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Ski Chat with Travel Journalist Heather Burke

Heather is an award winning editor of  TheLuxuryVacationGuide.com, FamilySkiTrips.com, contributor to travel magazines and sites. She travels the globe, reports on the top ski resorts you should put on your ski bucket list,  from the East to the West, The Canadian Rockies to The Alps.

But more importantly Heather rips on skis, she has huge enthusiasm for skiing, and passion for sampling new ski fashion and ski gear, skiing new resorts, and encouraging women to join in and enjoy our favorite sport. Heather was a presenter on ski travel tips at  the 1st annual She Shed – Her Turn at the Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo, where she also received an award for “Excellence in Snow Sport Coverage” from ski industry peers.

When it comes to exploring new resorts, Heather skis 10-20 new ski resorts each season with her husband ski photographer Greg Burke. She’s already skied over 175 (okay she started skiing and traveling at age 3)! This ski gal knows how to look stylish skiing first chair and heading to après ski after accumulating 30k vertical.

So Heather, what are you wearing this ski season?
I’m rockin’ Rossignol. I love high performance ski apparel that’s also stylish. You shouldn’t have to choose performance or fashion! Rossi has been making ski gear since 1907, its French-designed, well-tailored, fashion-forward and fun, but the technical aspects are uncompromising. The colors are classic this season, a return to ski glamour with gorgeous blues and bold red, and of course white which I find so chic on the snow …as long as you don’t spill your hot cocoa… lol!

And what are you skiing on?
Rossignol head to toe so that includes my ski boots and skis. I love the Rossi Experience fleet for front side skiing, the 98s and 88s and the Ladies Rossi Temptation skis are all fun, grippy, love to carve, but can handle mixed snow and light pow. This season I finally stepped up to a true powder skis, Rossignol Soul 7 HDW, its 106 under foot, versus most “East Coast” traditional skis that are much more narrow, under 90- millimeters wide. My travel plans have me skiing out west at Vail and Breck, and in The Alps in Austria’s Arlberg – think St Anton & Lech, and Switzerland at Lenzerheide. These versatile fat skis are just the ticket.

How long have you loved Rossignol?
The first pair of skis I ever purchased, not hand-me-downs from mom or my brothers, were Rossi FP’s. I was 17 and teaching skiing at Smugglers Notch. Oh my how I loved those teal skis, 200 centimeters – yes that was the 80’s when the longer the ski – the better you must be..


Heather, do ski apparel companies ever ask for your input?

Fortunately, I am asked on occasion to product-test, or to provide gear feedback. Such a cool opportunities, right? I’m a pocket freak. My number one request is more pockets please! I love a sleeve pocket exclusively for a lift ticket, Now that so many resort use RFID technology, Vail Resorts, The Alps, its perfect to have a small pocket away for your cell phone and credit cards that won’t interfere with the ticket scanning. I also adore a good hood, and a detachable fur collar – faux or no.

Heather, what are your ski mantras:
Yes, ready…

Life is not a dress rehearsal,
Dress like a lady but ski with the boyz.
There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing, to quote my ski friend Wes.
Every ski day is a good ski day, rain is just premature snow, cold is refreshing.
And then there’s my family motto:
If you’re not first you’re last – it’s a competitive ski crowd.

You travel a bunch, how do you pack for ski trips?
I’m a little OCD when it comes to organization, ask my kids. When we go on family ski trips, I have a checklist for everyone. Every member of the family has their own ski bag, covering the list of gear, (see Heather’s ski packing tips  and I wash and dry everything immediately when we return from skiing, and its promptly packed so we are always ready to go to the snow.


Heather, tips on going from skiing to après ski in style?

The après ski skirt is my essential. Strip off your bulky ski pants, slip a quilted skirt (SKEA makes super cute ski skirts) over your base layer leggings, add a furry neck scarf and après ski boots, and you’re comfy but sophisticated and ready to relax, dance, drink. I love my Rossignol Megève boots, they have a super grippy sole, fur cuffs and sassy red laces… I get so many compliments on these super cute boots.

Finally Heather, do you have a favorite ski resort?
So many … in the East, I love Stowe for its classic ski town and beautiful views, and Sunday River for its extensive terrain and top snow quality. Out West, Vail is amazing, so is sister Beaver Creek. Big Sky Montana has a big place in my hear too. In Europe, St Anton in The Arlberg, also Kitzbühel Austria, and Courchevel France in Les Trois Vallees are all fantastically charming alpine villages with so much skiing …its jaw dropping. It’s magical skiing to a quaint chalet on the side of the mountain for a homemade meals of soup, bread and cheese farmed from these alpine pastures in summer. The après ski in The Alps is mind-blowing as well, they invented “apres ski” after all.

See you on the slopes ski friends!

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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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… access to 79 ski resorts – #Epic

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

  Follow @FamilySkiTrips  

 

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

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 40 top ski destinations. While  Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is valid at 34  ski resorts, with benefits at 79+.

Vail Resort’s Epic Pass, priced at $939 for unlimited skiing at 34 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, Mount Snow and Okemo, Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched and Mount Sunapee in NH,  Wilmot,  Hunter in NY, several in the Poconos, The Mid Atlantic and Michigan,  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 40 ski resorts acres across the continent, yes Canada & Japan too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $1049, 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, Arapahoe Basin, 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 Arapahoe Basin, Deer Valley, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush. Plus…

IKON pass holders get 7 days combined 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 

 

 

Powder skiing in Georgia

Let me tell you about cat-ski in Georgia – the country, not the state.

Nestled between Southern Russia and Northern Turkey, the weather off the Black Sea brings Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains about 35 feet of snowfall every winter.  The ski resort scene in Georgia probably isn’t worth the trip, but what if you could go skiing without being in a ski resort?

Having heard Georgia’s snowfall stats and finding the perfect spot on topographic maps and Google Earth, a Swiss ski instructor named Ingo Schlutius crowdfunded enough money in 2016 to get a couple of retired Swiss snowcats shipped to Georgia and kicked off his cat-skiing operation, Powder Project.

The trip to Powder Project’s basecamp proves it’s anything but a typical ski holiday. You wait outside the small airport in Kutaisi for a driver to take you to the remote village of Bahkmaro.  A 20-year-old 4×4 minivan arrives, the driver’s hands and clothes covered in dirt, he shrugs and simply says “Sorry. Rocks”.

An hour into the drive,  the beginnings of a landslide across the road are evident, our driver  moves man-sized boulders by himself. Another two-hours of dark, winding mountain roads our driver stopped and motioned for us to disembark.  On the side of the road in freezing temperatures,  the lights of the snowcat slowly come around a hairpin bend, the final few miles to Bahkmaro aren’t accessible to a regular vehicle. Arriving at the Powder Project lodge, a few hours sleep is welcome before our next day’s cat ski adventure.

In summer, Bahkmaro is a popular vacation spot for Georgians and Russians, many of whom have hand built their own datchas – small cabins constructed from whatever material is at hand.  In the winter however, it is deserted, except for the 20 ski guests staying in the lodge – and the surrounding mountains!

Cat-skiing (using modified snowcats with cabs for people bolted to the back to go up remote mountains) has been called poor-man’s heliskiing but snowcats have the advantage of never being grounded due to bad weather. Our first ski day, without fresh snow, we scored fresh tracks all day long – no one to bag out tracks. While the snow was good, it wasn’t epic and we all secretly started to wonder if we’d made this long trip for nothing. That night, however, things changed quickly with over 3 feet of fresh snow coming down in just 12 hours.

That next day and for the rest of our time with Ingo and his team we did whooping ski lap after lap of bottomless champagne powder until our legs were weary.  There was terrain for everyone, from mellow open zones, to tight tree-runs, to super-fun pillow-fields.

The relaxed attitude in Georgia means there’s no in-bounds or out-of-bounds, when you wanted to explore further afield from the cats -simply put on our touring skis, joined by the lodge dogs, and set off on your own.

Each evening, ski down through the trees and local datchas back to the lodge for a feast of local delicacies prepared by an amazingly friendly Georgian family, washed down with cha-cha, a popular homebrewed Georgian moonshine.

Between the incredible snow, the culture, the food, and the sense of adventure it’s safe to say that Georgia isn’t your average ski trip ..its extraordinary.

If you like back country skiing and seeing things in a new perspective you could worse than checking out Georgia for yourself!

Contact Ski Bro for personalized ski adventures and ski instruction at some fabulous European ski destinations!

See more on cat skiing, heli-skiing, and the best family ski trips at Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury vacation Guide

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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

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

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