Season Plans: 2019-20

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Season Plans: 2019-20

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:29 pm

Liz and I had settled into a pattern that will change a little bit in 2020. Liz is taking a Kristen Ulmer clinic at Alta the last weekend of January, which means we won't be going to the Alps in the usual timeframe that we have copied from James with much success the past 3 seasons.

The period after Iron Blosam Week is also viable for the Alps, with the caveat that to be over there for 2+ weeks we would like to see a late Easter so not to run into school holidays. Last year would have been ideal for that but we couldn't resist the $566 airfare bargain in January.

I first checked Euro airfares a month ago and found them in the $1,200/60K miles range, so decided to wait awhile. Maybe late October is a good time to book. It's not the fire sale of a year ago, but fares dropped to $825/41K miles so I pulled the trigger to fly March 17 - April 7.

41K miles + $84 fees is very good for USA-Europe, though with caveats:
1) That deal was only available on Tue/Wed flights.
2) Paid tickets have just one stop in AMS or CDG. By using miles we have a second plane change in Minneapolis or Detroit. James can comment on whether this tradeoff is worth the risk given my track record with luggage. At least both stops are about 2 hours.

I'm relaxing my standards a bit for cashing miles in view of being almost shut out completely last July and having to pay $2,800pp for airfares on that trip to Tahiti/Australia/Vanuatu. So we also paid 26K miles + $56 fees for RT Calgary in February instead of about $470. The Canada trip is Feb. 19 - Mar. 1. FYI Liz will be at Island Lake overlapping my time at Mustang.

Given the late January timing of Liz' Utah clinic, it's almost certain we'll go to Jackson Hole immediately before or after.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
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Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Season Plans: 2019-20

Postby Sbooker » Wed Oct 30, 2019 1:37 am

Oh to be not tied to a job.
I'm checking out Japan for the first time and getting some very early season turns in December. We are flying into Sapporo and grabbing a car. I expect we'll check out Kiroro, Sapporo Teine, Niseko and Rusutsu. We're obviously not counting on epic powder at that time but we may get to ski some soft snow. Who knows.
After Presidents Day we fly into SLC and road trip with some novice skier friends. First trip ever without the kids. This won't allow us to ski any differently as they can ski anywhere we can but we will be able to check out the odd bar or club that we haven't been able to. Cheesy places like the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Should be fun.
My heart bleeds when I hear about the cost of your flights Tony. :-P Flying from Australia to the Northern Hemisphere is always expensive. To bring my family of four to Europe or The States is about $9000 in Aussie dollars in school holidays - if we book early. Japan cost about $5000 which is crazy considering it's a short trip. I'm really surprised at the high cost of accommodation in Japan. I would say it is comparable to Europe, more expensive than the US and much more expensive than Canada in general. Interestingly because of the weak Aussie dollar it's probably cheapest for us to ski (lift tickets) on some kind of pass in the States than in Europe, Canada or Japan considering day passes are kind of standard in those places.
If it counts as 19/20 we'll have some time in NZ in our winter. Either August to check out a couple of the club fields and Treble Cone on the south island or late September for spring skiing at Mt Ruapehu on the north island. I did give my kids the option of a trip to snorkel on the Barrier Reef in August in place of skiing and to my pleasure they opted for skiing. I'm pretty sure they're hooked which from a life long cost perspective is a big burden to carry.
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Re: Season Plans: 2019-20

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Oct 30, 2019 12:41 pm

It has dawned upon me that the flip side of our experience last July is that it is very expensive for Aussies to travel.

Sbooker's air cost to Japan is about the same as ours. Travel between North America and Australia/NZ is probably more expensive during our winter/their summer than vice versa. That's better for us than for sbooker. Travel for us to Europe is no question cheaper in winter than summer, good for skiers and for the past two years there have been very good deals available for winter in October.

I don't know how it works with mileage programs in Australia, but in the US it pays to have a premium credit card tied to an airline awards program. My Delta Reserve card gets me 70K+ award miles every year plus the majority of qualification miles for Gold Status. There are other perks like lounge access and no baggage fees. One of the issues with the South Pacific is that it is poorly served by Delta and its partners. However, we were generally unable to use United (Air New Zealand) or American (Qantas, Fiji Airways) miles for last July's travel either.

sbooker wrote:I'm pretty sure they're hooked which from a life long cost perspective is a big burden to carry.

I've always thought that about the southeast quadrant of the USA. There are some very active ski clubs in Florida. But Brisbane takes this to a completely different level. Is there a worse first world location for a skier? Maybe Perth? Interestingly there was a couple from Perth on the 2011 Antarctic ski cruise. Their son was the only child on that cruise.

sbooker wrote:I did give my kids the option of a trip to snorkel on the Barrier Reef in August in place of skiing and to my pleasure they opted for skiing.

There you have an advantage. That's driving distance for you, at least the southern end, Lady Eliot and Heron Islands. FYI Heron Island was the first place I did scuba in 1997, a supervised resort dive. Heron runs a tight ship on diving, won't take kids under 14. Snorkeling can be excellent too.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Season Plans: 2019-20

Postby sierra_cement » Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:02 pm

Nice plans, Sbooker. You are really committed to skiing with all those costs. Our travels are made possible by frequent flyer miles and we wouldn't be flying to ski if we had to pay cash. I have heard that it's not easy to earn FF miles outside the US.

After spending a lot of time with Tony's data and reading comments from people here, this year we did not book any flights for Xmas trip. I think I won the snow lottery last year with Thanksgiving and Christmas trips to Colorado and don't want to push my luck.

Xmas/NY: we will drive to ski at Mt. Rose if conditions are good. Otherwise, we will go to San Diego for a few days.


Jan MLK weekend:Flying to Utah. I think the famous places in Utah will be very crowded on this weekend, so we are thinking about checking out Beaver Mountain in Northern Utah based on recommendation from a Pugski Unofficial guide.

Jan 31 to Feb 2: Trip to Utah without family. Ski at Alta with a friend who will be attending a conference at Snowbird.

President's day weekend: no plans to ski as we will be skiing the next week.

Feb 22 to 29: taking a full week off to ski at Mt Rose. My guess is this will be an uncrowded week in Tahoe. The likelihood of good conditions is high as per Tony's chart. I have identified a CSIA Level II instructor and I hope that private lessons will improve our skiing. I was also lucky to get a timeshare exchange into the Hyatt High Sierra Lodge, so I'm hoping the luxury accommodations would create an association of skiing = fun in my wife's and daughter's mind. My 4.5 y.o. daughter is more enthusiastic about skiing than my wife.

Easter April 10-12: Booked flights to Utah. We will probably sleep at lower elevation as the trip is only for 3 days. We will most likely ski at Brighton but might make a decision last minute to ski at Alta instead.

We will do a few weekend trips to Tahoe on weekends if weather is clear. The drive becomes very long during a storm and I don't know how to ski powder anyway.
Last edited by sierra_cement on Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Season Plans: 2019-20

Postby Sbooker » Wed Oct 30, 2019 4:43 pm

sierra_cement wrote:Nice plans, Sbooker. You are really committed to skiing with all those costs. Our travels are made possible by frequent flyer miles and we wouldn't be flying to ski if we had to pay cash. I have heard that it's not easy to earn FF miles outside the US.

After spending a lot of time with Tony's data and reading comments from people here, this year we did not book any flights for Xmas trip. I think I won the snow lottery last year with Thanksgiving and Christmas trips to Colorado and don't want to push my luck.

Xmas/NY: we will drive to ski at Mt. Rose if conditions are good. Otherwise, we will go to San Diego for a few days.


Jan MLK weekend:Flying to Utah. I think the famous places in Utah will be very crowded on this weekend, so we are thinking about checking out Beaver Mountain in Northern Utah based on recommendation from a Pugski Unofficial guide.

Jan 31 to Feb 2: Trip to Utah without family. Ski at Alta with a friend who will be attending a conference at Snowbird.

President's day weekend: no plans to ski

Feb 22 to 29: taking a full week off to ski at Mt Rose. My guess is this will be an uncrowded week in Tahoe. The likelihood of good conditions is high as per Tony's chart. I have identified a CSIA Level II instructor and I hope that private lessons will improve our skiing. I was also lucky to get a timeshare exchange into the Hyatt High Sierra Lodge, so I'm hoping the luxury accommodations would create an association of skiing = fun in my wife's and daughter's mind. My 4.5 y.o. daughter is more enthusiastic about skiing than my wife.

Easter April 10-12: Booked flights to Utah. We will probably sleep at lower elevation as the trip is only for 3 days. We will most likely ski at Brighton but might make a decision last minute to ski at Alta instead.

We will do a few weekend trips to Tahoe on weekends if weather is clear. The drive becomes very long during a storm and I don't know how to ski powder anyway.


Sounds fun. The late season trips are a great time for families. We have done quite a few and have even experienced proper powder days at Alta in early April. Hopefully you get lucky.
I'm not in any great position to offer advice on skiing but I can tell you we have had great skiing conditions with minimal crowds in Banff (Sunshine, Lake Louise) at that time of year also. The first time we visited my kids were 5 and 7. Both hills have diverse terrain from gentle groomers to more advanced stuff for you. We encountered winter snow both times (with the exception of the front side of Lake Louise) at both mountains. The top half of Whistler has also offered us great skiing at that time of year too.
I guess you would be familiar with good April skiing with Mammoth presumably pretty close to you?

Again I'm in no position to offer advice but I would suggest that the more exposure you have to 'powder' the better you will become. For that reason April again is a good time to visit Banff because 4 to 6 inch powder days are still common at that time of year I believe (we have scored a few of them). Perfect for an introduction to fresh snow.
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Re: Season Plans: 2019-20

Postby Sbooker » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:27 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:It has dawned upon me that the flip side of our experience last July is that it is very expensive for Aussies to travel.

Sbooker's air cost to Japan is about the same as ours. Travel between North America and Australia/NZ is probably more expensive during our winter/their summer than vice versa. That's better for us than for sbooker. Travel for us to Europe is no question cheaper in winter than summer, good for skiers and for the past two years there have been very good deals available for winter in October.

I don't know how it works with mileage programs in Australia, but in the US it pays to have a premium credit card tied to an airline awards program. My Delta Reserve card gets me 70K+ award miles every year plus the majority of qualification miles for Gold Status. There are other perks like lounge access and no baggage fees. One of the issues with the South Pacific is that it is poorly served by Delta and its partners. However, we were generally unable to use United (Air New Zealand) or American (Qantas, Fiji Airways) miles for last July's travel either.

sbooker wrote:I'm pretty sure they're hooked which from a life long cost perspective is a big burden to carry.

I've always thought that about the southeast quadrant of the USA. There are some very active ski clubs in Florida. But Brisbane takes this to a completely different level. Is there a worse first world location for a skier? Maybe Perth? Interestingly there was a couple from Perth on the 2011 Antarctic ski cruise. Their son was the only child on that cruise.

sbooker wrote:I did give my kids the option of a trip to snorkel on the Barrier Reef in August in place of skiing and to my pleasure they opted for skiing.

There you have an advantage. That's driving distance for you, at least the southern end, Lady Eliot and Heron Islands. FYI Heron Island was the first place I did scuba in 1997, a supervised resort dive. Heron runs a tight ship on diving, won't take kids under 14. Snorkeling can be excellent too.


Before we had kids and while I was single I was heavily into offshore fishing and I have pulled great fish from the waters surrounding Lady Elliot and the like. It is believed the biggest Red Emperor in the world come from that region. I have caught one at 29 pounds but they can get to over 40. A spectacular looking fish when coming to the boat and when out of the water. They are superb eating too.
https://www.google.com.au/search?q=lady ... CyrtPXBs9M:
I will get back into the fishing once the kids get to age they don't want to know us (late teenagers apparently like to hang with their mates more than their parents). For the time being they love to spend their leisure time on the mountain with us so skiing is the perfect family activity for now.
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Re: Season Plans: 2019-20

Postby sierra_cement » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:31 pm

Sbooker wrote:Sounds fun. The late season trips are a great time for families. We have done quite a few and have even experienced proper powder days at Alta in early April. Hopefully you get lucky.

From what I have read is many people just stop skiing after their spring break in March and get into warm weather activities so spring skiing can be great. I will keep doing April trips in future as well at the North facing areas.

Sbooker wrote:I'm not in any great position to offer advice on skiing but I can tell you we have had great skiing conditions with minimal crowds in Banff (Sunshine, Lake Louise) at that time of year also. The first time we visited my kids were 5 and 7. Both hills have diverse terrain from gentle groomers to more advanced stuff for you. We encountered winter snow both times (with the exception of the front side of Lake Louise) at both mountains. The top half of Whistler has also offered us great skiing at that time of year too.

Banff/Lake Louise is on my list for April. We are going there in September next year for the summer scenery. I have read Tony's guide on those two places and I think we need to wait to become better skiers before going there.

Sbooker wrote:I guess you would be familiar with good April skiing with Mammoth presumably pretty close to you?

We haven't been because it's a 7-8 hour drive in the winter. It's on our list for a future April trip though. Tony also recommends June mountain, which closes in early April.

We need to start getting more comfortable with winter driving. We don't have an SUV so we rent cars for the trips and they don't come with winter tires. Hopefully this year we will gain some winter driving experience. I have watched a few videos on winter driving for a start! I may have to buy a used SUV and put winter tires on it.

Sbooker wrote:Again I'm in no position to offer advice but I would suggest that the more exposure you have to 'powder' the better you will become. For that reason April again is a good time to visit Banff because 4 to 6 inch powder days are still common at that time of year I believe (we have scored a few of them). Perfect for an introduction to fresh snow.


Yeah. Hopefully my Utah trips will give me some introduction to powder. We don't plan on going to the Sierras during storms so our exposure to powder will be limited to the Utah trips. And hopefully a learn to powder ski trip to Targhee in a couple of years.
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