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

Month: August 2015

New Lifts Next Winter

Just as the summer weather peaks, and we savor water skiing and stand up paddle boarding, ski resorts start to roll out their next winter upgrades.

sunburst-six-trail-heatheOkemo seems to be breaking out the bubbly, – in the form of two lifts. So pleased with their orange Sunburst six-pack bubble chair installed last winter, they are replacing the Jackson Gore quad with a high-speed orange bubble for next ski season. They will rebuild this swift lift to Jackson Gore’s summit, and rename it the Quantum Four, making Okemo in Vermont the only resort with two bubble covered chairs in North America. Okemo will also debut a new fixed grip quad lift, called the Sunshine Quad, and two ski trails to the South Face expansion area where a new village is being developed.

6sugarloaf-summitMeanwhile, Sugarloaf in Maine will settle for a new terminal to the King Pine lift that failed last March. The existing King Pine towers, top terminal and chairs will remain the same. Sugarloaf states that this terminal upgrade by Doppelmayr costs roughly $800,000, and includes very important improved anti-rollback technology. Other Sugarloaf lifts, including the Timberline Quad which was also closed at the end of the ski season for mechanical issues, will receive needed maintenance and the latest anti roll back systems and brakes.  Nothing new, but phew.

saddleback-ghosts-americaSaddleback  needs money to replace its key lift, the Rangeley Double… asking friends on facebook to help find financing so they can open with a new $3 million lift for the 2015-16 ski season… seems a little late in the planning stage, no?

Sugarbush Vermont replaces its Valley House Double with a new Valley House Quad, and builds a new Gadd Brook Homes condo cluster on the slopes.

best-heritage-club-base4Vermont’s Hermitage Club – the private ski resort at Haystack Mountain
will debut a new $7 mill, six passenger heated bubble chairlift. Who says membership doesn’t have its privileges, private powder and posh heated chairs for their non-existent lift lines!?

Jackson Hole in Wyoming installs the Teton Lift, a high-speed quad giving skiers access to 2,000′ vert of previously only hike-to-terrain in Granite Canyon. Nearby Snow King Mountain gets a new Rafferty lift – a fixed grip quad serving the lower mountain terrain at this 1jackson-hole-rendezvous-ian-heathergreat in-town, old school resort that opened in 1939 long before Jackson Hole or Grand Targhee

Park City in Utah is getting $50 mill in upgrades, now that this is a Vail Resort along with neighboring Canyons. A new Motherlode chair will be upgraded from a fixed-grip triple to a 4-person high-speed detachable chair. The King Con will be ramped up to a 6-person high-speed detachable.

A new 8-passenger, high-speed gondola is planned from the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at The Canyons, linking the two resorts to create the largest ski resort in the US at over 7,300 acres.

Snowbird in Utah will debut its new 11,000′ Hidden Peak lodge at the summit of the Tram – not so hidden with extraordinary 360’s of the Wasatch from every window.

Enjoy your summer! #WinterisComing

Stay tuned to Family Ski Trips and Luxury Ski Trips for ski news you can use!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of 

Stay in ski shape all summer!

If you are snow lover and ski freak like me, you think winter just doesn’t last long enough. You hear the snow haters that bleep and moan about snow, ice, and cold, and you think “they are missing out on the best season – winter.” Well, just like you aren’t going to change minds, you aren’t going to be able to skip over spring, summer & fall either. You could take a ski trip to Chile, or New Zealand, but I suggest a better, less expensive option is to have your sun & fun, stay in shape and appreciate the changing seasons. Here are some of my favorite summer activities, call them ski substitutes:

HB_waterski09H2O Skiing – water skiing is a second cousins to snow skiing. The quad muscles, core strength and isometric movement is the same skiing on water as on snow. Water skiing is a great work out, explosive energy and fitness is required to get up and stay up for a 15-30 minute ski, as much as 13-15 ski runs in fact Like downhill skiing, it’s not for the timid or the faint of wallet – let’s see you need a ski, or two, a ski boat, pfd, tow line, gas for the boat, a driver and spotter, and then you pray for calm crystal waters, glass-like lake conditions are akin to powder or perfectly groomed snow. The speed and centrifugal force of an arcing water ski turn is as close as you are going to get to the thrill and gravitational pull of carving on snow till winter returns.

2015-bri-wakeboard1Wakeboarding – the summer bro to snowboarding, wakeboarding also works your quads, core and upper body in great pre-ski or après ski season conditioning. If you like to hit the terrain park in winter on your board, then wakeboarding is just your speed in summer sine you can perform tricks, turns and jumps on a wakeboard.

Cycling – road cycling or mountain biking are great exercise for skiers and riders. You work your quads, gluteus, hamstrings,  and calves while exploring the great outdoors. Whether you are big on hill climbs or prefer touring the meandering coast on your road bike, cycling is a fun fitness activity. Like skiing, heads up and helmets on – bike accidents are more prevalent than ski injuries, and particularly bike head trauma. So ride with care, watch for cars, and seek out bike paths, trails and quieter less trafficked places to ride whenever possible.

Hiking – what better way to enjoy the beautiful mountains in summer, without snow, than to climb to the summit. Pack a picnic, put on your hiking boots and go for the peak. Hiking is easy on the wallet and the eyes, especially when you summit and can see the panorama you earned from your ascent.  Just like skiing, your hiking regimen should start small and gradually increase your distance and mountain difficulty for the best enjoyment and conditioning. Be prepared for all weather and conditions, do your research, and pack in and pack out all your provisions (water, food, flashlight, first aid). Take only memories and leave only foot prints is the golden rule among hikers. Take care on your descent to use proper form for those ski knees of yours.  Consult your local state parks and hiking clubs for tips on the best trails, where to park and start your trip,  and to find the right hike size, length and steepness s for your level and time allowance.

heather-aspen-supBoating – sailing or power boating, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing, while not as physically strenuous as skiing, offers a similar great outdoors escape as snow sports. Being on a boat provides a feeling of oneness with nature, and the opportunity to escape from the concrete jungle, the computer keyboard, the day to day, and test your survival skills with outdoor adventure. Many skiers spend their summers boating for the beauty of being on the water, not unlike being on a mountain. Boating is also very social, like minded individuals gravitate toward the water – which is melted snow after all, to party, swim, raft and tell fish tales and yachting stories in lieu of powder day brags.

These are a few of my favorite summer things… what’s your summer savior till snow flies and we ski again?

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

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