Season of Skiing

We skied a lot this year. We will be at 40 days by the end of the season, but maybe more if Patrick has his way and the ski areas stay open! The epic pass ended up being very worth it for us, as we were able to get in a lot of days locally, and we made a couple of trips West and several trips to New Hampshire and Vermont. New Hampshire has been more open, so we opted for several mountains there. Here’s what we learned:

  1. Early season in New Hampshire (and we assume Vermont) needs to be done at resorts that are used to making a lot of snow. The beginner trails weren’t open at the bigger mountains (Attitash and Wildcat), even though they were prettier and had some, but not enough, natural snow. The same week, Crotched and Mt. Sunapee were open more fully.
  2. Get a mid-week lesson at an uncrowded resort. We did this for Seamus and Gilbert at Crested Butte, and both of them ended up with an all-day private lesson for the price of a group lesson. It was amazing, and they are still taking about it. One of the advantages to this was that their instructor (Maggie, if you go to CB), showed them really fun jumps and secret glades that would have been hard for them to find on their own. That made skiing as a family more fun all week.
  3. Keystone is still the winner for family-friendly. The lift attendants are amazing, and really help get the kids in the lifts. As they’re known among St. Clairs, you can’t beat the Keystone bun-stuffers. We ended up losing Harlan on a run at Keystone, but the mountain safety folks were on it, and we only had to spend an agonizing 5 minutes wondering where he was. Stress minimized, we were able to actually enjoy the rest of the day. Crowds made the mountain less fun on the weekends, but it was a solid choice.
  4. Lunch in the car is totally worth it in certain circumstances. We skied Breckenridge, and parked by the gondola. At lunch time, rather than join the crowds at the base areas, we rode the gondola to the car, ate our PB&Js, drank hot chocolate from a thermos, and most importantly, warmed up! The boys loved Breckenridge for its high mountain skiing in the bowls, for the glades designed especially for kids, and for the swooping, rolling blues. We did not love the crowds, but once we figured out how to spread out some, it worked better.
  5. Local resorts are awesome with friends. We had a couple of glorious days at Roundtop and Liberty with friends this season. Roundtop is far and away our favorite to do with others because the patio is big, the terrain park is right next to the patio so the adults can hang out while the kids keep skiing, and it’s a small enough mountain that you will run into your friends if you get separated.
  6. Conditions matter. We did an impromptu powder trip to Liberty in early February when we got a dumping of snow in the mid-Atlantic. It was the best skiing we had all season–even though the snow and weather, as a whole were better out West. One woman was screeching as she went down Upper Heavenly “It’s not groomed, it’s not groomed!” and we laughed because the snow was falling at half an inch an hour. Of course it wasn’t groomed and that was the best part.
  7. The local resorts were super crowed this year. We were lucky to be able to do some midweek skiing, but the weekends were pretty unpleasant lift lines everywhere we went. I don’t know if they are always like that (Liberty is, I think), or if it was a factor of Covid skiing, but it was a long wait in some of the lines.
  8. Two days at one place are better than one day each at two different places. You use the first day for learning way-finding, and the second day for skiing something new, or skiing your favorites from the day before. March skiing in Vermont is icy! And dicey! We skied Okemo, and we were so glad we had two days, because we found a wonderful, not icy, run on the south side that totally turned our day around. Porter had removed his skis in the lift line because he did not like skiing ice. We got his skis on, and he threatened to throw his mittens off the lift, so I confiscated them. By the time we got the top, he wanted his mittens back, please. And then we found the run with no lift line, easy grooming, and fun glades. Whew. So we did it 6 times.
  9. They never get tired of it. Yesterday, Patrick took the older boys to ski locally, but Harlan went to school and I went to work. They loved it–the mountain was empty on a Monday. We may be done with basketball forever, even though Seamus and Gilbert enjoyed playing. Skiing is something all of us can do at a baseline level (I’m the least talented), and have fun as a family. As our friend pointed out, the lift ride with your kids is “quality conversation time” and skiing is a good way to convince teenagers they want to be on a family vacation.
  10. We have one more trip planned for Spring Break, but I see Colorado just extended their season, so maybe Patrick will get out there one more time with a few of the kids?? It’s hard to call it quits on a season that has been a surprising gift in a winter when nothing looked like it would be much fun.
Perfect day at Okemo.

Next season, we aren’t sure what we will do. We’re looking at the Ikon pass, since it would be cheaper than the Epic pass, especially since they give a better kid discount, and we have to buy a pass for Harlan next year. We are thinking, road trip at Christmas to get the most days! And Ikon has Taos, which we are nostalgic for. You can see from the picture that Gilbert has been snowboarding. He’s a natural, for both skiing and riding.


1 comment

  1. Don’t forget you always have a place to stay in Vermont! Not only bed & breakfast, but lunch & dinner, too! xxD

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: