Three Great Ski Weekends
If you need a little encouragement from those who have made the leap to skiing with kids, consider Trea Diament, who instructed 7-year-olds as part of Crystal Mountain’s Alpine Club. The most important thing for new, small skiers, she says, is that they have fun. “Hot chocolate and snowball fights are every bit as important as a good wedge or weighting your ski.”
As soon as a kid can stand up, she can strap on skis. What a gift to give your children, to learn to appreciate the active outdoors in our region of mountain abundance! Over a long winter, getting outside can be more than another adventure; it can be a sanity-saver, the perfect antidote to cabin fever. Best of all, it is an activity the whole family can enjoy together.
Susie Martin, who grew up skiing with her family and is passing her love of the sport to her 7-year-old twins, agrees. “There’s no need to ski the whole day,” she says. “It’s all about having fun.” Her recommendations: “Step one is to teach your little skier how to fall and get back up. Celebrate the falls and recoveries more than the skiing.”
A little bit of advance planning can save you extra money. Consider delaying your trip until after mid-March and save on lodging as rates come down. Mid-week rates are also consistently lower. If you have the flexibility, check lodging websites for deals a week before you travel. Many lodging options close to ski areas offer package deals with discounted tickets. And bringing food with you for the mountain, or cooking in a condo for breakfast and dinner, is a great way to stay healthy, nutritionally and financially.
Local ski areas offer fun and reasonable alternatives to what can be a long day trip with little ones. Here are three great ski weekends.
This resort, east of the Cascades, offers up lots of dry snow and more sunshine than its westerly neighbors. Twelve miles from Wenatchee, Mission Ridge is a longer trip from Seattle, but there are some great package deals that make it worth the trip. www.missionridge.com.
Children under 6, $9; kids ages 7-12, $34; adults $50.
Sixth graders ski for free, and students in grades seven through 12 demonstrating a 3.0 GPA or better can get lift tickets for $28 all season (see website for details).
Children under 6, $16; kids ages 6-12, $27; youth ages 13 and up and adults, $35.
Kids’ Club, including half-day ticket, lesson and rental: children ages 4-6, $67; kids ages 7-12, $74; Three Pete Packages (three days lift/lesson/rental) for kids ages 4-12, $159.
Wenatchee offers a variety of options. At the Avenue Motel, kids under 12 stay free. On weekends, $129 gets you a room and two lift tickets to either Mission Ridge or Stevens Pass. www.avenuemotel.com. Most Wenatchee lodgings offer packages including lift tickets, and many offer free stays for children. Search for other lodging options at www.destinationcascades.com/lodging/category/wenatchee.html.
Look for a Wenatchee hotel where the kids stay free, the lift tickets are included and the price is right.
This is one of the last family-owned resorts in Washington state, known by snowboarders around the world, and boasts the highest annual snowfall in the state. Located east of Bellingham, Mt. Baker has great terrain at a low price, making it a perfect destination for a family weekend. www.mtbaker.us/1011/.
Children ages 6 and under ski free; kids ages 7-15, $37; fifth graders ski free (see website for details); adults, $49.50.
Kids 12 and under, $25; teens 13-17, $30; adults $36.
For kids ages 5-6: one hour lesson $20, with $17 rental. For kids ages 7 and older: beginner lift ticket, rental and lesson $48.
Lodging is all located in the town of Glacier at the base of the mountain or between Glacier and Maple Falls. Glacier Guest Suites run from $79-$145 a night. The area is short on hotels, making renting a condo a good option. Find lodging options at www.mtbakerlodging.com. Also check out www.theinnatmtbaker.com for packages.
Baker has some of the best rental, lift ticket and class rates around. Save on lodging by going in on a condo with one or two other families.
Crystal is the largest ski area in Washington and a Seattle favorite, located next to the iconic Mt. Rainier. The new gondola opened in December and the Sasquatch Jib Park is new this season, too. With endless options for beginners through expert skiers, and lodging options right on the slopes Crystal is an ideal family destination. www.skicrystal.com.
Children ages 0-10 ski free; youth ages 11-17, $60; adults $65 (prices do not include gondola).
Children ages 4-10, $16; youth over 10 and adults, $35.
Crystal offers a wide range of lessons, including parent/tot lessons. Go to www.skicrystal.com/Lessons-and-Equipment for class descriptions and prices.
Crystal has options at the mountain or at the base of the access road. Alpine Inn and Quicksilver Lodge are family run and right on the mountain: $269 gets you a room, two adult lift tickets, and breakfast for four (www.crystalhotels.com). Crystal Mountain Lodging Suites offers condos sleeping up to eight, which can add up to good deal when you go with another family (www.crystalmountainlodging.com). Alta Crystal resort publishes last-minute specials on line (www.altacrystalresort.com).
Check out the many specials, including last-minute deals, at Alta Crystal. Also, look for the family package at the Alpine Inn and Quicksilver Lodge.
Shannon Huffman Polson is a writer focusing on the natural world and family. She is mom to son, Sam, who did his first snowshoeing trip at 6 weeks, backpacked in the rain with an overnight in a tent at 6 months, and traveled to Alaska twice in his first year.
If You Go...
Keeping just a few things in mind, you and your little ones will be ready for fun in the snow!
It’s not enough to wear a hat anymore; helmets are strongly recommended, and will keep little heads warm and safe. www.lidsonkids.org has good information on helmets and ski safety for parents. Lessons will help your kids ski safely and in control, and can help maintain family relationships! Make sure to put on a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 no matter what the weather looks like; snow reflects the sun’s rays and will burn young skin.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, but you do have to do better than city duds to keep little bodies warm on the slopes. The old outdoor adage “cotton kills” refers to cotton’s acceleration of body heat loss when wet, so look for base layers in wool or polypropylene, a mid-layer of fleece and a top layer of GORE-TEX or other moisture wicking fabric. Mittens keep little fingers warmer than gloves. A fleece neck warmer will keep out breezes, and goggles will protect tiny eyes. Make sure your kid is wearing warm socks, too. Check out your local parent’s listserves for deals, or sites like www.sierratradingpost.com that sell last season’s clothes for much less.
Rentals are available for tykes to teenagers at each of the local area mountains. It’s OK to borrow gear from friends, too. Just make sure the boots fit well! It’s important to use the right size ski or board, too. Plan ahead for next season, and put the local ski swap and Labor Day sales on your calendar for great deals. When you’re ready to buy, sites that carry discount ski clothing frequently have good deals on gear, too.