A Season of Skiing Firsts

heli skiing end of day selkirk tangiers

What can I say? All’s well, that end’s well – both with heli skiing and the 2013-2014 ski season!

brave ski mom logoYou’d think that after 40+ years of skiing, it might be hard for me to come up with “firsts.”

Not so, and this winter, the winter of 2013-1014, has seen an absolute bonanza of “firsts.”

Good Firsts, Not Bad

Now before I get too far along, I want to clarify that these are “good” firsts, not “bad” firsts.

What’s a “bad” first? How about the first time I dropped my phone off the chairlift (sadly, it wouldn’t be the last), or the first time my husband showed up at a resort with no ski pants (sadly, that wouldn’t be the last time either).

First Time Skiing In Canada

 Not only did I ski in Canada for the first time, but it was my first time skiing out of the U.S. In December, I flew to Kelowna, British Columbia and spent two days alpine and Nordic skiing at Silver Star Mountain Resort. From there, I took a 2 ½ hour bus ride to Revelstoke where I tried heli skiing for the first time.

The two days at Silver Star were magical. It was right before Christmas, and the colorful little village was alive with sparkly lights and festive greenery. The snow was fantastic, as was the company.

silver star bc at night

And Silver Star is a very fun mountain with over 3000 acres of skiable terrain and a 2500 foot vertical drop. At Silver Star, you’ll find terrain for everyone from baby greens to steep double blacks. Best of all, with a full day lift ticket, you can snowshoe, tube, skate or cross-country ski on Canada’s largest groomed trail network, for free!

view of Okanagan Valley from silver star, bc

A view of the Okanagan Valley from the top of Silver Star Mountain Resort, BC.

First Time Heli Skiing

As for skiing with Selkirk Tangiers heli skiing at Revelstoke, it was, to paraphrase Charles Dickens (and use his words in a context the Victorian Englishman would have never imagined), the best of times and the worst of times.

The best, because once I got my skis under me, the powder was deep and the turns were sublime. The views were stunning and the company was friendly. The worst, because I was woefully unprepared, tired from skiing hard at Silver Star, naïve about the proper use of avalanche gear and not on my equipment. My first run was frustrating, but was we got going, I grew to understand why people heli ski year after year.

This is why you want to heli ski. The beautiful Selkirk Mountains.

This is why you want to heli ski. The beautiful Selkirk Mountains.

I’ve also been told that almost everyone has a rough first day. And from there, it just gets better and better and better!

And, lest you be left wondering, I also skied two days at Revelstoke Mountain Resort – one day with pro skiers Izzy Lynch, Chris Rubens and Sean Cochrane. It’s a rocking, challenging, life list mountain. Go there.

deep snow extreme terrain revel stoke

Revelstoke is known for deep snow and extreme terrain. 

First Time Skiing East of Eldora, Colorado

Until January, I’d never skied east of Eldora, a little resort just west of Boulder. I’d skied plenty in the west, across Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California and Oregon. But until I arrived at Ski Stoneham near Québec City, my eastern experience was nil (as was my skiing in French – another first!).

ski stoneham

Ski Stoneham, Québec.

While in Québec, I skied at Stoneham and Mont-Sainte-Anne, two super fun resorts owned by Canadian ski powerhouse RCR. Ski Stoneham is the smallest of the two resorts, both of which are less than an hour from Québec City. Stoneham has over 300 vertical acres and a 1300 foot vertical drop. A stop on the FIS Snowboard World Cup, Stoneham has a vibrant freeride community, as well as a surprising mix of terrain, with 53% being difficult or most difficult. On a clear blue, super cold, day, it was a blast.

ski stoneham tree glades

My friend Frida gliding through the trees.

Mont-Sainte-Anne, is a larger, more full service resort with cushy base area accommodations, shopping, lodges and more. There’s even an on-mountain sugar shack were you can indulge in maple taffy (delicious and another, very good, first!).

making maple taffy mont-sainte-anne québec

Nearly twice as large as Stoneham, the runs, top-to-bottom, are also nearly twice as long. The new high-speed Panorama Express quad has opened up the mountain’s expert terrain, making it easier (and quicker) to reach, but what really sets Mont-Sainte-Anne apart, are the breathtaking views of the Saint Lawrence River. I hear the views of the river might be even better at Le Massif de Charlevoix, but alas, it was raining the day we visited that mountain.

skiing mont sainte anne

Then in March, I skied in Vermont for the first time, at Killington and Pico Mountain. Neighboring sister resorts, these two couldn’t be more different, yet also perfectly complimentary.

Known as the “Beast of the East,” Killington’s the big dog, spread across 6 distinct mountains, with 1509 skiable acres and 3,050 of vertical!

To drop a few more numbers, there are 155 trails at Killington, 22 lifts, 73 miles of on-piste skiing, 5 terrain parks and 2 half pipes. Add in boundary-to-boundary skiing, meaning 745 acres of tree skiing in the Natural Woods Area, and there is no doubt that Killington is a beast!

ski killington vermont

Just three of Killington’s 6 mountains.

Not only that, it’s a really fun mountain with famous steep groomed runs like Cascade and Double Dipper at the heart of the mountain, and Outer Limits, a straight down, steep-as-heck, run over on Bear Mountain.

Both the Snowshed and Ramshead bases serve the mountain’s easiest and easier terrain, while the K1 Express Gondola offers delights for all levels, as well as breathtaking views of the Vermont’s Green Mountains and many neighboring resorts and ski hills.

snowy killington view

Pico Mountain has a more local feel. First, it’s significantly smaller than Killington, with 468 skiable acres, 57 trails over 19 miles and 7 lifts. It’s also the home of the resort’s race teams and adaptive skiing programs.

Skiing at pico Vermont

A nice tree-lined trail at the top of Pico.


The base village is small, but cohesive and quite lovely, newly anchored by the spiffy Andrea Mead Lawrence Lodge, home to Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports and the Pico Ski Education Foundation, and named after Lawrence, a local alpine racing legend and the first American to win two gold Olympic gold medals.

First Time on a Luge

So what does one do when it’s raining at a ski resort? Well if you’re lucky enough to be at Le Massif you ride the luge. And while it’s not a high-tech, Olympic style luge, but rather a purpose-built wooden sled with Teflon runners, racing downhill with 25 friends and strangers for 7.5 km is not to be missed. It’s a hoot, it’s a challenge, it’s an adrenaline-filled laugh that could easily be addictive.

luge le massif

Luging the day away at Le Massif de Charlevoix.

And while I’m running out of time, and using up way too many words, other notable firsts this season included skiing at Utah’s Deer Valley and a full-day of cat skiing at Monarch Mountain! 

powder skiing deer valley

Enjoying Deer Valley’s portion of the “greatest snow on earth.”

snowcat monarch colorado

Here comes the cat to pick us up at the top of the Breezeway Lift, at Monarch.

What were your “firsts” this season? Did you ski somewhere new or try something different? Did you and your family hit any milestones (like little ones graduating to the chairlift from the magic carpet?) 

Please share your stories and photos! 


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  1. says

    Looks like you had a terrific season! And I’m absolutely delighted to have been able to ski with you during one of your firsts — your trip to Killington. It was a real privilege to take some runs with the Brave Ski Mom! Glad you enjoyed our lovely Green Mountains.

  2. says

    Keep this up and you are going to have to rename your blog something like, “How to make the world drool with envy” or “Living YOUR dream” or “Black diamonds and Green Envy”.

    • says

      You are so funny! I love those tag lines! I know I’m lucky. And sometimes, I simply can’t believe how it all worked out. Thanks so much for being such a loyal reader. I really appreciate your support!

  3. Paule Bergeron says

    Skiing in Vermont was a first for me too. Shame on me, we are neighbours. We will return for sure.

    • says

      Yes, you are neighbors! One of the things that intrigued me about Vermont was standing at the top of Killington and seeing so many other ski hills and resorts in the near and far view! There’s a lot of skiing to be done in Vermont — and in Quebec, too!