I’ve been a bit in denial, but for all of us, I want to say it out loud: It’s been a tough and tumultuous start to this ski and riding season.
Warmer air that has challenged the consistency of snow production, lack of natural snow so far, daily staffing challenges at resorts thanks to Omicron; all with what feels to me like the most heartfelt great desire to get out there and ski and ride has teamed up and made things a little more challenging.
But that does not mean we have to store the equipment away and wait until next month or season. Instead, we should adapt our plans, gather all the information we can, and make informed decisions and choices about how, where, and when we ski and ride. For now.
The eternal optimist in me loves to remember something a local meteorologist and skier told me about a tough season years ago: Mother Nature loves average. If it’s not there now, it’s coming.
With that in mind, I approached some experts to ask them how we are adjusting our plans for this season to make things – at least until the cold or snow comes and the variants calm down – fun on the slopes.
Stay relaxed: And not in a way with “I’m cold and there’s no access to the baselodge”. Rather take a deep breath and realize that the less anger we become, the greater the chance we have of finding the joy we love out on the slopes.
“When you find that a particular terrain you like is not open or the conditions are not level due to the influence of the weather, the best thing to do is not to get upset,” said Matt Bramble, who operates the popular Facebook group “Northeast Skiology”. , ”Where you can find weather updates, tips on what resorts offer and input from tens of thousands of other skiers and riders.
His tip? Set your expectations correctly.
“Expect some things will not be normal this year,” he said. Sometimes expect to wait in longer lift queues that you are used to and know that some services on the mountain may be limited or not even offered.
By not being surprised if you find challenges, he said, you will find the happy ones out there. “Not every day is golden,” he said. “But every day can be fun if you are realistic.”
Be flexible: Steve Jermanok is himself a passionate skier and also helps customers plan fantastic mountain trips through his company Active Travel (www.activetravels.com). His advice? Be flexible when it comes to both your plans to leave and what you do once you’re there.
With many hotels offering generous 24-hour cancellation policies, he said, outside of school holiday weeks, you can often make a last-minute decision about where to go and when. Watch the weather, keep track of what’s going on at resorts, and then end a trip later than you used to, he said.
And once you get there, he suggests, let the flexibility continue. “Always bring your hiking boots,” he said. And if the elevators are down or the snow is low, look around for other ways to enjoy the place.
“Quality ski resorts now have so many options,” he said. “Mountain slides, ice rinks, pools all year round,” are all often accessible. And when they are not, he said, it’s always outdoors.
“Just being outdoors and having fun – like hiking – is great in the winter,” he said. “When you’re out there breathing the fresh air, come on now: it’s beautiful,” he said.
Bring back the “base camp”: Last winter, skiers and riders accepted the practice of starting up, switching and sometimes even eating in their car in the resort’s parking lot.
While some indoor options are available in most places, Bramble said, it would smooth out the experience if guests continue to do so – as much as possible – this season. And it’s for their own good, he said.
With staffing challenges, he said, it is not certain that food and drink will be in operation all the time in the coming weeks. By packing your own meals and snacks and having a picnic in your car or at outdoor seating at the resort, you not only stay in the clean air, you give yourself a safe thing for a meal or a snack.
“We did this last year without a lot of grumbling,” he said. “We can do this again.” He suggests that you show up early – if you can – to get an available parking space.
Go against the crowd: Be it dates you choose (avoid school holidays if you can), destinations you choose, or the trails you take to your regular resort, Bramble said, and it may help this year to turn away from the crowd.
“The hardest to reach mountains and the hardest to access trails are usually the less crowded ones,” he said.
He suggests, for those who do not have passports, to consider going to a resort that is not on any of the major passports.
Also, consider going to a resort that you might not normally visit. “Just the idea of exploring is fun and interesting for people,” he said, “and when you go to a lesser known or longer drive destination, you will find new ones. I’ve done it many times – over 30 resorts in the East – and I can not say that I have had a bad day. ”
On your ordinary mountain, he said, go for the trails that fewer people are interested in or willing to hike to. Slower lifting is often a good idea; you take longer to get up, but usually find a much shorter line.
And also use timing to go against the crowd.
“Many visitors tell us they’ve had great experiences planning their trips outside of rush hour: mid-week, early morning, or the second half of the day,” said Molly Mahar, president of Ski Vermont.
“It’s a good idea to get to the mountain early, or if you have the flexibility to take time off on a weekday, this is a good time to visit.”
Most of all, Mahar advised, do some homework.
“Whatever you decide upon, it is important to ‘Know before you go’, always have a mask on hand and check your area’s visitor information page for guidelines. being prepared gets you ready for a great time on the mountain, ”she said.
The year has actually started challenging. But those who love to ski and ride are heartfelt souls. And we know we can not only enjoy the good out there now by working carefully through this; we can also promote the sport we love.
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