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Non Region Specific Ski Sabbatical! (March-April 2024)

TonyPlush

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Hey Ski Talk,

Last year you all provided me with amazing information (as always) when I started kicking around the idea of an extended road trip. Since then, I have some new updates that change the calculus...
My work has approved my request for a 6-month sabbatical, starting March 15, 2024 and ending September 15, 2024. :yahoo::golfclap::daffy:I hope to spend the first few weeks skiing and the rest of the time working on other projects.

My priority is harder-to-reach mountains that would otherwise be a challenge to visit during the rest of my working career. Separately, the only trip I have planned so far this season is Telluride at the end of March. Mixing those details with feedback from my last thread, and I'm currently debating between a few options:
  1. Extended Canada + Colorado tour: Spend March 15th - 25th solo exploring Interior B.C., then flying down to Telluride to meet friends for a week. Maybe tack on a few days for April solo skiing at high elevation southwestern Colorado Resorts?
  2. Japan: This was a popular suggestion in the last thread. Initial research says that late March isn't peak season, but any suggestions for March/April in Japan or resources for doing my own research would be greatly appreciated. I don't think I'd want to do this solo, but it could be an option if I can convince my buddy who's been talking up Japan for years.
  3. Europe: When I mention sabbatical and skiing, this is the most popular suggestion from the general population. Not sure where to begin on this though. This article says places like Zermatt and Tignes are good late season options, but I'm curious how this compares to late season options in North America. (I've always heard the Alps are risky late season)
  4. Other? Small resorts around Idaho/Montana sound like the vibe I'm looking for, but my dates may be too risky. PNW always sounds interesting and may be better come Spring.
  5. Wing It! Just wait to see how the season goes and then drive my own car at the last minute, wherever looks good.
I've got the 7 Day Epic Pass, and should have four days left after Telluride. I'm open to other pass options but don't want to let that drive my decision. (Looks like the Indy Pass and Epic Pass are no longer on sale, and the MCP and Ikon Pass are wrapping up, too. Ski Cooper pass with partner access is still an option, much to the Indy Pass's chagrin.) If really needed, the Telluride dates may have some flexibility; our condo is fully refundable and nobody has booked flights yet.

Thanks in advance!
 

Jim Kenney

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Personally, I couldn't contemplate such an extended period of skiing (~1.5 mos) without some sort of megapass or partner pass. I'd get one of those ASAP. Besides the concept of unlimited skiing, a pass also affords partial days, so you don't have any qualms visiting a place for just a couple hours on any given day. IKON has some European partners if that means anything to you.
IKON also gets you some good late skiing mtns in US like Mammoth, Copper, Alta/Bird, etc.
It's very nice that you have this opportunity. I know you will enjoy yourself no matter what.
 

SKI-3PO

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You could probably get on the Indy wait list and get offered a spot to buy one, but Indy type places don't typically stretch the season late.

If you can use existing passes until after Easter, you may be able to ski some Alterra owned places like Mammoth on next year's Ikon pass.

Other than that, the Europe option is probably a good one as there will be late season choices and lift ticket prices are generally reasonable and you'll be able to find late season accommodation deals. Others here probably have better suggestions than me on the best specific resorts for late season in the Alps.
 

fatbob

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Alps are usually fine in March and April if you go to the right places and aren't shy of spring conditions. I'll likely be around Orelle/ Val Thorens for a couple of weeks in April. Avoid the lower altitude and heavily south facing spots or take fat skis and get out late ftw.
 

Bad Bob

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Wing it. Who knows where the snow will be the way the season is starting.
Would be crossing my fingers for Europe without too much of a plan.
 

DanoT

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You can buy either a mid week or 7 day/week spring pass for the Banff resorts either for just one individually or The Big 3, Lake Louise, Sunshine, Norquay. The pass is good March and April which is the best time to visit Banff, imo.
 
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TonyPlush

TonyPlush

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Personally, I couldn't contemplate such an extended period of skiing (~1.5 mos) without some sort of megapass or partner pass. I'd get one of those ASAP. Besides the concept of unlimited skiing, a pass also affords partial days, so you don't have any qualms visiting a place for just a couple hours on any given day. IKON has some European partners if that means anything to you.
IKON also gets you some good late skiing mtns in US like Mammoth, Copper, Alta/Bird, etc.
It's very nice that you have this opportunity. I know you will enjoy yourself no matter what.

Good points.

And thanks for the reminder about Mammoth. That’s one of the places I haven’t been yet, and it’s hard enough to get to that it seems like a good contender for this trip.

You could probably get on the Indy wait list and get offered a spot to buy one, but Indy type places don't typically stretch the season late.

Funnily enough, I joined the waitlist a while ago and got a notice just now that’s it’s available. I made a list of places I’d be interested in, but you’re right that they don’t seem like the best fit for spring:

ResortLocation
49 NorthWA
ApexB.C
Beaver Mountain UT
Big White B.C.
BlacktailMT
Brundage ID
Buck HillMN
Castle MountainAB
Echo CO
Fairmont Hot SpringsB.C.
Granby Ranch CO
Lost Trail Powder MountainMT
Lutsen MN
Manning ParkB.C.
Mission RidgeWA
Montana SnowbowlMT
Mt. Hood MeadowsOR
Powder Mountain UT
Red Lodge MT
Silver Mountain ID
Snow King WY
Spirit Mountain MN
Soldier Mountain ID
Sunlignt CO
TamarackID

I may pick up the pass anyway, mostly as an insurance policy. Especially since I should be able to break even just from the Minnesota hills.
 

PinnacleJim

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If you get closed out of snagging an Epic or Ikon pass, consider a Loveland pass. In addition to great late season skiing at LL, it comes with days at lots of partner resorts.
 
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TonyPlush

TonyPlush

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Looking at the calendar and the current pass prices, and I’m leaning heavily towards winging it with just my 7 day epic pass.

The first leg would be March 16-25, meaning 10 days of skiing max. Probably less because as much as I’d like to be in superhuman shape, I’ll probably need some rest days. If not going international (where my passes are probably no good anyway) then the priority is small resorts around Canada, Idaho, and Montana. These lift tickets are usually no more than $75-90 per day, and more importantly, extended lodging is a fraction of the Ikon/Vail villages. If El Niño is strong, I could pivot to Colorado region with a tour around the overlooked mountains there. Places like Sunlignt have lift ticket + lesson deals for $120 a day all-in. Wolf creek has window rates for 90 bucks. Over in Utah, Beaver Mountain is $70 a day, and maybe I could could combine it with a few days at my white whale Grand Targhee, although their online rates are a surprising $150+.

From there I’d head to Telluride the last week of March, and use 3 days of my 7 day epic pass. If I still haven’t had enough, could stay a few more days or head over to Crested Butte.

At this point it’s April 1, and I’d imagine the legs would be saying No Mas or I’d be a little homesick. Could head back home and gear up for round 2 in a couple weeks.

As @DanoT pointed out, mid April opens up another world of possibilities for spring passes. Sounds like Banff has one. Mt. Bachelor’s website says they will, and I’ve heard it’s supposed to have the best spring skiing on the planet. Even the 2025 Ikon pass should go on sale and hopefully offer the Buy Now Ride Now deal, which historically has offered unlimited mid-late April skiing at Mammoth, Solitude, Winter Park, etc. If all else fails, I could look for a Snowbird Spring Ski and Stay deal like I found a few years ago, where they give “free” lift tickets (or so they claim, they really charge $30) when you stay at a ski in/out hotel.

All in all, this might cost a couple hundred bucks more in lift tickets (which can easily be made up in lodging at smaller destinations) but offer a ton more flexibility. Plus then I can keep bugging you all as I continue to brainstorm and seek feedback throughout the rest of the season.

Sound like a plan?
 
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TonyPlush

TonyPlush

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In another turn of events, I may have lucked into free flights to Europe or Japan starting mid-April. Any intel on how those regions compare to April-May skiing in the popular North American spots? Recommendations?
 

Jim Kenney

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You sound like the type of person that likes to keep all their options open, so winging it should be fun for you. I hope you'll keep track of and report back on some of your adventures, good deals, lessons learned, expenditures, and perhaps lift ticket costs, if you enjoy tracking that kind of stuff?
Don't know about late season Japan, but Europe has a dozen or more well known spots for that, including Zermatt on the Ikon pass.
Another very well known American place I failed to mention for late skiing is Arapahoe Basin, which could tie-in nicely to your Telluride visits.
 

fatbob

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In another turn of events, I may have lucked into free flights to Europe or Japan starting mid-April. Any intel on how those regions compare to April-May skiing in the popular North American spots? Recommendations?
Grab a flight to GVA landing 13 April and get on the snowheads EOSB in Val Thorens. Long usually sunny days, warm terraces and pretty full snow cover most years with varying degrees of corn*. You could go hit Verbier for a week after that.


* or occasionally windstorms or claggy fog from hell but that's what you pay for high altitude.
 
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TonyPlush

TonyPlush

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Bumping this up as I start my research for the first leg of Skibattical. (March 16-25) Looks like everywhere has had a tough start to the season, so I'm going to keep monitoring snowfalls before pulling the trigger on any specific region for the March leg.

According to BestSnow, only Steamboat, Aspen, and Lake Louise are the only three mountains over 90% of their normal snowfall amounts. Most other places are showing 40-50% of normal snowfall with just a fraction of the resort open. However, Meteorologist Chris Tomer and OnTheSnow are reporting that Utah/Colorado got a much needed pounding from the recent storm.

Monitoring the situation in the Alps and Japan has been tougher. Weathertoski.co.uk seems to indicate the Alps are doing okay. I haven't found a good source for Japanese snow reports yet.
 

DanoT

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In much of western Canada the cold snap has started to abate and snow has started to fall. Base thickness is still pretty low but most resorts have the vast majority of runs open. That said, just because a run is open does not mean it is worth skiing.

@TonyPlush, take the snow reports on Lake Louise with a grain of salt as they don't get much snow in a normal year, so it doesn't require a lot of snow to get to 90% of normal. LL is in the Canadian Rockies and they call it The Rockies for a reason. Also LL is in a National Park, which means more restrictions and bureaucracy when it comes to removing rocks, cutting weeds, or other summertime improvements.
 
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