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

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DIN – When in doubt, come out

DIN, three little letters with big implications, an acronym for safety when skiing. What’s your DIN? is a question oft heard on first tram at Snowbird or Jackson Hole. As if your binding setting determines your weightiness on the ski slopes. 9 or more is a source for bravado, like you are a bolder beefier skier than others set at a timid-sounding 2, 3, or 4.

Growing up, my brothers loved the mantra, “when in doubt, don’t come out.” They also enjoyed making figure 11s top to bottom, “when in doubt straighten em out” …which is now referred to as straight-lining. Now that I’ve matured, I recognize my brothers’ practices were quite perilous. I’m more concerned about safety these days…in my 2nd half-century.

My interpretation on DIN: you don’t want to be a yard sale, with skis scattered across the hill from a premature release, BUT what’s far worse is a twisting fall when you binding doesn’t pop but your knee or other body part does…

Here’s the deal with DIN:

DIN setting is calculated based on your boot sole length, age, weight, height and ability level, when your bindings are mounted on your skis. The higher the DIN, the higher the force required to release (toe or heel) from your bindings. DIN =  Deutsches Institut für Normung (German)

Your height, weight, age and ski ability are all factors in a proper DIN setting. Age is perhaps the key fluctuating component for skiers that’s not always updated –  properly calibrated among old-school skiers, who’ve always had a DIN of 8 for example, but at 55 or 60 should dial it back to a safer 6, say, to prevent injury.

DIN calibrated standards change at 50, and so should your settings. Of course you should also be honest about your height, weight and ability (lol)… and adjust when any of these change. It’s a ski shop form, so it’s not like your weight gain or shrinkage is going on Facebook for all your ski buddies to see.

I for one had a ski injury at 48, that could likely have been prevented if my ski binding had released. That sharp twisting turn should have caused my binding toe piece to release, but alas my marker bindings stayed on – tight, as they were adjusted to avoid a premature nuisance release. Lesson learned, I’ve loosen up. I recovered from that fractured tibial plateau, and now set my DIN per the appropriate age height and weight setting. Staying safe and alive at 5….

For the safest binding setting, your skis should be professionally checked annually, providing real “true” data of your actual weight (lol) height, age and ski ability, 1, 2, 3 and 3+. By the way, very few of us are 3+ ski level, that’s for extreme skiers.

Yes, your ski popping off prematurely is a pain, but not as big a setback as not releasing and popping a ligament, or worse… Have your binding professional set and checked annually. Better safe than sorry, “when in doubt, come out.”

See our Gear Guide to the  Top Skis!

Copyright 2020, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

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 2020, 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

 

Affordable Family Ski Trip Tips

Shred the Slopes And Not Your Wallet: Tips For A Budget-Friendly Ski Trip

In recent years, 13.91 million people traveled annually  to a ski resort for a family ski vacation. This is because there’s absolutely nothing like feeling the wind against your face as you take on the toughest Black Diamond trail. However, ski trip costs add up. With the cost of lift tickets, ski gear, lodging, and transportation for everyone, skiing is not a cheap sport. But never fear because you can still participate in the sport you love while being kind to your wallet. Check out these budget-friendly tips to help you save a little on your next family ski trip.

Plan early and book off-peak
Ski season is typically from late November to early April. Therefore, you should start planning your trip  end of summer. This will allow you enough time to shop for bargains and get discounted rooms and airline tickets. You should also ski off-peak seasons, typicallythe beginning and end of the ski season. Early December, ski lift ticket prices are generally less expensive and so are lodging costs, same goes for early April at high-elevation ski resorts that stay open later, like Vail and Snowbird. You definitely want to avoid Christmas-New Years, Martin Luther King weekend in January and mid February – high-peak seasons that come with  higher costs and crowds. See our Tips on Planning the best ski vacation.

Travel with more families
One of the best ways to reduce your cost of travel is to vacation with more than one family. You can find neighbors, family friends, or extended family members to help split the expenses of lodging – renting a  big condo or ski house,  and you can share food expense. Not only will you save some money, but you will also have someone for the kids to play with, and après ski with your adult friends. It’s always more fun with more people to share your experiences with!

Be prepared to cook your own food
When shopping for lodging, try to find a resort ski home, cabin, or condo that comes equipped with a kitchen, and often washer dryer! So you don’t have to eat  out every meal – saving you money, and sparing you from dining with tired hungry kids after a big day of skiing. If you travel with another family or extra friends, you can all take turns cooking every night. This way you can split the cost of groceries as well as the cooking. See our Tips on Packing for a Ski Condo.

Start saving as soon as you book
As soon as you book your lodging and transportation, set up a “ski trip” savings account. Determine how much money you will need for the trip and set this as your goal. You can determine how much you should save each month and what you plan to put on your credit card. If you have a rewards card, place purchases on this card to get cash-back for the big ticket purchases. This will help you budget, with the bonus of rewards later.

Look at Pass Prices instead of Day Tickets
Check out he price for a season pass at the ski resort if you are going for more than 5 days. Today’s ski passes, like the Epic Pass and IKON Pass are often better deals (valid at many ski resorts all winter) when bought in advance than the retail day tickets. Vail is over $200 a day but an Epic Pass starts at $649! You do the math!

Buy second-hand equipment
One of the most expensive costs of skiing is the equipment. If you already have your own equipment, that is great. But for everyone else, renting your skis every trip can become costly. You may want to look into second-hand shops, local ski swaps hosted by school and ski clubs, and ask about used gear at ski shops for deals on previously owned gear or demos. Also shopping in spring , online, you can find great deals on last year’s ski gear. See our Ski Gear Guide for the top skis to buy or rent.

Pack Well in Advance
Many families find packing for skiing to be stressful, see out Tips on What and How to Pack for a successful ski trip.

If you love skiing, you shouldn’t let cost keep you from hitting the slopes. Shred the snow without damaging your wallet with some preparation, organization, and research.

Skiing = expensive, memories skiing with your family = priceless!


Top Spring Ski Events

Update – all these fantastic Spring Ski Events have been cancelled as ski resorts are closed due to Covid-19. In fact ski season 2019-2020 ended abruptly mid-March due to the virus.

Stay turned for the return of these fun spring skiing events next season 2020-21!

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

Top spring ski fests in Colorado, Utah, California, and Montana:

Taste of Vail is our favorite spring ski event – food, wine and skiing combine for an “epic” fest. What could be better than skiing spring conditions at Vail followed by après ski wine tastings and delicious cuisine prepared by Vail’s Top Chefs early April !? This year,  Taste of Vail turns 30 with the mantra “elevate your palate” – a playful reference to the high altitude setting at Vail’s 8,000′ base  and the Top Chefs, world-renowned wine-makers and master sommeliers bringing their best . The week of culinary classes, tastings, uncorking of top Roses, Chardonnays and more, includes big events like Vail Village’s Colorado Lamb Cook-Off & Apres Ski, the  Mountain Top Tasting during the day,  and the finale evening Taste of Vail’s Auction! If you love skiing, food and wine (who doesn’t?!) go to Vail Resort for this amazing foodie event in April!

Spring Back to Vail mid-April  brings live headliner bands for free concerts to Vail Village in a warmer weather celebraton. Après ski at Vail just got bigger, better and FREE which rarely happens at Vail, right?! The best bands play Free concerts at Ford Park and around town at après and in the evening at night clubs around Vail Village. Look for parties on the mountain too – like Tiki & Tunes Luau at mid-Vail – top of Gondola One. SpringBack to Vail is mid April.

Vail’s World Pond Skimming Championships is the biggest..well..in the world! April 12 at Golden Peak, enjoy the scene – a BBQ and beers overlooking the big pond where the best (and worst) dressed in crazy costumes attempt to cross the big expanse of cold water to the cheers and jeers of a big crowd. Like everything in Vail, this pond skim is massive, so is the crowd of spectators. The following April weekend at Vail is Powabunga – Vail’s closing weekend celebration, more snow and slush shenanigans!

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

Park City’s Spring Grüv in Canyons Village runs March 6 – April 5 with awesome free concerts and après-ski parties, a fun fundraiser March 28 Pink Park City breast cancer awareness event. Park City’s “epic” spring fling culminates April 4 with the  Annual Pond Skimming Contest at Red Pine.

Squaw Valley celebrates PAIN MCSHLONKEY for Shane McConkey, posthumously and humorously – skiers are encouraged to dress up in vintage gear and pay tribute to the legendary free skier by going big March  28.

Steamboat’s Colorado Springalicious 40th annual cardboard classic is mid April  – locals recycle by creating box-cars to derby to fly downhill. The crashes are spectacular, so is the après ski scene at Steamboat.

Breckenridge’s annual Spring Fever Beer Festival early is now in its 14th year. This Colorado spring ski event is perfect for craft beer lovers and spring skiing lovers – that includes everyone right?!

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

Top Spring Ski Events in The East

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

Cannon Mountain Bodefest is late March early April with Bode Miller himself.. I think he still “hates the media” so don’t bring the news crew but this is a great spring ski event and fundraiser for the Olympic skier’s Turtle Ridge Foundation. When the sun shines on Cannon Mountain in spring and Bode comes out – #boom (cannon sound) .

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

Sugarloaf Reggaefest – now in year 30+ is mid April when Jamaica comes to Maine’s mountains. Top reggae bands set up on the Sugarloaf beach by day, and in the base lodge by night for some rocking island music. Wear your tie-dye and tie on a good time. Ironically few reggae fest attendees ski, so this is a great three-day weekend for spring ski conditions at the Loaf, especially when the snowfields are open.

Sunday River’s Spring Festival is the first weekend in April,  was once called Parrot Head, so expect Jimmy Buffet music, margaritas flowing, palm trees, tropical outfits and general island vibe outside the White Cap Base. April also ushers in Sunday River’s is Pond-a-palooza with pond skimming  and outdoor après ski outdoor concert series.

Loon has 80’s Day early April! Dress in your best (or worst) 1980’s outfit and get out on Loon’s soft slopes. Be totally rad for this spring weekend at North Peak, South Peak and Paul Bunyan’s for après ski! Loon Mountain’s Slushpool Party and Wet Tug-O-War is the following April weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Spring Ski Resorts in The East

Best Spring Skiing Out West

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright Family Ski  Trips 2020

For luxury resort reviews visit: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

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 – the 2019 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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Skiers Wish List for Christmas Gifts

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

sunday-river-skiing-risky-businessA Liftopia gift card. Liftopia sells discounted lift tickets at over 250 alpine resorts across North America, so giving the gift of this versatile vertical card is easy, for a downhill deal like $49 tickets to Sugarbush. You decide the amount, $5 to $1,000 denominations, and your friend can ski when and where they want – at serious savings.

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

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

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

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

kulkea-powder-tracker-backpackKulkea Boot Back Pack is the best I have found. For $120 you can pack for a day, weekend
or week out west with this versatile backpack. The Powder Trekker holds your ski boots in separate waterproof compartments, helmet, goggles, and gloves, with lots of smart pockets for your pass, sunglasses, and a surprisingly roomy center compartment for base layers. Kulkea’s boot bag is super lightweight, made of performance fabric, looks moderately stylish (for a backpack), and keeps you organized on a powder morning. Kulkea means “to go” in Finnish, and this will be your go to ski boot bag.

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

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

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

 

Ski Writer Award – Heather Burke

Heather Burke of Kennebunkport Maine received a 2018 national award for her travel journalism. NASJA, North American Snowsports Journalist Association, awarded Heather the NASJA Mitch Kaplan Award, honoring persons who have contributed to the advancement of skiing and snowboarding, demonstrating excellence in media relations, bringing commitment and dignity to journalism. The award was presented in Lake Tahoe, California, at NASJA’s annual meeting, coinciding with The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and a Legends of Skiing reunion, and at the Boston Ski Show.

Heather and her photographer husband Greg manage the websites theluxuryvacationguide.com and familyskitrips.com, and are major contributors to snowpak.com.  Their works have appeared in scores of outlets including Boston.com, Forbes Travel Guide,  Marina Life, Snow Country, Liftopia and newspapers like the Boston Globe, The Maine Sunday Telegram – where Heather wrote the ski column for 11 years, Montreal Gazette, Providence Journal, Burlington Free Press and more, with her husband Greg’s photography accompanying her articles.

Award presenter, NASJA past-president, Martin Griff said, “When I read Heather’s work, I’m awed by how good it is, how she captures the essence of the ski experience at each resort she writes about and how effortlessly her words flow together. Heather was and still is an inspiration to me and it is just so appropriate that she be honored by NASJA for work that reflects the spirit, enthusiasm and dedication that Mitch Kaplan had for snowsports writing.”

Heather, who learned to ski at the age of three at Gunstock in New Hampshire, worked at her parents’ Smugglers Notch Vermont ski lodge, and as a ski instructor before embarking on her writing career. She has been a ski journalist for over two decades, sampling over 170 ski areas and gathering many awards along the way including three NASJA Harold Hirsch Excellence in Journalism Awards, and Freeskier Magazine’s “Top 100 ski industry people to follow” honor.

Klaus Obermeyer of Aspen Colorado, Nordic Olympic Gold Medalist Jessie Diggins, and Jeff Wise of Stowe Mountain  also received awards  at the 2018 NASJA media event. Previous winners of this NASJA award include The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan. NASJA, founded in 1963 as the United States Ski Writers Association, is North America’s largest association of professional snowsports writers, authors, photographers, videographers, broadcasters and industry professionals.

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

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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.

 

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