July 24, 2014

Call Toll Free: 1-888-541-PEAK (7325) or Email Us

Why Backcountry Skiing is Trending

Undoubtedly, from looking at all of the ski and snowboard publications (and we look at a lot) the Backcountry experience is exploding. In mountain towns in the U.S., Canada and Europe, people are using their own initiative to get out for an experience that is different from what the throngs of people in modern ski resorts experience.

 It is really due to this experience that this is happening. The backcountry is an imaginary boundary that unless you are familiar with what is on the other side, only raises curiosity among the general ski population. It is the mixture of apprehension, fear and lack of knowledge that separates those who have not yet overcome these obstacles from those who have and are becoming more knowledgeable, pushing past the apprehension and fear and finding an experience that is unique from what their brethren on the lifts are having.

 The ‘coolness’ of that inner feeling of going where others aren’t or cannot go gives one the inner satisfaction that due to their desire to work to overcome some obstacles they have attained some exclusivity; that special feeling of being one of the few.

 It would be easy to say the common denominator fueling this trend is powder snow. That elusive condition that is so pristine, untouched, and gives the rider that feeling of floating and flying at the same time. People pay thousands of dollars and travel thousands of miles for great heli skiing that provides the same sensation. But not everyone can afford that.

The floating feeling of backcountry powder

The floating feeling of backcountry powder.

 So looking outside the ski area boundaries was bound to happen. Twenty years ago there were a few alpinists who would put climbing skins on their skis and spend 2 to 4 hours hiking up the slope to enjoy some untracked runs. While they usually found great skiing it was something more that kept them going back.

 Freedom. Freedom to go at their own pace; to be free of boundaries and lifts. Freedom to be away from the confines of the ski area scene. Today, advances in rockered skis, modern alpine touring bindings and boots, split board snowboards and the invention of avalanche beacons and the snow science knowledge have given many more the vehicles to experience what is “beyond the ropes.”

 As underground word of this wonderful experience made it’s way through the mountain communities, more avid snow riders decided to see what was so unique about this experience. Ski magazines are now featuring the backcountry and side country gear on their pages as word spreads about a new experience in snow riding.

 The mainstream resort skier or snowboarder is becoming more curious to this trend. How can I see what the backcountry experience is like? A natural question for someone who frequents ski areas and has developed a likeness for the sport.

 I guess that’s when a powder and adventure skiing company like mine says, “that’s where we come in.” I know you are thinking as a backcountry skier, “Oh no! Here come the hoards to ruin my peaceful and pristine backcountry!”

 Well, let’s face it, not everyone is going to hike for their turns. It just isn’t in them so relax. While hike to terrain has become more popular at ski resorts, not everyone is willing to put in the work and that is really what separates them from getting to that next level.

 What American Mountain Holidays does is a couple of things to get people that unique backcountry experience. Sure we sell great heli-skiing adventures in Colorado, Utah, Idaho and especially Canada. We have snowcat skiing in just about every state and province and that’s another great way to get introduced to the backcountry. In each of these cases you have a professional guide to lead you and teach you about the backcountry experience. You are able to rent specialized gear from these guides but most importantly you are under the direction and supervision of a professional guide working with a ‘territory’ they are familiar with and have a thorough knowledge of snow conditions.

The Freedom of the backcountry experience.

 Many of our ski destinations have professional guiding services and this is always the way to be introduced or to experience another destination where you would be unfamiliar with snow conditions, the history of the snow cycles and prevailing winds and sun exposure. If you are an experienced backcountry traveler you know you will either need knowledgeable, trusted friends to guide you or you need a professional guide.

 The guide will be able to assess your skills, (AMH also does this in a preliminary fashion to make sure we recommend and set you up with the right level of experience). Your equipment will be set up, you will be provided training on how to use your safety equipment and the guide will talk to you about backcountry travel. From there he will take you to an area he is knowledgeable on and that he knows will have great powder skiing.

 You will enjoy the hike up. You stay warm, the gear is light and easy to use. The peacefulness of the winter landscape, being a traveler on a pristine mountainside and the run down through the soft powder is an experience like no other. And then there’s that inner coolness that always oozes out when your friends ask, “where did you ski today.”

Warming on the climb to the powder.

 

 So think it over. Are you willing to put in a little work for a great experience? It seems like a lot of people are doing just that and the word is getting out. Give us a call at AMH and we’ll make sure you have that Peak Experience.

 1-888-541-7325. Ask for George or e mail: director@amtnholidays.com.

Powder Skiing Vacations are the Ultimate Experience

The trend we are seeing in ski vacation experiences are known collectively as powder skiing vacations. These are becoming more popular and with good reason. You find yourself snowboarding or skiing in conditions that people at the resorts dream about. While the resort snow rider may get lucky and have a 6 inch to 10 inch powder day, they usually have to get to the lift first thing before all of the locals shred the first lines. If you are new to the resort, good luck!

 We are seeing more of our customers tell us; “OK, it’s time for something different, something special this ski vacation.” They want a new experience and with the changing technology in powder snowboards and wider powder skis with the new rocker design, it’s giving snow riders more stability in deep snow. The word is getting out about powder skiing vacations and the special experience they provide. Snowboarders and skiers come back from these trips squawking like a bunch of crows (Crowing as it’s known) and their friends want to try this new, more unique ski vacation.

Make your next ski vacation something unique.

We have a lengthy article on the AMH website about powder skiing vacations that covers Backcountry skiing, Snowcat skiing and riding, Heli skiing and finding powder at the ski areas and side country skiing.

 While that is good information on the types of powder vacations, the following is about why you should consider one and why they are becoming a hot topic.

 Steve Jobs, the co founder of Apple passed away recently.  Here’s how he relates to this experience. Consultants laughed when he was rolling out a $399 iPod with 5 gb of memory. Why would people pay so much when there were much cheaper MP3 players on the market? A $400 cell phone? Steve, have you lost your mind? Who’s going to pay that except for a few Apple junkies?

But from the minute you walked into the store, to opening the package you knew you had something different. Once you began using one of those new products you were having an experience that few other people were having. Once they became more popular, that didn’t diminish the experience because the experience was unique to what you had before.

A game changer.

 That’s what a powder skiing vacation is. From the minute you show up at the snowcat trailhead, gather at the heli-pad or meet your guide at the lift, you are suddenly part of a smaller, more unique group. There is anticipation & expectation. The equipment is different. Wide skis, adjustable poles, transceivers, probe. The experience has started and you haven’t gone anywhere yet. Yet you know you are about to enter a different arena, one filled with what snow riders call White Magic.

 Someone once asked Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz trumpeter who played Sun Valley on occasion, what jazz was. His reply was, “There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell them.” That’s almost true of this next paragraph. For those who have ridden in powder, skip ahead. If you are wondering why you should try it, I’ll give it a shot at explaining it.

"if you don't know, I can't tell you."

 Powder snow is soft and unbelievably quiet. It absorbs sound very quickly. As you start downhill you begin to float on your snowboard or skis. As you turn to control your speed you sink down in the powder, or it begins to come up to your knees and higher. Your snowboard or skis are hidden underneath the snow so you can’t see them. You are moving forward, floating, in a quiet medium. It’s magical and there’s nothing like it. You movements must be gentle, easy transitions, working with the snow, never against it. You are riding on a cloud, moving through it. It is different world that few people get to experience. It is an ecstatic, intoxicating experience.

That’s the best I can describe it.

 To spend all or parts of your ski vacation skiing powder snow will leave you with a renewed sense of self. While resort vacations are great, powder skiing vacations are rewarding. Do you have to pay a premium to get this experience? Yes.

From renting or buying the equipment, to paying the guide to show you the best snow, teach you about the backcountry and keep you safe, to your uphill transportation of choice, you do pay a premium. But just like Steve Jobs products, once you have tried one, you know it’s a different experience…and you’ll start crowing.

 Give us a call at AMH and let us find the right powder skiing vacation experience for you.

 1-888-541-PEAK (7325). www.amtnholidays.com

 

 

Sound Check for Ski Season

It’s always sad to see summer go and the autumn season come in. We try and hang on to that summer feeling well into fall but in the back of our mind is the instinct that ski season preparation for winter needs to begin as the first storms dust the high peaks and a couple of ski areas open with limited terrain in central Colorado.

This weekend we found ourselves waxing and prepping cars with snow tires and wiper fluid and clearing off the wax bench to get the skis looked over. Looks like we need some blue wax and a couple of new files. While the warm autumn sun made prepping the car easy enough yesterday, listening to tunes while we worked, we drifted into what bands do before they play a gig. The sound check. Any musician is going to take time to make sure the sound system is delivering, the instruments are tuned to the right key and the band is together on the run through of the play list. They are looking to work out the kinks and get the sound right. They take pride in their craft, they are into it and want to deliver to their audience the sound  and groove they have been working hard on.

We like to think we follow the same routine here at AMH when we are getting our own gear ready for ski season. Checking out the wax bench supplies and getting the skis set up. Today it’s snowing and tonight we’ll be putting tension back in the bindings, making sure edges are sharp for man made snow, doing a few hot scrape wax passes to pull the dirt out of the bases from last spring and watching some Monday Night Football. Take this time to pull out your gear like you are going skiing for the day. Don’t be slack, run through all the steps and take time to look for issues that will hold you back on that first day you want to be on the hill. Pole basket shredded from last spring? That hole in your glove need some tape? Goggles clear? Boots in good order? Ski pass bombproof? All the layers where you can find them that morning when the green flag goes down? Cool.

"Sound Check"

So what about your body? Yeah, that’s going to take some time to tune that up too. You know you have to put in the work now to get repaid on that first day and first month. The cardio, strength training, agility work, stretching, all will make for a better experience and most importantly be your first line of defense against injury prevention. Starting the season with an injury is a drag.

Backcountry Skiing:

SnowSports Industries of America reports that sales of touring equipment rose 78% last year. Snowboard sales were down in terms of units sold. “Within the next five years at least half of all skiers will have backcountry/touring gear”, says Benedikt Boehm, international brand manager for equipment manufacturer Dynafit. (source: Financial Times, October 15, 2011) As this is one of our passions here at American Mountain Holidays we are happy to hear that more people are enjoying this special ski experience enough to invest in some gear. We offer back country experiences in most of the resorts we work with in the western U.S. and Canada. We use companies that have guides that are certified and/or have long histories in the area they are guiding in. We want our clients to have all of the basic safety equipment: avalanche transceivers, avalanche probes, shovels and a guide that not only takes them to the best snow but imparts his knowledge on reading terrain, reading snow structure and following safety protocols so you have a great experience skiing backcountry powder.

Keep Aspiring, Keep it Real.

The quest for new knowledge that leads to new experiences is a basic human trait. We are a results oriented society in America. Don’t let your quest for new knowledge be dampened just because you are still working to gain the knowledge that will ultimately get you the experience that is your quest. A solid knowledge of where you are going and and what to expect from your experience is well worth the time spent. (The auction travel sites make us shudder. A 4 star hotel for a 2 star price. Maybe on the price but what about the experience?) It works for some people, even with the unexpected surprises. At AMH we have a mantra: Know Where You Are Going. Keep it Real. It is about the experience. The car you drive to the trail head or parking lot? As long as it gets you there. Second hand gear? As long as it works for you. Your experience into the backcountry or to the ski area should be about nourishing your soul, helping you to heal from the battles of society, to put you back in touch with the natural world, the real world, to see that inner vision of your best self. We are experienced at that at American Mountain Holidays, we live it and we want to see that you get there on your next ski trip; backcountry, sidecountry or frontside. 

Getting in touch with the 'Real World.'

World Cup Opener, Soelden, Austria, October 22-23, 2011

The first World Cup race of the season opens on the technical course of the Rettenbach Glacier this weekend. These athletes are fully trained, equipment has been tested and they are mentally prepared. Best of Luck to the athletes! Time for a sound check here at home.

 

 

Autumn, A Great Time for a Cycling Vacation

 The days are warm but the heat of summer is gone along with the summer tourists. The autumn colors are beginning to show themselves or in the Colorado Rockies they are close to peaking. The roads and trails are quieter and the rates at the lodges have gone down. This, my friends, is cycling season.

 It doesn’t matter if you are a mountain biker or road cyclist or both; the days of September and October are made for a bicycle tour or vacation in the mountains.

Weather is key consideration. The cool mornings are great if you are climbing up the trail or heading up the pass on the road. By mid morning the air is getting comfortable enough for short sleeves and this lasts well into the afternoon without the burdensome heat. Days are usually drier in the fall with the cooler temperatures that keep the thunderstorms down. Blue skies rule and the autumn colors come on. Whether on the road or on the trail the changing colors provide a new visual sensation with yellows, reds, greens and oranges flashing by. The senses seem sharper and the experience feels deeper.

Autumn trail riding

 The roads and trails are certainly less crowded than in summer. In many of our destinations it’s just the locals and if close to a metropolitan area then you’ll see more cyclists on weekends but otherwise you have the road and trail to yourself. “The grace and tranquility of the alpine lifestyle” as our founder calls it, seems to permeate each view. The pace seems a little more leisurely as you stop to take in the views with changing trees and shrubs.

 Lodges and accommodations are quieter as well and this results in lower lodging rates. Often you are able to jump up a class in standard and the 4 to 5 star hotel seems doable. The staff is friendlier; having the summer behind them, happier to slow down themselves and able to take the time to relate with guests more.

 Restaurants are offering their fall specials, 2 for 1 entrees or free bottle of wine with 3-course dinner. Reservations? Really only on weekends. Wait staff? Friendly and happy to see you.

 Sport shops have their cycling inventory on sale so if you need that jersey, new pair of shorts, cycling shoes, you’ll find discounts at most shops.

 Lastly, travel is just easier in the fall. The summer vacationers have gone back to work and school making it a little easier to navigate airports. The car rental counter is less crowded and their rates have come off of their summer peaks.

 So what are you waiting for? Cycling vacations are a great value for the money because the primary activity is free! Give us a call and let us put a trip together for you. We work with all kinds of budgets to provide you with a cycling experience that is a great value that and one you’ll be telling your friends about for months!

 It’s early afternoon here at AMH and the boss just returned from his lunch ride. He said, “let’s ride!”

 Toll Free: 1-888-541-7325. Main: 970-968-6867

Website:www.amtnholidays.com

One and a half hours from the Denver airport.

Discounts Versus Value in a Ski Vacation

Chasing Junior Down the Hill...Priceless!

We strive at American Mountain Holidays to get you the best value for your ski vacation. While we don’t advertise ourselves as “discount ski packages”, we have access to the same early bird pricing, free night offers and percentage off incentives that are offered to the other ski tour operators.

What we do want to bring to you is value: A great product at a competitive price. The saying “you get what you pay for” rings true in the mountain travel industry. Getting you to the best value for your experience is where the rubber meets the road for us. Discussing the components that are of value to you is where we start. Destination, location of lodging, standard of accommodation, amenities of the hotel or condominium and value added items like free breakfast, free wireless internet or free parking are all considerations in delivering value to you.

 Other customers we work with have different value criteria. They want a special experience. They want a destination that is only just being discovered. They want to come back from their trip with memories that they had a unique experience. Our skiing excursions and experiences away from the ski resort or combined with a ski town is what we specialize in. Some examples are:

 Snowcat skiing in Crested Butte, Heli-skiing in Telluride, Lift serviced backcountry skiing with our guide service in Aspen, hut skiing trips from Breckenridge, alpine touring to a remote lodge in Lake Louise and sidecountry skiing in Jackson Hole.

Chasing the Helicopter...Thrilling!

 Many of our destinations offer these special experiences that are the “value” our customers are seeking. Our other clients have in mind that cozy condominium, next to the slopes that the kids can ski right out of with a free night thrown in. Still others are looking for a romantic grand hotel in a vibrant destination with great restaurants and a special day out heli skiing. Whatever your idea of a good value is we are here to help you find it.

 We have a saying here at AMH when we see the auction travel website ads touting 4 star hotels at a 2 star price, “know where you’re going.” This is a basic premise in life and one we live by at AMH. Visit our website and give us a call, you’ll find that you will end up with the best value.

 Here’s today’s value we found for a client in Los Angeles recently:

Park City, Utah area:

 4 nights Crestview Condominiums, ranked #1 in lodging in Park City by Trip Advisor. 40% off a 4 night stay for the time period of January 30, 2012 to February 16, 2012.

Deluxe 1 bedroom condominium would be $167.40 per night, before taxes. Free area shuttle service, free heated parking; heated outdoor pool and hot tubs in newer complex make this a great value in a great destination.

Throw in days of skiing at Deer Valley, Park City and The Canyons with one day of snowcat skiing with our local service, great restaurants and historic ambiance of Main Street in Park City and you have a great ski trip with that special experience of skiing or riding Utah powder all day!

Give us a call at 1-888-541-7325 and let us set you up with a great value

Tips for Setting Your Intention for a Ski Vacation

My sister is a U.S. Track and Field certified coach. She coaches her athletes to ‘set their intention’ before going out for each training session. She wants them to have a clear idea of what they need to do to make the training session productive. The same philosophy can be used for planning your own ski vacation.

 Setting your Intention for Your Ski Vacation.

You are applying some of the same principals as above. First, you need to evaluate what the intention of your ski vacation is. A romantic getaway? Is it a girls or boys trip? (we can’t come to grips with the term “mancation”.) Will it be an adventure skiing or powder skiing trip? Is it a family trip focused on having a good time for all or having the kids get better winter sports skills?

 Now that you have this intention set you can start to think about destinations that will work for your overall intention. Now is a good time to call us at American Mountain Holidays because with our detailed process we can help you plan and budget for your vacation.

 Outside of this advice you will want to talk to friends, look at resorts that are maybe ranked for “best family ski vacations” or “best nightlife” or other factors according to your intention. Look through ski publications and narrow down 3 ski destinations that are known for providing the product to fulfill your intention.

 Next, is your budget. In today’s’ economic environment this is the real work in planning your ski vacation. We have found it’s best to follow this path:

 Airfare budget

Ground transportation budget

Lodging budget

Lift tickets

Ski or Board Rentals if needed

Food and Drink

Gifts

Walking Around Money

 Airfare:

This can determine where you go first depending on what the fares are. Destinations close to major airports offer the most competitive price especially if served by ‘discount airlines’.

Tip: Remember extra charges like those lovely baggage fees. If traveling with skis or a board you need to research the website or call the airline directly as this will be an oversized item. Shipping via UPS or FedEx is becoming more common. Need a box? Visit your local ski shop, they should have some in the back unless it’s later in the season.

 Ground Transportation:

Will you need a rental car or can you take a shuttle? Will you need a car when you get to the resort? Many destinations have great free shuttle service within the resort.

Tip: the hotel or condominium may have complimentary service within the town limits. This can have some bearing on your choice of accommodation and you can save some money here. They may even have free airport pickup in the destination resorts.

 Lodging:

Probably the largest component of your trip cost wise. Location is key to consider especially if you have kids and they are too small to schlep their own gear. That means ski in-ski out. The general rule is the further you are from the lifts, the cheaper the lodging. There are some great deals in nice accommodations if you are willing to shuttle or drive 15-20 minutes.

Amenities: make sure if a hot tub is important to you after a day on the hill that the property has this. Heated underground parking might be high on your list or wireless internet access.

Tip: buying early and longer stays can get you free nights. If you can arrive on a Sunday and check out on a Friday this can mean better prices.

 Lift Tickets:

This is a tough area to find “deals”. The ski area sets its prices and usually will not discount lift tickets. Exceptions: if the ski area owns the lodging and packages the lift tickets in with the lodging to hide the discount. Ski areas will make these same discounts available to their tour operators partners like AMH.

Tip: be realistic in the number of days you will ski. Will you be taking a day to rest and relax, another day for snowcat skiing or snowmobiling or Nordic skiing? A 3 of 5 day or 4 of 6 day ticket will offer some savings.

 Food and Drink:

You can find plenty of savings here depending on the effort you put into it. When I was younger we had a couple of six packs of Coors and some Fig Newtons for après ski at the condo while we listened to the CD player and told stories and soaked in the hot tub. Then fixed a spaghetti dinner with salad and bread and cookies for dessert and crashed so we could get up early and ski the next day. Simple and cheap and some of the best camaraderie I can remember.

 Now, its après ski beers at $4.00 a pop while we people watch and listen to live entertainment. Dinner in the restaurant will be another $30.00 to $50.00 per person depending on alcohol and if you’re up for nightlife look out. Cover charges and drinks will leave you with a headache the next day.

 Tip: Lunch on the mountain can be expensive. Eat lighter, really. A big meal will slow you down for the afternoon and cost a bundle. Hot soup with bread or crackers, a hot drink, some fries, you’re good. Avoid the bottled drinks from the cooler, drink water from the fountain in a cup, they just kill you on those bottled drinks.

 Gifts:

Inevitably you’ll want something for the folks back home.

Tip: Think small for transport and cost purposes and unique. It doesn’t have to have a logo on it !!! Your wife or child or boyfriend will remember that gift you bought them that came from Jackson Hole or Banff or Aspen.

 

Walking Around Money.

If you are on a budget; PLAN! Have the food and drink budget and live with it, especially during après ski! Same for the gift budget.

Tip: Plan on having $20.00 a day in reserve for unexpected items. In a ski resort this can go in no time.

 Final Tip:

Work with a good ski tour operator. It won’t cost more because they make their money from the supplier! They can help you find the right resort, transportation, lodging, restaurants to eat in, the closest grocery store, the best ski shop, where to ski on the mountain in the morning or afternoon. These folks make their living knowing the ski resorts and they are good at it. Use their knowledge and I’ll bet you have you best ski vacation ever!

 

 

 

 

 

When to Get the Best Deals on a Ski Vacation, The Smart Money and Carrots.

The smart money is always early. This year, as we have seen since the recession, lodges and ski resorts are offering steep discounts with ‘book by’ offers, which are deadlines when the offer expires. These discounts are as steep as 30% to 50% off full price and can mean real savings on a ski vacation.

 The ‘book by’ deadlines usually are in October to early November for discounts this steep. Can you find discounts at the last minute as many Internet travel companies advertise? Maybe, but they won’t be as low and the hotel may be offering a less desirable room type.

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Buy Your Snowblower Now

Heat dome. Heat Index. Sweltering. You won’t remember this week come next January when the vocabulary on the TV news is Winter Storm Warning, Black Ice, Freezing Rain, Shovel. You’ll be feeling warm inside because that snowblower you got on sale in July is clearing your driveway and sidewalk like a thunderstorm at a picnic. You smile because your ski trip is next week and you bought it the same week as the snowblower, for 30% off what it costs now.

Ski resort properties are trying to get business on the books earlier this summer by offering discounts of up to 30%. These “book by” offers are limited by deadlines you have to make and deposit on your booking.