Wednesday, March 26, 2008

K2 Skyla Women's Snowboard Now on Sale

With spring time comes the best deals and discounts on great snowboard gear. The deal of the week from Ski Chalet this week is K2 Skyla Women's Snowboard Now on Sale at for only $279.

K2 is one of the leading snowoboard companies worldwide and the K2 Skyla is another popular ladies snowboard.

Girls like options. So K2 snowboarders demand a board that's built for versatility. Designed for advancing females with an ambitious attitude, the Skyla has limitless possibilities on any terrain whether you're park bound or headed for the trees. The K2 Skyla's Rhythm Core Snowboard with softer tip and tail and smooth flex, combined with the gentle sidecut offer a forgiving and predictable transition, while remaining stable and responsive.

S-Class Technology- Taking full advantage of every moment you experience on snow, whether it's your first few turns or that last high-speed mission, S-Class technology is engineered to keep your legs at full potential for strong riding all day long. K2’s patent pending feature incorporates a vibration-absorbing layer, giving your muscles a well-deserved break from any and all board chatter. One more run anyone?

Hyper Progressive Sidecut- K2 Snowboards most aggressive, yet versatile sidecut. A very gentle radius in the tip and tail are blended to a tight radius in the center of the board. Whether you want to relax and bomb with confidence or carve circles around your buddy, this sidecut puts you in control of your turns.

Patented Hybritech Construction- Hybritech is the most effective way to make a snowboard. It takes a cap tip and tail and blends it into a sidewall along the running surface. K2 Snowboards' takes the time to create complex molds and parts that bring these two features together. It gives you low swing weight and optimized turn initiation at the ends combined with durability and damping on the running surface. This design produces high-performance boards that excel across any variety of mountain terrain, snow conditions and riding styles.

Carbon Torsion Forks- Dual Torsional stability at tip and tail = better high speed edge hold + better off-axis landing stability

Rhythm Core- Softer tip and tail and smooth flex, combined with the gentle sidecut offer a forgiving and predictable transition, while remaining stable and responsive.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Volkl Tiger Shark 10 foot ski with Binding on sale 40%0ff

The Volkl Tigershark 10 Foot Skis with Motion iPT 11TC Bindings are now the hot deal of the week at Sun and Ski Sports. At over 40% off you save over $400 on this 08 ski and binding sytems from Volkl Skis and Marker bindings. Now on sale at the low price of only $599.93.

Mountain Sports Club members enjoy and additional $10 off coupon on purchases.

Like the 12 Foot, the 10 Foot is available as a distinct model without Power Switch. Rather than the chrome, this model features a top sheet with a unique ‘shark skin’ structure.

Lengths (Radii): 161 (14)_168 (15.5)_175 (17.1)
Construction: Extended Double Grip
Core: Extended Wood Core
Motion System: iPT 11.0 TC
Sidecut: 121_73_105

Make sure to add the Volkl Tiger Shark 10 with Marker Binding to your quiver of skis while supplies last.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunset at Sundance – Our final day and the journey homeward from our Utah Ski Vacation

Utah ski trip was winding down. We had long wanted to visit Sundance, and it did not disappoint. Robert Redford was wise to buy and develop the resort in such a magnificent location! It is quaint, rustic, and beautifully run and decorated with American cowboy and Indian motifs. Steep mountains and waterfalls surround the resort, but many of the slopes are wide and well groomed. There are the usual mixture of catwalks (which I find difficult and try to avoid) and bowls. From the front there is one very long chair, and you can download it at several points. If you stay on to the end, you can access another lift to a spectacular view of the Great Salt Lake.

The residents say it is one of the smallest of the Utah resorts, and I tell them we would love to have such a resort back East. To me, it is huge, high, and challenging! The sharp peaks can make you very dizzy. It is a family resort, and it is wonderful to see so many children learning and singing as they ski or board. There were a number of Brigham Young college students, and they are respectful and well behaved. Everyone goes out of their way to be friendly! Special thanks to public relations manager Lucy Ridolphi, who does a terrific job and has produced a very handsome brochure of Sundance.

If you can get reservations at one of the lodges on the property, try to do so. But, you must book well in advance, especially if the timing coincides with the Sundance film festival (some of the events are held there, but most are in Park City). Sundance was voted the 6th top resort world wide by Conde Nast, and deserves the honor! If you can’t stay overnight, book lodging at one of the nearby cities and spend the day. You will have a terrific ski experience. Hopefully, no” raindrops will fall on your head” while you are there. Ouch! Hope that didn’t “make your day.”

Sadly, the next day was time to leave Utah. It was a long 9 day trip, capped off by extremely rough flights for all travelers across the nation. After an enormous amount of turbulence, and wind gusts of 70 miles per hour, we had a rough landing at BWI. Every adult on the plane applauded, and most of us shook the hands of the Delta pilot and co pilot as we left the plane. As we looked out the airport window, we saw a magnificent rainbow, which made it all worth while. It was another answer to our prayers, and a signal it was time to plan another trip!

Author Connie Lawn, see more articles at from Connie.

Utah Days 2 & 3 skiing at Park City and Snowbird

Tuesday we were at Park City; Wednesday at Snowbasin, (where we stayed at the handsome Lakeside Villages), so by Thursday, we must be a Snowbird. What a treat!! If you have never in your life stayed in the Cliff Lodge, you owe it to yourself to have at least one night there. The sheer, spectacular mountains can be seen from all the windows. The sunsets and sunrises are magnificent! The décor of beautiful hotel is enhanced by displays of oriental carpets, antique Chinese robes, screens, and sculptures, and beautiful artwork and other fine items sold in the stores. There is a heated rooftop pool and hot tub, as well as a spa and health club. It is great to enjoy the pool, especially as the snow falls in your face, and the moon rises over the mountains. Our special thanks to Public Relations Director Laura Schaffer for her generous contribution to this part of her trip. Her parents are journalists in Washington so she understands what reporters like! We enjoyed dinner at the Lodge Bistro, breakfast buffet at the Aerie, and Clif energy bars on the snow!

On Thursday, we took the Peruvian Express High Speed Chair to the top of Snowbird at 10,518 feet. Then we skied down Chips Run, a 2.5 mile blue trail but steep and challenging for us. As the natives say, “Snowbird is an intense mountain.” A new option is to buy a combined Snowbird-Alta lift ticket (only $10 extra) and take the new tunnel from the top of the Peruvian quad chair. The surface people mover is 600 feet long and 15 feet high. You can take the tunnel through to the panoramic Mineral Basin, take the Mt Baldy lift go through the gates to Alta, ski back through Alta at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon and return to Snowbird on the free shuttle bus. This new option can be especially helpful to intermediate skiers, and reduce traffic on the aerial tram and other chairs. We hope to return and check out the tunnel and more of the areas – there is so much territory, and so very much to cover! We were extremely pleased we had a great deal of time to spend with the Snowbird Adaptive skiers – the major part of our visit.

The Adaptive sports center is run with compassion, skill, care, and dedication by Peter Mandler, the Executive Director, Laura Cantin, the Assistant Director, and numerous instructors and volunteers. They have all earned their places in Heaven! While we were there, two young children with cerebral palsy were being brought down the mountain on sit skis. It took a team of 3 or 4 people to help them ride the lift and whiz down, but how much the children loved it! There is no additional charge for this – as in most adaptive programs, the funds come from donations and fund raising events. Later in the day, a doctor with a spinal cord injury also had a chance to celebrate his second anniversary on a monoski. Several of us had the chance to sit in his monoski; it is not at all easy and requires great upper body strength and coordination just to get in and out of it.

Utah Ski Vacation kicks off at Snowbasin

Thanks to Jessica Kunzer and Ski Utah, we had another magical week in Utah – a state which produces some of the best snow conditions and most majestic, towering, and steep mountains in the world! Thanks also for a tour which shows us how far Utah has progressed, and will continue to progress, to help adaptive, disabled athletes and wounded warriors.

We had a wonderful whirlwind tour, which included Park City, Snowbasin, Snowbird, and Sundance (which Charles and I visited on our own). Everyone has their own preference, but Charles and I loved the long, wide, perfectly groomed slopes of Snowbasin, as well as the panoramic views. We love the comparative solitude and the assurance we are not going to be crashed into from behind or above. We were once told there are an average of 2,000 acres to a skier on a weekday. We also love the fact that people remember us and call us by name, even though we had not been there for several years. Snowbasin also has the incredibly luxurious day lodges, which are dripping with marble, fine carpets, crystal lamps, and beautiful art. It is nice to rest on a plush couch, in front of the fireplace, when you are relaxing from the rigors of the slopes. The day lodges also have gourmet meals and numerous community events for visitors and nearby residents.

Snowbasin is opening up more programs for adaptive skiers and boarders, including those with sight and hearing problems. We watched with amazement as a blind skier repeatedly whizzed down the mountain, while a world class sit ski champion went through his paces. Both men warm up on runs like the two Olympic Downhill courses at Snowbasin, and then think nothing of spending the rest of the day on steep, narrow double black diamonds. Paul Schaeffer is a blind skier who lives in Virginia and works at the State Department. He flies in alone from the Washington DC area, takes a bus to Ogden and then shuttle buses to Snowbasin. There his guides and ski companions help him out. But, since he skis better than most of them, they have to work hard to stay ahead of him! Paralympian Chris Waddell was also a guest at Snowbasin that day; he has won top medals in monoski competitions around the world. We were honored to meet athletes of this character and caliber.

Monday afternoon we had flown into Salt Lake City from Reno. We were met at the busy airport by our hostess, Ski Utah’s Jessica Kunzer who had already met the other two journalists on our tour. Jessica and Ski Utah have to be some of the busiest ski representatives in the industry. She conducts about 5 such tours a year, and they require enormous work and expense. As if she were not busy enough, Jessica told us she was up at 4 in the morning to hike up a mountain with friends. Then they skied down at sunrise. She personifies much of the best of the West, where people combine the love of nature with dedication to intense physical exercise. Don’t mess with these women – you may not live to tell the story! Two members of our group, including me, had intense lung congestion, which caused us pain and breathing difficulties throughout the week. That was no fun, and can be dangerous, especially at that altitude. I learned that lesson the next day – more later.

We checked into a modern Holiday Inn Hotel and then went directly to the famous National Ability Center at Park City. It is one of the most amazing of all the centers for adaptive sports people in this country. The sprawling, modern center receives donations from many people, but the largest grant came from the generous Bronfman Family. The Bronfman Recreation Center and Ranch proudly carries their name. The center has many adaptive programs, including hippo or equestrian therapy, swimming, biking, and the wide range of winter and summer programs. The programs are the brainchild of Meeche White, who has devoted the last 30 years to creating them and raising funds. She claims she plans to semi retire, but I doubt she can ever be replaced. She is now assisted by a terrific partner - Ryan Jensen, the Marketing Manager.

That night we had dinner at the National Ability Center Ranch with 10 soldiers and Marines from San Antonio sponsored by Operation Comfort. While they were recovering from their wounds, they were skiing and snowboarding. Some were still on active duty, and the others were working hard to begin the next phase of their lives. One handsome young soldier still has sand and shrapnel in his eyes, but is coping with his pain and is skiing. He masks his disabilities, and it is difficult to tell he has visual impairment. Charles and I enjoyed the opportunity to have long talks with the men and women over the relaxed meal. Often, there is a great rush at these wounded warrior events, and there is little time to get to know the soldiers and their stories, before we all head to the slopes together.

A Note about Altitude sickness

Just a brief aside to warn flatlanders – take it easy in the wind, cold, and altitude. I love Park City – one of my favorite areas. I came down too fast a few times, and the wind grew stronger and colder. I was having trouble breathing in any case, with the chest congestion. On the second run, as I neared the bottom, I got dizzy, my heart pounded, and I fought for breath. Then everything went blurry, and I sank gently into the snow. It was so peaceful lying there. But, whenever I tried to get up, I did not have the strength to stand. Thank God Charles and other members of our party were there, and they stayed until the ski patrol came. Those wonderful men gave me oxygen, strapped me into their sled, and transported me down the rest of the mountain. It is so comforting to be cared for by professionals! Still, I was really angry at myself. The condition cleared up in a short time, and I was well enough to ski Snowbasin the next day, if I took it easy and stopped frequently. I think the wind, cold, and my congestion were the main problems – I do not generally have a problem with altitude. But, this is meant as a warning to my friends – don’t exert yourself too quickly in the big mountains – build up to it by skiing and boarding often, and don’t try to do too much in a day. Buy a half day lift ticket, get some rest, and enjoy spending part of the time sitting around in the sun, and eating the delicious foods at the resorts!

Article written by Connie Lawn. See more of her articles at

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Snowbird and Alta Utah - Mid Winter Powder & Sunrise Skiing

This was one of the trips one has to make sure is in the winter travel schedule. Not only are Snowbird and Alta known world wide for the incredible powder and steeps, but the agenda had attendees on the mountain of each at least an hour before the general public. I had this trip on the books early last year when we had seen the schedule. It had been a few years since I had skied either Alta, or Snowbird so I was excited to get back.

Sitting at the end of Little Cottonwood canyon they are blessed with some of the deepest and driest snow and powder known to man. This year the snow was piling deep and storms had been frequent visitors making for certain great conditions. We stayed at the Cliff Lodge and Spa, truly a monument to comfort and convenience with a full spa in the facility upstairs. For those of us combing work there was also a full set of business services available and a great wireless connection throughout the building. With this convenient of a location it was grab your skis from the lockers, walk out and ski down and over to the lift. At day’s end one skied right to the base of the lodge. The Cliff Lodge and Spa is the best location for comfort and convenience at Snowbird. The snow would prove to be fantastic. We arrived right after a storm that had dropped several feet of powder.

On Wednesday the day started with a breakfast hosted in the Peruvian tunnel which one would normally take a conveyor lift through to the backside which was Mineral Basin. This recent addition I had never skied as it was either not open, or there was zero visibility the last several times I had been at Snowbird. Today would be different. Blue clear skies awaited us as the moon slowly descended over the horizon while the sun crept up from the east. After listening to the intro and welcome from our gracious hosts we were then provided access to the mountain as sunrise appeared. Soft buttery powder was everywhere. Mineral Basin offers less steep terrain than the front side even with some of the cliff areas. The lines were many and varied. It was a quick traverse either right or left at the top and pick your line of fresh untracked powder. The snow ranged from boot deep to about knee deep in spots. Quickly the powder was cut up but there still plenty of soft snow anywhere. It was fast crowd of ski area operators and suppliers just ripping the snow. We had about 3 hours before heading back for the afternoon of sessions and trade show.

Snowbird continues to be one of my favorite mountains in North America. The combination of steep terrain, wide open bowls and incredible snowfall make it a must ski or ride destination for any serious skier and snowboarder. It easy access in and out of Salt Lake City draws powder hound enthusiasts the world over. If the mountain does not offer enough terrain there is always the helicopter ski operation as another option for even more Wasatch Powder.

Day 2 was a bit different of a day, but truly unique. We were provided loading on the Snowbird Tram at 7:30 am and had guides take us over to the entrance to Alta. Here we were greeted by Alta staff and and taken for a guided tour of Alta and hour before the public. It was a different day on that it was snowing and blowing. No blue sky and sunshine today. The snow was variable but there was plenty of powder shots to be found off piste. Initially we stuck to the fresh corduroy and got our bearings. After several runs and lifts we settled into skiing the lower part of the mountain off the wildcat chair. The trees here were protected and offered plenty of deeper untracked snow. Less wind and great skiing. Alta still is one of the last resorts that does not allow snowboarders. The collection of lodges at the base has not changed in decades and offers a very unique and relaxing ski vacation alternative. Both Alta and Snowbird offer a great ski vacation and opportunity to really wind down. If you are looking for night life and a load après ski scene you need to look elsewhere. If it is steeps, powder and no nonsense skiing you crave put both Alta and Snowbird at the tops of your list of must visit resorts.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Snowshoe and Silver Creek West Virginia, Skiing and snowboarding - Wounded Warriors Weekend

Out of the Clouds, and into the Sun! Snowshoe and Silver Creek West Virginia

After five years of planning, the Challenged Athletes of West Virginia sponsored their first Wounded Warrior Weekend at Silver Creek and Snowshoe. Their hard work paid off – it was a tremendous success! The snow conditions also held up, and were good to excellent, depending upon the time of day and area. Everyone learned a lot and had a great time. Nearly 40 people participated in the weekend. They included the regular staff members, instructors, and volunteers from the Snowshoe program, which is ably headed by David Begg. He told us 5 of the warriors were active duty Marines from Camp LeJeune (they looked so young without their heavy military equipment!). The other visitors were from Tennessee, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. They had various degrees of injuries, but several had lost legs. They all appeared to be skiing, snowboarding, or sit-skiing with great courage and skill. Dave said they hope to have other such warrior programs, in addition to those for the skiers and boarders disabled in other ways. He said there was incredible support from the staff, volunteers, and community. He told us the event created a really good feeling in the Snowshoe community. Some of the athletes continue to experiment with their sport. Staff Sargent Karl Dorman has a knee disarticulation, or amputation at the knee, and was skiing for the first time with two skis and his new prosthesis. Before that he was snowboarding. He is active in the distribution of artificial limbs. He, his wife, and four children attended the event, and he has siblings still serving in Iraq. It is difficult to list all who participated. But, special thanks to media and marketing coordinator Laura Parquette, who did a great job, despite the flu!

The warriors in the program included Karl Dorman, Arnold Beard, Shon Holler, Tyler Baker, Richard Caseltine, Dominico Washington, Roman Goddeau, Aaron Bourassa, and Dean Schwatz. Some of the special adaptive instructors and volunteers Bob Spencer, Becky Halioua, Nathan Magnusen, Denise Heffernan, Mark Tracy, Riley and David McDowell, Robert Martin, Dave Kennedy, Jeff Costin, Skeeter Porter, Brandi Garrett, Mike Smoot and the fabulous instructors who cooked and served the terrific food all weekend. Thank you all, and apologies to those left out or misspelled! The weekend consisted of special instructions and free skiing or riding, generally in the Silver Creek area (which is much less crowded than the larger Snowshoe area. Both are connected by free shuttle buses, and use the same lift passes). Many of the warriors are so skilled, they did not actually need instructors, and were far ahead of them on the snow. The sit skiers were especially fast and graceful. But, all the athletes had “snow buddies” or a group of volunteers to help them with their equipment, and assist in getting onto and off the lift, if needed. Again, some are so skilled and possess so much upper body strength, they need little help. Some skied or used snow boards with one leg, while others used their special, high tech prosthesis. Other athletes on the mountain appeared to be considerate and polite towards the special skiers and boarders. Adaptive ski programs are growing in this nation, and there is greater support for them in many areas. That is an important trend which must be encouraged! Most of these programs are privately funded, so support, contributions, and volunteer assistance is always welcome.

The Skiing was great!!

Snowshoe and Silver Creek lived up to their reputations as some of the finest resorts in the Mid Atlantic region. It is too bad they are so far away from the Washington and Baltimore metro areas, and we wish there was regular shuttle bus service (to all the resorts, in fact). Thanks to the skilled driving of my husband and partner Charles, we made it in about 5 hours each way. He followed the most important rule – drive during daylight!! Those steep, winding roads can be killers. Fortunately, the ice storm of the night before was not a major factor, since we left in mid afternoon. But, the thick fog in the lowlands, which yielded to clouds in the higher mountains, became very scary. The warriors told horror stories about their driving experiences. Snowshoe can be confusing at best of times, even for those of us who had been there several visits before. If you are trying to find your lodging, when it is cold, snowy, windy, dark, and cloudy, it is not a pleasant experience. So, drive in daylight and enjoy the dramatic scenery. It is not called “wild, wonderful West Virginia” for nothing! The trails were in great condition, and the snowmaking and grooming paid off. On Saturday, we thoroughly enjoyed Silver Creek, where the instructions were underway. There are some very fine lifts and trails there, and Mountaineer, Bear Claw, and Flying Eagle are advanced. The majority of the trails are designed for intermediates and beginners. There is also a nice large condo on the slopes, and the package prices are reasonable.

For many reasons, it might be better to stay in Silver Creek, ski there during crowded weekends, and take the quick shuttle bus to Snowshoe when you want to go there. On Sunday morning, the sun was shinning, the snow was perfect, and Charles and I were out early. We passed up the chance for free ski lessons – offered by the resort – to check out the new trails. We loved Sawmill! The moguls were just the way I liked them – medium sized and soft snow. I could not resist shouting “eh haw” everytime I jumped one! Widowmaker, Camp 99, and Sawmill Glades also looked like they were in terrific shape, as was most of the mountain, at that hour. Then we took the shuttle bus over to the Western Territory, and took the infamous Upper Shay’s Revenge and Lower Cupp Run. Can you say fast? Wow!! No wonder they are rated some of the most challenging and exhilarating runs in the East! I hope people from other parts of the country come and try them. I defy them to ever think Eastern skiing is easy after that. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

One more note about Snowshoe (and any other snow experience). It really pays to get a package deal, and check the various websites for specials. Booking a package which includes a condo, ski lift, and – sometimes rental equipment and instructions, it really pays. You can get packages for about $170 on weekends, and under a hundred during the week – again, there are a lot of specials. The condos are fabulous, with terrific views of the mountains and heavens (Snowshoe, like Wintergreen, is a resort built on the top of the mountain, to maximize the views and the fresh air). The condos have full kitchens and those magical, romantic gas fireplaces. There are saunas, swimming pools, exercises rooms, and indoor play areas in the Snowshoe resort. There are also a series of great restaurants, if you do not want to cook in. For the weekends, there are also Church services , which always take on a special beauty high in the mountains.

The Snowshoe Resort offers 60 trails, a 4,848 foot summit elevation, and a 1500 foot vertical drop. There is also snow tubing, terrain parks, snowmobile rides, and snowshoeing. In the summer, there is golf, biking, boating, and the usual round of summer activities in a magical setting. Thank you Snowshoe – keep up the good work!

Blog report authored by Connie Lawn

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Crested Butte Colorado - Huge snowfall, great skiing and lots of new condos/houses

Recently we had the chance to head down to Crested Butte from Boulder for the long President's Day weekend. The boys get out from school and we make sure to get a little further away from the front range resorts. Sort of a new tradition in our household. En route we stopped in Salida for an evening and skied the next day at Monarch Mountain - see earlier blog post - before driving to Gunnison and onto Crested Butte.

We were easily lured as we had not been back in over a decade and my wife and I would make this an annual visit prior to starting a family. We were way overdue and the snowfall had been reported to be of epic proportions.

The afternoon drive was a picture perfect day with blue skies and easy driving. The huge snowfall has led to massive piles of snow. Some up to second floor stories of buildings and at the tops of all roads signs. Over 320 inches of snow to date by February 17th.

We would be staying at Mountain's Edge 201. A 1970’s built condo, 2 bedroom and cozy with a hot tub. Booked through Peak Property and Real Estate, the condo was very convenient to the lifts. A short couple of minutes walk to the lift and the base area.

We started the first day, and most days, with a couple of high speed cruisers off of the Silver Queen lift down International. The corduroy snow was great for loosening the legs and getting one ready for the great skiing and riding in front of us. From there we took the high lift a t-bar above the head wall into Teocalli bowl. It had been 13 years since we last skied here and I had never been in Teocalli Bowl. The snow was awesome with soft powdery conditions and great steeps, once at the bottom there was a 10 – 15 minute hike out to a ridge that deposited us just above the t bar accessing the North Face. There is now doubt Crested Butte is a unique and special place with incredible amounts of steep and truly extreme terrain. With snowfall like they have had this year, there is hardly a rock to be seen. Once at the top of the T-bar you have your choice to keep heading west to Phoenix or Spellbound bowls. We would choose the North Face bearing right. There are countless lines for you to select from. Just make sure you do not have a cliff band to launch over, unless that is what you are searching.

Once at the bottom of the North Face, or other bowls you have a short hike out. Then it is a cruise, or bumps down to the East River Express chair. When skiing this terrain you then need to take this lift and then the Paradise lift back up to access the t-bar and complete the circuit again. There is an earlier exit to the left where you give up some vertical and can end up at the Paradise lift, thus eliminating the extra chair. However, that being said if you have come to Crested Butte for the steep terrain and real back country feel plan to do some hiking, traversing and ride the extra chairs. The skiing and riding is like no other place in Colorado.

In the afternoon we went and skied the Banana Peel and Funnel. These runs to the extreme upper right of the area are seldom, and in most years not, open. This year with the snow it was the time to ski these runs. We went in and had three young skiers and boarders all of 12, 10 and 9 with us. It was spectacular seeing them work there way into these step and narrow terrains and simply rip and smoothly links turns through the rock outcroppings. the snow was perfect and we only wanted the day to keep going. See photo gallery shots for pictures.

The next couple of the days was more of the same. We had till Monday to devour as much of the great steep terrain and perfect Colorado snow as we could keep our legs consuming. While we did not get any of the storms as they had previously it was terrific to ski and see everything and let the skis fly in the steep, or high speed cruisers. Crested Butte is not all about the steeps for many. The area offers a great mix of bumps, cruisers, with lots of groomed runs everyday and beginner terrain for everyone.

There has been significant development starting at the base of the area - the start of a Village center area - with many new homes and condos along the resort, immediate mountain and surrounding area. It still does not have the overbuilt feel and rush that exists in so many other resort areas that have been built out. Crested Butte still embodies a slower more relaxed pace with new amenities with the promise of more to come. Real estate in Crested Butte is creeping upwards, but the comparative prices to resorts like Vail or Aspen make this place still a bargain. I know management plans to sell more lift tickets as well and I am sure they will, but the access and location will ensure Crested Butte never gets too big and loses the feel and soul it has. The mountain and surrounding peaks beckon and provide that great glow that comes being in a true alpine environment.

Look to save on lift tickets? Make sure to use Mountain Sports Club discounted lift tickets and lodging for members. Crested Butte lift ticket discounts valid on single day and multi day lift tickets.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Western Wanderings - Lake Tahoe, Alpine Meadows & Diamond Peak

Lake Tahoe has had some of its best snow in decades, and my husband Charles and I did a weekend add-on to the adaptive ski tour of Utah that we will report on next week.

As in the East, the areas here can get crowded on weekends, and we could not get accommodations in Incline Village, Nevada. The area is well known for expensive homes, but there are lakeside casino hotels on the Nevada side which are relatively inexpensive and have free shuttle service to many of the ski areas. But, they were full. In Reno, there is ample lodging in casino hotels and many motels; you could get luxury accommodations and good rates. It is about an hour drive or less to the mountains, depending upon the resort and snow conditions.

We returned to a sumptuous suite in the new Tuscan Towers of the Peppermill. Thanks to our friend Michelle Hackman, we also enjoyed a hilarious show with the comedian Howie Mandel in the new Tuscan auditorium. The Peppermill hotel has a casino (the gaming is everywhere in Nevada, even in supermarkets) but Charles and I were not tempted. Nor did I allow him a tour of the Mustang pleasure ranch advertised on billboards on the roof of the taxis!

Our flights out West were complicated but fortunately, we missed the bad weather of the week before. That weather system translated into massive amounts of snow by the time we arrived. Our flights took us from BWI to Cincinnati on a Delta connection plane which held 50; then we changed to a larger one for a smooth flight to Salt Lake City. Next, a long walk through terminals and transfer to SW Airlines, a flight to Boise and finally into Reno. The casino hotels in Reno have free airport shuttles, and were relieved to be back at the Peppermill and promptly crawled into bed. Pity the poor political candidates and reporters – they are making such hops all the time!

Alpine Meadows, California

The next morning we shuttled back to the airport, rented a car, and took a glorious drive over the mountains to Alpine Meadows. We went over Donner Pass and past huge mounds of snow everywhere. Off the highways, there were places set aside for cars to safely park, and hundreds of people climbed over the mounds of snow to cross- country ski, snowshoe, snowmobile, and sleigh ride. The West has truly been blessed this year.

Alpine Meadows is a magnificent resort, not far from Squaw Valley. It is very steep, and can be prone to avalanches (as are many of the areas). The steepness and increasing wind made me very nervous, but everything was terrific when we were there. Thanks to media rep Rachel Woods and ski manager Mike Allred for helping with lifts and equipment. I used Volkl R1 skis and Tecnica boots. They were good and worked well on the fast, groomed trails, but heavier than the usual equipment I use in the East. Charles thought his equipment was also good, but the heavy Tecnica boots gave him a bruise on his shin.

Still, I highly recommend renting equipment on trips involving planes, and I will report on the skis and boots from now on. It is much less hassle to rent than to carry. And, now more airlines are imposing one piece limits on luggage, so bringing your own equipment could cost much more than rental fees.

At Alpine, we took several fast, fairly steep blue trails with magnificent vistas of the high Sierras and Lake Tahoe in the distance. The weather was in the high fifties, and the snow in the upper mountain was listed as 157 inches, with 103 inches in the lower mountain. There are numerous trails and bowls, and the highest point, Ward Peak, is 8,637 feet.

In addition to the incredible beauty and conditions, Alpine has one of the finest and oldest adaptive ski schools in the country. In fact, director Haakon Lang-Ree says it was one of the founding chapters of Disabled Sports USA. When we were there, there was a large group of adaptive teen skiers who were bused up from the San Francisco Bay area. We watched as they went through their instructions and boarding or skiing. These teens showed so much pride in their accomplishments, as they conquered new maneuvers or went over obstacles in the terrain parks.

Not only children enjoyed the mountain. There were several hundred guests from the Rotary Clubs there, skiing, meeting, and sharing friendship. Many appeared to be in the older skiing range. I enjoyed one man’s shirt which read, “Seniors rule.”

You can tell a resort is a family area when there are dogs around. I saw about 20 dogs cavorting in the snow at different times (but not in the trails where they could endanger to skiers). There were also numerous, sleek, friendly Golden Retrievers, who wore jackets identifying them as avalanche rescue dogs. Fortunately, their skills were not called upon at this time.

Diamond Peak, Incline Village, Nevada

On Sunday, March 2, we had several fast runs at Diamond Peak, which is adjacent to Incline Village. It boasts some of the best views of Lake Tahoe, and is not exaggerating! The sparkling aqua lake could be seen from several of the trails. It is 27 miles from Reno, and the winding mountain highway takes you past the Mt. Rose Ski area; one of our favorites. I’m glad Charles is a skilled driver – I would not want to handle those mountains and curves on my own; especially during snow and ice storms. There are alternative highways, which can be wider and faster, but are a bit longer.

Diamond is considered a family resort, and there were many young children whizzing down the mountains. 31 runs were open and the 65 inches of snow was listed as groomed. That translates to fast and hard packed. As the wind picked up at the top, we had to fight hard to gain control and keep from being blown off the mountain. But, we had a fast day skiing and snow boarding with our friends Michelle Hackman and her husband Colin. He arranged a surprise birthday party for her at the Snowflake Lodge at the top of the mountain. The view is worth many more birthdays!

On the way down, Charles and I were able to show off our Eastern skills. The slopes became harder and faster as the afternoon wore on. On the lower parts, they were a bit slushy in the 40 degree temperatures.

The highest point at Diamond Peak is 8,540 feet, with a vertical drop of 1,840 feet and the longest run of 2.5 miles. Most of the trails are blues and easy blacks. Diamond Peak has many fun events, such as a Last Tracks wine tasting and appetizers, at the end of some evenings. Skiers and boarders can watch the spectacular sunset over Lake Tahoe, as they journey down the mountain.

Our rental equipment held up well, and I suppose I do better on the heavier skis and boots, but I have to get used to them. This time I used Volkl Unlimited 156’s and Salomon boots. Thanks to Kayla Anderson, Marketing Coordinator, and Walter Guasch, Rental Manager, for arranging passes and equipment. We plan to re-visit Alpine Meadows and Diamond Peak many times.

Make sure to take advantage of the lift ticket discounta available from the Mountain Sports Club on your lift tickets the next time you ski at Diamond Peak. Members save $9 daily of lift tickets when using the discount coupons.
Western Wanderings -Tahoe – Feb 29 Mar 2, 2008 By Connie Lawn

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Idaho Powder for Skiing and Snowboarding - Sun Valley Resort first stop

A late February trip to Idaho brought me to 3 sweet ski areas - Sun Valley, Brundage and Tamarack in the South central part of Idaho. While Idaho may not be at the top of many skiers and snowboarders list of destination states for ski and snowboard vacations that will be changing based upon my recent experience.

There has been huge snowfall this winter and all three resorts offered great skiing and riding, plenty of options for great lodong and accomodations and excellent dining options. I flew into Boise and each of the areas are under 3 hours driving from Boise.

Sun Valley

It had been over 15 years since I had been to Sun Valley and I had forgotten how big and huge the area is. It had been several days since any new snow, but on the north facing slopes I was still able to find soft barely skied powder snow. The runs are long and provide options for off piste in the bowls and next to the beautifully groomed cruisers. The views of the Sawtooth wilderness is another spectacular site to behold. It was a blue sky day and the vistas enabled me to see mountains close to 100 miles in the distant horizon.

I drove and parked in the River Run base lodge area. Once at the base area I rode the Lower River Run chair up to midway and jumped on the upper River Run chair. This got me right to the top and access to the bowls on Bald Mountain. From here I then took the Lookout Chair across the top of the ridge to the top of Bald Mountain at 9,150 feet. This is a great jumping off point as you have a variety of lines, runs, bowls and tree lines to ski. The snow was surprisingly light and soft. It had not snowed for several days and there was a bright blue sky. Anything on the north facing slopes I found to have boot deep pow left to ski. Some of the snow was chopped up and some partial lines were still available.

In addition to the nice bowls with intermediate to advanced runs was the impeccably groomed runs. Literally something for everyone. And no crowds. One thing about Sun Valley is that while it may be hard to get to you have no lines and wide open runs to yourself. As big as many Colorado resorts with about half to 60% of the skiers and snowboarders. It is truly a relaxed unrushed and comfortable place to ski and ride. The on mountain and base lodges are truly full of creature comforts, excellent food, great views and a friendly atmosphere. If you have not been to Sun Valley I would highly suggest putting on your list of must resorts to ski or ride.