The Reverse Snowbird & Princess Snow

It’s 96 degrees here in Baton Rouge today and I am thinking about skiing. No, not water skiing. I am thinking about snow. Living in Louisiana, I get to experience snow on my terms. I love princess snow–the snow you experience when you get on a plane, play in pristine, white, perfect snow in the clean, crisp, cold air and then go home when you have had your fill of winter.  But, to be honest, my love affair with snow did not always exist.

Growing up in New York City and going to school in Boston, I thought snow was something you escape. But, when you are young and in love, you will do (just about) anything. My future husband, the die-hard skier, was determined for me to ski. I “learned” at an exquisitely small ski hill (only 1 chair lift) in Dixville Notch, NH.  My first lesson consisted of side stepping up a hill about 10-15 steps.  By the end of three days in the bitter cold (-26 degrees), I had graduated to a rope tow going up the bunny slope about 30 feet.  I vowed this would be my one and only ski trip. 

My expert skier husband

The following year, we moved to San Francisco to do our residencies. As an easy four hour drive from the Bay Area and an abundance of inexpensive lodging options, Lake Tahoe became my husband’s obvious choice for our one week of vacation that first year. Admittedly, my desire to ski increased once I realized that I wasn’t going to freeze to death. Also, each of the Tahoe ski resorts had enough varied terrain for skiers of different abilities.  The Lake Tahoe ski resorts became our ski destination for the next ten years and the place my oldest child learned to ski.

When we moved to Louisiana, we realized that our ski trip options needed to be re-evaluated.  Obviously, we were going to have to fly somewhere to find a mountain, let alone one with snow on it. Over the next few years we skied Breckenridge, Crested Butte, and Vail. All three destinations offered ski-in, ski-out accommodations–a huge upgrade from Tahoe where  we either had to drive or take a ski shuttle to the mountain. That said, the altitude at the Colorado ski resorts made getting my three little kids out the door a challenge. By the time we walked the kids to ski school in the morning, even when they carried their own gear, was so exhausting those first days that our own day on the slopes was truncated.  It would take us two to three days to acclimate—too long when you only have a week of vacation.    

Snowshoe walk around Lost Lake

We went to Whistler for the first time 15 years ago. Whistler is actually Whistler and Blackcomb – 2 mountains that share a base in the heart of Whistler Village, making up a largest ski resort in North America. We always stay at the Westin Whistler—only steps from the Whistler Gondola, Blackcomb gondola and Fitzsimmons chairlift.  My kids loved the Whistler ski school. As teenagers they participated in “Ride Tribe.”  They had so much fun that my son pretended to be under 18 for an additional two years so that he could continue to go to Ride Tribe. Whistler Village is at 2200 feet and the peak elevation is 7350 feet (lower than the Colorado resorts) so altitude sickness has never been an issue.  And, in case I needed further convincing, the American dollar has been considerably stronger than the Canadian dollar for the past several years resulting in a significant discount of about 25% thereby making it a certifiable bargain. 

Snowmobiling Fun

I’ve already bought next year’s Epic Pass (since Whistler is now part of Vail resorts) and booked my lodging. Now, after living in Louisiana for my 22nd hot, humid summer, I look forward to my annual princess snow ski escape. I guess I have become a reverse snowbird.

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