reasons to reconsider?
2. Parking - What time do I need to be there so that parking isn't an issue? I'll be on East Coast time, so I'll probably be up early anyway...
3. Demos/Rentals - I don't plan on travelling with my skis since I'm doing a multi-city tour with work. Is there any issue getting demos/high end rentals this late in the season?
4. I70 - This is related to point #2.....I plan on staying on the western side of Denver (Golden). Is I70 a gong show at this point in the season? How long do I need to budget for getting there in the morning? I'll have a rental car.

Thanks and cheers!

Michael
 

pchewn

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A-Basin has historically had the best late-season snow. It should be better than Mary Jane (with more variety). Breeze Ski rentals on I-70 in Idaho Springs (right on the way) is open still and very convenient. They are also just next door to the pot shop.

Can't give good guidance to the I70 traffic or the parking, as I'm no longer a regular spring skier at A-Basin.
 

Noodler

Missing making turns :(
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  1. Higher elevation = higher snow quality (snow up top at A-Basin has been very good)
  2. One hour before lifts load means you'll probably get lower lot. 30 minutes before lifts load means upper lot. Any time after lifts open means last chance lot or worse. (this is all assuming you're talking weekend days).
  3. Shouldn't be an issue.
  4. No traffic this time of year. One hour or less from Golden to A-Basin, but the pass is always a crap shoot (Hazmat vehicles and/or other "obstacles" in front of you). You're from out-of-town, so leave early and enjoy the scenery. Don't worry about speed (especially if you've never driven the pass before).
 

Jim Kenney

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Question for Colorado natives related to topic, how busy is A-Basin on weekdays in May? I just skied A-B on Sat and Sun. It was great, but very busy with a lot of trail traffic in certain sections of the mtn (including a bunch of fun PugSkiers). Lift lines remained generally quite tolerable. However, I just did Breck on Monday (yesterday) and it was completely deserted.
Comparing what's available at both areas, they both may have similar total open skiable acreage at this point of the season and both have some excellent terrain variety for May (A-B is essentially 100% open/Breck has Peaks 6, 7, and 8 open), but I'd say A-B has more advanced terrain open, Breck has more intermediate runs open. However, the hike-to terrain above Imperial and Kensho was open and some people were up there. I didn't go up there yesterday. Those hikes and terrain represent a fun bit of additional stuff for advanced skiers.
For OP, see my post #421 in the 13th Annual May at A-Basin thread for more photos and discussion on my visit to Breck yesterday. Parking was free, convenient, and no hassle on Monday at Breck too. Regardless where you go, you are going to have fun and be amazed at how much snow is left in the Colorado mtns this May:)

Two photos from Breck, 6May2019, a lot of acreage per skier:)




 
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Philpug

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I don't think @Jim Kenney and I have enough for a fair comparision and especially in a year when there was so much snow and A-Basin is still in the transition of leaving Vail. Unlike Jim, I was able to ski both resorts on a non weekend day and I will say that Breck felt less crowded and not just in the vastness of the terrain offered but even at the base where the you start. This could be for a couple of reasons.
  • A-Basin is still on the Epic Pass
  • There is a level of familiarity of still going to A-Basin
  • Some might not know Breck is still open
  • Dealing with a shuttle from the parking lot (I doubt, because skiers are shuttled into B-Basin too)
  • The expert terrain at A-Basin
  • Other?
I think it will be another year or two before the dust finally settles to where people will go. I talked to a couple from Vail that were there on an Epic Pass and asked them if they were going to buy a A-Basin pass next year, they said they were not sure. I asked if they were just going to ski Breckenridge since it is on their pass? They replied that while Breck will be their only pass choice, they would not be there that much because of the lack of terrain that they prefer and that they might actually ski less in the spring. Now, does this matter to Vail? Since these are two passes that were already paid for or is the goal to get late season skiers out to ski Breck and buy lift tickets? I am not sure? Would a $99 day ticket from say 5/1 on make sense? Or show a pass from another resort qualify you for a lower price ticket? All interesting thoughts.
 

mikel

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There is a current pending storm. Quite possible both MJ and A Basin will see about the same amount with 12-18" being forecasted but it might be worth considering. I also agree, depending on what you like to ski, the open terrain might be something you want to consider. The bad about MJ. If you don't do an advanced purchase, I believe they are still charging something ridiculous like $110 for walk up. You would have to check that.
 
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Wonky

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Thanks all for your responses. I have committed and bought a 2 of 7 day pass for A-Basin. The comments here and in other reading about the more advanced terrain kept me on the A-Basin plan.

As for the note about sun protection...Thanks! The sunscreen, lip gunk and buff are already in the packing pile....I'm just back from a hut week in BC mostly glacier skiing....we were getting sun baked all week and we were way lower than A-Basin.
 

James

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The sun at Abay in May can be brutal. It's hard to get away from because it's so high in the sky. I've tried to hide behind lift towers while waiting but it often doesn't work. I like some clouds. But if you're used to glaciers you'll be fine.
 

tball

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Question for Colorado natives related to topic, how busy is A-Basin on weekdays in May? I just skied A-B on Sat and Sun. It was great, but very busy with a lot of trail traffic in certain sections of the mtn (including a bunch of fun PugSkiers). Lift lines remained generally quite tolerable. However, I just did Breck on Monday (yesterday) and it was completely deserted.
Parking was almost full at 11 am last Wednesday when there was a bit of new snow, but it was day three of storm days so many were tapped out at that point.



Adding the Beavers terrain and fixed grip quad makes parking the overwhelming limiter, not lifts or crowding for an advanced/expert skier. Much thanks to @UGASkiDawg for showing me around the Beavers (fun skiing with you as always!).

The Beavers is super fun advanced and expert terrain with a great variety of exposures and both open bowls and nicely spaced and tight trees. I could spend all day on the Beavers lift if Pali and East Zuma didn't exist. What's great is how easy it is to get between Pali, Beavers, and Zuma. You can now easily test the different exposures and jump back and forth, where previously it was a pain to get from Pali and Zuma and back. What a fantastic addition!
 

Noodler

Missing making turns :(
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The sun at Abay in May can be brutal. It's hard to get away from because it's so high in the sky. I've tried to hide behind lift towers while waiting but it often doesn't work. I like some clouds. But if you're used to glaciers you'll be fine.
I lost multiple skin layers from my right cheek after forgetting to put on sun block last Wednesday (the powder day that had some intermittent sunshine). I'm a local and yet still an idiot. ;)
 

SBrown

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Also, SPF in your lip balm/chapstick/whatever doesn't protect that part just on the inside of your bottom lip. So, either (a) don't talk laugh or eat, or (b) be prepared to avoid spicy food for a week.
 

James

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Also, SPF in your lip balm/chapstick/whatever doesn't protect that part just on the inside of your bottom lip. So, either (a) don't talk laugh or eat, or (b) be prepared to avoid spicy food for a week.
Here's a simple solution- face cover.
How about this one? It would cause quite a stir.
IMG_6443.JPG
 
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Wonky

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Also, SPF in your lip balm/chapstick/whatever doesn't protect that part just on the inside of your bottom lip. So, either (a) don't talk laugh or eat, or (b) be prepared to avoid spicy food for a week.
Yeah....I know this one far too well. My lower lip has just recovered from our backcountry trip. It's hard to keep the mouth closed when you are sucking air on the skin track up. Our whole group had fat, painful lower lips regardless of the copious layers of chapstick we put on.....the hut cook's spicy mexican soup was less popular than it should have been....

The full face cover/buff may need to come into play if it's that bad.
 
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Wonky

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Thanks again all. I had a good day at A-basin today. Got there by 8 and was in the first half of the first upper lot. Thanks for the Breeze ski rental recommendation....got myself a pair of Rustler 10's for today. I think I was being a little optimistic that there would be some leftover soft snow from a couple of days ago. Things were pretty firm today so I traded them in tonight for some Rustler 9's....
 

Ken_R

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Thanks again all. I had a good day at A-basin today. Got there by 8 and was in the first half of the first upper lot. Thanks for the Breeze ski rental recommendation....got myself a pair of Rustler 10's for today. I think I was being a little optimistic that there would be some leftover soft snow from a couple of days ago. Things were pretty firm today so I traded them in tonight for some Rustler 9's....
I think temps were a bit cold today werent they?
 
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Wonky

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Yup. Definitely. "Classic spring skiing" it wasn't (aside from the fact that you can get just about anything in the spring....)

It was pretty breezy up top, and got quite chilly when the clouds rolled in, which was most of the afternoon. I headed back to the car mid morning for my hard shell jacket. The soft shell wasn't cutting it.

Mind you....there were still people partaking in the swimsuit day festivities.....
 

chilehed

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I recall being pretty happy with the rental skis that were available at the hill a couple of years ago, the cost was reasonable and I could try three different sets. Call 'em up to see what they have.

+ on the sunscreen.
 
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