I was home from tropical paradise from about 10 days before I turned around and headed to a much different sort of vacation–Vail! I was invited to go with a group of friends for a week of skiing. Considering I had just gone to Mauritius and the Seychelles, I figured that a week was probably a weeee bit excessive. But I hadn’t been skiing since 2010 (when I got a concussion, standing still, a story for another day that I still have not lived down), so I really wanted to make sure I still could ski (sort of literally).
I grew up skiing. In Wyoming. Jackson Hole was where I learned how to ski and pretty much the only, single place that I skied growing up. There are perks to living in the middle of nowhere, and learning how to ski on one of the best mountains in the world was one of them! And now that I live on the east coast, well, east coast skiing pretty much sucks every time I’ve tried it. Sorry east coast skiers, but once you go west…it is the best (or Europe, that works too!).
Tip: Bringing lots of layers is so crucial anytime you go into the mountains. Be able to shed a layer, gain a layer, zip up vents, etc. It was super warm the first day, but got windy on the chairlifts. I’d also advise that you bring different weights–from a very warm day (30 degrees+ of skiing) to a day of wind and snow, be able to have plenty of dry clothes so you can mix and match your layers under your outerwear. I think a waterproof shell is also key for days where you will be out in wet weather. I’ve shouted to the mountains about my love of my Patagonia Better Sweaters, and I think they do a great job regulating temperature underneath a ski jacket or hard shell. I also had new Patagonia Snowbelle ski pants which were lovely. For the hot day they had vents, and for the cold day they kept my legs warm. And I never got snow in my ski boots, not once.
I know, from past experience, that it can be hard trying to figure out how to ski with a group of people of a variety of levels. Fortunately, this group was amazing. Everyone was able to ski with people of similar speed/skill, and everyone was more than willing to wait a few minutes here and there for the rest of the group. I struggled through most of the first few hours…it was rough trying to figure out how to ski again, particularly since I had been snowboarding for the last 10 years! Skiing is much easier on my back, though, and I’m very glad I made the switch back. But it wasn’t pretty. Yep, I could turn and I could stop, but it wasn’t pretty. And I used to be such a pretty skier! Fortunately by the end, I was able to keep my knees and skis together and my pole plants where they should be. Phew. Hopefully next time I don’t look like an uncoordinated disaster at the start. Tip: Being in shape makes skiing so much easier.
We stayed in a beautiful rental house (which I played zero part in selecting, but they did a great job) that had a lovely kitchen and was seriously a ten minute free bus ride to the mountain. Tip: Take the free bus! It runs really frequently and is super easy to navigate. You can get off wherever you want to hop on a lift and head up the Vail mountain.
Vail is sort of built up to look like a French-Alp skiing village, which I always find a little bit funny after being to the French Alps, but it is very charming and easy to navigate. Food was insanely priced on the mountain (mainly drinks…$5 for gatorade or water?). Tip: I would definitely suggest bringing water or a camelbak for the mountain. Vail–the city–is about 8,500 feet and the mountain peaks at about 10,500 feet so altitude issues/sickness are real and hydration is critically important. I made the mistake of not carrying water the first day and really regretted it. Yes, mom, I knew better but I didn’t want to carry a bag…
And lift tickets are also $$$ ($180 a day, I believe, if you buy it on the mountain). Gone are the days where you can go skiing for $50 a day! Tip: Always buy your lift ticket online before you go. They are significantly less expensive! I saved $40 for just 2 days of skiing by purchasing online. You can also add additional days online once you have the pass if you decide to stay or ski for additional days.
Of course it started snowing as soon as I was leaving on the van to the airport and I missed all the powder. It will definitely not be another 7 years before I head back west for some more snow…I missed the slopes so much and skiing with a great group of friends really made it so much more fun. But I’m still partial to Jackson Hole, since it was where I grew up…maybe next year!