Life Lessons on the Slopes

Riding the Little Cat Express

Muhammad Ali said,

“Friendship is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”

Friendship. That one great connection we seek as individuals.

It is easy, as an adventure family, to forget that my kids are made in the same mold I am. Sure I want to hit the slopes, taste the powder, and breath the bluebird skies. But what I treasure most are the laughs between chair tower 9 and 10. In short, the camaraderie of adventuring with friends.

As our kids have grown, we’ve worked tirelessly to keep the bar high on our “adventure quota” as a family. But I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t often think of bringing my kid’s friends along. Sometimes I am barely managing those who dwell within the walls of my own home!

But kids are motivated in the same ways we are. If you are looking to motivate a reluctant skier, bring their friends, and their heart will come along with them.

Bring a friend on ski days

This last weekend, we brought a friend (and his mom) and introduced them to Snowbasin for the first time. After all it is “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.” So why not spread the love? My son and his friend enjoyed a morning ski lesson with the Grizzly Cub Kids and then skied together the rest of the afternoon.

And while it was just another sunny ski day for me, it was probably the highlight of the season for my kids. It was their turn to whoop as they aired off the rollers under the Little Cat Express. To giggle themselves into snowbanks and laugh between chair tower 9 and 10. It was crazy and chaotic and fun.

It is priceless to watch them grow in their friendships… and to realize I have a few things to learn about friendship myself. Like the fact that even though I have a “friendship” with my kids, I will always be their mom. They are motivated from their friends in a way they aren’t from me. That is OK. It will be those friends that dig them out of a tree well or shadow them down a chute when I am far too old to keep up anymore.

So ski with your kids and invite a friend! Give them an mountain experience. Give them the gift of friendship on the slopes.  Give them something they can only learn in the school of the mountains.

Kids skiing together, friendship

 

 

 

 

5 Tips for Battling Cold Weather [Family Edition]

Powder and storms on Middle Bowl

There have been times in recent years that we were a “fair weather” ski family. We’ve all heard of “snow snobs”… those skiers that only come out for powder days (not that I blame them.) And we were “sun snobs”, only taking our family out on sunny days… warmer weather meant more skiing and less tears.

But this season we’ve been wrestling a busy schedule and picking only sunny days means we aren’t skiing much at all. So I’ve embraced the idea that,

“There isn’t bad weather. Only bad clothing.”

In fact, many of our favorite ski days have looked like this:

Snowy Day at Needles Lodge

Snowy Day at Needles Lodge

Last Friday when the wind gusted at 40 mph, we still made it up to Snowbasin and had a fantastic day skiing. Here are my tips for keeping your kids (and yourself) warm and happy.

1. Get a balaclava. A.K.A a ninja hood. Our bodies loose heat most rapidly from the head, the groin, and the armpits. SO…keeping the head and neck covered helps keep the whole body warm. Even a lightweight balaclava will keep your head, neck, and face significantly warmer and protect you from the wind. In my experience, a “ninja hood” style balaclava works better than a Buff or gaiter.

2. Keep those ski socks dry. As a mom, the thing I dread most about skiing is getting all the kid’s gear on. I would like to save time by putting socks and boots on before we leave the house. But on cold days that is a bad idea. It is hard to keep sweaty feet warm. Better to let the kids ride up in socks only and put the boots on right before getting out of the car.

3. Get a helmet, even for the really little ones. I’ve often thought, “why does my toddler need a helmet? She barely moves and I hold her up most the time.” Until someone ran into my husband and her. So, sure, we all know helmets are a safety thing. But they are also very warm and many brands have vents for warm days.

Powder Day off Needles Express

4. Invest in good layers. A few basic rules I live by when it comes to layers: First, layer a high-wicking fabric close to the skin, like Patagonia Capilene or REI midweight long underwear.  For exceptionally cold days I add a fleece layer. Fleece bottoms or ¼ zip tops. Finally, down jackets are warmer than synthetic. Down Jackets are also compressible, meaning they pack easily, are less bulky, and can be used year-round for camping, hiking, and backpacking. Here are my favorite kid jackets.

5. Not all chemicals are bad. Don’t be afraid of the chemical hand warmers. They are great for keeping kid’s hands warm! Just exercise caution when using with a young infant or toddler who cannot communicate if they become too hot.

In the end, embracing the weather is part of embracing the adventure. Howl into the wind and trek off into the white… dressed to conquer. 

A Christmas to Remember

Family watching Santa arrive

The smell of citrus and cinnamon. Bright starbursts exploding over white ski runs, over white blanketed trees, over rose cheeks from the cold. Hearty laughs from Dad. Roaring fires to warm the face and carols sung to a starry sky. That is what I remember most about Christmas growing up.

I don’t remember what I got from Santa when I was eight. I don’t remember which toy I waited in earnest for. What I remember is where I was; who I was with.

Arriving at Snowbasin’s Christmas Eve celebration I feel like I’d transferred back in time to my childhood. Back to a time when Christmas was more than check lists, gift buying, and a series of errands. Back to the joy of anticipation, the wonder of beauty, and the peace in simple moments.

We arrive early, maybe 4:30pm, but the party has long started. And despite the crowds all searching for a table and chairs, everyone is in such a great mood. With every elbow bumped and toe stepped on I hear, “Merry Christmas,” at least a dozen times over. At one point I stop in the middle of Earl’s Lodge, with candle light falling around me, spin in a circle and think, “it is like we are all one big family!”

Christmas Eve at Earl's Lodge

Then Santa arrives in his decked out “ski sleigh” and I can’t help but run outside with all the kids, giggling as anticipation brims over. I even ditch my mom, who was saving the table, to do it.

All the kids run inside and wait for a chance to sit on Santa’s lap for one last Christmas wish before Christmas morning.

After a dinner of turkey, pork, ham, creamy potatoes, crisp veggies, and decadent desserts we meander outside for the highlight of the evening: the ski light parade and fireworks.

And just like when I was a little girl, staring up at the towering Rocky Mountains, the air fills with citrus and cinnamon. Mixes with the smell of cold and snow.

The bright starbursts explode over white ski runs, over white blanketed trees, over rosy cheeks from the cold. There are hearty laughs from Dad. Roaring fires and carols sung… all to a starry night sky.

Watching Fireworks at the Christmas Eve, Snowbasin

 

 

 

A first look at the new Burton Riglet Snowboard Park!

Rails in the Burton Riglet PArk

Last weekend we checked out the new Burton Dinosaur Riglet Park at Snowbasin Resort, UT. My five year old son, with no snowboarding experience, had an amazing time!

Riglet Parks use terrain-based learning to teach young kids to snowboard. What this means is that my son can skip the hours, days, and weeks needed to learn technical skills and skip right to the fun stuff! And I can skip the painful times of frustration, tears and anger that often accompany learning a new winter sport.

Snowbasin created a fun dinosaur-themed environment where my son can learn all the basics of snowboarding while riding over mellow terrain features like berms, rollers, and rails.

Getting strapped in at the burton Riglet Park

WHEN YOU VISIT:

We found the Burton Riget Park right next to the Grizzly Center and outside the Snowsports Learning Center at Snowbasin. After signing waivers, my son’s instructor took him to get boots and a board.

Out front, he got to meet Dino and Terry, the local Snowbasin dinosaurs. His imagination was ignited and then he was off!

The instructors used small snowboards fitted with a Riglet Reel (a thin retractable cord mounted on the front) to pull my son through the course. As my son’s balance and board control improved they were able to let go, even allowing him to ride the back side of a berm or rail completely hands free!

WHAT TO EXPECT:

My son had a fantastic time exploring a new winter sport, which in itself is a miracle. If you have young kids and have taught them a new sport such as skiing or snowboarding, then you know those first few times can be truly frustrating for everyone involved. My son had a huge smile the entire time! So did I.

As a bystander I was amazed by the positive and fun atmosphere created by the instructors. They were always quick with a high five and encouraging words. Watching them with other kids, I was able to see that they could quickly adjust to the different ages, abilities and temperaments.

With young kids, one of the most important things (IMHO) is a building atmosphere. I don’t necessarily care if my son walks away on track to being the next Shaun White. I want him to believe a little more in his strength and ability to try new things and succeed. Snowbasin’s Riglet Park, accomplished just that.

 Riding Dino at the Burton Riglet Park