Beware of Timberline Tours in Vail, Colorado
If you're looking for a backcountry tour through the Rocky Mountains in Vail, Colorado, do not book it with Timberline Tours. Oh, they are happy to make your reservation, but if a larger group comes along, they won't think twice about cancelling on you at the last minute. I recommend Lakota Guides for a tour instead--very professional, great Hummers and Jeeps and they keep their promises!
Skiing Your Level
Tips for skiers and boarders...
Ski within your ability level.
Here's the problem: many skiers hit the slopes with inflated senses of ability. Maybe they want to try something new, maybe they need more of a challenge. A beginner, however, shouldn't look for challenges on double diamonds. There's a reason for many levels of slopes. Move up to the harder stuff as you go.
Simple: cost. The more people who ski beyond their abilities, the more people who get hurt. If you get hurt, the cost is passed on to the other skiers- in the form of ticket prices, much of which goes to paying for legal stuff, and in the form of rules and regulations.
Skiing and snowboarding are not without their dangers. But if you've ever been hit by out of control skiers (as I have- I checked the guy, knocking him over, and for some reason didn't beat the crap out of him... as he laughed about it...) you'll appreciate keeping beginners in their area, and off the steep, fast slopes where they can easily get out of control and pose a risk not only to themselves but to others as well. The Slow Zones keep the good skiers going slow as well, even though they're in control. It's not a bad idea, but probably wouldn't be necessary if beginners weren't in the area as well. For now, you can ski as you like in the back bowls. How long that will last depends on whether people are responsible for their skiing. If you have to slide on your backside down the double black, single black or even blue, you don't belong there. If all you make are the "wedge" turns, you don't belong on the bigger stuff, and you shouldn't be there, for your good and for the good of others.
Of course, as skiers or boarders we need to move on to harder things before we can get better. I've been skiing for 22 years or so, and have worked up gradually to this point. Sure, we hit harder stuff when we weren't as good, but we were still conscious of skiing within our means.
Anyway, the point isn't that people shouldn't try the harder stuff. It's just that people shouldn't get in above their heads as that causes costs to go up for everyone. When some beginner shoots off a cliff to show off and gets killed, that can close down that cliff to even the most advanced, extreme skiers/boarders. And when beginners shred the powder instead of cutting a line, that makes the skiing worse for others as well. Just be considerate of other skiers, don't sue the resort if you get hurt, and keep your eyes uphill.
Ski, Ski and Ski
Vail offers some of the best skiing in the Rocky Mountains. It has the largest contiguous skiable terrain in the US and gets plenty of snow. The town is at 2500 metres above sea level and the highest skiable altitude is around 3500 metres (vertical drop of 1000 metres), but the surrounding peaks rise well above 4000 metres. The front side of the mountain facing vail is extensive and quite challenging, but could get crowded on peak weekends. The back bowls, on the other hand, are vast and are rarely crowded. There, skiing between the trees, or where there are no trees, tends to be the norm...
The Beverly Hills of Colorado
Vail has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment. The ski resort is one of the best in Colorado. With it being a ski town there are many resorts, condos, spas, bars, etc to choose from. But if you decide to go make sure you bring money. I don't think the Lonely Planet has a section for Vail on a shoestring budget. If you are visiting Denver you can drive up for the day to ski or check out the town. Occasionally you can find some specials especially during the off season. During the summer there is good mountain biking, hiking, and music festivals. For the traveler who has some extra money to spend have a good time! You will certainly find some place to spend it!
I had the chance to spend New Years in Vail. Some friends did not rent their condo which was listed for $400 a night (average to conservative) so I took the opportunity to go do some skiing and relax. Heading out on New Years eve was an experience. Cover charges to clubs ranged from $200 a person to $30. I chose the $30 club. It ended up being nice. Vendetta's is a bar/resturant in Vail village which offers great Italian food and drinks. It is a nice place to spend a evening after a day of skiing. FUBAR is a more popular place but a bit more pricey on New Years. It was good time and not quite as crowded as some of the other expensive places.
Lets just say that if I win the lottery any time soon that I would spend a million of it in Vail Village. I had a good time window shopping. It is the Beverly Hills of Colorado with its expensive fur stores, designer jewelry, and rare book shops. It is a must see. Even the people walking through the streets are a site to behold! I tried on a 39,000 dollar opal necklace. I thought about running for the door.......there were no security guards but I figured I didn't have a chance. There was too much snow and ice on the sidewalk and I was in high heel boots!