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

Skiing couple aims to ski 350 ski areas

Heather and Greg Burke love to ski, they have both been skiing since age 3!  This past winter they skied 45 ski days at 39 different ski areas in the Tyrol of Austria, bringing their total to 292 different ski areas around the world. Their goal is 350 next season!

Having skied most of the major ski areas in the U.S., Canada and Switzerland, their goal now is to explore more of France and Italy. They’ve also skied in Chile and Spain.

Greg is already plotting next winter’s alpine assault to ski 58 new ski areas and reach 350 different ski areas. “Next winter’s plan includes 27 new ski areas in Austria, 24 in France and 7 in Italy,” Burke proclaimed.

“We love skiing in the Rockies, Utah and Colorado in particular, since the West has the best snow quality in the world and some of the most ideal ski terrain. Unfortunately, we have become disenchanted with the mass pass sales approach most of the large North American resorts have embraced creating epic crowds,” said Greg.

“We love skiing the Alps, the scenery is stunning, the terrain is mind-blowingly vast, the alpine ambiance is classic, with cozy chalets. The Après Ski scene is so fun in delightfully historic villages, and the magic of skiing still exists,” says Heather.

This past season, the 35-year married couple purchased “Tyrol Snow Cards” valid at 90+ ski areas in Austria. The year prior they enjoyed the “Magic Pass” pass valid at 80 different ski areas, mostly in Switzerland. For January 2025, they have their sights on a “Super Ski Pass” valid at 87 Austria ski resorts (that’s 939 lifts, 2815-kilometers of terrain, 796 mountain huts and millions of acres of off-piste terrain). Next March and April, they’ll explore skiing in France and Italy, where they plan to simply purchase day tickets. “While day tickets at many ski major resorts in Colorado are now in the $299 per day range, France and Italy day tickets run between $32 to $68 per day,” Greg stated.

The Burkes ski hard, arriving at the ski lift for opening bell, skiing 25 – 30,000+ vertical feet per day, or about 30-miles. “There’s always the option not to ski each morning,” says Heather, “but I don’t want to miss a day on snow! And with our travel pace, each day brings new terrain, new adventures… and you never know till you go.”

After years in New England, the couple moved to St Augustine, Florida in 2020, the lockdown did not suit them well. “Besides, we were doing all of our skiing in the Rockies and the Alps already,” Greg stated.

The couple travels extensively, also venturing on bike tours and boat charter adventures during “non-ski season.”

In 1998 Heather and Greg started their ski review site when they were teaching their 4 and 5-year-old kids to ski. They provide reviews and photos on every ski resort they’ve personally visited on their site, along with ski tips and travel hacks. In 2016, after selling a second site –, they launched a sister travel site,, where they also contribute bike and boat trip itineraries with recommendations from their first-hand adventures to encourage readers to follow either literally or just as literal observers.

The Burke’s lofty 350 ski resorts goal in 2025 is not a stopping point. With a reported 6,138 ski areas worldwide, they have no plans of slowing down. “We rode the first chair at Mt Snow in Vermont several years ago with 94-year-old Linda who told us all her ski friends were dead. We asked her what her secret was. She proclaimed, “Don’t stop. Cause when you stop, you die.” Words to live by.

The Burke’s Travel exploits can be followed on Insta, Facebook, X and of course their own websites.

How many ski areas in the World

Guess how many ski areas there are in the world?

Currently, our beautiful, often snowy, planet has over 6,000 ski areas around the globe. A more exact number from Google is 6,135 ski resorts worldwide currently in operation. So that’s 60,000 kilometers (38,000 miles) of slopes to ski, served by 24,275 ski lifts spanning the world.

But the bigger question is how many places have you skied? And how many will you ski in your lifetime?

Here’s a few fun skiing facts and ski stats from the World Skiing Index:
529 in the U.S. as follows:
76 in New England… Vermont (25), New Hampshire (28), and Maine (19)
32 in Colorado …
15 in Utah…
19 in Idaho…
440 in Austria
359 in Switzerland
249 in France…
33 in Spain
565 in Japow…
296 in Canada, eh?! …
45 in South America – Chile and Argentina
15 ski areas in Australia
25 in New Zealand
528 in Scandinavia’s Sweden (255), Finland (75) and Norway (125), Iceland (13) Greenland (13, and Denmark (12)

Greg & Heather, editors of and have skied 292 so far, in the US, Canada, Europe’s Alps of Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy and Spain. And we’ve skied South America’s Chile at Ski Portillo in the Andes. But we have so many more to explore!

Just this past winter, we skied 39 ski areas in Austria, with the Tyrol Snow Card. The previous winter, on the Swiss Alps Magic Pass we skied 15.

We have our ski favorites, the best ski resorts in Colorado, Utah, Montana, California, Idaho and Wyoming, Oregon and Washington too.

Big Sky Montana, Vail Colorado, Alta Snowbird Utah, Mammoth California, all come to mind as mind-blowing big-mountain skiing. In Canada, we love Kicking Horse and Banff Sunshine, as well as Big White, and of course cat and heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies. In the East, we love Stowe, Sugarbush, Sunday River, and Wildcat.

In the Alps – we love Zermatt Switzerland, Val D’Isere, Verbier, The Arlberg of St Anton, Lech and Stuben. We also love discovering small ski areas int eh Alps that few have heard of like Nax Mont Noble and St Luc Chandolin in Switzerland, with just a few lifts but big vertical and lots of untouched ski terrain, just passionate local skiers and free-riders. See and Rifflsee/Pitztal Glacier in Austria are near big popular ski areas Ischgl and Solden, but they offer a more relaxed and amazing ski experience. We’ve even skied Spain and loved the food and lifestyle at Baqueira Beret, same can be said for the Italian Dolomites and the delicious on-mountain cuisine served in authentic refugios. We have so much more skiing “work” to do!

Our mission is to keep discovering new ski trip destinations around the world, places with dramatic mountain scenery, big vertical, high elevation for good snow, and fun apres ski villages with vibrant interesting local culture and cuisine.

We love our “ski safaris” where we combine several nearby ski areas in one regional ski trip, a few nights at each to do each ski resort justice and ski all the trails and terrain!

Stay tuned, keep your skis sharp, your mind curious, and your fitness level ready for the next big challenge!

Learning to AT Ski – Alpine Touring

I have been on skis since age 3, so seriously I’m pretty skilled at skiing. So when hubby proposed that we try AT (Alpine Touring), you know – climbing uphill with our skis on, my eyes grew wide, my pulse raced and I twitched in discomfort.

Sounded difficult to me! Besides aren’t there perfectly good chairlifts and gondolas, even T-Bars to haul my butt up the ski hill? Wouldn’t I rather be resting while ascending and enjoying the view before my ski down? I’ve seen those hikers trudging up the side of a groomed trail with their boards on their feet, and a bulky backpack. These AT skiers always look sweaty, tired, and rarely smile. I am NOT those people, I thought.

But, for years Greg had been eyeing and pointing to snowfields and untouched descents that were not accessible from the chairlift we were riding at the time – saying “wouldn’t that be sweet”?! He pointed out with great enthusiasm that we could go further afield, find un-tracked powder, and best of all – escape the crowded trails and lift lines we’ve been encountering of late at certain conglomerate ski resorts (you know the latest iconic ski places with epically oversold passes).

I had resisted enough, Greg plans all our amazing ski trips, he’s an amazing ski buddy and guide. So I indulged him his AT dream and fall-line fantasy with “ok, we’ll try it.”

The “get away from the crowds” campaign appealed to me especially. Then I Googled the Alpine Touring calorie-burning factor – wow, and I was in (to be thin)!

Getting new AT ski gear sweetened the deal. Opening the box to my Rossignol All Track ski boots that are super lightweight, comfy, and Barbie pink – I was all smiles. I vowed not to be one of those grumpy frowning groaning sweaty AT skiers in that very moment.

Off to Austria we went, 4 weeks, with only our new AT Gear, this was a commitment. Good news though, today’s all-terrain skis, boots, bindings and poles are incredibly well-engineered so they are perfectly suitable on groomed resort runs, and adaptable to hiking (with the telescoping poles and hike mode on the bindings and boots). In fact, we practiced in our carpeted basement prior to our trip, shifting our Salomon Lab Shift bindings from ski to hike mode. We practiced sticking our skins on our skis. And we practiced finding each other with our transceivers. Neighbors must have thought us ridiculous playing hide and seek with avalanche beacons in Florida. Greg was “in an avalanche” out on our dock by the pool on a sunny 80F day – found him! Note of humility here, we take our safety precautions very seriously and we are very careful about what and where we ski, hiring a mountain ski guide typically to minimize any risk.

Our first alpine ski run in Austria was in the Zillertal Valley just a couple of hours from Munich where we’d flown in that morning on a red eye. The AT bindings felt a bit , lightweight and flimsy on my first few turns, but the Blizzard Sheeva skis and Rossi boots were so similar to my previous alpine versions. I was just getting in sych when I crossed a tip and crashed, lesson learned that AT ski do float and steer a bit differently (won’t make that mistake again – tips up).

Ironically, now that we had our off-piste ski climbing equipment, conditions were such that we were relegated to the groomers for several days. Finally, new snow set us up, and a beautiful peak sparkled in the sun beckoning us at Mountopolis Mayrhofen.

My guide Greg had studied the route but was apprehensive to do it alone the first time. Coincidentally (or not?) a nice German couple were putting their skins on, shared that they had skied the route before and offered to be our guides. “Danke, and yes please, what a kind gesture.” Having practiced, we proficiently applied our skins to our ski bases, turned on our beacons, switched our bindings to hike mode, and we were off –  hoofing it up this big mountainside.  I was so surprised by the Montana skins’ grippy nature, no slip – all grip. I couldn’t slide if I wanted to. I’d been concerned about learning the “skill” of AT – but it’s just walking uphill with skis on – literally “put one foot in front of the other” like the Winter Warlock in my favorite Christmas story. The quiet, the calm, the views – the ascent was exhilarating. There was one tricky steep herringbone turn, weird with your heel loose, I managed without grace – but success.

The excitement of learning this new ski trick soon faded as the climb went on, and on, I got warm, tired, and that summit just kept looming further away. I was grumpy, I swore four times, which Greg heard and checked on me, to which I replied “I’m FINE!” with irritated emphasis. I resisted the urge to yell, “this was your f*#c’ing idea!” (Greg’s Note: She mumbled it just loud enough for me to hear).

Then, we summited, we arrived at the top, a perfectly panoramic pinnacle, no noise, just peace and nature, and untracked snow for miles. Catching our breath, high-fiving, hydrating, taking selfies, we stowed our skins in our packs, flipped bindings back to ski mode, and we were ready for a super long lovely descent.

A steep wind-scoured drop led to pillowy powdery knolls and gently pitched wide-open fields. We bounced and whooped, and giggled, and skied and skied. Our descent eventually brought us to tree-line and more challenging skiing at lower elevation, and finally a bus stop to bring us back to the ski resort. Back to civilization, humanity, lifts and lines, but also happy hour – apres ski and we had much to celebrate! But first, ski boots off and a much-needed rejuvenating shower…

So skinning uphill, alpine touring, is not a complex skill as I had feared, it simply requires courage, stamina, fitness and a sense of adventure. It’s walking uphill with skis on… rigorous but rewarding. I still don’t see the benefit of climbing up a groomed ski resort trail only to ski that same prepared run with all the inbounds skiers and lift-riders. But getting out into virgin territory – I get it, I like it!

Now I know why you don’t see fat AT Skiers. Yes, they may look grumpy on the climb at times. I do too. It’s a serious workout. But what you may not see is the joy and sense of accomplishment at the end of an amazing off-piste run, the huge grin. You don’t see them because they are out experiencing nature, the way perhaps skiing was intended.

How to pack for family ski trips

#1 Question we get at Family Ski Trips? Where to go on family ski vacation?
See our favorite ski resorts for families and book your next ski trip:
Top 10 New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resortsin Colorado
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families

#2 Question: How to pack for a Family Ski Trip? Packing shouldn’t fill you with dread, you and your family should be stoked to go ski. Having systems in place is the key to making packing easy breezy… so you are ready to go at the word “snow.”

Here are our tried and true ski packing tips:

Ski Bag: Every skier in the family should have their own snowboard/ski boot bag, labeled with name, address and cell. We love KULKEA boot bag backpack, its roomy easy to carry, and carry-on size, has ideal compartments…and it comes in cool colors and patterns for every person in your ski clan. If you are flying to your ski destination, see our tips on How to Pack for a Ski Trip Flying including airline baggae allowances.

Snowboards and Skis with poles should be stored clean and dry in one place – the garage or basement and ready to be packed in a ski bag, in the car or on the ski rack, ski coffin or Thule. If you are flying overseas or out west, consider renting skis from Ski Butlers, or a destination rental shop to save on the cost of checking skis, and the bonus of getting freshly tuned, new skis perfect for the day’s conditions. Or invest in a ski bag with wheels, ideally a bag that fits two pair of skis – even a jacket/ski pants as padding.

Ski Bag Checklist:
ski or snowboard boots
quality ski socks
helmet/hat mittens/gloves
goggles/sunglasses in their protective case
neck warmer or balaclava
base layer –thermal long undies, and a fleece ore technical fabric layer
wind/waterproof ski pants and jacket (wear the jacket to reduce bulk in your bag)
season pass or lift ticket coupons
hand/toe warmers
lip balm
energy bar

Bonus items:
Cell phone with downloaded ski app & pass
Phone chargers & cables
Après ski clothes – plan your outfit
A swimsuit (can you say hot tub?)
Portable boot dryers

Check each ski bag before and after each ski trip to be sure everyone’s inner and outerwear is clean, dry, and ready to go. With young skiers, pack extra undies, base layers, socks and mittens, with ziplock bags to contain wet stuff.

If you are traveling for a week ski trip, you’ll need an additional checked bag with clothing and toiletries (travel size please)…the key is not to over-pack, overpay for luggage, and over haul stuff you don’t need. So plan your wardrobe, and your outfits.

Ski Tips:
Don’t over pack
bulky bathrobes, sweatshirts, extra pairs of jeans.
Wear your one pair of boots/shoes with insulation and traction soles.
One pair of slacks that coordinate with everything is plenty for après ski.
2-3 base layers and midlayers serve as evening wear tops, hand wash when needed.
Ladies, pack a cute aprés ski skirt to slip on over your base layer/leggings for après ski activities.
Bring disposable Tide packets or Breezio strips to launder ski socks and undergarments on the fly, overnight they’ll dry!

Book your ski trip for the best accommodations at the most affordable rates!

Enjoy your family ski trip! See more on where to go with your family on ski vacation.

Family Ski Trips content and photos copyright 2023
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What NOT to say to a ski friend

“Don’t get hurt”, “be careful”, “don’t break a leg”, “I worry about you”, “don’t let anything happen to you”. This is what friends say to me when I go skiing, these people I treasure and adore… clearly they care about me too.


I don’t need extraneous fears and doubts in my head, especially when I am skiing. What I need is confidence and positivity…that’s all.  I know the dance between safety and risk when I’m skiing, I know it very well. No one is more protective of me than me! My adventures and my risks are highly calculated.

I am never “not careful”. Greg and I put safety in our skiing above all desire to adventure, well ahead of a rush to ski un-tracked, to conquer new unknown snow terrain.

Skiing is my element, the mountains, the snow, the high alpine, its my environment, my choice of passion. Skiing is my zone, but in order to have the best (safest) skiing, I need to be “in the zone” – strong, ready, resilient, confident, courageous, prepared, present. There is no place here for self-doubt, for Debbie-downers pointing out the obvi…yes skiing comes with risk. I have read my lift ticket and season pass disclaimers, have you?

Ski resorts’ legal waivers clearly state “skiing has inherent risk”.  We could talk endlessly about risk versus reward, in skiing and in all sports and activities.

Instead I’ll just proclaim skiing is safer than texting and driving,  ponder that instead of pouncing on my choice to ski and how risky it may be.

Yes, I’ve heli skied with a pack of men in Bella Coola, gone out of bounds in The Alps (as they say in France – it’s better to be off-piste than piste-off– lol) and skied with the best World Cup ski racers on the planet at Portillo Chile.

I did the Bobsled on the Olympic track in Park City (now that was dangerous), and hurt my neck for a week!
I skied the speed trial run at Verbier, loved cat skiing the remote Monashees (with a pack of salivating Sugarloafers), and look …I’m still here to write about it.

Because I take great care… of myself, my surroundings. I have immense respect for the weather, the mountains, ever-changing snow. I stay fit so I am prepared for a myriad of ski conditions and slopes. I have been educated on avalanche slides, tree-wells, avalanche protocol. I also have the utmost respect for those who work in the ski biz, from liftees to groomers, to patrol and 1st responders.

Last but not least, I love my own body and know its strengths and weaknesses.

Don’t wanna get injured… been there, done that. Don’t wanna die either, haven’t done that – not ready – so much more to explore, so much life yet to live…  I also want to LIVE life to the fullest, not from the safety of my “living room”, the sidelines are not for me …thank you.

Would you tell an Indie car drivedon’t crash” or the crazy Wallendas “don’t slip and fall”? At our summer camp in Maine, my sis in law shouts “don’t fall” just as the waterski boat pulls and you are getting up on water skis. Hey, thanks…didn’t need that seed planted right now. When my friend Mary announced she’d be climbing to Everest Base Camp, I gave her only positive encouragement, not “you could die” because she knew that. Proud of her… delighted to hear of her adventure firsthand. She planned, prepared and had success!

I enter every adventure with thoughtful consideration and caution, a heady approach and  acknowledgement of worst case scenario, but also enthusiasm and a vision of best outcome – as a goal…which we often achieve. Visualizing our safe outcome, with proper preparation and fitness, is highly effective, especially at high altitude. Self-doubt, or voices in your head telling you not to get hurt, does not play in your favor. There is no room for uncertainty when you are in a steep white room, untracked, unknown…you  need your best self. I channel my nerves and anxiety (yes, I do get nervous) into positive energy, along with a little self pep talk.

I will digress to say I am so blessed to have friends who genuinely care about me, my health and well-being, as I do them. Friendship is such a gift… caring about another human being that’s not your family, but someone you choose to share with, and laugh with, is one of life’s greatest gifts….perhaps the best of all! Because friendship… well, you earn it…the trust, the experiences – from the silly to the sublime, the camaraderie, the crazy, the loyalty, the acceptance and appreciation of knowing each other quirks. I love my friends! #iloveus

So my friends, next time you want to say “don’t get hurt”, instead say “have fun” or “I look forward to seeing your ski photos” and “let’s celebrate when you get back”, “do what you love”. I will in turn be as supportive of my friends’ crazy (ok, risky) passions and pastimes: running (oh geez your knees), sky-diving (OMG), making candles (hot wax – yikes), sunbathing (burn baby burn),  beach boot camp (ok – not so risky – just sandy, early morning and not fun).

I’ll be skiing (safely) with good vibes, thank you very much. It’s what I love, it challenges me, makes me happy, healthy, accomplished, vibrant.

Do what you love, love what you do, know the risks, picture the rewards, life is an adventure… go get yours…

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke
Family Ski Trips Luxury Vacation Guide


Top 10 Apres Ski Tips

How to Après Ski Like a Pro…

My friends ask me, “do I have to ski to après ski?” This naive inquiry comes mostly from my gal pals , who fear getting cold, hurt or embarrassed, but don’t want to miss a good party. I have decided to let them in on our after skiing social since the ratio of ladies to dudes at ski resorts bars is sadly disproportionate. However, I do ask that non-skiers make an effort to understand the skiing lifestyle and après ski culture. Most importantly, I advise them not to start conversations with “I wish I could ski, looks fun, but it terrifies me.” Or “I hate the cold.” And “I’m afraid of heights.” That may just end the convo before it starts!

Here’s a guide of how to be a good après skier!
You can join in all the fun and camaraderie over cocktails, predominantly beer,  without the risk of falling on the slopes, totally avoiding the cold, heights, and the cost of a lift ticket.

To excel at après ski requires much less athletic prowess than skiing or snowboarding, you just need to balance on a bar stool, maybe navigate snow base lodge stairs. As a non-skier, you can show up to the slope-side bar looking fresh, no helmet hair or sweaty UnderArmour, and jump in as if you have been carving cord all day.

Here are some après ski practice tips, so that you are top notch, and can fit in with your fall line friends when snow flies.

  1. Dress like a skier. Look like you skied even though you didn’t.
  2. No need to wear ski boots, real skiers take them off for serious après ski. Instead opt for boots like Merrill’s or LL bean boots (when in Maine). I love my Rossi apres ski boots. Ladies can don furry boots, but be careful not to look to chi chi or haute-maintenance in the mountains. See our guide to looking stylish on the mountain. You are pretending you skied, not auditioning for “snow bunny”!
  3. Get yourself a prime bar stool, near the window so you can watch the descending last chair lappers. Point outside, laugh, as if that awkward guy who is actually skiing is a bigger loser than you. LOL
  4. Tip the bartender early and enthusiastically. Remember their name, share yours. You will look like a regular,and you’ll be treated like a member of the mug-club.
  5. Bring a puppy (pet friendly bars only) and say you’re training your Dog for patrol and avalanche rescue. Wait and watch as your dog, and eventually you, receive ridiculous amounts of attention.
  6. Bring attractive friends if the puppy ploy seems staged and you don’t actually own a dog.
  7. Wear an air cast and have an epic, convincing story about your double black diamond crash that was not caught on tape – sadly. LOL!
  8. When asked about your ski day, deflect – ask them: what’s your favorite trail, what do you ski on, how many millimeters under foot, how many ski days do you usually bag in a season? etc… Skiers love to brag and boast.
  9. Don’t dance in your bare feet, rookie move. There are sloppy skiers in ski boots on the dance floor – ouch! Unless you are going for the “après ski injury” and sympathy vote.
  10. Don’t get hammered… that’s not pretty in any sport or season…sure, do one shot ski to cross it off your bucket list – and because its a fun “trust building” exercise with your new ski buddies – but know when to say when.  Cheers! See our Favorite Après Ski Bars on the Planet… seriously consider Learning to Ski or Trying to Snowboard!

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Skiers Wish List for Christmas Gifts

At Christmas time every skier I know has “snow” on the top of their wish list. The White Christmas is not so easy to deliver … its up to Santa and Mother Nature. Here are my favorite ski and snowboard gifts that you can easily give, from cheap to steep, for the ski friend that warrants a gesture – but not a new pair of goggles ($$$), to your sweetheart you want to woo and wax with serious swag so they are as excited to ski as you are.

sunday-river-skiing-risky-businessA Gift Card. Get your ski buddy a GC to their favorite ski shop, online gear store or for lunch and apres ski at their go-to ski resort. Your friend can cash in when the ski – and think of you – maybe thank you by including you in their redemption!.

Heat Factory hand and toe warmers. These cheap pocket-size hand warmer packets are my personal life saver. Heat Factory or Grabbers chemical heat packets provide about seven hours of warmth, and extend your time on the slopes between lodge breaks for frozen fingers and toes. I have a pack a day habit – so I am always happy to give and receive (hint hint) hand warmers by the case. Give them to your ski buddy so they don’t bum yours all season.

alp-n-rock-ski-shirtAlp N Rock makes gorgeous après ski shirts. I finally splurged forone myself – Merry Christmas to me, and I LOVE it. If you want your gal to embrace skiing, buy her a beautiful wool henley with alpine motifs and cool graphics from Stowe to Aspen to Zermatt – this stylish shirt goes from the slopes to the bars, anywhere you want to make a ski statement($160). Alp N Rock makes crew necks for dudes too, it’s like Affliction goes alpine.

Ski socks. Ski instructors, pro skiers, and racers all agree – if your feet aren’t happy, you aren’t on top of your ski game. Ski socks make a huge difference in foot comfort, warmth, and wicking of funky foot sweat and odor. Ski socks cost $10-30, worth it for the technical fabric and fit. SmartWool Ski Socks  and Vermont’s Darn Tough  come in fun colors, shapes and sizes for skiers and snowboarders.

New England Ski Museum,  located at the base of Cannon Mountain, has great retro ski posters, videos, ski t-shirts and ties, games, and snowflake jewelry, for sale in their online store, from as little as $12. Best of all, your purchase benefits this non-profit ski association that is preserving ski history in New England.

kulkea-powder-tracker-backpackKulkea Boot Back Pack is the best I have found. For $150 you can pack for a day, weekend
or week out west with this versatile backpack. The Powder Trekker holds your ski boots in separate waterproof compartments, helmet, goggles, and gloves, with lots of smart pockets for your pass, sunglasses, and a surprisingly roomy center compartment for base layers. Kulkea’s boot bag is super lightweight, made of performance fabric, looks moderately stylish (for a backpack), and keeps you organized on a powder morning. Kulkea means “to go” in Finnish, and this will be your go to ski boot bag.

Happy Holiday and I hope your Christmas is white with snow!

Best Ski Reviews and How to Pack for a Family Ski Trip

Heather Burke, 2023 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Vail Epic Pass or Ikon for skiing?

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is now on sale, with 42 Vail owned ski resorts and an early season purchase of $909 for the 2023-24 winter! Incredible value! Keep in mind, for ski season 2022-23, Vail Resorts sold 2.3 million Epic Passes, so you might anticipate busy ski areas at these Vail-owned and operated resorts. Its still the most “EPIC”, most comprehensive, affordable season pass for skiing in North America!

The Epic Pass starting at $909 offers unlimited skiing at 42 Vail owned ski resorts and 7 days each at many more, plus ski pass benefits in the Alps.  See full details and deadlines on the Epic Pass.

Vail Resorts now include:  Colorado’s VailBeaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte in Colorado, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  and Kirkwood,  Washington’s Stevens Pass, Vermont’s Stowe,  Okemo, Mount SnowNH’s Wildcat, Attitash, Mount Sunapee, the Midwest’s Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps, Seven Springs, even Perisher Australia. In the Alps, Vail Resorts has acquired Andermatt Sedrun Disentis in Switzerland and Crans Montana for 2024-25 – also on this season’s Epic Pass.

Additional ski benefits to Epic Passholders include partner resorts – Telluride, , and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies!  Plus Hakuba Japan.

In Europe, the Epic Pass also allows for ski tickets in the French Alps – Les 3 Vallees in  (think Courchevel, Val Thorens and Meribel), Paradiski – Les Arcs and La Plagne, and Val D’Isere Tignes, plus Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy. In Switzerland, ski at Andermatt Sedrun, at  4 Vallees in Switzerland – which encompasses Verbier, and The Arlberg in Austria – 3 days at Lech Zurs, Stuben, St Christoph and St Anton. Some of these free ski tickets require lodging purchases in The Alps.

Well, skiers are the winners in this big mountain pass blow up, with great choices at significant savings versus the old-school one-mountain season pass at over $1,200!

IKON Pass is the other big mega-mountain pass player, at $1049 for the full pass, which combines Aspen’s ski resorts (Alterra Mountain Company) with Boyne, Powdr and Intrawest Resorts plus some indies for a total of 55 – its another extremely versatile pass valid at Aspen’s 4 mountains, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine Meadows, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain.  Plus limited skiing at Deer Valley, Snowbird/Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush, Canada’s  Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay, and Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf, plus partners Sun Valley and Snowbasin.

Where are you skiing next ski season? Which pass are you buying? At these rates you might consider buying both EPIC and IKON for an epic ally iconic ski winter!

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter and book your next family ski trip!

Safety bars on ski chairlifts?

Upon loading a chairlift, do you lower the safety bar when you’re skiing?
I do… always have, always will. I like the protection of a restraint bar when traveling 20-50-feet above the cold hard ground with no other “safety net” to speak of. Quad chairlifts (for example) are swift, heavy, 500-pound, metal objects traveling at 1,000 feet per minute. Think about the logistics when a lift stops for some “gaper” that misses loading at the base, a boarder that hooks an edge when unloading?!

I also love a chairlift footrest to rest my 12-pound skis, plus the 5-pound ski boots, a short respite for the 5-8 minute ascent, before my next ski down the mountain.

Bonus, most ski lift safety bars also help define the space in which I should sit, and similarly where my chair neighbors should fit their butt, their backpack, poles and gear. Just like on an airplane, I put the armrest down so you “stay on your side”. Flashback to my parent’s station wagon backseat with my two brothers. I digress…

Skiing out west, Colorado, Utah, California, I am flabbergasted by the number of skiers and riders who do not put down their safety bar. The rope speed on detachable lifts is swift, 16 feet per second. Think about that momentum if it comes to a sudden stop.

Chairlift emergency stops can and will happen. Picture your slippery ski pants, perhaps with a little snow or ice build-up on the chair, and no safety bar to stop your forward inertia. Where is your ass going to slide?

Snowboarders, sorry dudes, in particularly seem to think its cooler to hang out without the protection of the safety bar. So when I happen to join a group of dudes, or dudettes, on a six pack or quad, I politely ask if we can please put the bar down. Inevitably they reply “no problem”, “sure,”… some even comment on how the foot rest “is actually quite comfortable.”

Recent ski tragedies bring the importance of a safety bar to new gravity – literally. A Park City Ski Patroller recently fell from the Shortcut chairlift to his death. So sad, our condolences to his family and friends. Shortcut is a fixed grip chair, a tree fell on the line causing the chair to bounce. The chair also likely stopped very abruptly. Was his safety bar down? Uncertain. But had the safety bar been down, you’d think it would have prevented the fall of over 25’?

In recent years, a ski mom and her two children at Grandby Ranch in Colorado slid from their chair when the lift started traveling backwards. The mom died from her fall and impact. Why didn’t they have the safety bar down? Others on the malfunctioning lift had their bars down, and they remained in their chairs, uninjured. Its so simple.

Vail Resorts company-wide policy requires all employees to “restrain themselves by lowering the safety bar when riding a chair lift.”

New Englanders tend to bigger adopters of chairlift safety bars. According to Vermont Tram Safety, “Always bring down the restraint bar. Before you lower the bar, make sure your child is safely seated and then ask others if they’re ready for the bar. Teach older kids to do the same. Getting off, raise the bar when prompted by signs, not before.”

Is it a wild-west phenomenon to disregard the safety bar? A few lifts out west don’t even have a safety bar. The A Lift at Copper Mountain seems precarious with no protection on this upper mountain, often windy, old double. Ditto the Edelweiss double chair to the summit of Alpental at Snoqualmie in Washington which has no safety bar, not even an old school safety gate!

In Europe, lowering the safety bar immediately upon loading a chair is the law in most regions. Many chairlifts in The Alps have automated safety bars that lower immediately, latch and lock just after loading. And the safety bar mechanism doesn’t unlock until you reach the top station, when the bar releases and rises just as skiers and riders enter the unload area. Its seamless, no discussion, no option.

Its fascinating, ok silly, to me when skiers lift the safety bar a full two or three towers prior to the unload ramp. To me, keeping that bar down until I am safely in the unload area is most important. The likelihood of a stoppage is continual, and I don’t want to fall out of the chair where there is any big gap to the ground. Especially with slippery little kids whose backs don’t reach the seat back, so they are already poised forward on the chair. Besides, there is plenty of time to lift the bar, it takes all of 5 seconds, once you announce “bar up.”

I am all about personal freedoms, I’m from New Hampshire – the “live free or die” state. Bode Miller and I love the freedom that only skiing brings.

But safety bars on ski lifts are just that – “safe”! And a simple metal bar certainly doesn’t infringe upon your freedom. If I ride the chair with you, I will politely announce, or request if I sense people are not “ready”bar people”, that I prefer to put the safety bar. So pay attention, be aware, don’t lean your helmet head forward in the way of the bar coming down. And please refrain from saying “good thing I’m wearing a helmet,” if you are leaning so far forward that the bar taps your skid-lid.

In The Alps, by the way, no one asks, it’s just standard protocol, you load the chairlift, sit down, the bar is coming down. Go ski the Alps, you’ll see!
Happy trails ski friends! See more on ski etiquette and the Skiers Responsibility Code.

Ski Slang for Parents

obsession-2ski (3) Here’s a Glossary for “Groms” – that’s code for beginner skier in the terrain park.  Your guide to speaking ski steez with your kids on the slopes…

If your skiing or riding is “sick,” consider it a compliment.

If your kids says “I’m down with that,” that doesn’t mean they’ve fallen. Quite the contrary, this means “I’m game.” Example: “I’m down with going skiing today,” means pack up the car, let’s do this.

Don’t be a “Joey” No offense to kids named Joey, but this idiom implies you are super awkward on the slopes. Joeys carry their skis crisscrossed, poles sticking out, unzipped, un-stylish, un-cool.

In Canada skiing lingo a joey is a  “punter” and occasionally a “gaper

A “Gaper Gap” is a noticeable space between your goggles and hat or helmet, leaving an open forehead faux-pas that’s super “awky” and amateur.

Snowcrapers, Shredders or Knuckle Draggers are snowboarders.

Two Plankers are skiers.

Knee Dippers or Pinheads are Telemark skiers.

Jibbers” are young skiers and riders chillin’ in the terrain park, jibbing (sliding the rails, taking jumps) and talking about how steez they are.

Fartbags” are old fashioned one-piece ski suits, that baggy Bogner you thought was so steezy in 1970. Ironically, your kids are going to want to borrow it along with your Nevica DayGlo anorak to make a retro ski fashion statement.

Yard Sale” is a significant wipe out where goggles, poles, skis, and personal items, are spread across the trail.

Tag Sale” includes all the aspects of a yard sale plus tagging into another object or skier/rider.

Taco” is lingo for a crash that folds your body over a terrain park rail – like a taco.

Mackerel Smack” is a hard snowboard fall, rhymes with thwack.

To “Stomp” a rail or jump is to execute it well. Say, “You stomped that bro. That was sick.”

To “Shred the Gnar” is to snowboard boldly.

Gnar and Grnarly describe big brave moves. Bode Miller’s bloody gash in his Super G suit and his tendon at Beaver Creek was “gnar” for example.

Jib, Kicker, Booter, and Money Booter are terms for jumps, the Money Booter being the biggest to cash in on. Example, “That dude made bank off that money booter.”

Insta” is now a verb, defining the activity of videoing and posting on Instagram. Example, “Did you Insta that sweet sesh (session) in the park?” or, “I totally Insta’d our wreck, lol.”

Crunchy” sounds like granola, hippy-esque terminology of the 60’s, but crunchy is reinvented to mean cool and colorful as a bag of Skittles.

SPORE” is an acronym for a Special Person On Rental Equipment, easily identified by “Rental” inscribed on their helmet and skis.

Fakie” is to ride or ski backward, or “Switch” looking over your shoulder (hopefully) to see downhill.

Hope this “Sick-tionary” helps you speak steez with young jibber who has swagger. Get more family ski tips and our recommendations on the best ski resorts in the West to bring your family on ski vacation and Top Eastern ski resorts for a family ski trip.

See more Ski Slang in our Family Ski Guide

Heather Burke, 2023 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

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