Family ski vacation guide with the best ski resorts for family skiing

Month: August 2014

From one Ski Mom to another… be brave!

What does it take to be a Brave Ski Mom? I recently chatted with fellow ski mom Kristen Lummis, Brave Ski Mom, in Colorado about her love of  skiing, family times on the slopes and her fantasy ski trips!

Q: Love the name of your blog. Is bravery a necessary trait for moms wanting to take their kids skiing?

I think bravery is a necessary trait for all parents. Having children requires a leap of faith, a step into the unknown, into a realm so filled with love and yet so challenging that all parents have to be brave, each and every day.

More to the point with skiing however, I think that ski moms are special. We love our children and we’ll protect them with our lives. But the moment they can walk we put them on skis and push them down a hill!

When they fall, we brush them off and encourage them to try again…over and over again, hoping that this will all pay off.

I’m here to tell you, it does pay off! And then the tables turn. Suddenly, our children can out ski us, and now we’re the ones challenged to keep up, pushing the envelope on our skills.

Yep. You have to be brave!

Q: What do you love about the sport of skiing?

I love skiing for so many reasons. I love the cold. I love the speed. I love the ever changing challenges. I love the pride I feel in watching my sons’ grow into outstanding athletes and I love the time we spend together on chairlifts.

I love trying to carve perfect turns and the rush of trying to ski a fast, tight bump line.

Most of all, I love how skiing is passed down through families, from parent to child. Skiing is one of the few sports I can think of that is truly a multi-generational, lifetime endeavor.

Q: You have a family of skiers, has being a ski mom made motherhood better or difficult?

I truly believe that skiing together brings our family together. Skiing is bond we share and that we enjoy doing as a unit. Especially as a mother of two boys, I love that we have a sport we can share and participate in as equals.

This doesn’t mean that we’re always skiing together. But at the end of the day, even if we’ve been apart, we join back up to share our stories. This has been especially important as our kids hit their teenage years. Skiing has given us a portfolio of shared memories to draw on when things get difficult. And it gives us a new way to create more memories each day.

This is not to say that it’s all been rainbows and unicorns!

When our oldest son was 11 he was in a ski accident that resulted in an investigation lasting nearly five months. As a parent, it was an incredibly difficult time in my life.

In the end, everything worked out, but it was painful for us all.

Q: Do you find some parents think skiing is “too much work,” “too expensive,” or “too dangerous”? What do you say to them? ?

One of the primary reasons I started my blog was to help other families get out there and ski. There is no disputing that family skiing can be a lot of work. It certainly takes a lot of gear and organization. It also takes a lot of patience.

But there are tricks and tips for getting organized and staying organized (the always packed and ready to go boot bag, is one), so that a ski day or ski vacation doesn’t have to be too much work. There are also ways to save on ski passes and take some of the expense out of the sport.

As for the danger, I’m all about managing risk. Don’t start your kids off too fast on a slope that is too hard. Not only does this increase their risk of injury, but it is counterproductive and may increase their sense of fear.

Skiing is a skill, and like any skill, it is best taught by professionals and learned incrementally. Sure accidents can happen, we’re living proof of that, but they can happen on a bike, in a car or running across the school playground.

Q: What’s your goal with your Brave Ski Mom blog?  Who do you hope to reach?

My goal is to inspire other families to get outdoors and enjoy winter! My audience is largely moms and dads with kids of all ages, who are looking for tried and true tips, advice to make each ski day easier, and unbiased reviews of resorts, from a parent’s point of view.

One of the reasons I started Brave Ski Mom was because my friends kept asking me questions like “how do I know when my child is ready to ski, how do we pick a racing club, what kind of mittens are the best,” and so on.

I realized that our family had a lot of information, drawn from our experiences, that we could share.

Q: Do you have a home mountain? Where do you like to ski most??

Living in Colorado, I have several home mountains! The resort nearest our home is Powderhorn Mountain Resort, a Colorado “Gem” where we can always meet up with friends and where we enjoy skiing the trees and the often, quite deep powder.

Since the boys began school, however, we primarily ski at the Aspen/Snowmass mountains. Aspen offers kids in our school district a season pass at a very low cost. It’s an easy drive to all four mountains, with amazing terrain.

Q: Where would choose for an all expense paid, month long fantasy ski trip?

I’m really torn on this one. Europe or Japan?

3skiers-powder-sun2Europe has such an appealing skiing history. I am intrigued with Austria, France and Italy, not just for the amazing terrain found in the Alps and Dolomites (not to mention the Pyrenees), but also for the food! I like the idea of long lunches and hectare upon hectare of terrain to explore as we move from village to village.

Japan however, has that amazing powder and the lure of a completely different culture. In another life, maybe I was one of those Japanese hot tub monkeys. I love soaking that much!

Can I have two fantasy ski trips? Please?

Q: Why be the brave ski mom, not the brave shopping mom, or the brave bike mom? or are those future blogs?

Well, perhaps if I’d had girls, I’d be more of a shopping mom! But with boys, no way!

Being the Brave Ski Mom is a good fit for me, because skiing, snow and winter are truly my passions. I am lucky to have a husband who largely feels the same way, although truth be told, he’d probably prefer that I focus on biking!

Even more, I am so blessed that my children share my passion. Together, we have the most amazing adventures.

As for future blogs, I’m starting to think about that. My boys are in high school and we’re beginning to envision what life will be like without them living with us. It’s both exciting and frightening!

Q: In addition to your blog, do you write for other outlets ?

I do! I am so lucky to work with amazing editors at several other websites and magazines. I’m a regular contributor to the blogs at, Colorado Ski Country USA and Women’s Adventure Magazine. I also write for the print version of Women’s Adventure, MTN Town Magazine and other regional publications such as Aspen Magazine.

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Sunday River Spruces up an old lift, Okemo buys the six-pack

New lifts, new looks, & snow at the Top New England ski resorts for Families

While you are sunning and enjoying summer, ski resorts around New England are ramping up for snow season. Here’s big news to get you in the ski mood as winter lingers closer.

sunburst-six-trail-heatheOkemo headlines with their swift new six-passenger lift that replaces the NorthStar quad. A new six seater with heated leather sets and orange bubble covers will grace the north face of Okemo Mountain, this mid-mountain people mover will reduce the ride time to the summit  in stylish bright orange comfort and protection from the elements with its retractable enclosure.

okemo-narrows3Okemo’s sister resort Sunapee gets a new lift too, Sunapee’s Sunbowl quad will be replaced by a new high speed Poma making the ride time to the summit in just over 4 minutes.  The Sunbowl Express Quad is the kick start to a series of lift and trail improvements at Mount Sunapee in the next few years including replacing the North Peak triple chair with a fixed-grip quad, installing a triple chair from the base of the Sunbowl to the summit of North Peak, plus new trails and snowmaking.

sunday-river-chondolaIn Maine, Sunday River will roll out $5 million this season, that’s$40 mill since Boyne bought the River in 2007. This winter Sunday River will spruce up the old fixed grip Spruce Triple Chair with a new conveyor loading system that will allow this key mid mountain lift to operate 20% faster, with less stops and easier loading. Similar conveyor lift systems have made their way to Sugarloaf, Okemo, Shawnee Peak, and Bridger Bowl Montana, for about $100-grand it’s an enhancement far less expensive than a new high-speed lift. Sunday River will also get more snowmaking, two new groomers, a new 10-acre Hollywood glade on Barker Mountain between agony and Top Gun, and upgrades to the base facilities.

In Vermont, Burke Mountain now owned by Jay Peak, is developing a first-ever ski in ski out  116-suite hotel at Burke, part of $100 million being spent to bring Burke back up to speed. Can you say EB-500?

Meanwhile Jay Peak is creating a 1500-seat amphitheatre, after opening three new slopeside hotels, an indoor Pump House waterpark, an ice house and new tram top restaurant  in the past few years.  Stowe adds an ice rink to Spruce Base Camp and the Stowe Mountain Lodge village common.

In New Hampshire ski country, Ragged Mountain is replacing the old Spear Triple chairlift with a new Doppelmayr Detachable Quad. Now skiers can enjoy high-speed rides to both Ragged’s ski peaks.

Pats Peak adds two new trails and a glade to the new last winter  Cascade Basin Triple area. Cannon is spending $1 million on Mittersill trail work and snowmaking to round out this rustic natural snow area.

Cranmore in North Conway New Hampshire is starting construction of their Kearsarge Brook Condominiums, 18 condo at the base of the South Slope.

For more ski news about New England’s best ski resorts stay tuned, and tune your skis if you didn’t put your gear away properly… #winteriscoming

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Skiing in Southwest Colorado – the best ski resorts and snow!

2hrb-beaver-creekYour typical Coloradan family ski trip goes like this – land in Denver, drive the I-70 corridor and take your pick of ski resorts, as you pass Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, Vail and Beaver Creek. Like downhill ducks in a row, we have skied them all. But this time we diverged and discovered amazing new (to us) Colorado ski country. Our 11 day southwest ski safari delivered us to six high-elevation ski resorts, one day cat skiing, 40 inches of new snow, 14 mountain passes, exquisite haute cuisine, and one epic adventure.

A morning flight from New England, a quick wardrobe change at the top of 11,990′ Loveland Pass, and we’re skiing Arapahoe Basin by 12:30pm. A Basin has ramped up its lifts with two new quads, the Black Mountain Express on the front side and Montezuma Bowl on the back. Arapahoe’s above tree line terrain up to 13,050′ is legendary as a core Colorado ski area. We hit the jackpot, as patrol opened Pallivicini, a daring double black diamond that drops to the base. Colorado had been in a snow drought, it started snowing on our first day, and kept going during our high-country Colorado tour, with ropes dropping and terrain opening at every turn.

Après ski, we drove through Alma, the highest town in North America at 10,578′, by stunning red rock mesas and buttes, to Salida – an artsy, outdoorsy frontier town on the Arkansas River, staying the night at the elegant Palace Hotel before skiing Monarch Mountain. Monarch boasts the highest base lodge in the country at 10,790′ and the highest Starbucks in the world. Monarch is homespun (no lodging or fancy base village – this is the San Isabel National Forest) and heaven on a powder day. Monarch just doesn’t get the swarms (funny butterfly migration reference). If Monarch’s extensive lift served trails and open bowl skiing isn’t enough – you can hike to Mirkwood Bowl or add a day of cat skiing here.

Crested Butte loomed large as we arrived, the 12,162′ Peak that pushes extreme skiers to their limits resembles the Matterhorn. From our slope view Elevation Hotel room, we could see powder hounds lining up for first chair warfare well before the bell. We joined the passionate locals, pouncing on fresh powder on CB’s trails, bowls and glades from Silver Queen to Paradise and East River, then dialed it back for an afternoon of cruising Crested Butte’s pleasant Prospect, Gold Link and Red Lady leisurely runs. At Crested Butte, we had the best ski lunch ever at Uley’s Cabin – this cozy mountainside chalet, and outdoor Ice Bar, is an extraordinary epicurean treat at 10,000.’ Crested Butte’s base village is a smorgasbord of big structures (read: not so charming), but lodging at The Elevation Hotel and Spa slopeside at Crested Butte is first rate. Be sure to explore downtown Crested Butte, an historic wild west mining town that brims with cowboy bars, restaurants and cool shops.

1telluride-skier-hrbTelluride, #4 on our tour, was love at first sight for me, from the spectacular San Juan scenery of 14,000-footers, to skiing on 2,000-acres of snowy slopes. Telluride Mountain provides everything from perfectly groomed to steep to gnarr (serious hike-to bowls and chutes , a posh ski village on the mountain connected to free Gondola to an awesome authentic miner’s downtown. I can see why top skiers and celebs have abandoned Aspen to make Telluride their ski town, its stylish, sophisticated, and the skiing will keep you satisfied for a winter, not just a week. Our snowcat dinner at the highest restaurant in North America, Alpino Vino at 11,960,’ was extraordinary – delicious cuisine served by Alpine dressed waiters in this handcrafted chalet – a former mining claim. Warning: the wines goes straight to your head at this elevated European-style hut. Alpino Vino is also open for ski in ski out lunch inside or on the sun deck with amazing views.

2telluride-villagePurgatory Durango Mountain Resort was our 6th ski stop. Don’t let the name scare you, this is a super fun, friendly ski resort for families. Durango sports a convenient on-mountain village with affordable luxury lodging at Purgatory Lodge, ski services and a few eateries, at the base of the perfect-sized ski resort on Purgatory Mountain. Durango’s slopes are fun and undulating spreading across 1,360-acres with ten lifts, mostly groomed with a few steeps and natural glades, plus five terrain parks. The locals say you are halfway to heaven at 11,822′ Purgatory, the views of 14,000′ Engineer Peak and The Needles as you ski down certainly bring bliss. Downtown Durango, a half hour drive from the resort, is the real deal – a fun-loving cowboy town with the happiest locals we’ve ever met.

From Durango, you can amp up your powder intake cat skiing for a day with Silverton Powdercats, just a half hour away. Here you ski the huge tenure of snowy Grand Turk Mountain with nine others, your guides and a private snow cat limousine.

Our last ski stop, Wolf Creek, promised “The most snow in Colorado,” trademarked for receiving over 460′ annually, and it delivered. This humble 1939 family-owned ski area, closer to New Mexico than Denver, is a haven of groomed sunny slopes plus 1,000-acres of inbounds backcountry-style skiing off an experts’ Alberta Quad. The Wolf has a wild side, but its super friendly and a deal compared to the bigger dogs in the aforementioned Front Range of Colorado.

Try our southwest Colorado ski safari, you will be entertained with extraordinary scenery, stunning drives along red rock canyons and snowy 14,000′ peaks, you will ski soft snow at less crowded Colorado ski resorts and enjoy some truly haute cuisine, arguably a little closer to heaven at the high elevation ski resorts of Purgatory Durango, Telluride, Crested Butte, Monarch, Silverton Powdercats, and Wolf Creek.

Article by Heather Burke, photography by Greg Burke
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