Category Archives: Gear

Summer Skiing Could Still Happen

UPDATE: Arapahoe Basin reopened May 28, 2020, with a TBD closing date. All passholders and day ticket purchasers ($99) have to submit to a raffle two days prior and make a reservation if their name is drawn before they can head up. The ski area is allowed to admit only 600 skiers and snowboarders but there will be no tailgating and partying after slushing it up on the 20 open runs and three chairlifts. They will have to wear face coverings in designated areas and no food will be sold. Still, they get to ski!

With no more ski areas open – HUGE shout out to COVID-19 for that- and just a smattering of diehards uphilling for turns, we can officially call an end to the 2019/20 ski season. But what about summer skiing?

According to the National Ski Areas Association, some 460 ski areas in 37 states could lose $2 billion from the shutdown. Most areas began to shutter around March 15, 2020, just when spring ski breakers were marking off their vacation to-do lists. Jackson Hole had already announced that they would stay open a week past their normal closing to accommodate for the late Easter weekend. With fresh snow in the forecast, resorts were primed for a bustling spring before pandemic panic struck. Then everything came to a screeching halt; everything but our desperate need to keep skiing.

We Weren’t Done Skiing

March is not only one of the snowiest months of the year but also the busiest after December, pulling in about 20 percent of overall skier visits for the season. Not so for 2020. We won’t harp on the financial hits that the resorts will sustain. You can read about that here. It’s the emotional hit that rippled through ski communities, causing mass devastation.

Thousands of season passholders sat sad faced, wondering if the areas would reopen or at least if they were going to reimburse them for the lost ski days. Those who only ski two weeks a year won’t understand. When you are a local with six ski areas to choose from and you measure your ego by the number of days you ski, one of the major factors to consider before dropping $1k on a pass are the projected closing dates.

Last year, Snowbird stayed open through June and reopened for a special 4th of July ski day. Whistler closed May 27, A-Basin June 2, Squaw Valley July 7 and Mammoth Mountain on July 28. Therefore, if you lived in Utah and purchased a Bird 19/20 season pass you potentially missed out on three months of skiing. Let’s break it down. With the season starting in December, you might predict seven months of skiing based on last year. Yet even without counting on July 4th skiing, Snowbird traditionally skis through May. That’s six months. They closed March 15 giving you only 3.5 months on a “six-month pass.” Most ski resorts, by the way, have yet to address this concern but perhaps they won’t have to if they can reopen before it’s too late.

Summer Skiing Not out of the Realm of Possibility

There may still be a slim (albeit VERY slim) possibility that a few areas will re-open for summer skiing if the quarantine ends before all of the snow melts. As of this post, Arapahoe Basin posted on their site that they could reopen even if it’s as late as June if conditions allow. “Don’t be discouraged. This is a marathon and A-Basin is a marathon runner. What other area stays open from mid-October to July 4th? We all need to do the right things now if we want to get open again.” Update: The Governor of Colorado extended the closure order through May 23, 2020.

Mount Baldy ski area in Southern California reopened on April 22 when San Bernadino County allowed golf courses to reopen. After 11 days, they closed out the season, “Thanks to the most solid crew any mountain has ever had, several feet of late season snow and some very respectful skiers & riders we were able to open again on 4/22/20 to finish off a season like this properly,” the resort’s website stated.

Summer Skiing

photo by Gary Westwell

Vail Resorts (which includes Whistler, Breckenridge and Heavenly resorts) posted, “We made the difficult decision to close our North American resorts and retail stores for the 2019/20 winter season. ” Mammoth Mountain’s statement: There is no estimated reopening date for Mammoth Mountain at this time. Reopening the ski area is dependent on the COVID-19 situation, state and federal mandates, as well as other safety factors.

Squaw Valley hasn’t changed their stance that “while the possibility of Squaw Alpine reopening for skiing and riding still remains, we have no estimate for such action. The resort will be closed until further notice.”

Oregon Ski Resorts At The Ready?

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said this week that the state will allow ski resorts to reopen. Mt Bachelor, Ore., had earlier announced they are “closed for now but our goal is to reopen as soon as we can.” In the meantime, they were the first ski area to officially offer a $100 voucher to all 19/20 season passholders and can be used for pass products, lessons and rentals in 20/21. Timberline Ski Area is usually running race camps throughout the summer so this has to be good news for them. The plan as outlined is that guests must make online reservations but prepurchased lift tickets and passes will be valid. Food would be to go and social distancing practiced in the parking lots and chairs.

Season Passholder Reparations Coming

Utah skiers, in particular, were underwhelmed with the response from Alterra’s Ikon Pass which is good at Solitude and valid for five days at Deer Valley and Snowbird/Alta. Extended purchase deadlines, slight discount for renewals (about $120), interest-free payments, and insurance against another pandemic closure just aren’t enough enticements. My friend and former ski instructor Tony Fantis told the Salt Lake Tribune, “Why would I reinvest now for a season I don’t know is going to happen? From a risk standpoint, I would rather wait and pay more later.” That is despite Alterra promising customers can defer their pass to the 2021-22 season if it looks like they couldn’t use it this season … so long as they do so by December 10.

Vail Resorts announced their “severance package” shortly after a class action lawsuit was filed against them and Alterra. Epic Pass holders will be credited 20-80 percent toward a 2020-21 pass renewal, depending on how often their 2019-20 pass was used. For skiers ready to renew, VR has offered a pass deposit of $49 with the remainder due in September.
Mountain Collective is the worst of the bunch and you would be wise to avoid it. From their website- “The Mountain Collective Pass is non-refundable and non-transferable. All purchases are final and may not be refunded, transferred between parties, or transferred to another season.” Basically, you get nothing for last season and if anything happens to cause the season to end early next year, you are SOL.

If the Resorts Do Reopen for Summer Skiing Will We Even Care By Then?

Though we still wish we could ski, many coronavactioners are finally ready for summer; for the rain to stop, the snow to melt, the warm skies to shine because, hell, if you can’t ski and don’t have backcountry skills, at least we can hike and bike. The other thing to consider is once we get in the summer groove, will we want to go back to skiing? TBH, it might take two feet of fresh powder to get me back in the mood.

But after you get your fill of dirt, there’s always a trip to Argentina in July; if the country lifts their air travel ban before September. The resorts down south are poised to open for their winter season but they are tracking the spread of COVID-19 as we speak. If ever there was a time to visit the southern hemisphere, it would be this year, weather and COVID contingent of course.

Must Haves for Summer Skiing

Shred Goggles – Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Ted “Shred” Ligety knows something about skiing year-round. So trust him when he makes goggles that kick butt on summer sun. The Shred goggles won’t fog no matter how heated your dome gets. It has a spherical lens with a dramatically wide field of vision so you can spot bikini-clad Betties from anywhere. The contrast boosting lens (CBL) allows you to see just as well in flat light as bright sun and, even though the lens doesn’t look super dark to the naked eye, it provides plenty of UVA, UVB, UVC protection. The NoDistortion tech in the lenses prevents, yes, distortion you get from a curved lens at altitude while the high quality “Whipped Cream” multilayer face foam ensures that this go-to goggle fits under just about every helmet. Plus, it won’t pack down like most foams so you can count on them for next season too.

summer skiing goggle

BRYNJE Women’s Wool Thermo Longs Base Layer with Inlay might look like something from a steampunk rave but it totally makes sense when you think about the heat generated skiing in 60-degree temps. All you want to wear is a shell pant but that feels nasty against bare skin. You won’t overheat in the Mesh Thermo Longs and the integrated shorts and reinforced knees keep you from chafing.

brynje fishnet baselayers

Helly Hansen’s Odin Mountain Softshell Jacket is the ultimate spring and backcountry shell. It’s a warm, breathable, comfortable worn alone or with a mid-layer or thin puffy underneath for cooler days. This lightweight beauty is made of 4-way stretch with a weather protective membrane and another with maximum breathability. It moves with you whether you climb or ski.

summer skiing jacket

First Look: Outdoor Gear For Winter 2021

Ski Gear for Winter 2021

Twice a year the outdoor industry gathers to get a sneak peak at upcoming trends and gear; they mingle with fellow gearheads and brand execs, and they drink more than most adults should. But the ultimate goal is to see what’s should be in stores for next winter (or summer). 

The Outdoor Retailer and Snowsports Industry of America combined trade shows in 2017 to showcase winter sports gear, accessories, and clothing for alpine skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, leisure travel (hmmm) and camping. 

Ski Gear for Winter 2021

This winter’s Show once again trotted out some solid gear trends for winter 20/21 but it was a monumental and futile endeavor to investigate the more than 1,000 global brands spreading across three floors of convention space in downtown Denver in only three days.

We dropped by for two days of walking the aisles, to see what might be new and innovative but after 48 hours we were ready to get back to Utah. It’s always fun to see old friends and geek out on gear but soon you begin to feel like your head will explode from the abundance of skis, footwear, clothing and gadgets. Take a look at some of the gear for winter 2021. We think you might want to tell Santa about so you’re ready for your next big winter vacay.

OR’s Top Picks On Gear For Winter 2021



NOOOOOO! I’m almost out! My Sunforgettable Powder Brush Sunscreen from Colorescience is a must-have for any outdoors girl and now it’s running low. Ugh. Those lotion sunscreens you put on in the morning, under your makeup or even the foundations with an SPF in it, don’t last all day; yet I’m so vain about going barefaced that once I put on my makeup I’m hesitant to reapply sunscreen those two-three hours later. I’m afraid I’ll  wipe everything off and I can’t lug my makeup bag around the hill with me. Vanity wins over protection.

Why Not Lather Up

In the summer, I’m not a poolside kind of woman gal and my regular sunscreen can last during a short hike or climb, plus I’m usually in the shade. Skiing is a whole different ballgame. As an instructor, I’m forced to be in the sun for seven hours sometimes; no hat and few potty stops to even check that there’s no zinc oxide standing out on the side of my nose. That’s the worst. It’s like having food stuck in your teeth and no one tells you.

The SPF 50 tube of mineral powder was a Godsend. Time for sun protection? Swipe swipe swipe and I’m good to go. I don’t need a mirror or buddy to use it and the brush is so soft that it doesn’t affect my makeup ‘job’.

How Colorescience Mineral Sunscreen Works

The water-resistant powdered zinc oxide and titanium dioxide not only provide hypoallergenic sun protection but light coverage to help smooth imperfections. The uber-soft brush, casing and ingredients lasted me through the last winter- which is when I need it the most; even with multiple daily applications. It’s super portable at 4.5 inches long and the plastic is durable. Not one crack or issue with the refillable casing despite some hard falls. The clear bottom is handy so that you can see when you’re running out and not be left high and dry on top of a mountain.

With ski season here it’s time to save up for a refill. Or better, crush up your favorite mineral foundation/sunscreen and pour it into the chamber.

Time To Consider Your Winter Wear

Fall is in the air

The temps are dropping and it’s time to bundle up. Here are a few recommendations for chilly October:

Mountain Hardwear Yumalina pant will be your favorite all-season hiking pant when the temps go below 40. Super comfortable, flattering fit for a fleece-lined pant that has a high waist to keep your back parts protected in all outdoor pursuits. $85

Acorn Slouch Boots are perfect for lounging around the condo.  Slipper sock comfort, microfleece lining, and rubber sole for indoor & outdoor wear. $48.

Acorn Slouch Boot

Joshua Tree Organic Healing Salve  Anyone with dry, chapped, cracked skin will love this balm. Moisturizes and promotes healing without softening those calluses you created climbing and paddling this summer to protect your high-use spots. $19


Winter deserves a winter pack; a bag that carries all of your essentials, keeps them dry, accessible It’s just big enough to carry an extra pair of gloves, money, phone, snack, keys and probably a little bit more. It’s low profile so you don’t have to take it off on the chair lift and keeps the stuff inside dry. The best part is the ski loop. I have 151cm skis and am 5’8”. Needless to say when you have a lot of gear (skis, poles, gloves, boots, goggles, helmet, toe warmers, etc) carrying all these things, especially skis is very cumbersome. Not anymore. The ski loops is my favorite part of this bag. I can put my skis and my helmet on the bag and probably my poles (I didn’t try) on this bag and throw it on my back. My second favorite thing is the insulated water hose and bladder. The bladder sits right next to your back under some padding. I’ve had hydration packs freeze while skiing and it’s super annoying. This pack didn’t freeze. I’ll keep texting it in lower degrees and see if it holds up but I have no doubt it will. I know it’s a bit expensive but it’s worth every penny and then some. Probably my best ski purchase this year.

Molehill Fleece Cozy Bunting Suit is not only breathtakingly adorable but the one-piece three-season fleece with hood, full front and back zippers  for easy entry and exit, has a micro-ripstop outer to reject wind and rough snowplay. The sleeves and pants fold over to protect feet and hands so you’ll never struggle to locate lost booties and mittens. $32. 


KEEN Sandals For Summer Fun

“You have the same shoes!” the 7-year-old kid shouted from the top of the monkey bars.

The little boy was referring to the ‘mommy and me’ KEENs Sage and I were sporting at the park last weekend. Normally I roll my eyes at matching sweat suits and dainty dresses in the same print; plus, kids’ products are often disposable and my stuff needs to last beyond a year. But when it comes to KEEN sandals they are Grade-A certified and mom-tested…literally. Why should Sage have all the cute shoes?

The Whisper is our absolute go-to fave for cruising theme parks to National Parks. They stay comfortable and hotspot free when you’re on your feet from rope-drop to fireworks.

Three days in a row at Disneyland Paris with nary a blister or sore arch for either of us is the true sign of a summer-worthy shoe or sandal. Or dare I say “shandal”?

Sage lives in hers. The secure-fit lace capture system makes for quick on and off and because they are meant for water play they’re wearable even in those unexpected rain storms or waterlog rides without feeling the heavy squish of wet sneakers.

The washable polyester webbing won’t rub whether you’re hiking, rowing or sightseeing and the non-marking rubber outsole make them the perfect gym shoe when May rolls around.

The only downside is that the foot-cushioning EVA molded footbed can make the Whisper a little sweaty on super hot days but they are quick to dry. The bottomline? KEENs last, they’re practical, comfortable and fun to share with your kids. $35-71. Check them out here.


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