The Ski Thread - who's up for it?

Very excited. Off to the slopes in a couple of weeks.

We’re driving over to Austria from the UK to spend xmas and the New Year on a freezing mountain with the promise of terrifying speed, big food, hot saunas and massive beers.

Thought I’d open up a thread to let everyone chip in on general matters of snowy interest.

Are you going? where, when and why?
What do like about it and what pisses you off. Any hints and tips to share?

For those who are merely “ski-curious” have you ever considered it? anything you’d like demystifying by the good doper community?

We’ll be skiing most weekends, as is normal for us, assuming we get decent snow this year. Living near Boston we’ll head up for day trips to NH, VT, and ME, and will probably spend Feb vacation in VT chasing the best snow conditions.

April and May will be doing the usual backcountry around Mt Washington (Tuckerman, Gulf of Slides) and skinning up ski areas that have closed for the season.

My wife and I are relatively new to skiing (just a few years since we learned how), but we really enjoy it. A handful of options within a few hours of where we live (DC metro area) – so far we’re partial to Liberty Mountain in PA. We aren’t close to comfortable enough to do black-diamond slopes; we stick to green and blue.

I am envious of those who live near enough to access skiing as a weekend trip.
Our drive is nearly 750 miles and will take us about 11-12 hours driving from the channel tunnel.

Still worth it though.

Our family divides on ability with my daughter (11) and wife happier to stick to blues and reds and my little boy (9) and me preferring something a little steeper now and again.
Having said that we can all ski black runs if we so choose but normally ski the same red slopes together but the girls will cruise down gently while my lad and I will hold back a bit then catch them up after some higher-speed carving.

Doesn’t really matter how you get down. As long as you stay safe and enjoy the wind in your face. Like hiking, swimming or cycling the speed and elegance of the execution is secondary to fact that you are outdoors doing it at all.

I signed up and paid for a XC ski weekend in northern MN (almost to Ely)

This is my first ski weekend (I ski locally)


First ski weekend at Lutsen (north shore Minnesota) is in 2 weeks. From there on out, unless there’s a holiday or other pressing concern, I’ll probably be spending at least one day a weekend on the slopes, or at least what passes for slopes around the Twin Cities.

Snowboarding OK? In my younger days I used to ski really hard. Now I mostly cruise on the board. I still love it. What a great way to spend a day. Living in Colorado helps.

I’ve been a pass-holder at Heavenly for decades. Just waiting for more snow. Until the base opens up, parking is an issue at the Gondola. Also, the terrain that is currently open isn’t too exciting. It’s good at Kirkwood and Northstar, too, but I don’t like driving that far.

I try to knock out a couple days a week.

We had a slow start to the season but things have been picking up. Probably looking at a couple of feet this week.

This is the areawe are going to.

Snow up on the glacier is good although at the village level they are relying on artificial snow. Luckily they do have 100% coverage for the slopes so even last year when the was barely any snow in Europe we had no problem skiing every day down to village level (700m).

How do ticket prices compare across the pond? An adult single day for the glacier and surrounding resorts is the equivalent of $53 adult/$27 child and we’ve bought season tickets (Oct-May) that cover Kaprun/Zell Am See/Saalbach Hinterglemm for $580/$285

Lift tickets generally run in the 75-100$ range in the US. You can often find online deals or multi-day options that save money. It’s generally more expensive than in Europe.

That’s fairly steep (pun intended I guess).

Skiing is never going to be a cheap holiday but being of a fairly parsimonious nature I do try to get the best bang for my buck.
Hence we drive rather than fly (saves us at least £1200) get a self-catering apartment (saves another £1000 at least) and watch what we spend on the mountain. (a large beer and a big, loaded baked potato for lunch is only about 9 euro if you choose your mountain hut wisely)
Because we drive we can also take all our own gear and my skis, boots and helmet set me back £350 in total so with weekly hire prices for equivalent equipment being about £130 I’m up on the deal after a few weeks and can still recoup some cash selling it all on after a few years.

Oh, and the other blessing with having your own gear and buying the lift pass online is that we don’t have to stand in queues at the ski hire shop and gondola station.

On other curious quirk I’ve noticed over the years is that, all the faffing about with multiple layers of clothing and bits of kit has slowly transformed from a hassle into a comforting ritual.

You’ve stopped for a gluhwein and a cake and have finished so now…Tuck in base layer, do up ski trousers, neck muff on, zip up jacket, check snow skirt, tighten bindings, engage walk mode, pull down trouser cuffs, put on helmet, adjust chin strap, apply sunscreen, check all pockets are closed and backpack loaded, put on backpack, put on gloves then finally…clump, clump, clump back out to the slopes. When you list it all out it sounds like a nightmare but of course each little part of it has been hard learned through forgetting to do it properly and suffering the consequences.

Particularly the helmet part I think. It was only in 2010 that we started wearing helmets full time and I have to say I’d never go back. I did a straw poll in a 100+ person cable car in Wagrain, Austria and of the 90 skiers, 87 were wearing helmets. You feel very out of place now if you don’t.

Schumacher’s legacy, I suspect.

I’ve never skied on snow myself (had a go on a dry slope which I enjoyed) and would like to at some stage but with a relatively small car and a 2-year-old, going as a family isn’t really an option right now. How old would you say the kids have to be to make it a pleasure rather than a chore for you all? What car do you drive?

Difficult one as it depends on the child.

We first took ours to a ski resort when they were 4 and 2 but didn’t put them on skis until a couple of years later. (and my wife and I took turns to have some runs up the mountain) But they were very happy riding the gondola up to the high peaks and playing in the snow and sledging (lift passes were free at that age)
After that point they then went to ski school so had most of their day taken up with fun and games with a bunch of similar-aged friends and a child-friendly instructor. Certainly there were many children there from 4 years and upwards and that seems to be a comfortable point at which they are usually grown-up enough to manage themselves but of course you know your own kid best.

That first non-skiing holiday for the kids was in a place that we knew had lots of other things to do, walking, swimming, ice-skating etc. and to be honest we still choose that same sort of place now because some days the weather is too crappy or you are simply knackered so having other options is always a good thing. There are days when our kids will have had enough by early afternoon so we never try to force them to stay out there if they don’t feel up to it.
We also chose an apartment with a pool and spa attached within easy walking distance of a gondola so it was never too much of a chore to get to the slope or to come home and do something else.

Is it a chore? well it can be. Anyone who skis will tell you the same that there is stuff to cart around and lots of getting ready but, you do get used to it and blank it out after a while. It is just the stuff you need to do in order to reap the benefits…and what benefits. There simply is nothing to beat it on a gin-clear day on perfect snow. Zipping down, nailing the turns or cruising through the dead-silent forests to a picturesque hut for hot chocolate and Kaiserschmarrn. Then the ride down at the end of the day, sweaty and tired, followed a hot sauna and swim, cold beer and flat-out asleep by about 9 o’clock.
I’ll definitely promise that both you and the little one will sleep very well indeed.

As for the car. We had a Skoda Yeti with a roofbox and now have an octavia with the same roofbox.
Both were 2wd only but you are legally obliged to fit them with winter tyres and to be honest a 2wd drive car with winter tyres on covers 95% of the snow driving you’ll ever need to do and I wouldn’t even want to on the road in any car for that other 5%.

Externally neither are massive but both swallow luggage very well. In the roofbox we get 4 pairs of skis and poles, 4 pairs of boots, 4 helmets and various items of bulky skiwear to fill up the gaps. In the boot we get the rest of the clothes plus some food for the apartment, even a rice cooker! plus normally a Wii U, a couple of laptops, and for the last few years we take a load of presents from “santa” for the kids to open on Christmas day. In the Yeti is was a bit like tetris to get it all in but in the octavia there is loads of room to spare so we end up bringing a few dozen bottle of wine back with us (very cheap prosecco in Austria as it happens) plus a crate of Stiegl.

All of that is very Euro-centric and actually very Austria-centric so I can’t speak for other places but at least it gives you a bit of an insight.

The highest lift tickets are at exclusive resorts like Beaver Creek and Vail, which run up to $150+/day. Most of the people who buy those tickets aren’t concerned with the price.

My wife and I own 8-10 pairs of skis each, for lift served, backcountry, side country, cross country, and some rock skis. We each have Telemark and Alpine Touring setups as well. So while we never need to rent, it ain’t always cheap. But backcountry skiing (no lift tickets) and a combination of day trips and family/friends who have places to stay in the mountains cuts down on costs dramatically.

Not here in the States, it was barely reported since F1 means very little here. There have been other celebrity deaths on the slopes and just a general safety consciousness has made helmets almost mandatory for bikers and skiers. The kids start early and never know skiing without a helmet. For me, I wear mine because I spend a lot of time in the woods and have bounced my head off many branches along the way. Plus, they’re the warmest hat you’ll ever wear; which is important when it’s -15 F out.

My wife used to coach and drove nearly 200 miles every weekend in a Prius with snow tires. Most skis will fit in cars if you drop the rear seats, and snow tires (and the knowledge of how to drive in snow) can get most any car to and from the slopes safely. If you rent skis as a newbie then transporting them in the car isn’t really an issue.

ouch! I think there is probably a cultural element to this as well.
Where we ski, (even in very posh places like Kitzbuhel) the list passes don’t come anywhere near that but likely because skiing there is the national sport and the working man’s pastime. The lift owners would be lynched if they tried to charge Beaver Creek prices.

Well the whole purpose of a man having a hobby is so he can buy unnecessary amounts of equipment is it not?

This is something I never expected when I first used a helmet. Under normal conditions (of say -5 to 0C) I just wear the helmet and the combination of ventilation and ear guards keeps everything just right. As the temperature drops (on the glacier -15C is not uncommon) then an additional layer of a thin beanie hat of wickable construction keeps things toastie but not sweaty.

I also tend to bang my helmet on the gondola door when getting out and pat myself on the back for cleverly wearing my helmet…but I also rather suspect that I probably bang my helmet because I’m wearing my helmet and my upward vision is impaired as well my not allowing for the extra couple of inches of headroom needed. Ah well, no harm done.