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Why Specialty Ski and Snowboard Camps Rock

Why Specialty Ski and Snowboard Camps Rock Aspen Snowmass

Not only will you get top-notch instruction, having a camp on the calendar guarantees youll make it to the mountains, no matter what the rest of your life tries to throw at you.

By Rachel Walker

Last February, a blizzard swept through Colorado, dropping copious amounts of bone-dry powder in the mountains. This was a storm for the record books, and I am certain that ski bums everywhere called in sick, made excuses, and hightailed it to the mountains.

Alas, I am no ski bum. I am a working mother of two little kids with too much responsibility to drop everything at the arrival of a snow-laden cold front.

Still, I was out skiing with the best of themat Silverton Mountain, no lessripping it up and whooping with each face shot.

Heres my secret: many months earlier I signed up for the Keen Rippin Chix camp for women with Alison Gannett, a pro skier whose women-specific camps are less you go girl, and more hit it HARD! I had no idea when I signed up for the camp that the weather gods would bless me with such epic conditions, but as I puttered my way on the 12-hour drive (no typo therethe snow-clogged roads added significant delays) from Boulder to Silverton, I repeatedly gave thanks to myself for signing up for the camp.

See, Im not your standard camp goer. While I know my skiing has lots of room for improvement, Im something of a cheapskate and I know Im good enough to have a great day in almost any conditions. Ive got good gear, which makes skiing much easier, and a cheerful attitude, also a key component.

But still I was drawn to the two-day clinic. On one hand, I wanted to experience Silverton with some handholding. I was well aware of the mountains rowdy reputation and figured that getting pointers on navigating skinny couloirs or thick trees couldnt hurt.

What an understatement. The pointers I picked up transformed my skiing. I went from a can-do-lets-go yeehaw to a coiled, powerful, controlled skier unafraid to attack the steeps or the narrow slivers. And that, naturally, made things a lot more fun.

Add in the benefit of three feet of fresh powder, and I was consumed with playful gratitude. Had it not been for the camp, I surely would have missed the skiing that weekend. Or at least I would have missed complete immersion in great conditions on a challenging mountain with a group of like-minded women and an impeccable teacher.

All of which is to say: take a clinic this year. Sign up for a camp. Ask yourself what you want to work on (steeps? Moguls? Getting to the next level?) and where you want to ski (often times the camps price includes the cost of a lift ticket, but not always, so double check), and sign up. Do it with a friendor not. Bring the familyor dont. Just commit. Clear the calendar, pay your deposit, and get stoked. Maybe, just maybe, a huge storm will blow in.

A few camps* to consider this season:

Keen Rippin Chix Camp, Silverton, Feb. 12-13

This all-womens steeps camp will hone your skills and give you confidence you never knew you had. Info: $699 (includes lift ticket and guide fee; if you have a Silverton pass, cost is $425 for the camp), Click here to register.

Bobs Mogul Camp, Winter Park, Various Dates

Perfect your zipper line with six hours of daily coaching from Winter Parks ski and ride school director Bob Barnes and his top mogul coaches, a special aprs party, and more. Info: $519, Camps offered Jan 23-25, Feb. 4-6, and Feb 27-March 1, Click here to register.

The Magic of Skiing, Aspen Mountain, Jan. 31-Feb. 6

Find inner peace and your edges in this unique, longstanding camp with renowned author Thomas Crum. The camp views skiing as a vehicle for self-awareness, an opportunity to become more conscious, to cultivate appreciation, and to discover how to unify the mind and body to achieve inner peace. Info: $2,295 (includes instruction, 6-day lift ticket, and training in the Thomas Crum Approach), click here to register.

*There are myriad camps at every resort in Colorado. To find one, go to the resorts ski + snowboard school page on the website and search for specialty camps or clinics. Trust me, if theres something specific youre looking for, it exists.