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October 29, 2009

Early Winter Storm Dumps 24" at Wolf Creek

This is a great start to the season:

It‘s snowing at Wolf Creek!

Wolf Creek received 24 inches in the last 48 hours! Treasure and Bonanza Lifts will be operating along with the Nova Lift from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM starting on Halloween Day. Year-to-date snowfall is 46 inches.


Things are looking up for my Thanksgiving trip.


The folks at Wolf Creek emailed me some pics that have me all kinds of Jonesing:

Wolf Creek Storm Oct 2009

Posted by Justin at 10:44 AM

October 22, 2009

Wolf Creek to Open on Halloween

Just got the email:

After receiving 15 inches from the storm of October 21st, Wolf Creek Ski Area is opening for the 2009 2010 ski season on Halloween! Year-to-date snowfall is 22 inches, conditions are powder and packed powder. The mid-mountain snow depth is 12 inches. Nova and Susans, both beginner runs, will be open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. More terrain will be available as conditions permit. Kids are invited to wear their costumes and enjoy an early Halloween day on the beginner hill; a contest for the best carved pumpkin will start at 1:00 PM. Prizes will be awarded to the most original pumpkin faces! The ski school will be available for Wolf Pups ages 5 to 8; instruction will also be available for Adults. The Wolf Creek Day Lodge will be serving a limited lunch menu, both ski and snowboard rentals will be available as well as the Sport Shop. Season Pass Holders are welcome! Celebrate the opening of the 2009 - 2010 ski season, Saturday, October 31st at Wolf Creek!


This bodes well for my Thanksgiving trip. El Nino baby. El Nino.

Posted by Justin at 04:34 PM

October 19, 2009

PreSeason Gear Prices Take Their Toll

I came up to Brian Head for the second time in three weeks to get the condo ready for winter. The last things we have left to do are tiling the floor in front of the fireplace, rocking the fireplace, installing the mantle, and patching some drywall. I meet with the contractor tomorrow and the condo will be done by Thanksgiving.

But that is not the point. The point is that we are going to Wolf Creek for Thanksgiving and Lindsey has outgrown all of her ski gear. With a trip coming up, I am forced to pay full retail regular season prices. That meant $170 for a set of Dragonfly Bibs and a Jacket. I stopped at Sport Chalet in Vegas since the Phoenix stores do not have ski gear out yet and bought them for her last night. Pink bibs and a brown and pink jacket. Gorgeous, no doubt, but way more than I wanted to spend.

I went through all of the ski gear and have to have some bindings readjusted for Jarrett this season since they were set for Jake's larger boots instead of his smaller boots he wore when he was 8. Demo bindings for the kid's skis rock.

Jackson has outgrown all of his jacket, pants, skis, boots... It is going to be expensive to outfit a 15 year old and I am leaving it to my dad and Liz to do this season. Jake needs a new helmet and we are pretty much good.

Gradually getting things square. I took all the extra gear back to the condo and am putting it away now. One month until I head to Wolf Creek.

Posted by Justin at 04:36 PM

October 16, 2009

Kanye on the Balloon


Had to share it. Enjoy.

Posted by Justin at 12:41 PM

October 13, 2009

Great Book--Life in the Boat

I got a request to review a book by Joanne Palmer of Steamboat Springs. You can read her weekly column here. The book is a compilation of her weekly columns and she is outstanding to read.

You can buy the book on

Cheating on a hairdresser. Come on, that is just funny stuff. Plenty of stories about raising kids and in general living in a small ski town.

I am bookmarking her weekly column and adding it to the links at the sidebar.

Posted by Justin at 12:02 PM

Ski Magazine 60 Days of Giveaways Contest

Ski and Skiing magazines have a new set of giveaways that are worth checking out:

Ski Magazine & Skiing Magazine are reaching out to the top ski & ride communities online to announce THE BIGGEST SKI GIVEAWAY EVER!! As part of this huge celebration, Ski & Skiing Magazines are bringing skiers and boarders 60 Days of AMAZING prizes including: • Squaw Valley vacation packages • Line Skis • Full Tilt Boots • Merrell Jackets • Spy Goggles • Snowbird Week ski vacation • Dakine Packs • AND SO MUCH MORE!

Everyday from October 1st - November 29th, 2009 visit and answer one (easy) trivia question to be entered for the daily prize – Great prizes from the top brands in the ski industry will be awarded.

Pretty good stuff for free. This is two freebie posts in a row. Check it out.

Posted by Justin at 11:53 AM

Antlers at Vail Offers Freebie Tips

Antlers at Vail has some good deals and great tips for the Vail area:

At the height of ski season, the Antlers at Vail hotel ( offers its "Value Vail" package from January 9 to February 10, 2010 with 25% savings off regular prices. Rates for the five-night package start at just $235 per person for four people in a two-bedroom condo - including four-day lift tickets for all four skiers!

10 Freebies in Vail Valley this Winter

The Antlers at Vail hotel’s staff of savvy locals offers ten ideas for enjoying the snow scene – without opening your wallet once:

1. Free culture –– The Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame features over 1500 pieces of memorabilia celebrating 130 years of Colorado skiing. Admission and 90 minute parking are free. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

2. Free concerts –The Street Beat Concert Series features rock, blues and gospel music every Wednesday night. Concerts start at 6 p.m. at Check Point Charlie in Vail Village.

3. Free transportation – the Vail Village shuttle runs throughout the village offering hop on, hop off convenience and easy access to the village’s numerous shops, restaurants and galleries.

4. Free light show – Thursday Night Lights at Beaver Creek features skiers with glow sticks traversing down the mountain, followed by a fireworks show.

5. Free parking – Guests at the Antlers at Vail hotel can park for free in the hotel’s heated parking garage. Other guest perks include free high-speed internet, free hot chocolate and coffee in the lobby, and free passes to the Vail Athletic Club.

6. Free ice skating - Nottingham Lake in nearby Avon is open to the public for ice skating seven days a week weather permitting. Skating is free, and skate rentals are available for a nominal fee.

7. Free gondola rides – Enjoy the mountain views, on-mountain dining and kids’ activities at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Starting mid-December and throughout the season, people on foot can ride the gondola for free from 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

8. Free ski & snowboard competitions – The Session, Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, American Ski Classic, Malay Day, World Pond Skimming Championships and U.S. World Cup competitions are held throughout the season at Vail and Beaver Creek and are free.

9. Free entertainment – The Helmut Fricker Band performs throughout the season on the Plaza in Beaver Creek on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 12 to 2 p.m.

10. Free offers – Check the Eagle County web site ( for the latest deals; recent promotions have included free airline tickets for children traveling with parents and free arrival day lift tickets.

Expect more deals as resorts struggle to get people coming in the doors. This is high end lodging for a very reasonable price.

Posted by Justin at 11:49 AM

October 09, 2009

Interesting Take on Loveland's Opening Earliest in 40 Years

I like this take on the start of ski season:

In a sure sign that the Earth is, as predicted, warming to the point of human extinction, snowfall in the West has come sooner and heavier than in recorded history.

Many school districts have already been forced to close by unseasonable accumulations of snow. "We got dumped on last night, you can see that by looking around here. We weren't quite ready for it. It did cause us some issues in the school district," said Lonnie Barber, the superintendent of schools for Blaine County Idaho.

Idaho isn't alone in its reluctance to march into a fiery, iceless demise; in Colorado as well, the snow is falling fast and piling up quickly, to the delight of a state dependent for much of its income on the ski tourism trade. The ski resort at Loveland, Colorado, has opened already, the earliest start to a season in 40 years. It will be joined Friday by the resort at Arapahoe Basin. It seems the owners of ski resorts failed to recognize the climatological chaos that is causing the melting of snow and ice that is in turn setting off an avalanche of impending worldwide doom. Some people will do anything for a buck.

Vegas. Sin City. You would expect them to join the party and they have. You've heard the slogan: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Well, according to the local Fox News affiliate in Las Vegas, what's happening is snow and what's staying is hundreds of skiers getting a welcome early start on the season. The Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort is open for business earlier than ever before and business is booming...

While we wait for the alarming rise in global temperatures to melt the ice caps and swell the levels of the oceans, we might as well head out West and ski.

Stoked for an El Nino year to get underway. Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come.

Posted by Justin at 11:09 AM

October 02, 2009

Skiing on a Budget

I am in the process of setting the annual ski budget and this brings up the annual posts regarding affordability of the sport and to a lesser extent, of the economy in general. First, let me tell you my "wish list" of things that I want to do this season:

  • Thanksgiving Trip to Wolf Creek
  • Christmas trip to Utah, probably mostly Brian Head with a side trip to Alta
  • MLK Day trip to either CO or UT
  • President's Day trip to Brian Head
  • Spring Break in Brian Head or Wolf Creek
  • Easter at Brian Head
  • 2-3 Day Trips to Sunrise and Snowbowl
  • Possible trip to Summit County for a couple days
  • Possible trip to Big Sky to see family that would include Jackson and some SLC skiing
  • Maybe another couple trips to Brian Head or Wolf Creek as time permits

Obviously, if money were no object and I had no job plus the kids could take off school, I would do all of this and more. As things are, I have to plan around school holidays and work schedules, plus a budget. Here is what I am doing to keep costs down and my recommendations for like-minded folks that want to get more bang for the buck.

First, pick a resort and buy a season pass. Here are the economics for most passes. The break even point on an adult pass is usually 7-10 skier days. There are couple things to consider about that. You want to make sure that you will get those days in ***at that resort***. A season pass alters behavior in that it reduces the cost at one resort and encourages you to go there instead of to alternative choices. It locks you in, so if you want to ski a bunch of different places, it may not be for you. But the flip side is that it effectively reduces the marginal cost of a skier day which may encourage you to go more often because all it costs you to go for that extra trip is gas and food.

Youth passes for tweens and teens are especially good deals. For instance, a 15 year old pays the full adult ticket rate of $45 or peak $52 at Brian Head. A K-12 pass for your high school or middle school student runs $219, meaning the break even point is 4.5 days.

Finally, on the pass front, Vail Resorts offers the Colorado Pass and better yet the Epic Pass that provide unlimited skiing at all VRI resorts for $599 adult. Break even point is an unheard of 6 days. Plus you get access to half a dozen premier resorts.

Next up, is gear. If you shop any other time than April, you are getting burned. Well, maybe February to April because in February they start discounting and you get the best selection, but in April a lot of stuff is gone but you get the best prices. That is the time to start looking for your gear.

Rough estimates on gear are as follows:

$400 Skis
$300 Boots
$200 Bindings
$150 Helmet and Poles
$1050 Total investment

Make the assumption that you are getting Demo quality gear and buy brand new. You can eBay things and cut this number down closer to $750, so we will use a mid-range number of $800. Most places a good Demo set runs $40. That puts the break even point for good gear at 20 days.

Now, you start looking at your investment and how to maximize the useful life of gear. I am a huge believer that the single most important piece of gear is a good fitting pair of boots. If you own your own boots, you can get a custom bootfitter to do formed footbeds and to even mold the plastic exterior to fit your foot. I bought a $600 pair of Nordica Beasts for $289 from REI on clearance five years ago and paid another $150 for bootfitting. So my investment was a little high at let's say $500 counting shipping and tax. I have roughly 60-75 days on my boots and they are still like brand new. I take great care of them though and that makes a huge difference. I have another set of boots that I bought in 2003 that my dad uses that have over 100 days on them. They were $200 brand new and are getting worn, but that is $2 per skier day.

Skis are a different story. Edges get banged up, bindings break, new shapes and styles come out. I have kept my powder skis since 2005 but they are 2004 models with four going on five seasons on them. I have probably 30-40 days on them, but including bindings, I paid $400 off of eBay. I bought another set of skis two years ago at a clearance sale at Sport Chalet and stripped the bindings off of my 2003 skis adding a new set of skis for $200. I got them 50% off of a half price sale in March. Bindings will last you until they are no long indemnified if you take care of them and that runs around 10 years.

Kids skis are the same way, but the price of a boots are usually around $100 and skis and bindings another $250. You get far fewer days on them so it often makes sense to do a season rental for $100 that most shops do before the season starts.

So back to my plans--

My budget is as follows:

$500 Lodging for 5 days at Wolf Creek
$1000 for Lift Tickets and food at Wolf Creek
$1200 for Season Pass at Brian Head
$2000 per day for Jake, Jackson, Jarrett and me per additional skier day not at Brian Head $250 x 8 days
$2000 for Gas $200 per trip x 10 total trips
$1000 for annual gear replacement / new gear
$8000 total ski budget

Not counting the condo expenses for the year. And not counting all the incidentals like food, snacks, etc.

Now we start cutting the wish list down and Wolf Creek is a $2000 trip. I really want to take a nice trip somewhere this season with Jackson as he has only skied at Brian Head and Sunrise.

Like I said, the economics of this are pretty rough in a recession, but I love the sport and have two kids plus Jacko so it is the price you pay. This puts us on pace to hit 20-25 days. That is a good target.

Posted by Justin at 12:31 PM

October 01, 2009 Website Update

I am doing some work on to install and tweak Joomla and thinking about doing a relaunch of under the new format. It adds a lot of functionality and it just an awesome publishing platform.

Anyway, check out the site and please give feedback.

Posted by Justin at 11:13 AM