Snowmass is massive, both side to side and top to bottom. It boasts America’s biggest vertical drop, 4406’/ 1343m, and its 3500 acres include what must be the widest groomed area we have ever skied at Big Burn. With so much space and great lifts, even if it was crowded people would have plenty of room to space out, but we found amazing amounts of amazingly empty terrain choices. From lonely powder hunting in the Cirque chutes to skiing the Big Burn with just a handful of others scattered across their vast expanse, we spent most of our days here with more room to stretch out and ski than we have come across at a major resort anywhere for years.
Hauling into the popular eating spots like Elk Camp was a chance to get back to civilisation, but overall there was no competition for space. And hardly a lift line in sight (except for the poma at the top into the alpine area, which loads slower than it needs to as most Americans don’t get much exposure to pomas). Consequently we enjoyed endless relaxed skiing from our perfect ski in/ski out location at Westin Snowmass. The Westin is a superb condo hotel with the small but vibrant Snowmass Mall shopping & dining strip behind and the slopes out front. A short ski down to a 6 seat express lift kickstarts your days. If you can’t afford the Westin any number of excellent condos and other hotels line the slopes, with ski in/out alleys connecting them to the action.
Over the past few years we have had personal experience of being taken out by idiots at crowded resorts, at home in Australia and around the world, and had too many friends suffer the same including very bad injuries, that we have got used to skiing defensively as a result. To start our Ski USA mega mission at Snowmass was an eye-opener to the benefits of not having to do that.
Apart from the overall size, including expansive perfectly groomed trails for all levels,
there are plenty of slow zones with signage including overhead banners strung wide across intersecting runs and funnel points, backed up by a low to zero tolerance for people who don’t respect them.
The net result is you (and your family/friends) can ski safely and relaxed. After a couple of days of sunny cruising it snowed 20cm or so, and I got to up the gears and find some of Snowmass’ darker side – lots of short but sharp chutes, great tree runs, and superb natural terrain features, most of which I was alone in most of the time. Socked in and snowing seems to equal stay in and do something else for many, with few out on the pow day, unless they were over at Aspen Highlands or Ajax instead.
Ah yes, we finally got around to mentioning Aspen, the front half of the Aspen Snowmass joint name. And with more time we would have got around to skiing Ajax (Aspen) mountain too, but the ski in / ski out convenience and massive terrain choice at Snowmass proved too alluring for our short 4 day stay to bother with the super efficient free shuttle bus system to ski there at all.
I couldn’t come here and not do the Highlands Bowl hike though, so we did that one day, but you can easily come here and stay and ski Snowmass for an entire vacation.
Sure, the shopping, apres and restaurants are far more limited, but not non-existent (Venga Venga goes off every afternoon opposite the Westin) so by all means head around to Aspen after skiing some nights, but from a ski point of view there is no need to at all – Snowmass rules as a stand alone. It’s an ideal place to start partners, friends or kids skiing too, the Elk Camp mid-mountain beginners area at the top of the gondola is excellent, and allows the first timers to eat with the already competent there as well.
Travelplan is the World’s #1 international operator to Aspen Snowmass and have access to deals better than you will find at online booking sites www.travelplan.com.au