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Beginner/Intermediate Skiers: Skiing Snowmass

Todd Hartley's picture

Despite its massive size, Snowmass has relatively little in the way of beginner terrain, with just 6 percent of the runs bearing a green circle. It more than makes up for this shortcoming, however, with thousands of acres of some of the best intermediate trails to be found anywhere, including many runs that are suitable for skiers with a just a few days’ experience under their belts.

For beginners, you’ll want to avoid the crowds on Fanny Hill first thing in the morning. This can be done by riding the Elk Camp Gondola instead of the more crowded Village Express lift. Ride the gondola to the midway unloading station and try a few runs on the gentle slope of Assay Hill, or, if you want to get away from the base area, stay on the gondola to the top and ride the Meadows Lift, which will let you access a small area near the bottom of Elk Camp set aside specifically for beginning skiers.

From Elk Camp, follow Funnel Bypass to get back down. Just make sure to stay left near the bottom and cross a bridge that will lead you back to the Base Village. From here, with the morning crowds now dispersed, ride the Village Express lift to access the rest of Snowmass’s beginner runs.

Unload at the midway point and head out on Lunchline, a gentle run that will bring you to Scooper and Dawdler, both of which wind through a scenic aspen grove before emptying out onto Fanny Hill.

Once you feel you’re ready to step up to intermediate terrain, ride the Elk Camp Gondola to the top and consider your options. You can ride the Elk Camp chair and soak up the awe-inspiring views of the Maroon Bells before setting out on one of the tremendous cruiser runs in this area, or you can head downhill on Cascade or Creekside, long, uncrowded trails that will bring you down to the Two Creeks lift.

A third option from the top of the gondola is to follow Adam’s Avenue down to the Alpine Springs lift. Try a few runs in this area on wonderfully rolling trails such as Lodgepole and Lunkerville. A particular favorite, especially amongst kids, is Naked Lady, which has more jumps than most people can find in one run.

For somewhat steeper intermediate trails, ride the Village Express lift to the top of Sam’s Knob and ski Max Park or Sunnyside down to the Big Burn lift. This chair, which can get a little crowded during the holiday season, accesses some of Snowmass’s most well-known cruisers, among them Sneaky’s and Sheer Bliss, as well as the thigh-burning moguls of Timberline.

Another alternative from the top of the Big Burn is to ride the Cirque Poma to the summit and take a run on Rocky Mountain High, a broad, above-treeline groomer that will bring you right back down to the Big Burn.

One last fun option for intermediate skiers is Long Shot, an amazingly long run through the trees that will make you feel as if you’re skiing in the backcountry. To reach Long Shot, make the short hike from the top of Elk Camp up to the summit of Burnt Mountain and then ski all the way down to the base of Two Creeks.