Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hunter Mountain Skibowl (Hunter, NY)

SkiWedge was able to get up to Hunter Mountain for some early season skiing on a few occasions.  Here are our initial thoughts and a quick video edit of the early season conditions:

The lift lines appear to be chaotic.  Of course, being 2 hours north of NYC will do that to a resort.  However, the guys trying to show how hard they are in the lift line by smoking 3 or 4 cigarettes before they smoke another on the lift should all have their passes pulled.  Seriously, if you want smoke in your lungs then do us all a favor and stay in the city.

Also, the lift attendants need to pay attention.  A girl in ski-shool got her arm caught in the chair and was lifted away by just her arm.  The only reason the lift stopped was because everyone behind, myself included, screamed to stop the lift.  The excuse, "I've never seen that happen before" just doesn't cut it.  Open your eyes and pay attention.

Ski Patrol:
Are you even out on the mountain?  If you were then you could help move the bottle neck on top of the mountain along so people could get off the lift.  In addition, you may want to pull a few passes from those who decide to ski/board aggressively or recklessly.   Don't tell me they don't exist because they do.

While the bar in the main lodge always has tons of people, the rest of the food s nothing to write home about.  In fact, it is probably some of the worst resort food you can find.  I love the reheated hamburger patties and the soggy macaroni and cheese, but my personal favorite are the insane lines to pay. 15 to 20 minutes just to pay for your food is not a good business model.  Of course, Copper Tree Mountain Restaurant is better with less people and better food.  However, would it kill you to form over real plates and silverware?

Snow conditions are better than expected.  After all, the North-East weather pattern has not been the best to the area ski resorts.  In general, I find that the open runs can be fun and there is plenty of challenging terrain, but seriously, some people need to slow down a bit.  You may have dodged the newbie on the marked Family terrain this time, but next time you may not be so lucky.  I remind you that as the uphill skier or boarder it is your responsibility to slow down and avoid the person below.

I put this section in this brief review not because I want to make fun of anyone on the mountain, but because I have a general gripe.  For god sake, when you're done skiing or boarding and take off your gear, please move it out of the way.  For some reason, guests at Hunter decide to just leave their gear all over the place making an obstacle course for those to follow.  Please pick it up and move it off the snow.  I'll do the same for you... I promise.  (Ski Patrol, I know you see this zoo as well.  Is it that hard to ask people to take their gear with them as they leave the snow?)

My over all impression is that Hunter can be a great resort.  However, a lack of attention to detail by the resort (food, safety, and ski racks for the volume of people) is bringing it down.  The good news is that these are the easy things to fix and could easily do a lot to improve the reputation of the resort.  I'll post a few more reviews on the resort as the season progresses to see if there are any changes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

7 Best Family Ski Resorts in France

Les Arcs lit up for Noel
So you’re looking to plan that family ski vacation.  This year you want something a bit more exotic.  Why not head to Europe?  Croissants for breakfast, glass of wine with lunch, and a nice two or three star Michelin restaurant for dinner.

Homeboy Ski lists their 7 favorite family resorts in France.  Why not take a look and see what they have to offer.

Click here or the link below.

7 Best Family Ski Resorts in France

Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Time Skiing- here's what you need

Congratulations.  Your family has made the decision to get involved in skiing or snowboarding.  By heading outdoors you are about to introduce your family to a sport that will span generations of the family and bring lifelong memories. 

Now if your reading this it's because you need to know what you need.  I don't blame you.  There's a lot of stuff and it takes some organization to make sure you don't forget anything.  Just keep a couple things in mind.  1) Prepare for the worst and pray for the best.  2) Keep your kids warm. and 3) know your limits.

Here's a quick list of what you'll need:
  • Waterproof cold weather gloves- gloves not only keep hands warm, but protect them from in the event of a fall.
  • Snowpants- many beginners come out in jeans.  You see the jeans tucked into their rental boots and you also see the large water mark on their derriere.  Falls are inevitable and exercising (yes, skiing and snowboarding is exercise) in wet jeans is not comfortable.
  • Snow Jacket- depending on conditions, this will be a full blown water proof winter jacket to a rain slicker.  You'll want a jacket as it will help keep the wind off your core.
  • Base Layers- As a beginner you won't be out all day long.  No need to buy expensive Under Armour type gear, although these work wonderful and help whisk sweat away keeping you warm and dry, but get something to layer up and keep you and your loved ones warm.
  • Goggles- Sunglasses will work on sunny not so windy days.  You will want a pair of goggles as the reflecting sun on snow can burn.  You protect your skin on sunny days by the pool. Do the same on the mountain to your eyes.
  • Helmet- In the past couple of years helmets became a requirement for kids in ski school at most resorts.  Don't worry.  Resorts allow you to rent helmets and will help you size them.  You don't have to buy one.  Don't bring a bicycle helmet.  These are not designed for snow sports.    Check out the site for more information.
  • Sunscreen- I think you get the drift.
  • Skis and boots- Renting on the mountain is easiest, but you cna find cheaper at your local ski shop.
Many large sports stores have beginner level gear available for prices that won't break your bank.  Remember, you do not need NorthFace or Patagonia jackets for the first trip to the mountain.  Sure they look good, but you or your kid will be in the snow trying to get up anyway so what's a logo going to help you with.  In addition, if this is your first time skiing or snowboarding you may not go again for some time.  There is no reason to over gear.  On the flipside, don't buy super cheap as you do want some quality for your hard earned cash.   

You're all set.  Call your resort of choice and sign up for your lesson.  Sooner than you think you'll be carving down some nice blue and black groomers.  See you on the slopes.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month

LSSMWhat are you waiting for to sign your kids up for ski lessons? Better yet, what are you waiting for to sign yourself up?

Each January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month.  Resorts and retailers across the country offer special learn to ski or snowboard packages to get people up to the mountain. Last January, 75,000 children and adult participants took advantage of the program.  This is up from the 30,000 in 2010.    Event organizers are pushing to up the participation numbers to 150,000 participants in 2012 as even more resorts sign on to the program.

Learn to Ski or Snowboard Month offers a number of lesson options for beginners. Call your local resort or your destination resort now to schedule lessons or book that family Ski-cation.

I ask you again.  What are you waiting for?  Check out the following link to find participating resorts and retailers near you.   

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Winters of My Life

Amazing video of an amazing man who found his purpose in life.  Should we all be so lucky. I just wish this was longer as I truly enjoyed it.
"Winters of My Life is a portrait of Howard Weamer. For the past 35 years he has spent his winters as a hutkeeper in Yosemite's backcountry. He fills his days writing, reading, photographing, and being an ambassador to mountain culture. This is a brief look into his world and why he chooses to stay."

Winters of My Life from Jonathan Burhop on Vimeo.