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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

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

 

What Are The Mental Benefits of Skiing?

Did you know that in the U.S., around 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress? You probably know the feeling: a racing heartbeat, tiredness, worry and the like. It doesn’t affect adults exclusively, of course; kids, too, can find it hard to negotiate daily life, as they attempt to juggle academic, sporting, and social goals. There is a perfect antidote to stress and anxiety, though, and it’s called a family ski vacation. Here are the mental benefits of one of the world’s best loved family sports.

Fascinating Findings on Skiing

A study published in the Applied Research in Quality of Life, undertaken in three major ski resorts, found that the joy people feel when zooming over the slopes on skis or a snowboard, can significantly increase overall happiness. This is true for both seasoned and occasion skiers.

The head researcher of the survey, Hyun-Woo Lee, surveyed 279 visitors at these resorts. He assessed their happiness level by asking them to report on their level of ‘flow’ or engagement in the activity, and their sense of satisfaction after a day out on the slopes.

The results showed that the more one felt ‘in the flow’, the greater was the impact on happiness. ‘Being in the flow’ or ‘in the Zone’ occurs when we become fully mindful of the activity we are engaging in, forgetting about everything else except the present moment.

In essence, deep engagement in skiing or snowboarding can enhance one’s positivity, even when one returns to normal life. Said the lead researcher, “Playfulness can influence people’s happiness, while activities and socially convening around a sporting activity such as skiing have positive psychological outcomes and contribute to overall well-being. This is also true for people who only casually participate in sports.”

Complementary Steps to Fight Stress

The above findings are one reason why sport is so often recommended for stress, a condition which experts recommend tackling from a multi-faceted perspective. That is, while you are skiing, it is important to boost the effects by consuming a sound diet and consider supplements to stimulate brain function. This will also helps you fight stress and promote a better night’s sleep.

Being Together, Away from it All

A recent review published at Texas A&M University, begins with this simple yet impactful statement: “For generations, a highlight of childhood memories included the family vacation.” The review, meritorious of reading by anyone interested in family dynamics, noted that as Americans started dedicating more time to their careers, they began travelling less as a family, thus leading in increases in stress and decreases in family time.

The report notes that travel (including ski trips and any activity adults and kids can enjoy together) benefits us in three important ways:

·      By creating stronger family connection and lifetime ski memories.

·      By improving the quality of relationships and reducing the likelihood of distancing.

·      By increasing individual and total family happiness, wellbeing, and overall quality of life.

Taking a ski holiday together as a family, one in which we disconnect completely from the things that keep us apart on a daily basis, is not a matter of luxury, but one of necessity. Enjoying a skiing holiday allows us to kill two birds with one stone, in that skiing and snowboarding are strongly mindful pursuits (i.e. they allow us to enjoy a sole mindful experience), but they also provide plenty of opportunity to enjoy the slopes (and a nice cup of steaming cocoa) afterwards, together.

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts for your Family Vacation
Top 10 New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resorts in the World

Norway Glacier Skiing at Fonna

A ski resort that’s only open in summer? In the northern hemisphere? Yes, that’s Fonna in Norway. And you can arrive by boat…  it’s just a half hour from a magnificent fjord. Fonna Glacier Ski Resorts is very cool, literally – located on the northernmost of four glaciers in Foglefonna National Park in western Norway along the Hardanger Fjord. Folgefonna is the most southerly Norway glacier- and the 3rd largest largest.

Summer skiing on a glacier is amazing, at this high alpine winter wonderland with brilliant sea views of Norway.

Fonna is not a big ski area, especially by Europe’s Alps standards, it’s just one T-Bar serving four wide trails and several terrain parks. Fonna’s ski slopes are not particularly steep either – its intermediate terrain.

The most black diamond aspect of Fonna is the road up to the glacier. Its a 16-km bus ride to Fonna Glacier ski resort, a one lane road with crazy hairpins turns, climbing swiftly from sea level up 3,900 vertical feet.

Take the ski bus from Jondal, which makes one trip a day from the ferry docks at 9:50am ( so you can boat and ski in the same day). Let the expert bus drivers steer while you enjoy the scenery of rivers and waterfalls, pastoral farms with grazing sheep, then massive boulders and cairns balancing on huge granite slabs. Fonna is closed in winter because of this precarious road and the 30+ feet of snow pack received during the cold dark winter in Norway.

Fonna Ski Resort opens mid-June through mid-August – that’s when the best glacier skiing occurs and it also allow the town of Jondal to share the same bus for skiing as for the school kids September to June (a quite luxurious bus for children, with panoramic windows).

Fonna’s spectacular mountain road ends in a small parking lot by the glacier, where you find Fonna’s humble facilities – two 1970’s vintage chalet buildings. The first hut sells lift tickets ($390 krone for the day) and rents skis, boards, boots, poles, helmets – everything you need to ski if you arrived by boat. Fonna’s modest lodge serves home cooked food cafeteria style and restrooms. Picnic tables outside are the best seat in the house on a clear day.

Visit Fonna on a blue sky day – it’s all about the view, and a picnic outside to truly savor the setting. We had a perfect blue-sky ski day at Fonna in late June, with a fresh dusting of sparkling snow on top of perfect groomed corduroy.

Fonna’s T-Bar is the only lift – intentional to withstand the ice movement on the glacier, it climbs efficiently up 800’ vertical. Fonna’s trails are very wide, moderately pitched, and well-groomed, even salted to harden the snow from melting on warm summer days.

Fonna skiing can get busy with alpine race teams training from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. But the alpine racers are relegated to one big trail, training in several courses with gates side by side. The majority of other skiers and snowboarders hit Fonna’s terrain parks. That leaves the other ski routes on the wide open glacial plateau to us. Fonna also offers 5 km of Nordic groomed trails above the alpine skiing on the plateau.  We made a short climb from atop the T Bar to the cross-country terrain and scored a few beautiful off-piste turns and even better views of Hardanger Fjord and the North Sea.

Your panorama from Fonna is striking blue water below and lush green mountains in contrast to the white wintery glacier. You can see Rosendal’s towering Alps and the North Sea in the distance. For non-skiers, guided glacier tours depart from Fonna’s base lodge. Sunscreen is a must, beware the sun’s refraction from the snow at high elevation even though it feels cool on your face.

Dress in layers for glacier skiing, its winter-like and very exposed, but you can be blessed with intense sun and summer temperatures. We skied 14 laps on the glacier, with a few stops for water in the lodge and a picnic of Norwegian cheese, smoked fish and fruit. The only bus back to Jondal is 3:50pm, get a front seat as the descent is as stunning as the ride up. We were back to town, on our charter sailboat in Jondal harbor by 4:30, for drinks at Hardangerfjord Lodge overlooking the water. Don’t be surprised to see local kids jumping off the ferry dock into the “refreshing” Hardanger Fjord – after all it is summer – and you were just skiing.

Fonna Glacier Ski Resort Stats
Elevation: 1,450 meters, 4757ft
Vertical: 250 meters, 820’
Lifts: 1 T-Bar
4 Trails, 3 Terrain parks and 5 km Nordic groomed trails
Open 9 – 4pm mid June to Mid-August

Copyright & Photos 2018 FamilySkiTrips

Easter we ski – Family Ski Traditions

What’s your Easter tradition? My daughter Aspen came home from college for Easter obsession-2ski (3)weekend, not for a big family brunch or Sunday church – but to ski. Her roommates asked her, “What’s your family’s Easter tradition if you don’t go to church?”

“We ski,” my daughter replied. Since our kids were first learning to turn, we would take them to Sugarloaf or Sunday River for Easter weekend. We have skied in cold wintry blizzards and gorgeous sun with soft squishy snow. That’s spring skiing in New England for you. There have been many Sunrise Services, where we woke before dawn and loaded a chairlift in the dark, to witness the sun rise over the mountains followed by the most glorious ski down the mountain before it opens. The kids have found Easter eggs and chocolate on the ski trails, they’ve even worn amosblueberrypierrevcostumes and bunny rabbit ears, had their pictures taken with Amos the Moose and Blueberry the Bear over the years. If that’s not a tradition, I don’t know what is.

So when my daughter requested coming home for Easter weekend from college to ski, we were ecstatic. Skiing together as a family – first tracks on Sunday morning was priceless and precious at Sunday River.

She’s a little grown up for egg hunts and mascot photos with Eddy and Betty the Yeti, preferring lunch at the Foggy Goggle with a more adult beverage, but the mountains of memories continue to be made. I hope your family enjoyed their Easter tradition as well.

The spring skiing in New England is the best right now… so get out and enjoy those high elevation ski resorts still 100% open.

Heather Burke, 2018 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Ski Southwest Colorado – best ski resorts & snow!

2hrb-beaver-creekYour typical Coloradan family ski trip goes like this – land in Denver, drive the I-70 corridor and take your pick of ski resorts, as you pass Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper, Vail and Beaver Creek. Like downhill ducks in a row, we have skied them all. But this time we diverged and discovered amazing new (to us) Colorado ski country. Our 11 day southwest ski safari delivered us to six high-elevation ski resorts, one day cat skiing, 40 inches of new snow, 14 mountain passes, exquisite haute cuisine, and one epic adventure.

A morning flight from New England, a quick wardrobe change at the top of 11,990′ Loveland Pass, and we’re skiing Arapahoe Basin by 12:30pm. A Basin has ramped up its lifts with two new quads, the Black Mountain Express on the front side and Montezuma Bowl on the back. Arapahoe’s above tree line terrain up to 13,050′ is legendary as a core Colorado ski area. We hit the jackpot, as patrol opened Pallivicini, a daring double black diamond that drops to the base. Colorado had been in a snow drought, it started snowing on our first day, and kept going during our high-country Colorado tour, with ropes dropping and terrain opening at every turn.

Après ski, we drove through Alma, the highest town in North America at 10,578′, by stunning red rock mesas and buttes, to Salida – an artsy, outdoorsy frontier town on the Arkansas River, staying the night at the elegant Palace Hotel before skiing Monarch Mountain. Monarch boasts the highest base lodge in the country at 10,790′ and the highest Starbucks in the world. Monarch is homespun (no lodging or fancy base village – this is the San Isabel National Forest) and heaven on a powder day. Monarch just doesn’t get the swarms (funny butterfly migration reference). If Monarch’s extensive lift served trails and open bowl skiing isn’t enough – you can hike to Mirkwood Bowl or add a day of cat skiing here.

Crested Butte loomed large as we arrived, the 12,162′ Peak that pushes extreme skiers to their limits resembles the Matterhorn. From our slope view Elevation Hotel room, we could see powder hounds lining up for first chair warfare well before the bell. We joined the passionate locals, pouncing on fresh powder on CB’s trails, bowls and glades from Silver Queen to Paradise and East River, then dialed it back for an afternoon of cruising Crested Butte’s pleasant Prospect, Gold Link and Red Lady leisurely runs. At Crested Butte, we had the best ski lunch ever at Uley’s Cabin – this cozy mountainside chalet, and outdoor Ice Bar, is an extraordinary epicurean treat at 10,000.’ Crested Butte’s base village is a smorgasbord of big structures (read: not so charming), but lodging at The Elevation Hotel and Spa slopeside at Crested Butte is first rate. Be sure to explore downtown Crested Butte, an historic wild west mining town that brims with cowboy bars, restaurants and cool shops.

1telluride-skier-hrbTelluride, #4 on our tour, was love at first sight for me, from the spectacular San Juan scenery of 14,000-footers, to skiing on 2,000-acres of snowy slopes. Telluride Moun tain provides everything from perfectly groomed to steep to gnarr (serious hike-to bowls and chutes , a posh ski village on the mountain connected to free Gondola to an awesome authentic miner’s downtown. I can see why top skiers and celebs have abandoned Aspen to make Telluride their ski town, its stylish, sophisticated, and the skiing will keep you satisfied for a winter, not just a week. Our snowcat dinner at the highest restaurant in North America, Alpino Vino at 11,960,’ was extraordinary – delicious cuisine served by Alpine dressed waiters in this handcrafted chalet – a former mining claim. Warning: the wines goes straight to your head at this elevated European-style hut. Alpino Vino is also open for ski in ski out lunch inside or on the sun deck with amazing views.

2telluride-villagePurgatory Durango Mountain Resort was our 6th ski stop. Don’t let the name scare you, this is a super fun, friendly ski resort for families. Durango sports a convenient on-mountain village with affordable luxury lodging at Purgatory Lodge, ski services and a few eateries, at the base of the perfect-sized ski resort on Purgatory Mountain. Durango’s slopes are fun and undulating spreading across 1,360-acres with ten lifts, mostly groomed with a few steeps and natural glades, plus five terrain parks. The locals say you are halfway to heaven at 11,822′ Purgatory, the views of 14,000′ Engineer Peak and The Needles as you ski down certainly bring bliss. Downtown Durango, a half hour drive from the resort, is the real deal – a fun-loving cowboy town with the happiest locals we’ve ever met.

From Durango, you can amp up your powder intake cat skiing for a day with Silverton Powdercats, just a half hour away. Here you ski the huge tenure of snowy Grand Turk Mountain with nine others, your guides and a private snow cat limousine.

Our last ski stop, Wolf Creek, promised “The most snow in Colorado,” trademarked for receiving over 460′ annually, and it delivered. This humble 1939 family-owned ski area, closer to New Mexico than Denver, is a haven of groomed sunny slopes plus 1,000-acres of inbounds backcountry-style skiing off an experts’ Alberta Quad. The Wolf has a wild side, but its super friendly and a deal compared to the bigger dogs in the aforementioned Front Range of Colorado.

Try our southwest Colorado ski safari, you will be entertained with extraordinary scenery, stunning drives along red rock canyons and snowy 14,000′ peaks, you will ski soft snow at less crowded Colorado ski resorts and enjoy some truly haute cuisine, arguably a little closer to heaven at the high elevation ski resorts of Purgatory Durango, Telluride, Crested Butte, Monarch, Silverton Powdercats, and Wolf Creek.

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

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