So what do you do when it snows? You could sit indoors and mope about the weather OR you could make the most of it. Learn to ski, go skiing, go on ski trips!!
We started off by signing up for a ski trip to Stratton with SUMASA. Since we have never really skiied before; we’ve tried our hand at it but had not really skiied at Gulmarg, we signed up for 2 days of lessons. As it happened, we got a chance to go skiing much before the trip. We went with friends to Campgaw, a local ski slope in New Jersey. The Husband picked it up quite easily. My first attempt on the other hand was a disaster. It depends on the way you look at it really. I started off well, and then picked up more speed than I could control. I whizzed down the bunny slope, crashed/slid under two layers of preventive netting and ended up in gap between a tree and a rock. The good part is, as a consequence I don’t really have the fear of making a fool of myself anymore. Not on the slopes at least! The next time we went, I took a lesson. The lesson helped me with my technique and helped me gain confidence.
Campgaw is a smaller mountain but was a great place for us to learn, as it is only an hour and a half drive away from Stamford.The instructor was not very helpful, but he did his job. They rent out helmets. We have since discovered that not all ski mountains rent out helmets. The cafe at the base of the mountain is terrible. I suggest driving down to one of the little towns around. We also found a lovely salad and smoothie bar in one.
We had heard a lot of good reviews about Stratton, and were looking forward to our trip. We reached the Black Bear Lodge late in the night.When we got to the slopes the next day, it took us a while to figure out where the rental store was and get ourselves fitted, so we missed the morning lesson. We headed out on the slopes to get some practice while we waited for the afternoon lesson. One of the instructors was nice enough to accompany us and give us a few pre-lesson pointers. By the end of the afternoon class, I had learnt some valuable things – Stand up straight; Look ahead, not down at your feet; Complete your turns; Be confident. Can be applied off the slops as well. We also learnt how to use the chair lifts. We continued skiing after the lesson, till it started snowing. We experienced for the first time, why skiers make such a big deal of fresh snow. It feels like cotton!!
The food court in the ski area is a great place to get lunch. I really liked the noodle bowls; hot, steamy, in enormous quantity, with a hint of lemon grass. They are just perfect for a day in the snow. SUMASA had arranged for an apres-ski get together at the Grizzly Bear. (Lots of bears!!)The pub was packed to its gills. The only place they could accommodate our large group was outdoors. We huddled over our drinks, munched on soggy, cardboard-y nachos and relived our ski day. Some people had terrific runs, others made fun beginnings, yet others had sustained bad injuries.
The Husband and I turned in after dinner, but several others decided to go soak in the hot tub, some after a postprandial drinks. We were not carrying our bathing suits. Rookie mistake. Most ski resorts have hot tubs. It’s quite a necessity after a day on the slopes.
On day 2, since we had another lesson booked we used it to go learn snow boarding. Again, the Husband took to it far more easily than I did. It took me a good 15 mins to just be able to get both my feet on the board without help. At the end of the lesson, we were able to get up on the board or with the board on our feet, come down a slight slope, make turns and stop. I’ve noticed people either ski or snow board. I don’t think anyone does both. I wonder why?
We came back from this trip with more than just skiing and snow boarding experiences. We met some wonderful people and made some new friends. Stratton is a great ski mountain for skiers and snow boarders of all levels. The rental equipment is good and the instructors were very helpful. They rent out helmets. They were hopelessly short on the extra large size helmets though. It has a wonderful eating and drinking place, with something for everyone. At the base of the mountain is a market-village, with shops and restaurants. The shopping is expensive though, and I didn’t hear good reviews of the food there either, so skip it and spend more time on the mountain.
*SUMASA-Columbia University Sustainability Management Student Association