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Vail’s Epic Pass to be more Epic!

More mountain mergers!!! Vail Resorts has just announced its agreement to purchase Peak Resorts… adding another 17 ski resorts to their quiver. And yes, these ski areas will be added to the Epic Pass for 2019-20 once the sale is complete… #EpicForEveryone is the new slogan….

Let’s see, there are already 17 Vail Resorts plus 17 more to be added into the Epic Mix of ski mountains  … so that equals = tons of skiing! And more east coast partners plus affiliates in the Alps, Japan, and Canada…

Peak Resorts ski properties to be Vail owned include:
Mount Snow in Vermont
 Attitash Mountain Resort, Wildcat Mountain & Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire
Hunter Mountain in New York
Liberty Mountain, Roundtop Mountain, Whitetail Resort, Jack Frost & Big Boulder in Pennsylvania
Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine & Mad River Mountain in Ohio
Hidden Valley & Snow Creek in Missouri
Paoli Peaks in Indiana

Vail Resorts’ purchase price for all Peak Resorts common stock is estimated to be approximately $264 million (calculated on a treasury method basis), to close this fall. Once completed, the 2019-20 Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass and Military Epic Pass will include unlimited and unrestricted access to these 17 Peak Resorts ski areas.

For the 2019-20 season, Vail Resorts will honor and continue to sell all Peak Resorts pass products, and Peak Resorts’ pass holders will have the option to upgrade to an Epic Pass or Epic Local Pass, following closing of the transaction.

The Epic Pass is $939 for adults and $489 for children (5- 12) for unlimited skiing at:
Whistler Blackcomb
Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte in Coloradod
Park City Utah
Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood in California
Stevens Pass Washington
Stowe, Okemo, & Mount Snow in Vermont
Mount Sunapee, Attitash, Wildcat, & Crotched in New Hampshire
Hunter in NY , Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, Jack Frost, Big Boulder in The Poconcos, Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine, Mad River, Hidden Valley, Snow Creek, Paoli Peaks, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Wilmot as well.
Perisher, Falls Creek, and Hotham in Australia.

The Epic Pass also  includes 7 days each “limited access” to partner resorts:
Telluride Colorado
Sun Valley Idaho
Snowbasin Utah
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies – Kicking Horse, Fernie, Kimberley, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham in Quebec 
5 consecutive days a Hakuba Valley, Japan’s ten ski resorts; five consecutive days at Japan’s Rusutsu Resort.

In the Alps – The Epic Pass also grants limited access to Les 3 Vallées in France; 4 Vallées in Switzerland; and Skirama Dolomiti in Italy.

The Epic Local Pass at $699 for adults, $569 for teens (ages 13 to 18) and $369 for children (5-12), offers unlimited, unrestricted access to: Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Okemo, Mount Snow, Mount Sunapee, Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched, Hunter, Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, Jack Frost, Big Boulder, Stevens Pass, Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine, Mad River, Hidden Valley, Snow Creek, Paoli Peaks, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Wilmot, plus unlimited access with holiday restrictions to: Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Stowe, and 10 total days combined (with holiday restrictions) at: Vail, Beaver Creek, and Whistler Blackcomb. Finally Epic Local Pass holders have limited access to partner resorts: two days (with limited holiday restrictions) at Sun Valley; two days (with limited holiday restrictions) at Snowbasin; and five total consecutive days with no blackout dates at Hakuba Valley’s ten ski resorts in Japan; and five total consecutive days with no blackout dates at Rusutsu Resort.

See our Favorite Vail Resorts – Top 10 Epic Ski Resorts on the Epic Pass!

Why buying the Epic Pass is an Epic Idea!

See more about Vail Resorts, and the Best Ski Resorts anywhere:

Best Ski Resorts in The East
Best Western Ski Resorts
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts

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

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Stay in ski shape all summer!

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

HB_waterski09H2O Skiing – water skiing is a second cousins to snow skiing. The quad muscles, core strength and isometric movement is the same skiing on water as on snow. Water skiing is a great work out, explosive energy and fitness is required to get up and stay up for a 15-30 minute ski. A good waterski workout equates to much as 10 ski runs. Like downhill skiing, it’s not for the timid or the faint of wallet – let’s see you need a ski, or two, a ski boat, pfd, tow line, gas for the boat, a driver and spotter, and then you pray for calm crystal waters. Water skiing on early morning “glass” conditions are akin to untracked powder or perfectly groomed snow. The speed and centrifugal force of an arcing water ski turn is as close as you are going to get to the thrill and gravitational pull of carving on snow till winter returns.

Wakeboarding – the summer bro to snowboarding, wakeboarding also works your quads, core and upper body in great pre-ski or après ski season conditioning. If you like to hit 2015-bri-wakeboard1the terrain park in winter on your board, then wakeboarding is just your speed in summer sine you can perform tricks, turns and jumps on a wakeboard.

SUP and Boating –  stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or canoeing, while not as physically strenuous as skiing, offers a similar great outdoorsy escape as snow sports. Paddleboading engages your core, glutes and your leg muscles in a fun fitness workout afloat, which you can take to the next level with SUP yoga or SUP surfing in the heather-aspen-supwaves. Being on a paddleboard, personal watercraft, or boat, provides a feeling of oneness with nature, and the opportunity to escape from the concrete jungle, the computer keyboard, the day to day, and test your survival skills with outdoor adventure. Many skiers spend their summers boating for the beauty of being on the water, not unlike being on a mountain. Boating is also very social, like minded individuals gravitate toward the water – which is melted snow after all, to party, swim, raft and tell fish tales and yachting stories in lieu of powder day brags.

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

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

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

Heather Burke, 2019 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

How To Watch Netflix On A Ski Holiday

There’s nothing better than a well-deserved après ski. Celebrating a great day on the slope with drinks, music and serendipitous meetings is what skiing life is all about. But even if you have the best après ski bars in the world right at your doorsteps, sometimes you just need a break from all the boisterous fun. A little downtime after all that downhill…

On the days when you’re too sore, too tired or just not socially inclined, it’s nice to kick off the ski boots, put your feet up, and settle in for the night with some hot chocolate and Netflix. But what do you when your favorite shows are not available in Canada, or wherever your ski travel destination? Here’s a quick guide to watching films on Netflix and other streaming platforms while on a skiing holiday.

Why is watching Netflix abroad so hard?

Netflix and other streaming platforms, like Amazon Prime or Hulu, use geo-blocking. Geo-blocking is a process of restricting the availability of specific content based on the users’ geographic location.

Why do Netlifx, Hulu and Amazon do this? Apart from their own films and shows, streaming services broadcast also content from other vendors. This content is copyrighted with rights that more often than not are exclusive to specific countries. Netflix has to geo-block some of its films and shows to comply with the copyright.

How to bypass geo-blocking?

If you’re thinking, “That makes sense, but I’m paying for Netflix back at home and I’m only in Canada for five days”, don’t worry. There are ways to bypass geo-blocking and access films and shows restricted in your area.

In order to view restricted content, use a Canada VPN if you are skiing in Canada for example. VPN, or a virtual private network, roots all your traffic through an encrypted tunnel giving you extra protection online. It can also hide your real IP address (used by servers to identify where you are) and replace it with an IP address from a different server.

For example, if you’re in Canada and you connect to a US server through VPN, Netflix will be tricked into thinking you’re actually in the US. Voila, all the US shows are now ready to watch!

Unfortunately, VPN encryption can affect your connection speed slowing down the stream. If you want a truly high-speed VPN network, you’ll have to skip the free services and go for a reliable provider which means investing a couple of dollars per month.

Live it up with skiing films

You’re in your skiing chalet, the hot chocolate is steaming and the fire is crackling in the fireplace. What better place to unwind with some skiing and snowboarding films?

For some heart-warming fun, watch Eddie the Eagle (available on Netflix in Germany, Switzerland and the UK), a sports comedy about Britain’s most lovable and least competent ski jumper, starring Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken.

Are you a fan of the extreme side of sports? Stream The Search for Freedom (available in Belgium and the Netherlands), an adrenaline-packed documentary covering the pioneers of skiing, surfing, snowboarding and more.

And if you want something light, watch the teen rom-com with a snowboarding twist —
Chalet Girl (available in Japan, the UK and India). Hot Tub Time Machine is another classic –it’s as cheesy as après ski fondue – and equally entertaining.

Whatever it is that you want to watch on your ski trip, bypassing the geo-block is quick and easy.

See our Guide to Planning your ski vacation, how to pack for family ski trips, and the best ski resorts in the world.

 

Chairlift Chats

Part of my love for skiing is the people… skiers bring such contagious energy to an otherwise chilly snow sport. From first chair to last and flowing into aprés ski, there’s a kinship among alpine enthusiasts.

One of my favorite aspects of skiing is meeting new people on the lifts, striking up conversations within the confines of our 5 minute ride up the mountain. I have met some rally “cool” peeps in my ski travels…. pun intended. Hey chairlift chats really do keep you warm, or at least distract you from the chill. Besides, there is so much to learn from fellow skiers. We share the same passion, serious commitment to our gear, our ski fitness, our  desire to travel to new peaks, and our love of skiing snowy covered mountains from fall to spring, from nearby to far far away.

My kids would eye-roll when I’d engage in a chair chat with our new quad sharing neighbor. Now they’re grown and they do it too. It’s a great way to pass the time (5-10 minutes) on your ascent, be it in a cozy gondola where its downright awkward not to talk (god forbid someone fart), a bubble covered chair which is very conducive to good acoustics, or an open air chair (btw: a better place to “pass gas” as my mum would say).

On chairlifts, I have met colleagues- literally – people I went to college with at University of Vermont- on a Gondola in Vail and the quad at Stowe. I have connected with friends of friends and sent selfies to mutual friends from a chairlift in Park City, ran into (not literally) my brother’s first roommate in Big Sky, and extreme skier Dan Egan. I’ve met pro ski racers (Ted Ligety), the snow reporter looking for someone to photograph in the fresh snow for the day’s social media post  (yes, that’s happened 3xs),ski reps from Atomic, Rossi, Parlor, Liberty, Kulkea – good peeps to know, right?! Sure beats sitting in cold silence. Don’t you think?

A natural starter topic is to chat about the weather, a classic ice breaker – you can bitch about the cold, or boast about today’s snow, pontificate the forecast. Is today a “Top 5” day or what?!

Ski equipment is a conversation magnet for alpinists…we’re gear obsessed as a ski society. Hey, how do you like those skis in the powder? But do they hold a grip on the hard pack? Those heated gloves you are wearing – “cool” – but how warm are they – I want to know for how long, how much, how effective, worthwhile or not? So much to share, learn and laugh about in this finite ski world with infinite possibilities. And on it goes…

My favorite ski topic: ski resorts you’ve visited and where’s your favorite ski destination… best ski day ever? The topics are endless, the lift rides are not – endless – so if there is no social synergy, you’ll be unloading soon.

Friendships have formed with these folks on the lift and in lift line, ever-early Wayne at Sunday River, Mark & Ken at Gondi 1 -Vail Colorado, Darian at Sugarbush (she rips)…. The list goes on…. I love these skiers (and snowboarders – I don’t discriminate one plank vs two) for their friendliness and openness to discussion, and their dedication to our mutually beloved sport.

Technology has me concerned, specifically – ear buds, skull candy, and cell phones on the slopes and how they’ve isolated and even eliminated the natural flow of conversation among everyone- including skiing “strangers” who could easily become buds. You can at least share a laugh and an engaging opinion or outlook given your commonality as the 4% that ski and ride. My kids laugh (or eye-roll) when my “hello” goes unanswered to my chairlift neighbor because their ears are filled with music-playing wires. Or worse, I respond to my chair neighbor’s question “hey how are you doing?” only to discover they are on their cell phone talking with someone else not present… literally not present.

In Switzerland, chairlift and gondolas rides are surprisingly quiet. I guess the Swiss are conservative and not very chatty. Greg and I always try to engage… in The Alps its become a game, even with our limited German. We’d love to hear more about skiing Europe from the genuine source…. but we haven’t scored very many Swiss friends…yet. One Swiss gent said, “We’re too tired between ski runs to talk”…. hmmm. Ski lift conversations give me energy, its not tiring- its engaging, I am infused with passion from like-minded ski fans. Downloading details on a recent ski trip is anything but a downer, it’s an upper for me while riding uphill. Hearing about an epic adventure from a ski friend is not only interesting but inspiring…. So many resorts to visit – love to get the firsthand perspective to help steer future trips.

I hope technology, which has so many benefits (RFID lift tickets, vertical tracking, weathercasting…) doesn’t erode the social aspect of skiing. I love to ski, and I love to talk to equally passionate skiers. Isn’t that why we love après ski (aside from the quenching libation and music)?

See you on chairlift in the future and perhaps we can become friends too – not like “facebook friends” but like in IRL (in real life). Cheers to chairlift chats.

 Copyright 2019, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

Aspen’s Ikon Pass or Vail’s Epic Pass

Season pass deals abound! With mergers of mountain resorts by Vail Resorts – and competitor Aspen and Alterra Mountain Company, skiers can choose between the Epic Pass or the “IKON” pass for  the 2019-2020 ski season, the IKON Pass and it unites 38 top ski destinations. While  Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is valid at 20 major ski resorts, with benefits at 65+.

Vail Resort’s Epic Pass, priced at $939 for unlimited skiing at 20 ski resorts, 7 days each at many more.  Vail resorts include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  Kirkwood,  Vermont’s Stowe and Okemo, and Mount Sunapee in NH,  Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps,  and Perisher Australia, Hotham and Falls Creek, plus 7 days skiing at Telluride, Snowbasin and Sun Valley, Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham!  The Epic Pass also has great free ski benefits with in the Alps, Verbier, Les Trois Vallees, and Hakuba Japan – so many ski resorts.

The IKON Pass offers 38 ski resorts acres across the continent, yes Canada & Japan too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $949, its a hybrid of the MAX Pass and Mountain Collective, and a strong competitor to Vail’s Epic Pass, all good news and great alternatives for skiers and riders.

The IKON Pass brings together Alterra Mountain Company, Aspen Skiing Company,  Intrawest and Boyne Resorts, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, POWDR, Alta/Snowbird and Canada’s Big 3. A spin off from The  Max Pass, this pass has some pretty epic ski resort from Aspen, Steamboat and Copper in Colorado, to Deer Valley, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird in Utah, Squaw, Mammoth and Big Bear in California, Crystal Mountain in Washington, Big Sky in Montana, Jackson Hole Wyoming, plus Loon, Sunday River , Sugarloaf, Stratton, Sugarbush and Killington in The East, Tremblant in Quebec!

The Ikon Pass is on sale now, see details at www.ikonpass.com. IKON Access is unlimited at 14 ski resorts: Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Crystal Mountain, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain. Plus ski privileges at 21 more…

IKON Pass holders get 7 days each at Deer Valley, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush. Plus…

IKON pass holders get 7 days combine at Aspen’s 4 mountains, and 7 at Alta/Snowbird, 7 days at Canada’s Big3 Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay, and 7 days between Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf.

Alterra’s IKON Pass is $949, there’s also a kids pass for $299 with parents purchase. For a lower price point, there’s a slightly more restricted IKON Base pass at $649 (basically 5 days at the restricted resorts versus 7, with black out dates and a few caveats).

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!

Where are you skiing this season? See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your winter!

Copyright 2019, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com 

 

 

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 hear when I go skiing, from friends, whom I treasure and adore… clearly they care about me too.

But…

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 tight rope I walk 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, to ski untracked, 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 my choice to ski and how risky it may be.

Yes, I’ve heli skied with a pack of testosterone charged 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). I have bobsledded the Olympic track in Park City (now that was dangerous), skied the speed trial run at Verbier, cat skied 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 have been educated on slides, tree-wells, avalanches. 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 home, the sidelines are not for me …thank you.

Would you tell an Indie car drive “don’t crash” or the crazy Wallendas “don’t slip and fall”? At our summer camp in Maine, my sis in law shouted “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.

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 quiet little self pep talk.

I will digress to say I am so blessed to have friends who genuinely care about me, my health and wellbeing, 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”… “go get it”, “do what you love”. I will in turn be as supportive of my friends’ crazy (ok, risky) passions and pastimes: running (oh my 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

 

Vail’s Top 10 Most Epic Resorts

I love Vail… its one of the top ski resorts on the planet, and I have sampled a few (ok, over 170). There’s even more to love now that Vail has acquired over 34 ski resorts, some of the best in ski country, and they are all on The Epic Pass. Yes this is an epic time for skiers and riders. Like that’s not enough, right? But Vail Resorts offers even more skiing on its affordable season pass ($900 range) to 65+ ski resorts in the US, Canada, Japan and The Alps. Vail’s 2019-2020 Epic Pass includes Sun Valley and Snowbasin, plus Telluride and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, and Peak Resorts to be added – Mount Snow, Attitash, Wildcat, Hunt and more! Its mind-blowing, especially when you consider a pass to any one of these mountains would cost over a $1,000 … yes for just one ski resort… now you have access to 65 for  $950! You may need to take the winter off. Seriously….

Here are the Most Epic Ski Resorts on the Epic Pass, in this skier’s opinion:

Vail – yes, it is a perfect skier’s mountain, with great front side trails, huge back bowls, high-speed lifts everywhere, stunning Rocky Mountain views, and a ski village that looks plucked from a Zermatt postcard. From first gondola one, and first tracks down the Back Bowl or Blue Sky Basin, to lively après ski in Vail village, Vail is a skier’s paradise.

Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest in North America. 37 lifts, 200 trails and 8,171 acres and 7,494′ vertical …Boom! I love the vast terrain, the two unique mountains, the crazy Canadian extremes, and the even crazier après ski in the Intrawest village.

Breckenridge – yes, I’m a Breck girl – I love skiing this vast resort in Summit County Colorado. First, Breckenridge has the highest lift service ski terrain in North America (12,840’)… cool. Second, Breck has five unique ski peaks across 3,000 acres, Peaks 10 thru 6, each offers everything from tame groomed boulevards to gritty high-alpine all-natural skiing. Finally, you have the beastly village of Breck – once a quaint silver mining frontier town, now it’s a big bustling skier’s paradise of breweries and bars for Breck après, shops and hotels. Beware Breck is busy…

Stowe, the Ski Capital of the East, is iconic, with formidable New England terrain – including the Front Four which should be on every skier’s bucket list. Spruce Peak is a gorgeous mountain village, steps to the slopes, that looks more Beaver Creek than Vermont. Then you have the charming village of Stowe with classic après ski bars, boutiques and inns up and down the Mountain Road, and iconic Main Street with its pretty church steeple. Stowe is the best in the East.

Heavenly California – the name says it. This Lake Tahoe Resort has it all – the most beautiful views of the magnificent Lake, great glades, steeps, cruisers, bi-state skiing from Cali to Nevada on 4,800 acres- Lake Tahoe’s biggest – served by 28 lifts! Add in après ski Casinos, or a boat ride on Lake Tahoe. Bonus: a Heavenly ski trip can encompass skiing at neighbor Vail resorts Kirkwood and Northstar at Tahoe.

Beaver Creek – This is Vail’s little sister, and she deserves some secret love. The Beav’ has such long well-pitched trails, steeps that host the annual Birds of Prey downhill, swift lifts, the best grooming, and two super classy base villages at Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gultch – where you’ll find the swank slopeside Ritz. The Beave doesn’t get a busy as the Front Range or Vail, another reason to love the sophisticated lil’ sis… did I mention Beaver Creek’s  five-star mountain hotels, the beautiful birch groves or the fresh baked cookies handed out at day’s end in the perfect pedestrian skiers village?

4 more ski resorts, not Vail owned, but epic and worth exploring on the Epic Pass

Telluride Ski Resort is remote, and worth it! This absolutely stunning mountain resort in a boxwood canyon in South West Colorado is special. The San Juan range scenery is a gem, the 2,000-acre ski terrain is awesome, and the old mining town is as authentic as they come. Be sure to lunch at the highest restaurant in North America – Alpino Vino at 11,966’ is a cozy European chalet on top of the world. Stay at Telluride’s modern Mountain Village or down in town in an historic lodge with cool après ski and local dining, either way – your ski days are scenic, with “epic” terrain from 12,500’ Palmyra Peak (or hike for more) – hence the nickname To Hell U Ride.

Kicking Horse in the Canadian Rockies is kick ass. On the powder Highway of BC, this ski resort has long steeps, with a vertical of over 4,300’- the 4th biggest on the continent. A swift gondola takes you to tremendous bowls and chutes, while the ski village is humble and fun, not overdone. The panorama from the mountaintop Eagle’s Eye restaurant is amazing, reached by a 2,800’gondola. From Kicking Horse, you can try a heli-ski day with Purcell Heli Skiing in Golden, or visit sister Resorts of the Canadian Rockies – Kimberly, Nakiska and Fernie. You’re also close to Lake Louise and Sunshine in Banff but they are not on the Epic Pass.

Les Trois Vallées in France is epic, with skiing on the Epic Pass when you purchase partner lodging. The 3 Valleys represent the largest interconnected skiing in the world – joining Courchevel and Val Thorens via Méribel. It’s highly scenic – in the French Alps with views of Mont Blanc, it’s huge – with 600 kilometers of trails served by 155 lifts connecting 8 ski areas, 4 valleys, 6 glaciers, and 25 peaks. Add in some French chalets for ski-to-lunch, the chic ski hotels of Courchevel and Meribel (Val Thorens is modern – not so charming), crazy off-piste opportunities, and even crazier après ski … you have the joie de vivre of French skiing.

St Anton Lech and Zurs – the most authentic ski region in the world, the cradle of alpine skiing in fact, is the Arlberg of Austria. Ten interconnected ski resorts are the stuff of legends– for their vast Alps terrain, amazing lifts  – 88 trams, cable cars, 8 packs and funitels, for their snow abundance, for the ski culture that exudes in each quaint mountain village, and for the alpine huts along the ski trail sides serving delicious homemade cuisine just as the locals have for centuries. Every skier worth his edges must  skiing the Austrian Alps, ride the Valugabahn, ski to lunch in St Christoph, tour the White Ring of Lech, and après ski at the Moosewirt in St Anton. An Arlberg ski vacation is epic, and its on the Epic Pass – 3 days free skiing when you book lodging via Vail partners.

Those are my favorite Epic Ski resorts, and I have yet to ski Japan… or Japow as my powder friends call it, and Hakuba Valley’s nine ski resorts on the Epic Pass. Enjoy your winter, and I see you in the million vert skiers circle if you are also tracking your epic ski season with Vail Resort’s Epic Mix app.

Copyright 2019, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com  Photos by Greg Burke of Luxury Vacation Guide

  

Vail’s Epic Pass is a 10

This Epic Pass is arguably the best season pass for skiing, EVER, the best value, versatility, at the best ski resorts for serious vertical. Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, Breck, Stowe, Heavenly, Park City… the list goes on!

Not only is the Epic Pass now ten years old in its great pass tradition, it has expanded 10 fold since its introduction in 2008. The Vail Resorts Epic Pass is now valid at over 65 major ski resorts, with benefits to dozens of others around the world.

One more epic “10” for you ski friends – this year’s epic pass is dedicated to the 10th Mountain Division. The US 10th Mountain Division trained in the challenging alpine terrain of Colorado’s high peaks, and went on to serve and fight in WW II – playing a pivotal role in winning the war overseas in the harsh Italian Dolomites. Pete Seibert, founder of Vail, and Earl Eaton, both served in WW II and later developed one of the best ski resorts in the world- Vail (inception 1957).

Fast forward to 2008, as Vail Resorts was growing into a Titan of Ski Resort mergers and acquisitions. The Epic Pass was launched as a conglomerate of Vail’s 5 extensive ski resorts terrain. The affordable pass cost less than most ski resort season passes, and provided skiers with unrestricted skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone … And that was just the beginning…

For ski season 2019-20, the Epic Pass includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone,  Crested Butte, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stevens Pass, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Wilmot, Mt. Brighton, Afton Alps, Perisher, plus 7 days at Telluride , Snowbasin, Sun Valley, and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies – Fernie, Kicking Horse, Nakiska and Kimberley, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham in Quebec.

For 2019-2020, Vail Resorts is acquiring Peak Resorts and adding 17 more ski ares to their Epic collection, to include Mount Snow in Vermont
Attitash Mountain Resort, Wildcat Mountain & Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire,
Hunter Mountain in New York, and several Poconos ski areas.

Overseas, Epic Pass holders get three day skiing at Les 3 Vallées, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France, 4 Vallées in Switzerland; Arlberg in Austria, Skirama Dolomiti Italy, and Hakuba Valley in Japan. That’s a lot of ski perks for the price of one Epic Pass at $939.

Funny that in a Sports Illustrated interview in the 1980’s, Vail founder Pete Seibert said ski industry peeps called him and his big ski plans “crazy.” Well, cheers to the crazy ski pass. Vail Resorts later launched a crazy app, The Epic Mix that allows skiers and rider to track their vertical, see snow reports, grooming and trail openings, lift line wait times, and view photos of their skiing and their kids day in ski camp.

What else sets the Epic Pass apart on its 10th anniversary? It’s actually charitable! To honor our military, Vail Resorts has committed to donating $1 for every season pass sold, to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) – which should reach and exceed $750,000 based on last year’s pass sales. Generous with their $7.5 million in pass sales.

Will Vail Resorts continue to buy up ski resorts and broaden its skiing portfolio, adding to its Epic Pass and making it more and more epic? Seems like that’s teh trend – with the hashtag #EpicForEveryone ! We suggest you buy up your Epic Pass early for an epic deal on skiing at over 40 phenomenal ski resorts!

See more about Vail Resorts, and the Best Ski Resorts anywhere:

Best Ski Resorts in The East
Best Western Ski Resorts
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts

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

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Best Snowvember skiing ever!

My first ski turns at Sunday River felt more like February than end of November. Natural snow, so soft – wall to wall white on steep fun trails like Agony, Vortex , and Airglow. I’ve not had such great first tracks since… I can’t remember. You must go ski, you’ll be amazed at what you see – snow ghosted trees, top to bottom mid-winter conditions.

140 ski resorts are open in the country on 11/30, compare that to about 40 last season at end of November. Skiers are stoked, myself included. Temperatures have been cold for much of the nation – The East, The Rockies, and North. Snow dumps have been regular, versus last November which was downright balmy across most to the US.

In the East, Sunday River and Sugarloaf have both received over five feet of natural snow in November… these Maine sister ski resorts are skiing on 400 acres of open terrain each, reaching the magic number of 100 open trails, including glades. Sugarloaf will open  for Cat Skiing on  December 1 on Burnt Mountain, way ahead of last winter’s March opening – only open for a couple of days at that!  This is “New England’s only cat skiing operation” according to The Loaf, if you don’t count Sugarbush’s occasional Lincoln Limo by appointment on pow days.

In Vermont, Killington hosted an amazing World Cup Women’s FIS race with mid-winter like conditions, and a huge hometown crowd to cheer on locally trained Mikaela Shiffrin to slalom victory. The Big K has been open 43 days since its “first to open in the East” bell back in October.

Sugarbush, celebrating its 60th season with a Sugarbash on December 15, has great snow conditions and over 50 trails open already. Stowe is Epic, Vail Resort pun intended, with half their trails open by November. Okemo is also Epic now… yes another new Vail resort on the Epic Pass – Okemo has been blowing snow and offers 70 trails already, their gunning for Jackson Gore by early December. Mount Snow opened in October with its earliest top to bottom skiing ever.

In New Hampshire, Wildcat opened super early with top to bottom skiing. Loon Mountain had the earliest ever top to bottom skiing on both Loon and North Peaks. The White Mountain look truly white with great skiing at Bretton Woods, Cranmore and Waterville Valley too.

Out west, Big Sky in Montana is already skiing off the Lone Peak Tram into all natural Dictator Chutes and Otter Slide. Mammoth California already has 41 inches of snow. Jackson Hole claims over 90 inches so far, while Vail and Breckenridge are nearing 100 inches of snow so far – and again its November! Grand Targhee is 100% open!

Utah finally got 30 inches of snowfall end of November, and there’s skiing on Utah’s slopes at Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Park City Mountain, and Snowbasin – though not as bountiful as Colorado, Montana and Wyoming so far. Washington, Oregon and Lake Tahoe areas could use more snow, and sustained cold, but again – its early.

Its not yet winter, and we’ve already experience big snow storms – Avery & Bruce according to The Weather Channel’s annual winter storm name alphabet. I’m personally excited for snow storm Wesley – my near and dear, departed friend and Sunday River ski buddy. I bet “snow storm Wes” will hit Maine on Feb 2, his birthday and annual Sunday River Wes Mills ski day now in year 3.

Dreaming of a White Christmas – I think you can “snow” bank on it. My first day was the best day, at Sunday River last day of November. See you on the slopes.

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com  Photos by Greg Burke of Luxury Vacation Guide

  

 

First Ski Resorts to Open

Don’t you love fall skiing in ski country? Nothing prettier than autumn leaves and the first dusting of snow to make those brilliant autumn colors really pop. There’s also the excitement of watching  ski resorts drop ropes and open lifts first. It’s a race to be first to ski – out West and in the North East.

When it’s not even Halloween yet and  dozens of ski resorts are chomping at the bit to open… this is no trick, just a treat,  for skiers…

This year’s first place winner is Wolf Creek – this south western Colorado ski resort opened a full week ahead of everyone else, Oct 12 2018. That’s early.

The following weekend, perennial Eastern eager beavers Sunday River and Killington duked it out for first rights, as they always do. Sunday River opened to the public Friday October 19, Killington opened same day but exclusively for pass holders – a nice privilege, which also included the awesome IKON pass this season. In addition to a private pass holder first ski day, the Big K provides lunch to their first day skiers and riders. Killington also stayed open midweek, while Sunday River closed Monday- Friday to re-open for the weekend.

As for the usual first-to-open Rocky Mountain resorts, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin both opened October 20th weekend.

Pre-Halloween weekend,  more ski resorts joined the early season roster: Wildcat in New Hampshire and Mount Snow in Vermont open Saturday October 27, earliest openings ever for both resorts. A Nor’Easter snow storm dropped snow pre-Halloween weekend just to cap off snowmaking efforts.

Before Thanksgiving, so many ski resorts East & West enjoyed early openings: Vail, Aspen, Grand Targhee, Breck & Keystone, Mammoth and Squaw, plus New England’s Sugarloaf, Stowe, Loon and Sugarbush.

What I love about these early ski openings is not just the advanced opportunity to ski, but the enthusiasm and commitment these resorts make to stretch the ski season, to give long-term value to mostly pass holders –the majority of zealots that show up for early October/November and late May skiing.  Fall skiing can range from fast frozen grass with a thin layer of early season natural snow, to  snowmaking surfaces that range from groomed to rimy to erratic to pow. Still it’s a chance to get your ski legs, thread some first tracks on a ribbon of snow on a trail or two, upload and download, and see your ski buddies that have been hibernating all summer like you. lol…

So the race of the ski resorts to get those first to open “bragging rights” benefits the skiers, and snowboarders. The sooner ski areas open, the more snow they make, the better and longer your ski season is apt to be. Similarly, the season pass competitions of late are great. Conglomerate passes like the Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass and the IKON Pass are offering amazing alpine options, 30-44 ski resorts all on one convenient lift pass, at the price of what we used to pay for one single resort season pass. Seriously!

Examples: You can now ski Stowe, unlimited on the $949 Epic Pass, when previously a Stowe Season pass was upwards of $1,800, plus now you get the #EPIC opportunity to fly to Colorado for a week or two with free (ok, included) skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breck, and now even Telluride and Crested Butte all part of your pass, plus Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar, and east coast sister resorts Okemo and Mount Sunapee! I’ve got my EPIC pass, do you?

While I’m not making first tracks skiing Halloween weekend, that’s a bit pre-mature for me – I’ve got costumes parties and leaves to rake still, I’m stoked to ski a bunch this winter, and I love watching ski resorts stock pile a bunch of snow for when I’m ready to go. This time of year I like to see my ski peeps at the Boston Ski Show Nov 8-11, to  shop this year’s best gear, and check out the best ski and stay deals for the year. This year, I also receive an “Excellence in Snowsports Coverage” award in Boston. See you soon on snow!

See our Top Early Ski Season Resorts Favorites:
Top Early Season Ski Resorts – East 
Top Early Season Ski Resorts – West

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

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