January 27, 2009

Time To Embarrass Yourself on the Slopes

Your Sassy Guide to Snowboarding & Skiing in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia

First, before you even step in the car with a navigation system set to deliver you to the final destination deep in the mountains, think if you have it all, not only to do the actual activity, but also to “complement” your outfit with things that would definitely make a difference – like foot/hand-warmers, face & lip balms and sunscreen/lotion to protect against the forces of nature (wind, snow, frozen water…)

Here is a quick, but efficient, guide to what to get (more or less) that would both enhance and protect your experience on the slopes:

Thermals that don’t look perfunctory.

Foot- and hand-warmers (besides the ones available on the streets of Washington, DC – with Obama face on it), these grabbers can be bought very inexpensively at Zitomer’s, for just $3.99. They last only five hours, but they’ll save you endless toe and finger misery, and they are biodegradable. Or check out the Warmers for more options.

It looks that this year everyone spiced up their head-wear on slops and opted for a funky hat. Check out Ski Hats to see what’s in “fashion” among the snowboarding/skiing fashionistas. Or you can opt for a shearling hat that would keep your head, neck, and ears warm.

Gloves, hopefully you have the waterproof ones that are made of the same fabric as your snowboarding jacket/suit – yeah, the big un-classy ones. But if you decide this kind of pair is not for your taste, go with the ones that are as warm as they are fun.

For the man who loves pockets, Bogner’s army-inspired ski suit has eight in the jacket, six in the pants, but it does cost more than any skier can afford (especially now, in the economy hardship). Opt for a less expensive one that never failed neither myself, nor my family, or my friends – Columbia Sportswear.

Of course you can rent a snowboard/w boots or skis – especially if you live in the area where not many winter activities are available (so there is not need to keep skies and snowboards at the house all year around), such as Florida, Texas, Georgia and Alabama. But the ones who are lucky devils and leave near winter resorts (anywhere from 1 to 10 hours of drive), even if you are lousy rider, your board can still look fierce. Check out Nitro Team Art Attack snowboard. Or, again, you can opt to stay as patriotic on the slopes as you are in the city by checking the “Obama” board at: Sazs Bargains or Banana Traction.

If you are rather a snowboarder than a skier (which I just became over one day), Burton’s new Supreme snowboarding boots might the “it” – incomparable warm, and cute at the same time. Check out at Burton, $350.)

Lastly, a lot of people overlook (or just forget about) the basic health needs (believe me, the skin will not forgive you): Palmer's cocoa butter formula hand/face/body lotions is a good choice. Burt’s Bees kind is good too.

Always have/carry a hand cream – heavy ones are perfect for “in-the-mountain” time, as well as face balms (check out Kiehl’s All-Sport face balm) – make sure a face balm has the features to protect against wind and sun (rather than against the wrinkles). And, of course, a lip balm to battle chap and cold sores (check out Burt’s Bees Res-Q lip balm, Blistex lip care, and/or Carmex, all available at drug and convenience stores.) There is also Antherpos SPF 50 with Mexoryl SX is a cream formulation that comes packaged in a tube and can easily be applied to ears, nose and lips. And, there is a convenient SPF 50+ Anthelios lip stick (with Mexoryl XL), which can be easily tucked away in your pocket.

Miscellaneous things you might want to consider for enhancing your winter activities experience:

UGG boots, (there is nothing like slipping your over-exhausted feet into teddy-bear like boots after a day of a mix of skiing/snowboarding and falling on/sliding-on-your-butt mountain activities.) Available at UGG store online, as well as at Zappos, Nordstrom and CozyBoots.com.

Thermos, (even though almost all winter resorts have the “pre-sauna” center facility that offers coffee, tea, hot cocoa as well as all kinds of junk food and alcoholic drinks – you can always opt for an “old-school” comfort of your own Thermos, which you can fill with your favorite tea/coffee blend or hot chocolate at either home or at a cabin before taking off for a day of skiing.

Cashmere overalls, like sweaters/scarves/socks/gloves, to slip into after you take off the ski suit. (I'm a big fan of Pashmina cashmere store.)

Waterproof watch/timer – it does not have to be Rolex (unless you are trying to make a fashion statement), opt for a “sport” kind (think Timex) that does not break your wallet, but at the same time – is a water-/cold weather resistant.

Mini medical kit: you never know how bad that fall can be (hoping for the best, be ready for the worst) – put together a mini first-aid kit at home to keep in your skiing suit’s pocket or sharing the contents of the kit between a few people, at all times. The contents could be: a mini bottle of iodine, Tylenol/Advil, fist aid bandages (you might consider to get an ankle/elbow/knee bandage pads as well), Vaseline, the smallest version of BenGay cream, eye drops (even a toughest contact lens might get dry in cold wind), and Theraflu. The rest you can figure out based on your own preference and health needs. This is just a tips-and-bits of a must-have for a weekend in the mountains.


(Mt. Hood, Oregon)

Of course there are Oregon, Colorado, California, Utah, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, and Maryland, among others, states that offer some of the best ski resorts. I got lucky to have experienced skiing in at least four of those states, but since my proximity to VA, PA and MA over-shadows the more remote locations, I’ll give you a guide to the slopes that are less than a three-hour drive from the heart of the District (Washington, DC).

For a much needed getaway that should take over the whole weekend:

Wintergreen Resort, Route 664, Wintergreen, VA, 900-926-3723. You can rent anything from a two-bedroom to a nine-bedroom condo (so think of all the friends that you might want to bring with you to save a buck) or a home for $87 per person, per night. Don’t think long, it’s less that you spend on a night out in D.C., or LA, or NY. Featured mountain: Blue Ridge Mountains. Drive time: three hours from D.C.

For the people who are suckers for the night skiing (snowboarding vampires):

Liberty Mountain Resort, 78 Country Club Trail, Carroll Valley, PA, 717-642-8282. This resort offers discounts for a group membership. Join a “Night Club” multiple ski trips club at Liberty Mountain to get the best out of your pocket money, you can either start your own group (minimum 15 members) or join an existing one. Drive time: an hour from D.C.

For a show-off:

Bryce Resort, 1982 Fairway Drive, Basye, VA, 540-856-2121. Here one can test his skiing abilities against the national NASTAR pacesetter. Two runs are just $6 and there are the actual medals: gold, silver and bronze. So if you missed the winter Olympics in Toledo, you can catch up with the National Standard Race. Drive time: two hours from D.C.

For a place that offers other than skiing and snowboarding activities:

Snowshoe Mountain, 10 Snowshoe Drive, Snowshoe, WV, 877-441-4FUN. Snow tubing might be the thing you want on a break from skiing or snowboarding. A six-story tubing hill is just $17 for a two-hour tubing tickets. The Handle Tow would deliver you fast up hill again and again after you slide down. Drive time: 4.5-5 hours from D.C.

For the beginner or a first-timer:

There is always a first time for everything. Whitetail Resort, 13805 Blairs Valley Road, Mercersburg, PA, 717-328-9400. The resort offers various “beginners” packages, from First Class Learn to Ski to Board Package, which include a first-timer class lesson, a lift ticket, rental of skis/boots/poles or snowboard/boot rentals and many slopes to choose from. Drive time: 1.5 hours from D.C.

For a getaway with friends:

As much as any resort is good for a friends-get-together, Blue Knob Ski Resort, 1418 Overland Pass, Claysburg, PA, 814-239-5111 ext. 2, offers the prices that you and your out-of-town visiting friends could not complain about. Drive time: 3 hours from D.C.

For those who always want to try something new:

Wisp, the only ski resort in Maryland, really tests your abilities, with boxes and rails ranging from five feet to a towering 40 feet. 296 marsh Hill Road, McHenry, MD, 301-387-4911. Drive time: 3 hours from D.C.

For a cheap a date or someone on a budget:

Canaan Valley, HC 70, Davis, WV, 800-622-4121. You can’t get much better than free, can you? From Jan. 4 through March 5, 2009, while the Canaan Stay & Ski Free Package will only run you $54.50 per person, the skiing is absolutely free. Drive time: 3 hours from D.C.

For those who not only look to ski and snowboard, but would also like to shop and gamble:

Camelback Mountain Resort, One Camelback Road, Tannersville, PA, 570-629-1661.

For the ones who are closer to New England, there are also fun winter and year-around activities that would leave even the laziest person wouldn’t be able to stay indifferent:

Bear Creek Mountain, 101 Doe Mountain Lane, Macungie, PA, 866-SKI-AT-BC. Besides 21 trails, terrain parks, there is live entertainment and fireplace bars. Drive time: 3.5 hours from D.C.

Blue Knob Mountain, 1418 Overland Pass, Claysburg, PA, 800-458-3403. 33 trails and night skiing, in addition to country skiing trails, snow tubing park and bars with fireplaces. Drive time: 3 hours from D.C.

Blue Mountain, 1660 Blue Mountain Drive, Palmerton, PA, 610-826-7770. Besides winter activities and amenities, the resort offers Bed and Breakfast, such as Canal Side House, Blue Mountain Hideaway and the Alexander Benjamin House. Drive time: 4 hours from D.C.

Hidden Valley Ski Resort, One Craighead Drive, Hidden Valley, PA, 814-443-2600. Besides 28 trails, 5 lifts, terrain parks and night skiing, there is The Outback Show Tubing Park with snow igloo, tubing under the lights and the longest snow tubing path in PA: the Ice Monster. Drive time: 4 hours.

Massnutten Resort (or the place where I tried snowboarding for the first time), 1822 Resort Drive, McGaheysville, VA, 540-289-9441. Besides trails, lifts, first-timer skiing/snowboarding classes/packages, and tubing, there is spa, indoor water park, guided horseback rides and weekly Virginia winemaker dinners and winery tours. Drive time: 2 hours.

Roundtop Mountain, 925 Roundtop Road, Lewisberry, PA, 717-432-9631. Drive time: 2-2.5 hours.

Seven Springs Mountain Resort, 777 Wanter WheelDrive, Champion, PA, 800-452-2223 ext. 7491. Drive time: 3-3.5 hours.

Wintergreen Resort, Route 664, Wintergreen, VA, 434-325-2200. Drive time: 3 hours.

Wisp Resort, 296 Marsh Hill Road, McHenry, MD, 301-387-4911. Drive time: 3 hours.

1 comment:

Alex Romanovich said...

Great piece Alissa. We often ski at the Shawnee. Alex.