Obviously the saga of my skiing misadventures are becoming so drawn out that I have to do a big catch up in this blog, otherwise I’m never going to get around to regaling you all with stories from my new home in Park City, Utah.
How did an Australian girl end up in Park City, Utah? Well, I fell in love.
In March 2008, my best friend, Patsy and I, made our way to North America. We spent 10 days in New York, 3 days in Washington DC (not nearly long enough) and then another 10 days skiing in Park City.
It was at the NY/DC juncture that I decided to try and find a ski boot bag on wheels that was the same shape as my old nylon badly decomposed bag which I simply couldn’t carry along with my suitcase and everything else a girl needs for a 3 week holiday overseas. I couldn’t find one anywhere, so upon returning home, I went about inventing, manufacturing, and now selling the very fancy schmancy ski boot bag on wheels – the SkBoot bag!
But, while in Park City, I met Brian who had lived in Park City, but was residing in Salt Lake City. Upon returning home to Australia, a friendship developed which then in turn, turned into a romance which involved lots of frequent flyer miles!
During this romance, I was also working on developing the SkBoot bag and finally, at about the time I was moving to the States as a married woman, the final product was ready to go.
In September 2010, Brian and I married in Hawaii and celebrated with family and friends.
I then moved to Salt Lake City, but it wasn’t until December 2010 that we found our dream home in Park City.
And here the story really begins….
I’m forward winding a bit, but I wanted to make a special mention to a group of volunteers and workers at the National Ability Center, Park City.
As the name indicates, many of the skiers and snowboarders who ride this lift are beginners, so we who work down at First Time are adept at pushing and sometimes pulling first timers through the ticket gates and onto the lift. As well as the ski schools who come through the line, the NAC workers and volunteers come with their students. The student skiers and sit skiers are nothing short of inspirational, and I make special mention of a wonderful 15 year old girl called Bip who is just one of the happiest human beings on the face of the earth, which in turn makes me feel like I should be far more grateful than I can be at times.
But, I want to give three cheers to the wonderful volunteers and workers at the NAC. Their strength, skills and patience are simply astounding. So, a special thank you to the NAC for providing such a valuable service to the community!
For more information on the National Ability Center and how you can help, please go to their website
So, how do you repay your best friend for taking you skiing in Canada for 2 weeks? You win a ski trip to Japan!
It’s that whole Karma thing. The year after Patsy and I had returned from Canada, I went to the Brisbane Snow Show and entered a competition to WIN a 7-day all expenses paid trip for two to Niseko, Japan. To enter, you had to say in 25 words or less why you’d like to win this trip. And I wrote: “My best friend of 25 years shouted me a trip to Canada last year, and I’d like to return the favour”. And I won!!!
To get to Niseko, we had to fly 8 hours to Tokyo first and then fly the next day to Niseko which is situated on the North Island of Japan (Hokkaido). Niseko comprises six ski areas:
- Niseko Hirafu.
- Niseko Higashiyama (also known as Niseko Village).
- Niseko Annupuri.
- Niseko Hanazono.
- Niseko Moiwa.
- Niseko Weiss.
We stayed in a little place (name I can’t remember) a short shuttle ride to the slopes. When I say little, the room was tiny and the bathroom even tinier but Patsy and I had traveled through Europe, so were used to tiny rooms.
Niseko’s snow truly must be the best in the world. The snow comes from Siberia and it is the softest and fluffiest snow I’ve ever seen or skied on. If you like skiing powder, THIS is the place for you to visit.
Unfortunately, still, at this stage, being a very mediocre skier, I couldn’t take advantage of the powder skiing this resort offered.
The town itself is full of bars and great restaurants and the food, if you like Japanese food, is amazing! Unfortunately, however, Niseko has attracted ifs fair share of yobbo Aussies who seem to have taken over the resort with gusto. Those poor Japanese, I’m sure, don’t know what’s hit them. But remember, I was there in 2006, and things have changed dramatically. For one, every Australian lawyer and doctor has bought up property here and built very sophisticated townhouses and condominiums. You only have to look up Niseko Accommodation to see some of the lovely properties available.
One of the downsides of skiing Japan, is that it’s awfully cold, and you don’t often get those beautiful blue skies that we see here in Park City, Utah. Also, our mountains in Utah are huge compared to Japan’s, but there’s still enough for everyone.
Here are some comparisons:
Niseko United ( think that must mean all six ski areas) has a total of 803 acres and elevation of 3,084 feet
Park City, Utah: 3300 acres and elevation of 10,000 feet (and that’s just one of 3 mountains)
Niseko United has a total of 30 trails
Park City has 100 trails
The great thing about skiing Japan for Aussies is that it’s only an 8 hour flight (I know Americans are thinking “8 hours???!!!”), but Aussies are used to traveling.
If you get a chance and you like powder, definitely head on over to Japan.
Patsy and I had a wonderful trip and this is where I finally started getting the hang of parallel skiing. It didn’t take me long did it? But as my husband says, I’m just not a natural sports anything.
If you’ve skied Japan, I’d love to read about your experiences and how the resort has changed since 2006.
Working at Park City Mountain Resort as a Lift Line Coordinator has presented me with the quest to find the “perfect snow boot” for more than three years now – a boot that is both comfortable and warm with good traction and waterproof,
Last year, after trying Baffins, Sorels and some other brands, I finally settled on the Keen boot which, in my opinion was the warmest and most comfortable. Having said that, last year was a very mild season and my feet did still freeze on some days, so with the hope that the North American ski season is going to be fabulous this year and most likely cold, I continue my search for the perfect boot.
Columbia is leaps and bounds in technology with Omni-heat and Omni-tech and last but not least, electric accessories such as gloves, boots and jackets. I’m yet to be convinced about Omni-heat because I bought a pair of Omni-heat socks and my tootsies didn’t feel any different at all.
So, this year, I purchased myself a pair of Columbia Electric Boots. The Columbia Women’s Bugathermo Boots which is an older model to the Women’s Bugathermo Original Electric Snow Boots
I wanted to try the more recent model, however, the Columbia store didn’t have it in my size but were getting more in, so I said I’d try the older model first and then exchange them for the newer model when my size arrived.
So, I charged up my Bugathermo Boots but when I put them on, although really comfortable, I really didn’t feel they got that warm.
So, a few days later, I exchanged them for the newer Bugathermo Original Electric Snow Boots, took them home, charged them up and tried them on.
Older model Bugathermo Boots:. The boots come with a plug with two USB outlets. The USB end is inserted into the plug and the other end is plugged into a small rubber attachment to the boot (like your plugging in a mobile phone). When the boots are fully charged, the red light on the side of the boot which flashes while it’s charging, remains on. After 5 hours, apparently, the charging automatically switches itself off.
The battery in these boots is encased in the boot and once the life of the battery has run its course, you have to undo the stitching of the boot (instructions show you how) and then the battery is enclosed in a Velcro and waterproof pocket can be changed.
The boots stay warm for 8 hours on low and 4 hours on medium and 2 hours on high.
Newer model Bugathermo Original Electric Snow Boots: The boots come with removable batteries which are encased in a tidy waterproof Velcro pocket on the side of the boot. Again, the boots come with a plug with two USB outlets, but instead of plugging in the boots to the cable, you remove the batteries and place them in a battery charger case and then charge them that way. Then, when the batteries are charged (again about 2 hours), you plug the batteries into the cable in the pocket of the boot and then put the battery in there.
Once I had charged these up and tried them on, I again didn’t feel that they were that warm. Puzzling?
I actually decided I liked the older version of the boots better, so went back to exchange them yet again. (I’m sure the staff at Columbia roll their eyes when they see me in the store yet again.)
The reason I liked the older version is because the charging of the boots was easier, and they seem more comfortable than the newer version of the boot. I have high maintenance feet, so comfort is very important.
Also, the older version stay heated up for longer than the newer version.
The only downside I see is having to undo the stitching when the battery finally dies and I have to replace it, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes. I’m not sure how long the battery life will last.
Features of Women’s Bugathermo Electric Boot
- Lightweight waterproof leather and synthetic upper
- Removable, rechargeable batteries
- Innovative built-in heating system
- 200g Thinsulate with added underfoot insulation rated –25ºF/-32ºC
- Anatomically contoured footbed with AgION® anti-odor treatment provides cushioned comfort and support
- Second-generation lightweight Techlite® shell provides added protection from moisture and cold weather
- Omni-Grip outsole with aggressive winter traction pattern
- Weight: Size 9, 1/2 pair=1lb. 5oz/607g
The Moment of Truth has arrived
So, now I’ve charged up the second pair of the Bugathermo Boots I’ve brought home…and let’s see what happens…..
I’ve put on a pair of thinnish merino wool blend socks and put on the boots. The heat only comes on in the toe area, but does anyone know what 140 degrees F feels like? I’m sure it’s meant to feel warmer than this. Goodness. I’ll call Columbia tomorrow to see what they say.
And the quest continues…
UPDATE to above. Columbia contacted me and I took them in to the store and they said that the temperature felt like it should. So I’ll be trying them out next Monday at work. Will let you know how I go.
Have you had experience with the Columbia Electric Boot?
As you have hopefully noticed, my blog has been neglected over the Northern Hemisphere summer. I don’t know, but once we’re over the ski season, it is really difficult to think about skiing while you’re enjoying a beautiful summer, and I must say that summers in Park City, Utah are simply gorgeous!
However, after our snow storm a few days’ ago, I started getting excited again about the upcoming ski season and decided to continue with the “Perils of Caroline – Living and Working in the Snow”.
So I’m going to fast forward to 2005. My very best friend of nearly 30 years Patsy, had skied for almost 40 years and had truly skied the world over, so when her father sadly passed away (he had skied until he was 87 I believe), he left my dear friend with a bit of an inheritance, and Patsy – and you’ll see why she is my best friend – told me in no uncertain terms that she was taking me away for an all-expenses trip to Vancouver and Whistler! Of course I objected, but it was no use, and except for my airfare, Patsy organised our accommodation and skiing.
I’ve got to say that Vancouver has to be one of my most favourite cities in the world and the four days we spent there were filled walking, sightseeing, eating, shopping and shopping!
Then off to Whistler, BC. Unfortunately for us, Whistler was having the worst ski season for 60 years, so where one could normally ski top to bottom, we had to take the gondola right to the top and even then, the runs were limited, and the conditions precarious.
Again, my episodes continued. You’ve gotta give me E for Effort as I certainly gave skiing my best shot. I remember one run in particular – supposedly a green, but looked like a black – that we arrived at after snow-plowing along a very hazardous cat track (still my worst nightmare on the slopes). In fact, I fell on this cat-track, and I’d like to thank all the people who yelled at me as they skied past. Don’t you think if I could have moved, I would have? I’m still having therapy for that particular experience.
Anyway, so this green run was what I, at the time, called very steep, and it was icy. But lucky for us Patsy and I found another way down which involved traversing across the slope which was also quite hazardous, and then going down a very pretty little slope amongst some trees which became almost flat and took you direct to the chairlift.
So, on our last day in Whistler, Patsy, who lives to ski…and eat (but luckily has a good metabolism) insisted that we do “First Tracks”. For those of you who have never done First Tracks on ice…this is truly an experience. We were up at the crack of dawn and made our way to a restaurant on the mountain for breakfast. We then took off for our First Tracks experience. Again, we came across the “steep slope” which looked frightening, so as usual traversed across the slope to our little hidden trail. OMG!!!! It looked like glass and had that “blue” look to it. I stayed motionless as Patsy took off and kind of did this big semi-circle and then disappeared amongst the trees. How I made it down, I don’t know but no serious injuries were incurred and we lived to tell the tale.
If you have never skied Whistler, I highly recommend it. I can only imagine what it must be like with good snow. The scenery is breathtaking.
The town itself is simply gorgeous with over 100 restaurants and bars, great shopping and loads of Aussies, as it appears Whistler is their second home. The base of the mountain has several bars and restaurants that are always full of happy après-skiers.
In closing, I must mention that even though the skiing was challenging, this is where I finally “got the bug”. I’m not sure what it was, but I think it was the whole experience of skiing: meeting people on the gondolas and chairlifts, the après-ski, the atmosphere of the village, and the glimmer of hope that I was actually getting the hang of this skiing gig!
What a beautiful and spectacular place Yellowstone is! But if you’ve ever wondered where all the old TV’s went – you know, the ones that existed before flat screens became the rage, well, they are in MONTANA!
As someone who travels to Australia and back to the US 2-3 times a year, I was on a constant quest to find the PERFECT travel apparel that not only looked nice, but was comfortable and functional, meaning that it wouldn’t matter what climate I was leaving or arriving in, I was wearing the right gear. Well, good news! I have found the perfect outfit for traveling and often get compliments from other travelers (yes I’m from the old school that believes one should dress well in order to travel).
The most important thing about traveling 13 hours on a flight is comfort whether you’re traveling First Class, Business, or like me, in Cargo class.
The Calvin Klein Essentials range – commonly referred to as “loungewear” means you can wear it to bed, lounging around the house, or like I’ve discovered – for traveling. The clothing is light weight, made of 94% modal and 6% spandex, and very comfortable. The pants (Essentials Pull-On Pants) are like a yoga pant with a fold over waist band – so nothing is tight or restricting around your waist. I team that with the Essentials Basic Tank Top with shelf bra and normally wear a little seamless bra underneath like the ones from Genie Bra. Then, over the top I wear a V-neck poncho sweater that I purchased from LOFT. It’s soft and very comfortable.
Finally, the shoes. Probably the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn and I liked them so much, I bought two pairs. They are by Pikolino (Style: Romana) and what’s great about them is that they are so versatile and you can wear them with or without socks or knee-highs. I wear them with jeans, dresses or shorts and I get so many comments from others saying that they love my shoes. In fact, they are the only shoes I take when I travel back to Oz.
So, if you’re like me and always looking for the perfect travel gear, I hope this article helps. I’m just hoping that I don’t get to LAX next time and see hundreds of women dressed like me! But at least I’ll know that someone is reading my blog!
Lastly, I wanted to thank Qantas flight staff for the excellent level of service they provide on the LAX to Brisbane flight. Qantas are amazing!
I’d love to hear what you wear when you travel and what works for you, so just comment below.
Happy travels... Caroline
If you’ve never been skiing or snowboarding before, or if it’s been a while since you’ve hit the slopes, or if you’re traveling from a summer location to a winter one, it’s difficult to know exactly what you need when packing for the snow. And, when packing for a ski trip, it’s easy to over-pack, because winter clothes and ski jackets etc. are bulky – so packing smart is the key. So here’s our guide for what you should take on your next ski trip.
Skboot’s Guide on What to Take Skiing
- One set of thermals. You really don’t need more than one set as these days, thermals use an anti-odor technology which keeps your base layer fresher, longer. Besides, if you need to wash them, they should dry overnight. Thermals work by moving moisture away from the body, keeping you dry and warm. I recently purchased a pair of thermals by Under Armour which I really like as they are light to wear, but the feature I really, really love is the half glove sleeves, which prevents your wrists from being exposed to the cold. The top is also extra long, which is good in one way as it keeps your lower back and “derriere” warm. Another brand I love is Hot Chillys and they have some lovely ski tops as well.
- Socks, two pairs. If you’re renting boots, I would suggest a slightly thicker sock. But if you have your own boots, a thin wool sock is highly recommended. There are many different sock technologies these days – one being one by Columbia referred to as “omni-heat”. I’m yet to be convinced whether it works in a sock as I have a pair, but my favorite ski socks are by Euro. The Euro Sock “compresses” your foot and calf and doesn’t move inside the boot like some socks I have bought do. They also wick moisture away from the foot! Love them!
- Ski Pants. There are many different brands and most of them provide the warmth you will require. And they don’t need to be expensive. I recently bought a pair of “Free Country” from TJ Max which is as warm as my other more expensive brands.
- Ski Jacket. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this item either. What you really pay for in the more expensive jackets is the name and features, but I found a great jacket for $50 – again from TJ Max, and it’s super warm, and very stylish. However, from a versatility viewpoint, especially when you’re traveling, I’m a big fan of Columbia because a lot of their jackets have an “inner” jacket which is very warm and insulated and which you can also use when you’re not skiing, and then the waterproof shell goes over the top of the inner jacket when you’re skiing. In fact, I bought my husband a Columbia ski jacket last year, and only just discovered that there’s this lovely black puffy jacket underneath which he can where when he’s not skiing. He was thrilled! 2 jackets in 1!
- Ski Tops. Just take two, preferably in different colors so you don’t look like you’re wearing the same top every day. For very cold days, I like a fleecy type top, but my Hot Chillys, I think, is my favorite.
- Ski Helmet. I’m an absolute advocate for the ski helmet. If you don’t have one, do yourself a favor and get one. All ski helmets have to meet the same safety requirements, so it doesn’t matter if you spend $70 or $700, they are well worth the investment. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard of people who have fallen and have been saved by their helmet. They are light to wear and keep your ears warmer than any beanie. Then, of course, if you want added warmth and protection, we highly recommend Skboot’s latest and newest must have ski accessory, The Neoprene Helmet Glove (NHG).
- Accessories. You’ll need a neck warmer – the turtle fur ones are really snugly, a good pair of ski gloves or mittens (some now have zippered compartments on them for hand warmers) and goggles.
- Boot Bags. I was told a long time ago that if you ski, skis you can rent, but to ski well, you need your own ski boots custom fitted for you. If you have your own boots, you’ll need an awesome bag to pack your ski gear in : the SKBoot bag is an up-scale and very stylish ski boot bag on wheels that fits your boots, helmet and gear – perfect for the skier or snowboarder who travels to ski.
- Backpack Carriers. For skiers and snowboarders looking for backpack solutions to stay organized and make going from the parking lot to the lodge and back again a snap, we’ve found a very clever set of bags developed by another small company in MA called Kulkea. Their packs are designed specifically for recreational skiers and families to take the schlep out of skiing through innovative functions and features that make everything easily accessible and as hassle free as possible. Check out the bags available on their website www.kulkea.com.
I have a girlfriend who travels to Park City, Utah with her husband every year, and she is the “expert” when it comes to packing. In fact, Peta is a “stylist” and personal shopper, and this is her recommendation for your next ski holiday.
- 2-4 sweaters or shirts for the evening. Remember, accessories can make the same outfit look totally different.
- Accessories such as a scarf, beanie and gloves.
- A pair of skinny jeans. Dark blue or black pants are the best, as they will go with anything.
And that’s pretty much it!
I know I’ve steered the above more towards what women should take skiing, but do men really need any help? I mean, they seem to be able to live in the same pair of jeans, sweater and socks for two months! ☺
If anyone else has any other suggestions, please feel free to add them to our comments as we’d love to get your input.