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Reasons to Ski in a Pandemic

Friends ask, “Are you really going to ski this season?” and “Is skiing safe with Covid?” I can think of no better activity for your health and well-being than skiing.

“Stay at home,” “quarantine,” “social distance” are all expressions that make me sad. Being outdoors, skiing, breathing fresh air – all things that make me glad. Here are reasons you should go skiing…

Skiing is an inherently outdoor sport. Don’t we all need some nature to nurture our souls right now? Wear your mask, no big hardship – in fact it’s a pretty typical essential in any skier’s gear bag. Enjoy the fresh air, the spectacular mountain scenery, and the much-needed exercise of carving turns on snow. 

It’s safe…Ski resorts have adopted stringent new policies to keep you, and their crew, safe. “Mask up”, and “arrive with your party, ride with your party”, these are clever new colloquialisms ski areas have introduced for everyone’s safety. You can share a chair with your family/friends, or if it’s a quad or six-pack, you can achieve safe distance by seating on opposite ends of the lift. Ski resorts have in place good spacing parameters. Hats off, masks up to Vail Resorts, and their Epic Pass reservation system. Sure you’ll likely encounter longer lift lines, when chairs and gondis aren’t filled to capacity, but it does not translate to more or less people on the hill or the trails. Side note: Don’t make the liftees have to remind you to cover your face, CYA – cover your own ___, they’re lift attendants not Covid patrol.

Make your Resies…Yes, you can and often must reserve your ski days…(true, our elitist sport has become more so, for now). Read up online as to what your ski resort requires of you, reserving your season pass days and/or lift ticket in advance online. Sorry you can’t just show on a snow day, or when you feel like it… but this is the way we have to play till we’re all safe to roam about the world again. Some resorts are requiring parking reservations too, Bachelor, Snowbird, Copper, Killington to name a few. You may find restricted base lodge access, so know before you go. Vail Resorts has “idiot proof” signage (well, almost…) just go with the flow, single entry, single exit points to minimize contact. Pack a lunch in your pocket, or reserve a socially-distant table for dining indoor or out. Be sure your QR code app is up to date – that’s the new touchless way to reserve, view the menu and order. Credit cards are the way to pay, not cash. Our visit to Breckenridge, Vail and Keystone, we were impressed to find big distances between tables, strict signage managing traffic in and out of the lines and lodges, and police-like protocols to keep everyone apart, very safe. It’s still a privilege to ski. Also now to use a restroom – wait your turn (often outside), follow signage, wear your mask and wash your damned hands!

Support Your Resort. Remember how ski areas “shut down” mid-March 2020 with tons of snow, having to lay off staff and loose revenue. Well, they have adopted significant changes to re-open and provide a safe ski experience. Go support their efforts, follow their rules and regs, do your part to “SOS” = Save Our Season, Stop Our Spread.  If you don’t go, if you skip a season, your favorite ski area might not be there for you in 2022! Many tourism based businesses have been crippled, even permanently closed, by Covid’s economic impact. Maine alone has 29,000 unemployed hospitality workers. Meanwhile Saddleback in Maine has re-opened for skiing after 5 years of being shuttered, let’s make sure this classic ski area remains vibrant and funded. The majority of ski areas are open, with reasonable safety protocols and plans, let’s help keep it that way.

Boot Up at your Car or Condo… I grew up booting-up in my ski boots in the parking lot so its no big deal to me, in fact its super convenient, just don’t dip you sock in the cold snow (balance). Carrying your bags in to the lodge is a luxury not afforded this season, in fact lodge access is very limited so no more lunch table squatters (silver lining?). Streamline your process and pack accordingly.

Book slopeside lodging – for your own refuge, restroom and dining, just off the slopes, perfect for warm ups, a hot cocoa (for under $3!!), lunch break, and après ski with your posse… you kinda need to BYOB: bring your own beer, breakfast, etc. Or ski locally, go bang out some heart-thumping runs at your nearby hill for a few hours, then go home for lunch, no lodge stop or indoor resort time required. Be resourceful, but don’t be sidelined this season.

Tailgate, party in the parking lot, with your party. This is a refreshing twist on a fun ritual that had been curbed and curtailed for years by ski resort security. Now you are encouraged to picnic and have aprés ski outside by your car. Think of the drink-tab savings! Just don’t over-imbibe before you hit the road, and keep that distance from folks you don’t know. Yes, we will all appreciate good ole fashioned aprés ski at a bar with a band when we resume that ski lifestyle, which may look different. Shot skis only for those who’ve had the shot?!

Skiing hasn’t changed. Once you are gliding down a snowy trail, feeling the slippery snow beneath your boards, looking at the spectacular mountains, you will feel the joy of skiing. Nothing is quite like it, and you can do it safely, and I promise you it will refuel you after all these months of fear, and isolation, and frustration.  Get out, get fresh, ski, support your favorite resort, you’ll be glad you did… I see your smile under your ski mask 😉

Fact is we are way better off than skiing in Europe, where ski resorts across France, Spain, Switzerland and Austria are heavily restricted in their access, Italy is closed indefinitely. Canadian ski resorts are closed to  foreigners as well.

Skiing Safe – Winter 2020-21

Repost from Ski Butlers: Ski Resorts are Open and Safe
Now over a month into 2020-21 ski season, resorts have done a phenomenal job following their protocols and keeping guests comfortable and safe. In a time of uncertainty, one thing is certain, you can enjoy your ski vacation this season.   Below is what Ski Butlers pro team has learned over the past month, watching and experiencing first hand how the resorts and ski communities have adapted for this winter.  

Skiers are Excited   Skiing has always brought people together. And now, more than ever, we are all looking for those connections we’ve lost with friends and family. Although we can’t see all the smiling faces underneath masks, we have heard the enjoyment around the mountain. People are simply excited to be outside, enjoying the crisp mountain air, forgetting their worries, even if it is for a brief moment in time.  

Skiers are Considerate   We all come from different areas of the country with varying mandates and restrictions. So far, no matter where guests are coming from, everyone has been considerate with local restrictions and following guidelines. Our mountain communities are small and in rural settings, so staying safe, so the resorts can stay open is something we can all get behind.  

Lift Lines are Safe   The only bottleneck zone of a ski resort are the lift lines and one of the most important areas ski resorts had to prioritize this season with safety. Lift operators have done a great job making sure people are wearing their masks and keeping enough distance through their capacity management.  

Hotels/Vacation Rentals are Prioritizing Your Safety   We have been beyond impressed with our lodging partners and how they’ve adjusted to keep their guests safe without sacrificing on service and the overall experience. Automation has been implemented to avoid contact where applicable, staggered check-in times are now standard, enhanced room service/grocery delivery with restaurant limitations and so much more.  

Ski Rentals   And of course, with Ski Butlers, you will enjoy the best equipment, the best service and the safest rental process. Ski Butlers has plenty of availability for Christmas and beyond and look forward to seeing you at any of the resorts they service.

Ski Butlers offers ski rental delivery service at all these Top Ski Resorts British Columbia Canada’s Whistler/Blackcomb
California’s North Lake Tahoe & South Lake Tahoe
Constellation Residences/Ritz Carlton Destination Club
Marriott Timber Lodge
Colorado
Aspen/Snowmass, and Aspen’s The Gant Aspen Hotel
Breckenridge/Copper
Keystone
Steamboat
Telluride
Vail/Beaver Creek
Idaho
Sun Valley
Montana’s Big Sky
Utah’s Park City/Deer Valley
Waldorf Astoria
Salt Lake City
Wyoming’s Jackson Hole
In EUROPE
France’s Chamonix, Les Trois Vallees- Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens,
Les Arcs La Plagne, La Rosiere, Les Menuires, Sainte Foy
Val d’Isere Tignes
Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo & Val di Fassa

For more on where to ski with your family this year, visit Family Ski Trips.com

Ski Resorts Open for 2020-21

This ski season will look a little different, masks required, social distancing on chairlifts and gondolas – “arrive with your party-ride with your party”, very limited access to inside space in base lodges, and even reservations required to ski. So first up, check with your ski resort so you know before you go… 

But there will be a ski season… so co-operate, boot up in the parking lot, pack a lunch, plan a tailgate après ski party, and wear your mask. These are hardly hardships for the privilege to pursue your favorite winter pastime, get out and make some turns and enjoy the snow! Lift lines may seem longer when spaced out, but with six-feet of separation, it may look worse than the wait…

Here’s a look at ski resorts that have opened so far for the 2020-21 season…

Canada’s Norquay in Banff opened October 24. This is the Banff ski area’s earliest opening on record in their 95 year history!

Wolf Creek Colorado, known for its big snow totals and early start ups, opened October 28, beating out perennial season pushers Arapahoe Basin and Loveland.

Keystone was the first Vail Resort to open for skiing and riding Nov 6, their big emphasis on snowmaking has been “key”! Breck followed on Nov13 and Vail opened Nov 20.

In Utah, Park City opened Nov 20 at the first in the Salt Lake state, Alta opened November 23 for its 83rd season.

Killington in Vermont spun lifts Nov 20 for passholders, opening to the public Nov 23. The Big K requires parking resies this season, so book ahead to ski and tailgate at the Beast of the East.

Other New England resorts Maine siblings Sunday River and Sugarloaf both dropped ropes Monday November 23, for passholders only to kick off their ski seasons.

Morzine Avoriaz in Portes Du Soleil opened October 29, the earliest date on record for this French Swiss Resort in the Region Dents du Midi.

See you on the slopes, I’ll be the one in the face-covering mask and goggles!

How to Ski Boot up in the Parking Lot

Grateful to ski this season… that’s me …the eternal optimist. There will be significant changes to your ski day – starting with making a resy for your spot on the mountain and many ski resorts, Epic Pass holders, in advance. Good luck picking your powder days! The upside will likely be less skiers on your downhill runs.

Next big change is booting up in the parking lot. I hear the moans and groans of you boot baggers that like to enter the base lodge, have a hot coffee, a chat, a bathroom break and boot up in the comfort of a warm lodge chair, then stash your bulky bag under a table, in a cubby or locker. That’s over and done. If you aren’t seasoned with the outside boot-up scene, here is how to put on your ski boots in the parking lot…plus other Covid ski season protocols.

1. Keep you ski boots warm during your commute. Get yourself a Kulkea Thermal Trekker Boot Bag and your ski boots will stay warm and toasty during your commute! Another options is Seirus Hot Ratz that similarly plug into a DC (cigarette lighter) outlet. At minimum start with warm dry ski or snowboard boots at home, then place them near a car heater so the plastic remains malleable and the liner stays toasty. Do not place your ski boots in your car the night before (duh)!

2. Wear your ski socks from home, the condo. You don’t want to be naked footed in the cold switching out socks in the snow or “snirt” (you know the snow, salt, dirt combo you encounter at ski area parking lots).

3. One boot at a time. If booting up inside your car is too confined, not enough space, open your car door and stand between the seat and door (read: wind protection and a door handle for stability). Keep your street shoe on until you’ve unbuckled and opened one ski boot widely. Slide in your ski sock foot, settle your heel back, and buckle up immediately. The Trick? Don’t put your foot down… don’t overthink it. Repeat with your other foot. I suggest starting with your dominant leg first, stronger, more stable.

4. Once booted up, suit up. Finish dressing – hat, helmet, gloves, grab your gear and walk to the lift. See that wasn’t so bad outside the base lodge.

5. Mask Up! Yes, masks are mandatory at most ski areas, when waiting in lift line, loading and riding lifts, entering and exiting a lodge. The new NSAA, National Ski Area Assoc., Ski Safe Be Safe campaign is easily adapted to our ski attire, we often wear goggles and a face covering.  

6. If you arrive together, ride together is another NSAA campaign slogan, encouraging family and friends in your safety bubble to carpool and to share a chair or gondola to reduce lift line waits. Ride with your Party is another term you will hear.

7. Pack a snack. Lodge dining will be limited, so flashback to your youth when you skied with a samwich or a smart bar in your jacket pocket to munch on the lift ride.

8. Pee outside! Access to restrooms in base lodges and on-mountain will also be limited, so guys – go find a tree. Ladies, good luck. Please be discreet, read: tuck in the woods. No one wants to see that, or ski on yellow snow.

9. Tailgate! Party in the Parking Lot! Ski resorts are actually encouraging you to enjoy a little après ski in the parking lot, since bars and live bands at Sunday River’s Foggy Goggle and Vail’s Red Lion may not be the same. So plan and pack accordingly, enjoy some camaraderie by your car or truck with your own food and bev cooler and tunes – totally on budget by the way. Designate a DD, be respectful, responsible, and head home before dark.

10. Be kind, be patient, be appreciative that we get to enjoy some alpine exhilaration even though it means booking head, social distancing, no singles lines, and sidelined après ski plan.

See you on the slopes, I’ll be the one with the full face mask and goggles. See our favorite ski destinations in The East, West, Canada, Europe
Ski Safe, Be Safe, Play All Season!

Vail has an EPIC Plan

Finally! Some “good news”, like fluffy flakes from heaven… way more uplifting than Covid stats and politics. Here’s your much need alpine anticipation and cold hard hope for our upcoming ski season from Vail Resorts.

Vail announces their 34 ski resort opening plan for ski season 2020-21, which includes face mask wearing requirements, social distancing on the slopes, in lift lines and in lodges, riding lifts with your party only or with significant spacing on larger capacity lifts, and the biggie – mountain access via reservation only at all 34 resorts (not partner resorts). This will limit lift ticket sales to prioritize EPIC Pass holders. This all sounds reasonable, promising and hopeful!

Vail Resorts’ CEO Rob Katz states, “For the vast majority of days during the season, we believe everyone who wants to get on our mountains will be able to,” says Katz. “We want to provide assurance to our guests that we will do our very best to minimize crowds at all times—be it a holiday weekend or the unpredictable powder day. We believe this approach will help ensure a safe experience for everyone, while prioritizing access for our pass holders.”

  • Pass holders will be required to make advance reservations before arriving at any VR resort at EpicPass.com. Basically, your pass will only work if you’ve made an online resie to ski that day- epic tracking and data, eh?!
  • Pass holders will be able to make as many week-of reservations as their pass product allows
  • In addition to week-of reservations, pass holders will receive seven Priority Reservation Days that can be booked for any days between Dec. 8- April 4. The booking window for Priority Reservation is Nov. 6 – Dec. 7 for pass holders. Epic Coverage will account for days skiers are unable to book, unavailable, in the new res system.
  • No day tickets will be sold to non-pass holders before Dec. 8, giving season pass holders exclusive access to the resort until that time
  • As pass holders use their Priority Reservation Days, they can continue to book new ones as their pass product allows.
  • Families will be able to book reservations together when they log into the same pass holder account.
  • Lift tickets will only be sold online and through VR call centers; pre-purchased tickets may be picked up at the resort lift ticket window.

My thoughts…

Well-orchestrated plan by Vail! Best news of all… we’ll have a ski season!

Local limits – sorry, powder flu mornings won’t be quite so spontaneous based only on your snow dump-o-meter  … rabid locals are going to need to calm down, plan… and probs not ski every day since resies apply to everyone! I’m sure the “ski every day posse” interprets this as Epic restrictions – not “Epic priority access.”

Ski vacation families should do well reserving their designated days in advance, just requires the forethought to login and book skiing, along with flights and lodging.

An uptick in ski face masks…since that’s going to be a thing (a required thing) . You won’t’ recognize me in my new outfit 😉

Wide open skiing is a bonus to limiting the number of skiers visits per day! Hooray! Imagine the jackpot when your reserved ski days is bluebird pow!

Bye Bye singles line? Here’s the lift scenario, for non-related guests, two singles may ride on opposite sides of a four-person lift; two singles or two doubles on opposite sides of a six-person lift; or two singles on opposite sides of larger gondola cabins.

Vail Resorts has extended the Epic Pass purchase deadline to Sept. 17, 2020 also the deadline to use pass credits from last season. Get yours, you have Epic Coverage as your insurance in the event of closures or inability to use your pass. Get all your 2020-’21 Epic Pass details

Are you skiing next winter?

92% of Polled Skiers Say YES
Despite coronavirus, the majority of older skiers plan to be on the slopes next season, and they expect ski areas to take measures to minimize spread of the virus.

Of  almost 3,500, or 21%, of SeniorsSkiing.com’s 16,500 subscribers surveyed in early June, 92% indicate they definitively or probably will go ski next winter!

Ski Travel Plans?
41% surveyed plan to ski locally
31% plan to take one or more long distance ski trips plus skiing locally
25% plan one or more long distance trips
42% indicate planning a ski trip to the US Rockies
15% planning a ski trip to the Eastern US
14% plan to visit the Canadian Rockies
10% will consider planning a ski trip Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, or South America.

Rating the importance of preventive measures ski resorts can take to control the virus:
88% say continuous sanitizing in public areas ( dining, lodge, restrooms) is extremely important. 
74% indicate social distancing in dining areas, lift lines and other public spaces is very important. 
59% said requiring facemasks on lifts and in public spaces is considered extremely or very important.
50% favored daily limits on numbers of skiers and boarders at an area as very important.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2020-snowbird-heather-greg.jpg


What Skiers Spent Last Season – When asked what they spent on skiing 2019-20 season including ski gear, clothing, lodging, food, and lifts?
51% spent  under $2500
29% spent  $2500 -$5000
20% spent $7,500 or more. 

The survey respondents of SeniorsSkiing.com Survey Monkey June 2020 poll are 73% male; 27% female.

So the question is… if Seniors are brave and bold enough to plan to ski the 2020-21 ski season, are YOU?

Copyright and photos property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide

Vail Resorts open for Summer Fun

Vail Resorts has summer opening dates and plans for its North American ski resorts with a commitment to safety amid the COVID-19. The first set of resorts will open June 26, including Keystone, Crested Butte, Okemo and Mount Snow. More resorts to open shortly thereafter, including Whistler Blackcomb, Vail and Beaver Creek, Park City, Heavenly, and Breckenridge. The resorts will open with a limited summer on mountain access and scenic lift rides. Lodging, restaurants, retail, biking and other activities will vary by location. See details at www.VailResorts.com

As a part of Vail Resorts’ commitment to safety, guidelines across all of its resorts and properties in North America. Like the Skier Responsibility Code, Vail Resorts asks guests and employees to take on a new level of personal accountability to ensure the safety of its mountain communities.

“Summer is a special time in the mountains and we are excited to welcome guests back to the outdoors to have fun, refresh and recharge,” said Pat Campbell, president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division. “While we are offering limited summer activities, we are lucky that our beautiful outdoor settings provide a landscape to experience nature and to easily practice physical distancing so we all can safely return to the mountains we love. It is our expectation that guests help us ensure the experience is safe for them and for our employees by following our new guidelines. As summer progresses, we look forward to opening more activities and adventures at our resorts.”

Vail Resorts scheduled opening dates and activities:
Weekly operating days vary by resort; Additional activities may open as summer progresses and restrictions ease.
• Attitash (July 18): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; alpine slide; grab ‘n go food.
• Beaver Creek (July 1): Scenic chairlift and gondola rides; hiking; bike haul; Spruce Saddle to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Breckenridge (July 4): BreckConnect Gondola; scenic chairlift rides; hiking; alpine slide and alpine coaster; Ski Hill Grill to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Crested Butte (June 26): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; Butte 66 to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Heavenly (July 3): Scenic gondola rides; hiking; Tamarack Lodge and Café Blue to offer grab ‘n go food. Mountain coaster opening date to be determined.
• Hunter (July 4): Scenic chairlift rides and hiking.
• Keystone (June 26): River Run Gondola; hiking; Summit House to offer grab ‘n go food. Golf opened June 5 at the River Course.
• Liberty (June 17): Golf
• Mount Snow (June 26): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; Bullwheel to offer grab ‘n go food. Golf and Fairways (grab ‘n go) opened June 17.
• Northstar (July 15): Golf to open July 15. Additional activities to be announced by early July.
• Okemo (June 26): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; mountain coaster; golf and disc golf.
• Park City (July 2): Scenic chairlift rides; hiking; bike haul; alpine slide and mountain coaster; Jupiter Java to offer grab ‘n go food. Canyons Golf is scheduled to open June 26.
• Stowe (June 27): Auto Toll Road opens June 27. Scenic gondola rides and Waffle to offer grab ‘n go food on July 18.
• Vail (July 1): Gondola One scenic rides; hiking; grab ‘n go food at Mid-Vail. Mid-July, Gondola 19 is scheduled to open with hiking, Epic Discovery interpretive trails, mountain coaster and grab ‘n go food at Eagle’s Nest.
• Wildcat (August 1): Wildcat Express scenic chairlift rides; hiking; cafeteria to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Whistler Blackcomb (June 29, subject to provincial alignment): Whistler Village Gondola, PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and Blackcomb Gondola scenic rides; hiking; bike park (Fitz Zone and Garbanzo chair). Rendezvous, Garbanzo Bike and Bean, Roundhouse to offer grab ‘n go food.
• Whitetail (June 17): Golf

Get outside, recreate, have fun, stay in shape, ski season is coming!

2020 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

See more Vacation Travel Destinations at our sister site, LuxuryVacationGuide.com

Indy Pass – 50+ ski areas for $199

So you’ve heard about the IKON Pass and Epic Pass?! Impressive conglomerate ski passes with dozens of ski resorts included in one price. Both of these season passes have offered rather generous “insurance’ for the 2020-21 season in the event of resort closures.

Well, enter The Indy Pass! Introduced last season, the 2020-21 Indy Pass includes “indy” aka: independent resort – (read: NOT owned by Vail, Aspen, Alterra, Boyne, etc). This ramped up pass now provides ski benefits at 52 “independent” smaller, lesser known ski resorts. That alone makes it attractive in a skiing future where social distancing may continue to be a focus.

The Indy Pass also now offers “pass assurance” and a lowered prices. The campaign is to drum up business and skier confidence, and to  “Get America Skiing” which you’ve gotta love! There should be a hat for that! Acronym: GAS: Get America Skiing…

The Price? $199! Or $299 with no blackout dates on The Indy+ Pass. And if you already have a pass at one of these resorts, adding on an Indy Pass will give you a chance to ski around for just a $129 add-on.

While the Indy Pass sound super cool, grass roots, and its super cheap, keep in mind those ski privileges at 52 ski areas are for only 2 days at each.

Kids Indy Passes (12 and under) are $99 or $149 for the Indy+ Pass.  A family of four could all season’s Indy passes for just $596.

Indy passholders also get 25% off Lift tickets “Rack Rates” (read: full price) for a third day skiing at each “indie” resort or if you wish to ski on a Black Out day on your Indy Pass basic.

As for the “Get America Skiing Promise, you will receive an automatic credit to your account for a 2021-22 pass if, for any reason, you use your Indy Pass less than four days – no questions asked! The “Get America Skiing Promise” goes like this: if you use your 2020-21 pass zero days – 80% credit; one day – 60%; two days- 40%; and three days – 20%. Pretty straight forward, fair and square.

Indy Passes will be available for purchase Sept. 1, 2020.

Indy Pass Western Ski Resorts –  West Indies – lol
Brundage ID
Tamarack ID
Silver ID
Lost Trail MT
Red Lodge MT
White Pass WA
49 Degrees WA
Hurricane Ridge WA
Mission Ridge WA
Mt Shasta CA
Beaver UT
Sunrise AZ
Eaglecrest AK
Hoodoo Oregon

And in Canada – Maple Leaf Indies
Apex, BC Canada
Castle AB Canada
Sasquatch, BC Canada

In The East – East Indys
Bolton Valley VT
Magic VT
Suicide Six VT
Cannon NH
Pats Peak NH
Black NH
Berkshire East MA
Mt Abram ME
Shawnee Peak ME
Mohawk CT
Catamount NY
Greek Peak NY
Massanutten VA (just love the name, is it a mass a nothin’, or something with 1,100′ vert?)
Blue Knob PA
Bryce VA
Canaan WV
Cataloochee NC

Plus Midwest ski resorts – you’ve likely never heard of….
Lutsen MN
Detroit Mountain MN
Powder MN
Spirit MN
Granite Peak WI
Little Switzerland WI (emphasis on little, 50 acres, 200′ vert)
Nordic WI
Trolhaugen WI
Tyrol Basin WI (yodelahewhoo?)
Pine Mtn MI
Crystal MI
Big Powderhorn MI
Caberfae Peaks MI
Schuss MI (great name, let’s go schuss at schuss. eh?!)
Swiss Valley MI
Terry Peak SD

Honestly when I first heard about the “Indy Pass” I thought it was promoting drag racing… The Indy 500 Formula One fun all-access and private pit pass … woohoo…anywhoo… I’m glad to see this pass at some of my favorite small but might ski mountains.

Some of my fave “Indy” ski areas:

Brundage, Tamarack and hi-ho Silver in Idaho – worth an Idaho ski Iditarod! A ski safari could also hit Montana Indy members Lost Trail and Red Lodge. Too bad it doesn’t include Lookout Pass, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, and Whitefish Montana! #SkiRoadTrip

Castle Mountain in Alberta Canada is epic, sorry – no its Indy. This humble Canadian ski area is huge, Alberta’s 2nd largest behind Lake Louise (4 hours away in Banff)! 3,500 acres, snowfields, 2,800’ vert! Nearby Fernie and Kimberley are on the Epic Pass. Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay are on the IKON.

Cannon and Black in NH – the “live free or die” Granite State where skiing is the official winter sport!

Vermont’s Magic, Bolton Valley, and Suicide Six are all wicked authentic small mountains with big heart and inspiring history!

Maine’s Shawnee Peak and Mt A (Abrams) are cool ski areas with soul, night-skiing and great après ski bars I might add – Blizzard Pub and Loose Boots Lounge respectively.

So ski friends, much to consider for next ski season, with Covid potentially still in play. But we MUST PLAY outdoors regardless. We must ski… Skiing is an “essential service” for my health and sanity… yours? See you on the slopes in 2020. Till then, get your season pass, at a discount with pass assurance (or insurance if you’d prefer to call it that ) and stay in ski shape this summer!

2020 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

See more Vacation Travel Destinations at our sister site, LuxuryVacationGuide.com

The Future of Skiing

We are all eager to ski again, especially since our 2019-20 ski season ended abruptly with Covid closures mid-March. All Corona puns aside, our ski experience will change for the foreseeable future. What will never change is the joy of skiing, the freedom on being outside on a glorious snow-covered mountainside, the rush of flying downhill, the pull of gravity and the g-force of well-arced turn. Arriving at your ski resort next season though… will feel different…

So what does skiing look like next season? Some thoughts on crushing cord and cruising pow in pandemic times.

PPE? Skiers and snowboarders are already pretty accustomed to wearing goggles, gloves, facemasks, so that’s not a big shift for skiers. We can adapt our alpine ensembles accordingly.

“Ride with your party” may well be the new protocol. No that’s not party as in “hey nice to meet you, let’s party!” conversations on the chairlift. New social distancing while skiing could mean you only ride the chair or load the gondola with your family members that you arrived with. I loved (yes past tense) meeting new peeps on the chairlift, a behavior that is likely benched for now. I suppose Six and Eight passenger chairs might be able to allow two singles or two couples seated on opposite ends. Is that 6’ of separation (liftees please chime in)? Do you put the Big Sky or Okemo bubble down during your ascent or keep the air flowing? I do love the bubble on cold, windy, wet snow days, but I am willing to make concessions – fresh air for freshies.

Singles line! No more. This one makes me sad, as it’s a great way to meet peeps when you’re skiing alone, with the added benefit of circumventing a potentially long lift line.

Ski-Times” like golf Tee-Times are being considered for gondolas, even trams. Imagine reserving your Gondi or Tram time. Your 9:15am car is ready and sanitized for you, and you are instructed to “please proceed and ride only with your party.”

Trams are admittedly a tricky situation.  I am picturing last season’s Snowbird and Jackson Hole’s tram lines and tram cars absolutely packed on a powder morning. A thing of the past?  Ski resorts may have to configure capacity with appropriate distancing and only load that number of skiers and riders, with X marks where you are to stand on the tram floor. I do love the window spot… will there be a premium for that? Kidding, I hope. Maybe trams are on hold for next season, or by reservation only. You may have to work harder to get that big vert at the ‘Bird then. Stay tuned.

Pomas can make a strong come back, naturally distanced and isolated with a disc between your legs – oh the retro fun! Mad River Glen should thrive with their Single Chair, naturally quarantined on your one-seater for your long lonesome ride up!

T-Bars you’ll be paired only with your partner, otherwise you ride solo and do the balancing act with an L under your butt. Skilled snowboarders have been mastering this for years.

Speaking of lift lines, will corrals need to be bigger to keep skiers and riders 6 feet apart in the queue? I’m pondering a few resort that already have limited space for their lift line corrals without interrupting skier flow out onto the trail or into the resort base space.

Limited Skier Visits? Will ski resorts need to limit the number of skiers on the mountain for the day to avoid long lines and over-crowding? Powder Mountain in Utah has been limiting to 1,500 ski tickets sold each day for years, making for a genuinely unique experience on their vast 7,000+ acres. Deer Valley limits ticket sales to assure everyone has a seat at lunch, they’ll have to reduce and reconfigure that seating now.

Mountain Lodges serving food, and ski area restrooms, will have to mandate greater spacing and more strict cleaning policies (well, I’m sure I’m not alone in welcoming that at certain ski area bathrooms – lol). Buffets are likely bye-bye. I did enjoy Vail’s Two Elk salad bar, The Summit at Snowbird’s central self-serve too. As a safer template, Snowbasin has a well-designed “Servery” in the palatial Earl’s Lodge at the base of the slopes with an excellent cafeteria style service . Thinking about Snowbasin’s Turkey Pot Pie right now! Mmmm.

As for Passes, many ski resorts are offering very forgiving season pass promises  to encourage you to commit to next season. Vail’s Epic Pass has Epic Coverage – offering 2020-21 pass purchasers free insurance with refunds available in the event of resort closures (e.g. COVID-19), job loss, illness, even injury, a full or prorated refund. Also EpicPass buyers this past season can receive a credit on next year’s purchase of 20 to 80% depending upon their usage last winter. Since Vail Resorts tracks your every move on their mountains, they are able to calculate your usage, and contact you directly with their tabulation. So all those metrics and data collected can help you – or hurt you – if you hit big mountain milestones on Vail Resort’s EpicMix leaderboard – they know.

IKON pass holders are offered a $200 credit ($100 for the IKON Base Pass) toward next season’s pass, and IKON has added Adventure Assurance giving the flexibility to defer your pass to 2021-22. So there’s some compensation from IKON Pass at their 43 ski resorts combined on one pass.

Uphill skiing has already been trending upwards in recent years. This no-lift ski approach to alpine should continue to thrive as skiers seek out back-country experiences and true distancing. Hopefully uphill skiers will access remote terrain with appropriate snow safety and avalanche awareness, versus just skinning up groomed slopes and skiing down resort trails (poaching) without paying their share by buying lift tickets or a pass, or paying only $10 bucks. Ok, its a pet peeve of mine.

Après Ski? Say goodbye for now to the packed party scene at the Matterhorn, Foggy Goggle, Red Lion, Trap Bar, Grizzly… all of our favorite après ski bars …the list goes on…  Some ski regions were hot spots for “sharing” the virus last ski season. Après ski at Ischgl come to mind. We’ve skied this Austrian resort and can report the Alps-style après ski is huge, lots of hugging, and chugging, dancing, sharing drinks and super close contact included! Yeah, that’s no longer the scene ski friends (insert sad face here).

Ok, so we have more questions than answers about next season’s ski experience. Travel to the Alps, I doubt it? Japan, um no. Big events, probably not? It’s a curious time, unprecedented.

But if there is a will, there is a way. I know the ski industry and our community of skiers are resourceful passionate people and there will be a plan to SKI! I will not even contemplate ski resorts NOT opening next winter, call me naïve, I prefer optimistic and hopeful …

Stay well, stay safe, stay in ski shape –  winter is coming!

Heather –  Travel Writer, Skier since 1969

Copyright and photos by Greg Burke property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide
  Follow @FamilySkitrips  

Vail Epic Pass is more epic

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass just became more epic, with the latest news that 2019/20 season pass holders will receive credits of at least 20% and up to 80%, if they weren’t able to use their pass at all. Additionally, Vail introduces free ‘Epic Coverage’ for the 2020/21 season as insurance, and the price stays amazingly affordable for all this skiing, under $1,000, with early pass pricing deadline extended to Labor day! This is big news and a very comprehensive, a significant customer relief offer during Covid… should play well to retain their many (million) passholders.

The Epic Pass is priced at $979 for unlimited skiing at 37 Vail owned ski resorts and 7 days each at many more, plus ski pass benefits in the Alps, for a grand total of 65+ resorts.  Vail Resorts now include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver 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 Snow, NH’s Wildcat, Attitash, Mount Sunapee, the Midwest’s Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps,  and Perisher Australia.

Additional ski benefits to Epic Passholders  include Telluride, Sun Valley & Snowbasin, and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies!  Plus Hakuba Japan. Discounts on Food & Bev at  Vail Resorts, free ski tunes, and more have been added to the 2020 Epic Pass holder perks.

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, 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 $1,000!

You should strongly consider buying the Epic Pass, with full insurance- “Epic Coverage” as protection for next season – at no extra charge. Then download Vail’s Epic Mix app and start dreaming of skiing next season, locally, out west, airfare will be a deal too.

IKON pass is the other big mega-mountain pass, which combines Aspen’s ski resorts (the newly formed Alterra Mountain Company) with Boyne, Powdr and Intrawest Resorts plus some indies for a total of 41 – 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.

Where are you skiing next ski season? Yes, we will be skiing next season – thought it will be different with social distancing, especially gondola rides & trams(?). Facemasks and gloves are already ski protocol, right?!

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter!

Copyright & Photos 2020, by Heather & Greg Burke of   FamilySkiTrips.com and Luxury Vacation Guide

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