Colorado Is Open! That means it’s about time to take the family skiing.
For maximum fun and minimal fuss, it takes more planning than simply hopping in the car and heading to the Rocky Mountains, right?
So, here are some solid words of wisdom from moms, dads and kids who’ve mastered the art of moving quickly, safely and happily through a typical day-trip.
The Night Before: This is the most critical time for ski success no matter what happens tomorrow with the forecast, the traffic, the food or the conditions (all of which will be fabulous, of course). Steamboat Springs regular Sandy Sundberg, who has four kids between the ages of 9 and 17, always puts the skis on her SUV on ski-day eve.
Then, it’s time to carefully pack boot and gear bags, which are preferably one and the same. Boots and helmet go on the bottom (or sides) followed by pants, parka, neck-warmers, hand warmers, additional layers and dry socks, plus sweats to wear on the drive home, if there’s room. (I also toss in a granola bar, a small tube of sunscreen, hand lotion and lip balm for my son and daughter)
Sundberg’s kids, and those of many parents I surveyed, also sleep in their base layers. When Summit County skier Ian Walsworth’s children were young, he’d make a nest for them in the back seat so they could just roll out of bed and sleep all the way to the ski resort.
The Morning Of: For Walsworth, a many-run day began at 5:45 a.m. For others, morning means making the lunch and packing it in a backpack (not a cooler) so it can hang from a ski-lodge hook. Kelly Duda, who regularly commutes from Louisville to Copper, splurges on fries, brownies and hot chocolate to go along with homemade sandwiches. Sundberg saves even more money by mixing a large batch of cocoa in an oversized Coleman thermos.
It can be a struggle, but one thing we like to do is leave the kids’ phones at home and we have no shame in bribing Dillon and Harper (my kids) with bagels from Moe’s, breakfast burritos and Starbucks during the drive.
During the Day: Spend the money you’re saving at lunch on good walkie-talkies to help keep the family together (or apart) at the ski resort. Who wants to fumble with cell phones that will freeze, anyway? One of the best parts of skiing is simply being present with the people around you, whether that means strangers on a chairlift or children whooping and hollering ahead of you on the bumps. Good communication also means having set meeting points and times, and a back-up plan.
I’ll admit, we haven’t always followed every single one these tips in the fracas of rushing to, and down, the Rockies as fast as we can. But a little organization, communication and flexibility all go a long way, especially with my best friends (my family) on a powder day.
Sarah Tuff Dunn
Sarah Tuff Dunn recently moved to Louisville, Colorado, with her husband, Carlton, and their two children, Dillon, 12, and Harper, 10. They’re looking forward to exploring the world-class skiing in Colorado, aided by the Colorado Ski Country 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. Sarah has been writing professionally for nearly 25 years and her work has appeared in The New York Times, SKI, Skiing and Powder, among other publications. Read more of Sarah's stories here and follow along with her Colorado skiing journey here.