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