Friday, January 31, 2014


Utah Pow by Scott Markewitz/Ski Utah
I'm en route to Salt Lake City as you read this. So exciting! Will I bump into Robert Redford in Sundance this weekend? Or be invited back to Mitt Romney's ski chalet at Deer Valley, perhaps? Or share a chairlift with Donny or Marie? Probably not - but what is sure about this long-awaited trip is that I will ski the snowy slopes of Utah's mountains at last, something I've been wanting to do since the 80s. Out of curiosity, I just googled "mountains in Utah" and found a list of 70 on Wikipedia - and it said the list may be incomplete! 

Sundance - Chad Linebaugh
With a bit more research I discovered that Sundance, first resort on my itinerary, used to be called Timphaven and is on the slopes below 12,000 ft high Mount Timpanogos. It was Redford who renamed it Sundance back in 1969 when he started his artistic and environmental enterprise there. Although with only 450 skiable acres and 42 runs it's Utah's smallest resort, I have a feeling this boutique resort is going to be really memorable. Bonus: snow in the forecast this week and then it clears up for the weekend so I should be able to see the amazing views over the Vinta Mountains whenever I pause for breath at Bearclaw Cabin.
Afternoon tea at the Grand America

Next we're heading back to Salt Lake City, the gateway to ten great ski resorts all within an hour's drive, so I'm told. Here, Rossignol skis are going to be delivered directly to us by Ski Butlers - a ritzy rental service that I've always been intrigued by - they deliver right to your hotel room. We're staying at the Grand America in SLC (I particularly like the sound of the afternoon tea - in ski gear though) and we'll be checking out Settebello Pizzeria that night.

Next stop Alta - an advanced-oriented, skier-only resort. Although I understand the great value of snowboarding for the perpetuation, general appeal and longevity of wintersports (and I certainly don't want to offend any of my snowboarding friends who are reading this), I am looking forward to a stress-free ski day!

Alta Lodge, Alta, Utah
Usually, my ski-dar is on red alert for the slightest sound of approaching snowboarders who seem to come from behind, from the side and even uphill sometimes! And then there's that sudden stopping and sitting they sometimes do, typically just out of sight over a ridge in the middle of the slopes. As a non-snowboarder, I never know quite where they will turn (or stop) unlike fellow skiers whose moves I can usually anticipate by their body language. So, it will be interesting to ski in what should be a more relaxed mode. Note: I'm sure that snowboarders, too, would enjoy a skier-free zone (for whatever reasons we skiers irritate or confuse them). After skiing, we'll be able to ski right into our overnight accommodation at Alta Lodge, the resort's first ski lodge. 

Canyons Resort, Utah
Feb 5 we ski Utah's largest area, Canyons. Don't think I'll manage to ski all eight mountains in the one day we have there, but I'll get as much mileage in as I can. 
Canyons Resort, Utah

Later, we're staying in luxury at the wonderful Waldorf Astoria at the base of Canyon Resort Village and having dinner at the Farm, voted best new restaurant when it opened in 2012. 

Snowbasin, Utah

Our penultimate ski day is at Snowbasin, which has nine lifts and 104 trails over 3000 skiable acres, so pretty big. As well as endless diversity, it's known for short lift lines even after a storm. Looks gorgeous and it should be as powdery as these pics if it gets all that forecast snow! 

Snowbasin, Uta

The Needles at Snowbasin by Chris Pearson/Ski Utah

To get an idea of the whole spectrum of family fun in the area, a tour of the Salomon Center in Ogden and a taste of the iFly experience is next on the itinerary. The latter is a zipline facility with an indoor wind tunnel - slightly worrying as I know wine is not a big part of Utah's culture but I can't imagine trying something like this without some element of inebriation. Maybe hubby, Simon can be my official "taster"? Later that night we're recovering with dinner in Ogden, a city at the heart of Northern Utah, dating back to 1846. We're lodging at the Summit Hotel & Conference Center which has a great indoor pool and hot tub area - vital after all that skiing!

Heidi Voelker, Deer Valley's Olympic Ambassador

Good news is that instead of spending our last day killing time for a 5pm flight, I just heard we're going to Deer Valley to ski! This resort is ranked #1 for Guest Service, Family Programs, Dining, On-Mountain Food, Lodging and Grooming by readers of SKI Magazine this year. I'll let you know what I think! It must be pretty good since three-time Olympian Heidi Voelker hangs out there. 

Ski Butlers deliver rentals right to rooms in Utah, Colorado, Tahoe,
Wyoming and British Columbia
By the way, this Sunday (Feb 2) slopes all over North America will be empty due to Super Bowl Fever which glues around 164 million people to their TVs. As a consequence, there are great deals to be had on Liftopia:

  • Save 51% at Loveland with 1-day lift tickets starting at $29.99
  • Enjoy 42% savings on 1-day lift tickets at Arapahoe Basin with prices starting at $48
  • Discover Crested Butte with a 41% savings on 1-day lift tickets starting at $58
  • At Copper Mountain save 39% on 1-day lift tickets starting at $72
  • Experience Winter Park with 1-day lift tickets tickets starting at $70 (36% savings)
New England
  • Discover Stratton, Vt. with 53% savings on 1-day lift tickets staring at $48
  • Enjoy Attitash, N.H. with 1-day lift tickets staring at $39 (44% savings)
  • Save 44% on 1-day lift tickets at Wildcat, N.H. with prices starting at $39
  • At Okemo, Vt. save 27% on 1-day lift tickets starting at $65 
New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
  • Save 35% on 1-day lift tickets at Plattekill, N.Y. with prices starting at $37
  • Experience Mountain Creek, N.J. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $47 (27% savings)
  • Ski or board Windham, N.Y. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $54 (27% savings)
  • Save 41% at Diamond Peak, Nev. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $35
  • At Sierra-at-Tahoe, Calif. save 28% with 1-day lift tickets starting at $62
  • Enjoy 24% savings at Mt. Rose, Nev. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $55
  • Save 43% at Snowshoe, W. Va. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $48
  • Discover Canaan Valley, W. Va. with 42% savings in 1-day lift tickets starting at $30
  • Spend the day at Bryce Mountain, Va. with lift tickets starting at $45 (26% savings)
  • Discover Caberfae Peaks, Mich. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $19.99 (56% savings)
  • Save 45% on 1-day lift tickets at Grand Geneva, Wis. with prices starting at $25
  • Enjoy Christmas Mountain, Wis. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $27.99 (32% savings)
  • At Crystal Mountain, Mich. save 26% on 1-day lift tickets with prices starting at $48
Pacific Northwest
  • Enjoy 33% savings at Mt. Hood, Ore. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $48
  • Experience Anthony Lakes, Ore. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $23 (32% savings)
  • Ski or board 49 Degrees North, Wash. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $42 (25% savings)
  • Save 21% at Mt. Spokane, Wash. with 1-day lift tickets starting at $40
Other Regions
  • Save 50% at Arizona Snowbowl with 1-day lift tickets starting at $29.75
  • Discover Owl’s Head, Quebec with 1-day lift tickets starting at $89.25 (32% savings)
  • At Wolf Ridge, N.C. save 26% with 1-day lift tickets starting at $39
  • Enjoy Solitude, Utah with 1-day lift tickets 25% off (starting at $54.99)
  • Spend the day at Alyeska, Alaska with lift tickets starting at $46 (22% savings)
  • At Ski Snow Valley, Ontario 1-day lift tickets start at $34.40 (20% savings)
Canyons Resort, Utah
Sundance by Chad Linebaugh

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cold Spell

Hayden Zavacky (11) Alberta Snowboarders
- credit Kim Lebrun

Exciting news for Alberta Snowboarding - Team Alberta North has just been selected to go to the Arctic Winter Games at Fairbanks, AK in March.

I've had a busy week, too - a rush assignment for the Calgary Herald news section all about the 40-50 percent increase in UK visitors to Canadian ski resorts this season - you can read the whole article here:
Loveland's Ridge Cat is now open Wed-Sun

Things are looking good in Colorado, too, where 21 resorts reported a 22 percent increase in visitation for early season compared to the slow start last year. This increase surpassed the five year average by nearly 7 percent. Early snow, continued deluges, and the economic upturn have all helped facilitate this. With the Sochi Games about to start, Olympic fever has also influenced many boarder-line skiers and riders into making bookings.

Lake Louise Daycare and Learning Area

And I've also been writing about Lake Louise's incredible daycare facility (for The Dallas Morning News). This is not only a lovely log cabin-style building, filled with toys, music and laughter, but also takes babies from 18 days old, enabling new mums to get back on the slopes as soon as possible. Most other daycares in Canada start at 18 months. Best of all, it's right on the slopes (with free parking) and right next to the bunny hill. I discovered that this is the only infant daycare among all the top Canadian resorts.

Things have come a long way since I had young kids and had to schlep across a freezing cold European ski town at 7:30 am to put my newborn in the infant daycare and then plod in another direction to get my 3-year-old to his separate ski/play group and finally trudge 20 minutes uphill to make my own 9:00 am ski meet. Look out for my article in: - if you put my name in the search box (look for the magnifying glass symbol), all the articles I have written for them recently will show up.

Sapphire Valley Ski Resort in North Carolina

Meanwhile the Polar Vortex has descended on the eastern seaboard of the US, bringing snow as far south as North Carolina. Between 3.5 and 10 feet has accumulated at Sapphire Valley, for example. Nothing here in sunny SC, but it's chilly enough to bring out all the fur trimmed boots and ski jackets, inspiring me to start packing for my forthcoming Utah trip - more about that exciting adventure next week. 

Sapphire Valley, NC

It's amazing to think that snowsports are possible way down south in North Carolina! Especially when spring can start by the end of February and it's often what Northerners would consider summer temps in late March. One thing's for sure, you need to get out there as soon as it snows to take advantage.

Great snow at Cataloochee, too, where skiers are playing on 57-78 inches all over the mountain. As well as 17 slopes, there are 12 snow-tubing lanes open. During Jan's Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, locals get to take advantage of a really affordable $29 lesson, lift and rental package available on

Cataloochee Ski Area, NC

Cataloochee Ski Area, NC

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sensational Snowfalls

Trudging up towards pristine powder at the back
of Lake Louise

I wish I was skiing in Canada right now! They've had so much snow since I left, I feel jealous of all those January skiers reveling in the great conditions and lack of lift-lines. I know exactly what it must be like - after all I lived there for 10 years, skiing every weekend of the five-month season, while writing the Snow Scene columns for the Calgary Sun before I moved on to working for the Calgary Herald, Ski Canada Magazine, Dallas Morning News etc.

Euan (right) with his Mum in Lodge of the Ten Peaks
Lake Louise
I suppose I shouldn't really be so envious. I did have some amazing powder days over the holidays when I managed to clock up 21 ski days out of 30. Overkill for knackered knees like mine, perhaps, but how could I resist when the hills were so well-covered and the weather was unseasonably warm (by which I mean minus 15 C instead of minus 30 C!)

Euan jumping for joy at Lake Louise (by Cameron Sadler)
I got an epic powder day at Lake Louise in late Dec with 25 cm of fresh, nabbing first tracks on the 'backside' as soon as the Summit Poma opened and clambering up the Paradise Ridge to help track out the whole of Mine Shaft. I was with two girlfriends and one of their sons - Euan Sadler - who was so desperate for a ride to the pow, that he accompanied us oldies. We weren't quite sure if we could fit him in the crowded car at first, what with all our skis, boots and gear, and he lamented to his mum: "Looks like there are no sons on a powder day!"

Having squeezed him in, he actually lapped us on Mine Shaft, doing 3 descents to our 2, but you have to bear in mind it is a considerable uphill hike and skate to get across the ridge to the drop-in point and we ladies all have 30 years on him.

First Tracks off the backside of Lake Louise
Later, when skiing the incredible swathe of white when the Brownshirt area opened up, Euan said "This is incredible, it's like cat-skiing but in bounds!" Having skied the Alberta hills all through his youth, Euan now goes to school at Quest University near Whistler where one of his school mates is Olympic half-pipe competitor Roz Groenewoud. Although he loves the skiing there, especially on powder days, he says you can't beat his home hill of Lake Louise for vertical. Fortunately, I'm going back in March for more!

Now I think of it, I was also lucky enough to get two back-to-back powder days at Fernie. The first, it snowed all day, massive flakes filling in our tracks quicker than we could make them and we skied and skied until last lift in hedonistic heaven. The second was a clear, bluebird day and I was fortunate to have great guides to introduce me to untouched hidden stashes in the Surprise, Puff and Cougar Glades, easily reached by a bit of canny traversing.

Although I didn't get any fresh falls while at Castle Mountain earlier in Dec, I was totally impressed with the wind-sifted powder still hanging on in the glades. Visibility and wind stopped me from skiing some of the higher runs but it led me to research the lower areas. And I loved the light, fluffy pow, lingering in the Ghost Rider Glades off the Huckleberry Chair, where savvy summer pruning has created really fluent tree skiing.

Having a couple of trips planned to US resorts this season, I've been looking at their snowfall, too, and I noticed that Colorado has been getting good snow lately - for example a mighty 91cm/36in at Breckenridge, 71cm/28in at Copper Mountain, 66cm/26in at Vail and 35cm/14in at Beaver Creek in the past week. You can see the latest 24 and 48 hour details for all the Colorado ski hills at: . And there's fresh forecast for next weekend for Utah, where I'm headed for a week's ski safari in Feb, touring Snowbasin, Alta, Sundance and Canyons. Can't wait!

This week's enviable snowfall stats include:

Lake Louise Inn: cute, comfortable, cosy
and closest to the slopes

Lake Louise - 75 cm
Sunshine Village - 81 cm
Mt Norquay - 27 cm
Nakiska - 35 cm
Castle Mountain - 35 cm
Marmot Basin (9 days) - 55 cm
Kicking Horse - 60 cm
Fernie - 43 cm
Big White - 41 cm
Revelstoke - 44 cm
Whistler Blackcomb - 70 cm
Whitewater - 51 cm
Red Mountain - 16 cm
Silver Star - 16 cm
Sun Peaks - 10 cm

More Stills of Euan, taken by Cameron Sadler:

Monday, January 13, 2014

January Deals

Peaks Grill at Glacier Mountaineer Lodge, Kicking Horse
It’s low season right now at ski hills so naturally there are deals to be had for everything from lodging to lessons to lift tickets. Beyond economics, it’s also one of the best months to ski in terms of getting more mileage for your money. I was lucky enough to ski Kicking Horse in Canada’s British Columbia last week, reveling in the lack of lift lines for three delirious downhill days!

Throughout January there are no parking problems, no line-ups, no slope congestion, no hungry hordes in the lodge and substantial snow coverage in most resorts, so you will probably ski more vertical per day than at most times during the season.

If you’re worried about the cold, why not pamper your paws with a pair of Seirus heated gloves and keep your core cozy with a Volt heated vest? You can also check out more tips for tackling the temperatures on this blog over the next few weeks.

Here are a few January deals and steals to show you the kind of bargains available and hopefully get you outdoors and skiing! Do check the small print on the various websites as there are a few black out dates involved with some of the discounts. However, if you plan your January skiing well, you should come out "quids in" as we say in England. 

By the way, if I’ve missed out your favourite resort, send me an email at:


Aspen Snowmass by Jeremy Swanson
Aspen Snowmass, CO: 
Perfect Storm package – free lift ticket/lodging on 4 day stay book by Jan 24 
-       Vail, CO:  Save up to 30% on bookings by Feb 13; off-peak lodging deals; ski free/stay free possibilities; stay 3, get 4th night free
-       Winter Park, CO: BOGO on ski/ride lessons, lesson/lift ticket or lesson/ticket/rental packages (with one night lodging). Buy Jan 14-Feb14 - use any time. Book 3 nights, get 4th free
-        Breckenridge,CO: Peak 6 Family Pack (check tomorrow) – 2 adult & 2 kid discounted tickets, 4 lunch vouchers, 2-night MLOS, 4 scarves (1st 125 only); also 25% off three night stays between now and Feb 13
-       Copper Mountain, CO: Super Bowl Weekend Special, 42 % off lodging Jan 31/Feb 1; Snow Day pass when more than 4 inches falls overnight; Last Chance Lodging – 33% savings
Beaver Creek, CO: Get 3rd night free during off-peak periods; book by Feb 11 for up to 30% off and stay/ski free packages
-       Keystone, CO: Kids 12 and under ski free all season 
-       Loveland, CO: Ski/stay packages at Georgetown and Summit County; Jan deals from $160 inc 1 night/2 ski days for 2 adults 
-       Durango, CO: Kids ski free package 
-       Steamboat,CO: SnowSeeker package – lodging (buy 1 night, 50% off 2nd) and lifts (2 day ticket for $129) - 1-800-922-2722
Sunlight, CO: Ski/Swim/Stay from $99, kids under 12 free
-       Arapahoe Basin, CO: free one run lessons; also Super Sunday Specials through Jan lesson/ticket/rental ski $99, ride $107 
-       Telluride, CO: Stay/Ski from $149 pp/pn book by Feb 3 ; Kids ski/stay/rent free
-       Crested Butte, CO: Jan $59 Beginner Specials; Fly/Ski/Stay deal – 25% discounts plus $100 airfare credit
Jackson Hole, WY: Manuary package at Teton Mtn Lodge & Spa now until Feb 22; Sleep with #1 deal at Hotel Terra
-        Mt Rose, Tahoe: 2 nights 2 adult lift tickets Sun-Thurs $98 during Jan plus deals of the day
-        Heavenly,Tahoe: 33% off new 5-star Landing Resort & Spa; learn to ski packages (4 nights for price of 3, 3 lessons price of 2) for Jan     
-        Sierra-at-Tahoe, CA: $49 lift tickets when San Francisco 49ers win (through Liftopia); $45 Learn to Ski& Ride special; Jan passholder discounts on gear; $62 College Week passes
-       Vermont: Learn to Ski Month - $29 beginner tuition/ticket/rentals
-       Smugglers’Notch, VT: SuperSaver pricing Jan 20-Feb 1 $89 youth, $119 adult for lodging/ticket/snowshoe/Nordic/pool/play centre/entertainment 
-       Killington, VT: Snowblind – book lodging blind for 30% off and 25% off lift tickets; MLK 3-day packages 25% off
-       Mt Snow, VT: College week ski/stay package starting $55 per night; Jan 19-24 kids learn/ski free week; midweek Rooms on US package – free night with lift ticket purchase 
-       Stowe, VT: Topnotch Resort package – $206 per person Jan rate for deluxe lodging/2 tickets per room/concierge service/shuttle/; also Midweek Sneak package at Stowe Mountain Lodge - 15% off 
-       Magic Mountain, VT: deals at Blue Gentian and Upper Pass Lodge plus free skiing Thursdays 
-       Mad River Valley, VT: Ski the Valley + Passport package
Stratton, VTStay for free deals  
-       Whitefish, MT: January White Sale 
-        ArizonaSnowbowl, AZ: 50% off lift tickets, reduced lodging at Ski Lift Lodge and Cabins 
-       Beech Mountain, NC: 2 weekday nights, one lift ticket $99; Skiing 101 – one weekday night/lift ticket/rental/lesson $101 
-       Ellicottville, NY: Kids 2-17 ski/stay free midweek packages at Holiday Valley 
-       Sundance, UT: Stay at Sundance Resort, ski free (except during Film Festival Week – Jan 16-24) 
-       Deer Valley, UT: Ski/Stay/Dine now to Feb 13, min 3 nights, 20% savings on lodging/tickets and $50 dining certificate; also spa add-on


Lake Louise by Henry Georgi
Lake Louise, AB: Ice Magic Weekend Special ($141 - 2 nights Great Divide Lodge, ski Lake Louise, day at festival, shuttles) – 1-888-682-2212; Great Divide Lodge Sun-Thurs ski/stay $69 pp/pn 
-       Sunshine Village, AB: 72 hour sale until 3pm Jan 16 (40cm new snow) - $99 pp deluxe room at Sunshine Mountain Lodge Sun-Thurs in Jan; ski/stay midweek special with free breakfast, kids ski free now to Jan 30 – 1877-542-2633
-       Marmot Basin, AB: Ski free on your birthday; Jasper in January lodging deals; and $62 lift tickets
-       Mt Norquay, AB: Toonie Days Feb 5 and Mar 5 – ski for $2 
-       Nakiska, AB: 3rd night of ski/stay 50% off in Jan 
-       Kicking Horse, BC: $99 Ski/Stay deal from now to Jan 31 
-        WhistlerBlackcomb, BC: Book ski/stay package by Jan 22 for up to 34 % savings; new deals; Ultimate Whistler Experience including heli-skiing deadline Jan 22
-       Fernie, BC: 20% off midweek lodging deal (min 2 nights) with 25% off ticket 
-       Kimberley, BC: 3rd night of ski/stay 50% off in Jan 
Courtesy Big White Ski Resort 
-       Big White, BC: Ski/Stay now to Feb 6 and get free accom with purchase of 2 same day adult lift tickets (min 2 night stay) plus 2 for 1 entrée coupon at new Blarney Stone Tavern; also January Lift & Lodging Special with ski/stay from $82 pp
-        Panorama, BC: 20 % off 2-night stay booked by Jan 17   
-        Sun Peaks, BC: Ski/Stay Free – 4 nights/days for price of 3 and Stay 3/Ski 2 for $339
-        Silver Star, BC: Ski/Stay from $99, 30% off midweek, 20% off weekends now to Feb
Whitewater, BCMid Week White Sale 3 nights/3 days $262 pp/dbl 
Revelstoke, BC: Powder Pass Ski & Stay - 2 nights from $195 pp
-        Apex Mountain,BC: Ski/Stay deal from $89 until 1st weekend Feb 
-        Mt Washington,BC: Jan accom packages with Comox Valley Festival inc 50% off lift tickets; also 3rd night free with Discover Mt Washington
-        Mont-Sainte-Anne,QC: Avalanche Package, 20-30% off nights/tickets/lessons/rentals 
-        Stoneham, QC: 50th Package – 1 night/2 tickets $149