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Category: Ski Conditions (page 1 of 2)

Top Spring Ski Events in the East & West

Don’t you love spring skiing? Warm temperatures meet a winter’s worth of snow depths. Ski conditions soften and so do bulky dress codes at the best ski resorts. From music to moguls to general mayhem – these spring fests are super fu:

Top spring ski fests in Colorado, Utah, California, and Montana:
Taste of Vail is a fun food, wine and ski fest – what could be better than skiing spring conditions followed by wine tastings and food from Vail’s top Chefs April 5-9!? Spring Back to Vail April 14-16 brings live headliner bands for free concerts to Vail Village. Après ski at Vail just got big and FREE which rarely happens at Vail, right?! Look for parties on the mountain too – like Tiki & Tunes Luau at mid-Vail.

Vail’s World Pond Skimming Championships is the biggest, April 16 at Golden Peak. Enjoy a BBQ and beers overlooking the big pond where the best and worst) dressed in crazy costumes attempt to cross the big expanse of cold water to the cheers and jeers of a big crowd. Like everything in Vail, this pond skim is massive, so is the crowd of spectators.

Whistler Blackcomb World Ski & Snowboard Festival April 7-16 is a top ski event, bringing together skiing, film, art, professional ski and snowboard competitions, plus top concerts and après ski parties that go crazy late! If you’ve watched Bravo’s Après Ski and Timber Creek Lodge- you know Whistler’s party scene is out of this world.

Park City’s Spring Grüv in Canyons Village starts late March with awesome free concerts and après-ski parties – culminating April 8 with the 21st Annual Pond Skimming Contest at Red Pine.

Squaw Valley celebrates PAIN MCSHLONKEY for Shane McConkey, posthumously and humorously – skiers are encouraged to dress up in vintage gear and pay tribute to the legendary free skier by going big March 18.

Steamboat’s Springalicious 37th annual cardboard classic is April 15 – locals recycle by creating box-cars to derby to fly downhill. The crashes are spectacular, so is the après ski scene at Steamboat.

Breckenridge’s annual Spring Fever Beer Festival April 8 marks its 11th year. This Colorado spring ski event is perfect for craft beer lovers and spring skiing lovers – that includes everyone right?!

Aspen Highlands Closing Day is an elevated spring ski party – the spring ski celebration above 10,000’ in the Rockies gets wild, with ridiculous retro outfits, serious drinking, even Champagne spraying! Did we mention you’re at 10,000 feet?! High times in Colorado.

Top Spring Ski Events in The East

New England skiers know the best skiing is typically in spring. Put away the facemasks and hand warmers for much welcome warmer sunnier ski days. The hard snow softens, those man made base depths turn to cream corn by mid morning and the BBQ fires up mid afternoon for sun and fun by the slopes. Spring is also a time for pond skimming, zany costumes and competitions on the ski slopes, even tailgating in muddy parking lots. No one said Eastern skiers were sane? But they are hard core! Here are some Eastern spring ski rites of passage and grand season finales full of fun and games, music and grills.

Cannon Mountain Bodefest on March 25 with Bode Miller himself.. I think he still “hates the media” so don’t bring the news crew.

Killington Bear Mountain Challenge NOR’BEASTER is April 8 as Bump skiers go all out on Outer Limits moguls. Cheers and beers (sponsor Dos Equis) flow at the base of this spring ski party. The Beast of the East will keep skiing in to May.

Sugarloaf Reggaefest – now in year 29 April 6-9 is like Jamaica comes to Maine’s mountains. Top reggae bands set up on the Sugarloaf beach by day, and in the base lodge by night for some rocking island music. Wear your tie-dye and tie on a good time. Ironically few reggae fest attendees ski, so this is a great weekend for spring ski conditions at the Loaf, especially when the snowfields are open.

Sunday River’s Spring Festival April 1-2 was once called Parrot Head, so expect Jimmy Buffet music, margaritas flowing, palm trees, tropical outfits and general island vibe outside the White Cap Base.

Loon has 80’s Day April 1- no foolin! Dress in your best (or worst) 1980’s outfit and get out on Loon’s soft slopes. Be totally rad for this spring weekend at North Peak, South Peak and Paul Bunyan’s for après ski! Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party and Wet Tug-O-War is April 8.

Wildcat has their Annual Cat Scratch Fever event April 7-8 as skiers compete to be the Cat’s Meow before the judges. If you’ve seen Wildcat’s Kitty Litter Box Derby in February, don’t miss this wild spring event at the Cat with live après ski entertainment in the Wildcat Pub .

Sugarbush Gelandesprung & Mt. Ellen End of Season Celebration is April 1, this traditional ski jump event is a classic – to watch – even wilder to get sprung.

Sugarbush‘s Pond Skimming at Lincoln Peak April 8 is also a big splash, followed by the legendary Steins’ Challenge on April 22 which is spring mogul mania – bring Z rubber knees to Sugarbush.

Okemo’s Slush Cup and Splash for Cash April 8 is a wet and wild good time with a pretty good pay day for the winner. Okemos 80 Retro Jam is set for April 15 – rock your most rad 80s attire – totally awesome dude as Okemo wraps their season!

Jay Peak has Pond Skimming and their Annual Tailgate Party April 15, so bring your bikini and your bbq.

Easter Sunday at East Coast ski resorts brings sunrise services at Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Killington, Stowe and Jay Peak….. Most ski resorts have Easter Egg Hunts on the ski slopes for kids, and costume parades, even a visit by the Easter Bunny. Look for a few snow bunnies on the beginner slopes too! Easter weekend is the season finale Sunday for most New England ski resorts.

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright 2017

Visit Heather Burke’s websites Family Ski Trips.com and  for luxury resort reviews: www.luxuryskitrips.com

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Get Your Kids Ready to Ski

2-ski-timberline2The PSIA and I agree on how to get your kids ready to ski. Here is sage ski advice from the Professional Ski and Snowboard Instructors of America with our own Family Ski Tips. Confession: I was a member of PSIA when I taught skiing at Smugglers Notch Resort in Vermont in the 90s. Flash forward, as Editor of Luxury Ski Trips and FamilySkiTrips.com, I have similar ski tips for parents on how to make skiing fun with less stress for everyone.

PSIA Ski Tips
1. Be active as a family before your ski trip

Skiing and snowboarding require physical fitness, so start an exercise program for you and your family. Whether it’s enrolling kids in soccer or another sport, to taking walks together as a family, it’s important to get moving. See my similar tips on quad strengthening wall sits with the kids pre ski season.
2. Do your weather homework 
blizzard-heatherSki resorts have mountain cams,  temperature updates, even meteorologists on retainer. Know before you go –  what the weather and temperature is like on the mountain and where you are staying, so you can dress your child appropriately for conditions. At some resorts temps vary greatly from the town versus the mountain, mind the elevation too!
3. Try on ski/snowboard  gear before you go
For younger children getting used to putting on ski or snowboard equipment and clothing helps them adjust to the mountain environment more easily. You can make it a game, we call it the pre ski season fashion runway show,  and help them see their ski/snowboard clothes and equipment as something fun to play in versus something strange or bulky to wear. For older kids, it also helps to check to make sure everything still fits and is working properly before you arrive on the slopes.
3family-lookout-pass4. Invest in lessons for your kids
Having your kids learn from an expert can make their ski/snowboard experience more fun, see our Top Tips for teaching kids to ski,  and also gives you time to enjoy the slopes. Set the expectation that the lesson is more like a sports practice than going to school and that they’ll have fun while getting to learn new skills.
5. Watch ski/snowboard movies or videos to get everyone excited
We couldn’t agree more – nothing like a Warren Miller family ski movie night to amp up the alpine enthusiasm among the fam! Use media to motivate your kids and set expectations of what their experience on the mountain and lessons will be like. Check out ski and snowboard clips on YouTube and PSIA-AASI’s  YouTube Channel.
6. Pack the right gear
family-ski-trip-packingYou don’t have to spend a fortune on kids’ ski and snowboard gear. Just make sure they have a good snowsuit that’s wind/snow resistant along with goggles, long socks pulled up below the knee, snow gloves and insulated layers. If they become more involved in the sport then you can invest in wicking base layers and more expensive jackets when they will be out on the mountain for longer periods of time. There’s a science to packing properly – see our guide to packing for a family ski trip.

Get your kids ski bags and gear and get ready! See our reviews of the Best Family Ski resorts in the World and we’ll see you on the  ski slopes!

By Heather Burke, photography by Greg Burke www.luxuryskitrips.com

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2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Ski Season is Here!

risky-business1My friends joke that I am obsessed with skiing, that I am always thinking about winter, planning my next alpine assault. It’s actually no joke. I’m particularly stoked about this ski season.

Here’s 5 reasons why:
1. I’m taking my ski pants to France. Having skied 126 resort around the globe, the French Alps are on my haute hit list.  Stay tuned for ski reviews, and European après ski too – it is a French expression after all!

2. I’m 50 and I have vowed to ski my age in days. That’ll be a challenge. I have the Epic Pass, good at Vail’s 13 resorts, and I’m not afraid to use it.  The Epic Pass even includes 5 days at their most recently acquired Whistler Blackcomb! Oh, that ski trip to France? Les 3 Vallées – Courchevel, Meribel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens, plus Paradiski – Les Arcs, La Plagne and Tignes-Val D’Isére – are all on the Epic Pass too for two days each!

skiseason2016-173. It WILL be a good snow winter in the East, repeat after me… Last winter in New England was beyond a bummer, with ski resorts measuring under 100-inches. Read: unsatisfactory.  So my view is this season can only be better. In my five decades of skiing The East, I have witnessed a cyclical pattern – warm drought like winters are followed by bountiful snow years. See the Almanac predication for “Ice Cold and Snow Filled in the East, “Freezing Cold and Average Snowfall” in the central Rockies”.  Sorry Pac Northwest, Cali and South West – “Mild, Stormy, Balmy”.

4. The Women’s World Cup came to Killington Nov 26-27. And in March 15-19, 2017 the World Cup Finals will be held at  Aspen Snowmass.  This is HUGE for alpine ski racing and the US Ski Team on a global stage. Go Team USA! I’m of course bummed about Lindsey Vonn’s recent injury, the humerus is not funny. I just read Lindsey’s book, “Strong is the New Beautiful.” A better title than “Ran from the Tiger, Rehabbed and Returned with Vengeance.”  Her diet and daily regime is not unlike Tom Brady’s, and I’m not counting her out – she’s the comeback kid.

Where I've skied

Where I’ve skied

5. Another ski bucket list item, I want to pass Seth Wescott on Liftopia’s “Where I’ve skied” App. Seth’s at 156, but he just got married so while he’s happily honeymooning and sleeping in, I want to bag 32 new ski resorts. Lofty ski goals, I know.  Just last season I skied 49 days, at 27 new resorts.

What are your ski goals this season?

Get your ski bag and gear out, and get ready! #WinterIsComing – so is #TheSnow

By Heather Burke, photography by Greg Burke www.luxuryskitrips.com

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2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Ski Resort Opening Dates

6kitzbuhel-hrb-markus-pow2Ski resorts are opening across the North East and out West faster than you can say #Winteriscoming. The West has already gotten a few big snow storms. Meanwhile New England finally has cold weather to blow snow after a very mild start to November and October for that matter. Now what really  matters to skiers: opening dates at your favorite ski places:

Killington opend first in the East October 23, a week after Arapahoe Basin Colorado. A Basin was the first ski resort open in the country. Bretton Woods was next to open in the east.

Stowe, Sugarbush, Sunday River, and Loon Mountain Resort open Wednesday, November, 23. These are perennial big snow makers and often first ski resorts in the east to open.

2-ski-timberline2Sugarloaf opens Thanksgiving Thursday, November 24.

Cranmore Mountain, Cannon, Waterville Valley and Mount Sunapee Resort plan to open Black Friday, November 25 – so we’ll call that White Friday in ski country.

Gunstock Mountain Resort opens Friday, December 2, Burke in Vermont and Black Mountain in NH open Saturday, December 3

Ragged Mountain Resort, Wildcat and Attitash are aiming for early December.

big-sky-heather-moonlightOut West, Mammoth is open in California. In Colorado,  Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Purgatory and Loveland are open, as well as Arapahoe Basin

In Canada, Lake Louise and Sunshine in beautiful Banff are open.

In Europe, Solden, Hintertux and Stubaier Glaciers in Austria are open. In Switzerland, Gstaad, Zermatt, and Saas Fe are open. Val Thorens and Tignes in France are open for skiing.

Get out there and enjoy the early season skiing!

Winter is coming ski friends…see you on the slopes soon!

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

Photos by Greg Burke

CNL, EPR, Vail Resorts- Who owns what ski resorts?

1sunrise-express-baseAre you ready for the latest in mountain mergers and alpine acquisitions? EPR Properties of Kansas City is buying up 15 ski resorts from CNL Lifestyle Properties. This shouldn’t affect your ski winter – but its wild news with wicked big numbers.

The total ski package is $830 million in a complicate formula of stock, cash and holdings and assets.

Because of the long-term lease agreements between CNL and each of the 14 resorts, no operational or season passholder big-sky-moonlightchanges are expected from the sale to EPR, which is expected to close in the spring of 2017 according to Ski Area Management, SAM Magazine.
Karl Kapuscinski, president and CEO of Mountain High and Stevens Pass, said even though the lease for the properties is changing hands, it’s business as usual. “It’s similar to a home mortgage being sold to another bank. Nothing really changes except who you write the check to.”

The EPN/CNL ski resort sale includes

2-ski-timberline2Brighton Ski Resort, Utah (Boyne Resorts)
Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colo. (Triple Peaks)
Cypress Mountain, B.C., Canada (Boyne Resorts)
Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Tenn. (Boyne Resorts)
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Mass. (Fairbank Group)
Loon Mountain Resort, N.H. (Boyne Resorts)
Northstar, Tahoe CA, managed by Vail Resorts
Mount Sunapee Mountain Resort, N.H. (Triple Peaks)
Mountain High Resort, Calif. (Mountain High Holdings LLC)
Okemo Mountain Resort, Vt. (Triple Peaks)
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Calif. (Booth Creek)
Stevens Pass, Wash. (Stevens Pass Mountain Resort LLC)
Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)
Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort, Wash. (Boyne Resorts)
Sunday River Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)

big-sky-ianMeanwhile Vail Resorts now owns or at least operates 13 ski resorts, and half of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, the top three being Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Breckenridge.

Vail, Colorado
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado
Keystone, Colorado
Park City (and Canyons) in Utah
Heavenly, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar (management contract only, purchased by EPR)
Kirkwood, Lake Tahoe, California
Whistler Blackcomb, BC Canada
Perisher, Australia
Wilmot Mountain, Wisconsin
Afton Alps, Minnesota
vail-heather-simbaMt. Brighton, Michigan

Vail Resorts also holds the RockResorts brand, with luxury ski lodging properties including The Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek , One Ski Hill Place at Breckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Winter is coming ski friends…see you on the slopes soon!

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

Photos by Greg Burke

Vail owns 13 Ski Resorts! Epic!

vail-heather-simbaVail Resorts is quite the mountain monopoly now. How many ski resorts can one company own? ! Apparently a baker’s dozen of  dreamy downhill destinations! The latest, Vail has purchased Canada’s biggest – Whistler Blackcomb for $1 billion.  Vail now manages 13 ski resorts, the original Vail (since 1962), plus Beaver Creek – one of my personal faves, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City (and Canyons) in Utah, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe California, Whistler Blackcomb in BC Canada; Perisher in Australia; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. Vail now has the lion’s share of skier visit too, with 50% of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, among the top 3  are Whistler, Vail, and Breckenridge.

1telluride-skier-hrbSo Vail’s Epic Pass just became even more Epic for 2016-17. Enjoy skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Arapahoe Basin, Perisher Australia, Wilmot, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton, plus 5 days at Whistler. Next ski season, winter 2017-18, Whistler Blackcomb pass benefits will be in full force.

Add to that the impressive ski resort collection the luxury lodging brand Vail Resorts owns – RockResorts, with posh ski lodging properties including the authentic first lodging in Vail village-  Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek, One Ski Hill Place at jester-sugarbush-heatherBreckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I think Vail Resorts needs an East Coast ski resort or two to round out the portfolio. Perhaps Vail could buy Saddleback in Maine, its only $12 mill versus the Park City acquisition at $182 mill, and Whistler at $1.1 bill.  ? Wouldn’t a RockResort in the Rangeley Lakes region be grand all four seasons? And Vail could reopen Ascutney in Vermont perhaps?

Meanwhile, I’ve got my Epic Pass and I’m not afraid to use it! Lake Tahoe, Park City, Colorado’s Summit County and Whistler – I’m coming for ya!

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

Photos by Greg Burke

Where to ski this summer?

1aspen-highlands-bowlWhile most of us skiers have launched boats, turned to paddleboarding, kayaks and bikes, even golf clubs, there are those bold ski souls who #neversummer and want to ski all the time, every season. Here are the latest ski conditions aroudn teh glove from our friends at SAM, Ski Area management:

Two resorts are open in North America : Timberline, Ore., and Whistler Blackcomb, B.C., Canada. The open terrain on Whistler’s glacier is primarily for training, but it does have a small open-to-the-public park. Timberline is currently spinning three lifts to access a park and a pipe. Mammoth Mountain in California wrapped up its season on July 4.

off-piste-tracksFor summer skiing in Europe,  several glacier-skiing resorts are operating with respectable snowpack. Austria has three resorts open, including year-round Hintertux, which has the deepest snow in the alps with a base of just over 92 inches and is reporting “old snow” as the surface. U.S. national team members have been training there recently. Dachstein and Kitzteinhorn glaciers are also open with similar conditions.

France’s three glacier ski areas are reporting the best July snow conditions in years, with base depths measuring about six feet—roughly four times what they were last year at this time. Les 2 Alpes and Tignes plan to be open through most of August. Val d’Isere was the first area to open, but will likely be the first to close with reports calling for July 10 to be the final day.

2marmolada-glacier-ski-offPasso Stelvio in Italy is reporting “gripping” snow accessed by all six of its lifts. Cervinia in Italy re-opened at the end of June after a steady dose of fresh snow. It’s reporting a base depth of more than six feet on 12 miles of trails. It’s possible to enjoy cross-boarder skiing from Cervinia to Zermatt in Switzerland, Zermatt as only ski area open in Switzerland isis reporting excellent July conditions.

Norway’s three glacier ski areas have no shortage of snow, with base depths measuring as much as 23 feet. Despite having plenty of white stuff to enjoy, Stryn plans to close July 19, but Folgefonn and Galdhoppigen should stay open into August.

tracksFresh snow in Australia after a slow start to the season fell on the Ausie mountains end of June, allowing every resort to open for the season, with more snow at Thredbo in July. The forecast is calling for cool temps and at least a chance of snow at higher elevations every day through the weekend, so look for more terrain to open as snowmaking continues.

3skiers-powder-sun2It’s the opposite story in New Zealand, however. After a great start,  warm fronts have melted snow cover and hindered snowmaking efforts, only a few resorts are open. The Remarkables, Cardrona, and Mt. Hutt are the only three resorts open for skiing  on a fraction of their terrain. Coronet Peak is spinning a lift for scenic rides.

The story is similar in Argentina where early snowfall allowed some resorts to open earlier than expected, followed by a drought, according to reports, and only Las Lenas and Catedral are open. Las Lenas has a max base depth of 47 inches on 10 trails, and Catedral is reporting a max depth of 3 inches on six trails served by just six of the resort’s 36 lifts.

1ski-wildcatResorts in Chile got  about 10 feet of snow in early,t more than half of the nation’s ski resorts are open including Valle Nevado and La Parva, each sporting base depths of nearly 60 inches. South Africa’s Tiffendell’s slopes and all but Afriski’s slopes are open for skiing and riding.

It’s still early winter south of the equator, and forecasts are calling for things to cool down over an extended period of time across many of the mountainous areas throughout the Southern Hemisphere.

HB_waterski09To quote John Snow, #winteriscoming so enjoy the summer, or go find snow at these ski resorts! Me, I am enjoying SUP Paddleboarding, water skiing and boating till November. See you out on the h20.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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

Still skiing? The 2% – Skiers!

Its Memorial Day weekend, sign of summer, after one of the most mercurial winters Family Ski Tripson record – El Niño, or as we called it “El Weirdo.”

The East was warm with astonishingly low snow, less than 5 feet of natural snow at Sunday River… meanwhile the West got nuked, 33 feet at Grand Targhee, 38′ at Snowbird in Utah!

blizzard-heatherOverall, skier visits were up 8% in the Rockies. The Pacific Northwest recorded a 142% increase, easily doubling from 2 mill in 2014-15 to 4.8 mill visits in 2015-16 according to NSAA – the National Ski Areas Association.

sunday-river-chondolaThe Northeast, New England particularly, was down 28% this winter (can we call it a winter?!) reflecting one of the four worst ski seasons in the past four decades. Sunday River, who opened on Oct 19, kept skiing til May 2, but only received 60 inches of natural snow, their usual snowfall total is 167 (can you say snow making magic?).

1telluride-skier-hrbOverall skier visits in the US for 2015-16 were 53.9 million, the West soared  and saved the East meltdown. As for the bottom line, Western resort occupancy was up 4.4 percent,revenues up 5.2 percent compared to last season, with Colorado as the leader of the pack, even though the strong US $ deterred Canadians and foreigners.

In layman’s terms, about 7 million people in the US ski,  they account for our 53 million “skier visits” by going about 7 times a season. Some folks, like me, big-sky-ianski 50 days, ski instructors, patrollers and ski bums eclipse 100, but slobs with real jobs ski only 2 to 5 times a winter, so its an alipne average . With the US population at 322,762,018 (2016 US Census specifics) that means skiers are the 2%!

Enough elitist ski math, alpine analysis and El Niño climatology… let’s talk about who is still open for skiing in May 2016?

In the East, the last beast spinning is Killington Resort which reopens Memorial weekend much like last year! Out west the usual late spring ski resorts are still standing: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Aspen’s Ajax  in Colorado,  Mammoth, Mt Bachelor, Timberline & Whistler Blackcomb! Mammoth still has 130’ of base in late May, more snow than heather-aspen-supthe East saw all season. Hintertux Glacier in Austria too!

Me, I’ve stored my skis for next October, sharpened, waxed all set to go come snow…but I’m switching gears to SUP, boating and water skiing. See you out on the h20.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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

How was your ski season?

big-sky-moonlightHow was your ski season? Did you ski your age in # days? That’s always a goal of mine, it’s exponentially more challenging each winter. I like to envision my 80 ski days when I am retired at 80, and (hopefully) still fit and carving fabulously. Klaus Obermeyer, Aspen-based famous ski clothes designer from Germany, had the goal of skiing as fast as his age, he’s now 95. I think my approach is safer but you go Klaus!

big-sky-heather-moonlightAs an East Coaster, I could be completely disappointed with this season. Let’s see – it rained Christmas, was 60 degrees New Years, with
abysmally low snow totals all season long. Mad River Glen was only open 45 days. New England ski resorts struggled, many didn’t make it to Easter weekend which was super early – still March. A few kept making snow into April, Sunday River and Killington, way over snow budget. Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Sugarbush made it to May Day, Killington keeps spinning.

Back in December when I saw the El Nino
6kitzbuhel-hrb-markus-pow2weather writing on the wall, I hashtagged this winter #GoToTheSnow. And that’s what I did. I skied pow from start to finish, soft snow at Vail and Aspen-Snowmass in mid-December, to my finale at Big Sky Montana on Easter in a foot of fresh. I ventured to Austria in January, skiing Kitzbuhel, Innsbruck, Zillertal, SkiWelt and Alpbach, then flew back to Colorado in February for more white gold at Copper and Steamboat.

aspen-heatherI ended with 49 ski days (I don’t turn 50 till July this year – so I legally accomplished my goal). Of those 49 days, only 7 where bagged in balmy New England. I hit 30 different resorts, a stat I find pretty cool, from East to West to Europe.

My best ski day? There was the stellar sunny day in Kitzbühel Austria when I skied the Hahnenkamm course the week before the world’s best downhill skiers hit this hairy race course.

1aspen-highlands-bowlIn Aspen, we had powder days at Ajax, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass – so we certainly hit that jackpot. First tracks in 9 inches of fresh snow at Steamboat was pretty sweet too.

My favorite ski run was probably a moonlight ski down at Sugarbush Resort in Vermont on an unpredicted 8-inches of powder that fell during our mountaintop beer pairing dinner in mid-February – cheers!

big-sky-aspen-heather-moonlight2The best ski trip was Big Sky Montana, because our family of four was reunited on the snow. We hadn’t shared a family ski trip in four years (while the kids were in college). Staying in a cozy mountainside cabin, we could put our skis on for first tracks from our Cowboy Heaven deck, and do laps on the Lone Peak Tram, and the Six Shooter high speed six-pack chair, skiing all of Big Sky’s amazing 5,800 acres. We had fresh snow almost daily, except for the gloriously sunny Saturday prior to Easter. Skiing the Dictators steep and deep with our son, and cruising cord on Tippy’s and Silver Knife with our daughter were the stuff ski dreams are made of.

big-sky-family2016Of course, we had the inevitable family fits, travel hassles, planning our canned family ski photos, and bickering about which Big Sky trails to ski, but that’s what gives downhill skiing its uphills.

It’s time to tune my skis and set my sights on next ski season. I’m shopping next Season’s Pass deals too. The Epic Pass is super tempting with unlimited skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Park City, and three ski resorts in Lake Tahoe… to name a few.

big-sky-ianThe Max Pass  is another multi mountain deal including Big Sky, Bachelor, Solitude, Steamboat, Copper and Winter Park and my East Coast favorites Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon, Killington/Pico, Stratton and Tremblant. I will let you know which ski pass I purchase to #GoToTheSnow.

By Heather Burke, photos by Greg Burke

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

Colorado’s got the snow!

If you are tired of waiting for Eastern temperatures to drop and natural snow to dump, you 1heather-powdershould jump on a flight West where the snow is. The Rocky Mountains have great early season snow this season.

We took off from balmy Boston, landed in a Denver snowstorm, drove two hours up I-70, rode 3 lifts to the 12,500’ summit at Copper Mountain, and we were skiing deep natural snow. Our first ski run of the ski season, almost 3,000’ vertical on Copper’s front face, was breathtaking – from high-alpine down through heavenly snow-caked towering pines, long sweeping trails were covered in fresh powdery snow. We could have easily stayed at Copper for a week.  But our Colorado ski safari included four ski resort destination,  Vail, Beaver Creek, Aspen Snowmass, and Winter Park– lots more skiing.


2heather-pow-treeVail is the king of Colorado skiing
, and already this season this legendary ski resort has 100” of snow and 4,500 acres open including the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin. Arriving in Vail Village, the pine trees were twinkling with lights and fresh sparkly snow, chalets roofs were loaded in white, like an Alps snowglobe. We found winter, and brilliant western blue sky, skiing 30,000’ vertical mid-December according to Vail’s “Epic Mix” app.

If you are looking for the snow, you will find it in Colorado.

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Heather Burke, 2015 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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