Christy Sports The Ridge Report
A Blog About Everything Skiing & Snowboarding in Colorado & Utah
Ski Trip Travel Tips

One of my favorite parts of winter is our annual family ski trip.

While we ski most winter weekends (a definite perk of living in Colorado), spring break is when we venture further afield, if not afar, to sample new mountains and new resorts.

While planning a ski vacation should be fun, it also requires some work and attention to detail.

Today, we share some tips for planning your best winter getaway.

Dream

We all have lists of ski resorts we’d love to visit. We also have lists of favorite resorts we return to again and again.

When planning a ski vacation, you have to choose between the familiar and beloved and adventuring to a new destination.

Start with who will be going on the trip.

If children are coming, how old are they? Do you need services like childcare or ski school? While almost all resorts have dedicated programs for children, some, like Snowmass and Keystone, specialize in families.

If this is a girls’ trip, is it all about skiing or do you want shopping and spa, too? If skiing will be front and center, you might look into a women’s ski week or camp at somewhere like Alta.

While I’ve obviously never been on a guys’ ski trip, I hear it’s all about skiing, drinking and eating.

So here’s a question for the men: Do you want to be in the middle of the après action?  Or, would you be okay with a more remote resort like Snowbasin, Utah that has great skiing, but no lodging base or nightlife?

Next, ask yourself how many mountains you want to visit. Do you want to stay at one resort and really get to know it or hop between several resorts and sample them all?

In Colorado, this could mean choosing between a multi-mountain destinations like Summit County or picking a more isolated ski town like Telluride.

Make a list of what you want and use it to narrow down your options. Ask your friends for their suggestions and look online for ski resort reviews.

Best Tip for Choosing a Resort: If you have a season pass, check for reciprocal deals with other mountains. You may find that you can ski for free or at a significant discount. This makes choosing the “right” destination a no-brainer.

Plan

As with any vacation, you have to know how you’ll get there, where you’ll stay and what you’ll need to bring.

1. Getting There

While driving has some serious advantages (think bringing your own gear and having maximum flexibility), flying can take you anywhere.

Whether you fly or drive, factor in how much time you’re willing to spend in transit.

Do you want to fly into a city and ski the same day? Are you willing to rent a car or take ground transportation to the resort?

If time is a major consideration, look for resorts with nearby local airports. Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Whitefish, Montana come to mind.

Best Driving Tip: Be prepared for winter weather. The Colorado Traction Law now requires passenger cars to carry and use chains (or their equivalent) during some storm conditions.

No matter where you are, check the state department of transportation website or download an app to keep you updated.

Best Flying Tip: Ask the airlines if your skis and boots can fly for free. Rules vary with each carrier, but skis/snowboard and boots are free on United if packed in ski boot bags and ski bags.

If you pack your boots in a duffle bag, or your skis in a box, you’ll pay. Plus, you have to check both skis and boots. We tried to fly with just boots and got dinged.

2. Sleep and Eat

Resort websites often have links to extensive lodging and last-minute deals. But for some trips, renting a home through a service like VRBO might be better.

Make a list of what you need and want.

Do you need a kitchen? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? If you’re staying off-mountain is there a shuttle or public transportation? Are there slopeside or ski-in/ski-out options?

Best Lodging Tip: Check out lodging in nearby communities to save money. For example, stay in Basalt if Aspen is too pricey.

Or take an urban ski trip. Stay in Salt Lake City (the Salt Lake SuperPass scores discounts on tickets and lodging) and commute 30-40 minutes by car or bus to four world-class resorts.

3. Gear

We recommend taking your own boots if you can. But leaving skis/poles or snowboards at home can make life much easier (especially when you’re trying to fit everything and everyone into a rental car or SUV).

Best Gear Tip: Make your life easy with ski and snowboard rental delivery services like Door 2 Door from Christy Sports. Reserve everything you need online. When you arrive, a ski tech brings the equipment and fits it to you at your convenience.

Execute

Online planning is key to maximizing fun and limiting ski vacation hassle. Study resort websites to find out what activities and special events are available.

Save money by purchasing lift tickets in advance on resort websites or from vendors like Liftopia.

Also, reserve lessons, dining and other special events (perhaps snowshoeing, a snowcat dinner in a remote cabin, or a western family BBQ) in advance to avoid disappointment.

Best Overall Tip: Be flexible. While it’s good to plan ahead, don’t schedule every moment and be prepared for changes. It’s a vacation after all, not a marathon. Whether you’re traveling with friends or family, let everyone set their own pace and agenda.

Then reconvene each afternoon to share stories, photos and fun (with an emphasis on fun).

Enjoy!

 

The most overwhelming part about a shredcation is not knowing where to ski, what to do, or where to eat when you arrive. Luckily for us, it’s 2015, and although hoverboards haven’t become a viable mode of transportation, we do have access to the world’s information through smartphones. Here are a few of my favorite apps to help you make the most of your ski vacation:

Liftopia App1. Liftopia – Instead of paying full price for your lift tickets at the window, check Liftopia to see if there are any discounts or offers for the resort you’re visiting. Beware that you may have to purchase a few days in advance to get the deal, but sometimes you can get 50% off or more.

On The Snow App2. OnTheSnow – Want to find out which resort near you has the best snow conditions? OnTheSnow will give you the daily snow report for over 2,000 resorts worldwide to help you decide where you want to ski. It also lets you view trail maps, ski news, and live web cam feeds.

Trace Snow App3. Trace Snow – This app is loaded with cool features for the shredder that wants to track their day on the hill.  Record how many runs you’re taking, how many calories you’re burning, how fast you’re going, and how many miles of terrain you skied. Your GoPro can even sync with the app and track how high your jumps were. Most importantly, you can also add your friends to prove who shreds harder and share it on social media.

Yelp App4. Yelp – In case you’re not familiar with this popular review site, I’ve just introduced you to your new best friend. Yelp has customer reviews for just about everything. Need ski rentals? Check Yelp for the best ski rental shop near you. Looking for the best, cheapest place to grab a bite to eat? Check yelp for the highest rated restaurant with an average price per meal of $10 or less. Yelp has a great selection of filters that help you find the best of what you’re looking for wherever you go. Use it on your vacation to find the highest rated establishments so you never have to deal with poor customer service. Some places will even offer discounts if you “check-in” using the app.

Trip Advisor App5. Trip Advisor – Maybe everyone you’re traveling with doesn’t ski, or you’re wiped out from the day before and want to do something else. Check Trip Advisor for other local attractions to keep the gang entertained. Read tips from other travelers to see what they recommend for “Things to Do” in your vacation spot.

Skiing Fred App6. Ski/Snowboard Games – What better way to keep your stoke up than with some ski and snowboard games? If you’re flying or driving a long distance somewhere to ski, playing some ski games will keep you excited to hit the hill while you’re waiting to get there, and are more fun than reading a book or scrolling through Facebook. A few Christy Sports favorites are: MyTP Freeskiing 2, Skiing Fred, and FreshTracks Snowboarding.

What apps do you use for skiing and snowboarding? Have you tried any of these?

This time of year is seemingly punctuated with one question: ‘What’s your New Year’s resolution?’ Instead of the myriad cliché resolutions out there, which have the same shelf life as that eggnog in the back of your fridge, why not set out to do something that brings a smile to your face?  A resolution involving skiing or riding is always a good call, but rather than vowing to hit ’X’ number of days on the hill, I suggest that you resolve to go out and explore some new resorts.  Here is a list of 5 resorts in Colorado that everyone needs to hit this season, plus some of the classic runs at each one. Some of these are a little bit off the beaten path, or further away than some people feel like traveling, but they are all worth the trip.

Crested Butte

Image by http://www.skicb.com

Crested Butte:  This is by far my favorite place to ride in Colorado.  The terrain is as challenging as you want it to be, plus the mountain, town, and views are all incredibly stunning. With 542 acres of in-bounds double black terrain, there are unbelievable lines and aspects to explore all over the mountain. Seriously, whether you want to get crazy and scare yourself the entire time or just cruise the groomers with family, CB truly has something for everybody.  Also, the town, people, restaurants, and night life are all just a bit different than what you will find at other resorts. This place has a soul, one which is as infectious as it is charming.

Runs to check out at Crested Butte:

  • Funnel
  • Anything in the Teocalli Bowl
  • Hard Slab into The Glades
12_27_2011_Monarch_John_Trousdale_10-650x462

Image by John Trousdale via blog.coloradoski.com

Monarch:  If you’re going to take my advice and head to CB this winter (which you should), you’re probably going to have to go over Monarch Pass.  You might be tempted to just drive on past the Monarch ski area because it seems small.  Don’t.  You need to schedule a day or two to check this place out!  It’s a little mom & pop ski area, but the conditions and terrain are awesome.  You’ll hardly ever wait in a lift line, and even a few days after a storm, you can still find fresh tracks everywhere!  This isn’t your typical resort, so don’t expect to do much else besides ski or snowboard, which if you ask me, is a huge plus.

Runs to check out at Monarch:

  • Mirkwood Trees
  • The cornice on Curecanti
  • Gunbarrel

Silverton-SnowSilverton:  Well, there’s not a whole lot to say about Silverton besides; just go.  Oh, and get the guided tour. It’s worth it.  The quality of snow is only eclipsed by the intensity of the terrain. Silverton is still awash in the ski-pioneer spirit, and I don’t care how good you are, you will be able to find something that easily takes your breath away.  This place is steep, never groomed, and there are NO beginner or intermediate runs.  If that doesn’t sound fun enough though, they also offer heli-trips.  You know you want to go…

Runs to check out at Silverton:

  • Anything they let you ride, or anything that you can handle.
  • Seriously, it’s all good!

 

snowmass

Image by Jeremy Swanson via Facebook.com

Snowmass:  Snowmass is bigger than most people think which makes it easy to escape the crowds without losing out on all the amenities of a high end resort. With over 3,300 acres of skiable terrain, it’s easy to find something fun to ride. Trees, parks, groomers, bowls, glades; it’s all there; you just have to go explore.  Even after the lifts stop turning there is plenty to do, since Snowmass is well known for a variety of fantastic après and dining options.  You won’t be disappointed!

Runs to check out at Snowmass:

  • Rio
  • Powerline Glades
  • Cirque Headwall

 

telluride-1

Image via Boundforsnow.com

Telluride:  Everything about Telluride is just plain striking. First off, it’s pretty much breathtakingly beautiful. Looks aside though, this place is ideal for avid skiers and riders as there is an array of fantastic terrain spread over 2,000 skiable acres. Whether you want to placate your sense of adventure with their premier hike-to areas, or simply ski perfect corduroy while taking in the remarkable views, you will walk away from this resort with a smile on your face. There is also a gondola from the town to the Mountain Village which makes it easy to check out all of the amazing shopping, après, and dining options.

Runs to check out at Telluride:

  • Little Rose
  • Crystal
  • Audrey

Whatever your New Year’s resolution ends up being, I hope you find yourself in the mountains as much as possible. Happy New Year!

It looks like Colorado is on Ullr’s good side this year, and the early ski season is shaping up to be pure white. We’ve already seen great skiing and riding conditions throughout November and December, so, if you’re not in the mountains, get here! And when you’ve gotten here, poke your head into a local ski shop before you hit the slopes. Get ready: I’m going to fill you in on why this should become a part of your ski day routine.

There is no better place than a ski shop to feel the buzz of a mountain town. They’re the focal point of every ski town because it’s where locals go to catch up on insider mountain news and visitors go to get equipment and establish ties with the community. Plus, you never know who you’ll bump into. It could be anyone from the old guard; the ones that founded the ski area and scoped the runs in the pioneer days of skiing before grooming and chairlifts. Or you could meet one of the new schoolers; the young kids who are hucking themselves in the park or ripping up the racecourse, basically the ones you’ll likely see in the next Olympics. These people go in and out of ski shops on a regular basis for a couple basic reasons: to keep their gear maintained and get the pulse of the community. To immerse yourself in the culture of skiing and to really get stoked on your trip this year, there’s no better way to kick off your visit than by talking snow at a shop. It’s a part of the culture that you won’t want to miss out on.

There are a few reasons that people tend to miss this great opportunity to tap into the local knowledge base, but believe me; none of these excuses are worth it.

I get it. It’s been a long drive. Perhaps even a stuffy flight before that. You just want to jump to the après ski scene – before you’ve even skied – by relaxing in the hot tub with a cold one. Instead, when you roll into town, the first thing you need to do is get the scoop. What’s the snow like? Where’s it thin and where’s it loaded? When’s the new terrain going to open? Where can you get some grub that is delicious but not overpriced?  Where are the cheapest parking lots? And, most importantly, where can you find the best breakfast burrito? These are all crucial pieces of intel, and without each piece, your first day on the hill may not meet its true potential.

By stopping in at a local ski and snowboard shop, you give yourself a chance to understand the culture and get the insider info on where to go, both on the mountain and off. The folks at a true local shop will let you know where to fuel up in the morning, where to replenish midday, and the areas to check out around the mountain that will be right for you. The number of interactions you make with people in a ski shop will surprise you, and probably lead to some quality lasting relationships. You’ll meet fellow visitors, ski bums, patrollers, ski techs, ski pioneers, free-skiers, racers and locals.

There’s no better way to get the local down low. You don’t even have to stress about finding the best shop, because Christy Sports has locations all over Colorado and Utah. They’ve been around forever and the employees are genuinely happy about sharing their passions with others. So, whether you’re a ski town local, weekend warrior, or vacationer; get to know the guys and gals at the local ski shop. It’ll certainly pay off.

local-shop4