Authored by Alicia Alba
The Alba Family set out to ski 9 days straight, while driving almost 24 hours and 1191 miles. Anyone with kids knows that trying to drive that much, can be a feat all in itself, without trying to ski too. Here is our story.
Originally, we had big plans to do an awesome spring break ski trip to the Canadian Rockies, with Fernie, Nakiska and Kicking Horse in the mix. But the day we were going to book our flights, Dad’s job told him he had to be in India, through the first couple of days of spring break. We were not quite sure of all the timings and logistics of flights, so we decided it was just too complicated this year. We were not to be deterred from skiing, by work and began to contemplate pulling the kids out of school a week early. While Dad was in 15 hour meetings all day, Mom and the kids would tour Mumbai. Then 5 o’clock Friday afternoon, we would get on a plane to Delhi, and then from there to Srinigar, where we would get a car to Gulmarg, in the Himalayas. We were just getting psyched, about skiing on Easter Sunday in the Himalayas, when we started to read about not just avalanches in the backcountry, but also front side. Then we heard from a friend, that most of the ski patrol leaves by March 15th. The thought of doing all of that traveling and not being able to ski, made that a no go.
Bummed that we would not be taking an epic ski trip, we decided to just set up “local” (270 miles from home) and take advantage of our Max Passes. The kids got out of school, March 29th. This would normally mean we would leave directly after school. But Mom, decided to make Friday a “driving day”, since Dad was still in India. So on the way up, she decided to stock up on car snacks, and Friday night, while the kids were all comfy by the fireplace in Vermont, Dad was crammed on a plane, trying to catch some Zzzs.
As soon as Dad arrived to EWR, Saturday morning he was getting his bags, and going through customs and immigration, as quickly as he could. It was a tense morning as he was racing to make a connecting flight to Burlington, VT, which by clerical mistake he did not have a ticket for.
By some divine intervention, Dad had finally arrived to Burlington International Airport, miraculously, and even 20 minutes earlier than scheduled. He was not quite done yet though, Mom and the kids had driven up to greet him; but it was a quick greet, with Dad driving us all immediately back down to Pico.
Day 1 and 2 Pico
We could not believe that everything was timed just right. Anybody that has ever lived in NYC, knows how unpredictable travelling around the city can be; if you drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn it can be 45 minutes or it could be 2 hours. So, when Dad got a text from Brownski, a fellow skier and Dad, that he was going to be at Pico with his son, on Saturday. Dad told him he was boarding a plane and would see him at Pico in the afternoon. Let’s just say Brownski was pretty surprised, when he saw the whole Alba clan show at Pico. While we only skied ½ day, it was better than no day. We even ended up closing the mountain from the summit lift.
Brownski Pico Article
The one good thing about skiing right after a flight ½ way around the world is the jetlag lessens. That night Dad got a pretty good night’s rest, and was up at his usual 5:30am. Despite the good rest, we decided that staying at Pico to ski on Easter Sunday would be just fine. It was a pretty full day on the slopes and for Easter, it was even a little cool. We got to take advantage of B-Slope being open, and it was a good choice, as the snow on it had softened up just right.
Day 3 and 4 Whiteface
Being that Pico was closed during the week, we were thinking we might head over to Sunday River and the Loaf during the week, but then Saratoga Skier and Family told us they were going to be at Whiteface. Anytime there is a chance to ski with another family it is a bonus. So early Monday morning we made our way across the Lake Champlain Bridge to Whiteface. We were quickly booting up, and heading up the Cloudsplitter, with our friends. Being we were 10 we broke up into two groups, “The Boys” 2 dads and 3 teenage boys and “The Girls” 2 moms and 3 tween girls. It was great that it balanced out like that for everyone.
We did a few runs off Little Whiteface for a warm up and then headed over to the Summit Chair, where we did laps on Upper Skyward. It had been a while since we had skied Whiteface, and the first time for our girl. So it was just nice to be able to do that. The bonus was that all the kids hit it off, and got to ski together.
So much so, that the teenage boys, were able to take off. Later on they told us about some glades, they found on both skiers right and left of Upper Skyward. We could not quite get all the details, as it seemed to be their secret.
While, the rest of us missed out on the last Summit Chair, by about a minute, the boys were bragging that they had just made last chair. As a matter of fact, we only got to see them as they were headed up on Mountain Run Double, as we were making our way down it, which again they were able to make last chair on. From the base of the Mountain Run double, we all finished our way down to the base of the gondola. Our day was completed with recalling our runs of the Bluebird day in the Cloudspin Lounge over drinks and nachos. It was certainly a great day had by all.
Saratoga Skier WhiteFace Article
Sad that our friends had head out and we went to settle in at our hotel in Lake Placid. The next day being that it was just us, we took it easy. We had done a lot skiing in 4 days, and it was nice just doing some cruisers we missed out on the day before.
Day 4 Whiteface- Just the Four of Us.
Our Edit for Whiteface
Days 5, 6, and 7 Tremblant
That morning we decided after skiing Whiteface we would head to Tremblant. So we ended our day around 3, to pack the car for our next adventure. We arrived at Tremblant close to 8. But upon arrival, we were already set in a different mode. Our bags were quickly transported from our car to our room, and our skis to ski valet. And for the next 3 days, we did not see our car.
It was perfect timing, because as we arrived it started to snow. We set out to the village for a quick bite, and we were lucky to find Pizzateria which offered great gluten free options for the family. Anybody, that has to be gluten free can relate to this.
That night it snowed pretty hard. The mountain report estimated 16 cm. Unfortunately, it had “switched” over at some point, and caused a bit of crust on top of the fluff. Dad still being on India time, and also a little excited about the snow, was the first one downstairs making new friends. He had already, started talking to members of the Jr US Ski Team, who were already ready to head out for a 7:15 AM race on Jacey Jay, when they got word on their radios the races had been cancelled.
We were not in a hurry to get out, as there were plenty lift holds and we wanted the conditions to soften up. We filled up on a fancy hotel breakfast, and then made way for the Gondola. There were not a lot of blacks open, but we did what was. Sticking mainly to the front side with the Gondola. With limited terrain, we decided make our way to the North Side, where only the Duncan Express was open. With mixed precipitation, oil was spewing from the quad chair all over Mom’’s new jacket. This was a huge downer for the day and being that it was already close to 3:30, we decided to call it. After, checking our skis into ski valet, we took off our boots, snacked and changed into our suits, to take advantage of the hot tub. It was a great welcome, after 5 days of hard skiing in a row.
The next day, we booted up from our room and headed out to take advantage of more terrain being open. We started our day off, on the Flying Mile, taking advantage of it being open and right outside the Fairmont, where we were staying. Being that it was just groomers, we started off on Ligne de Pente. With the kids wanting to warm up, (it was -4F in the morning, and windy) we had no problem heading over to the Gondola. We stayed on the South Side, so we could be shielded a bit from the wind on the Gondola. McCoullough, Tashereau and Ryan Haut were the runs that were open. With temperatures like mid-Winter, we took a short warm up at the top, with some hot chocolate for the kids, (and a stuffed bear for Nevada) After warming up we were able to make our way over to Versant Soleil. There we skied Cascade and Laurentienne. With the lifts closing at 3:30 we headed back over to the South Side, and got in a few more runs off the gondola. After the frigid cold of day 6, we were anxious to get in the hot tub.
We were all sad, that this was the last day in Tremblant. Nevada was content just getting her stuffed bear, but I our teenager still seemed to be a bit indifferent, so we thought. It seems we are often times competing with a device. But for us, this day was pivotal for him. For the first time (we have seen), he pulled out his phone to take a picture. He said he wanted a picture of the village from the gondola. He said, he wanted to show it to his class, when he got back to school. This was huge! We realized at that point, he really does get why were doing all of this. All the miles in the car, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and share different experiences with them outside. This just made the conditions this day even that more awesome. In addition, to more terrain being open, we found a really awesome run, Marie Claude Asselin, a narrow tree lined run, more of the type of trail that we love to ski, and with the conditions we had over the past couple of days it was the type of run, that holds the snow really well, and does not need to be groomed. Most people, don’t like trails like that, so we were able to get some fresh tracks in the early afternoon. Even though, we knew we had to head back to VT, we ended up closing out the mountain and getting the last Gondola ride up. We hope to make it back to Tremblant one day to experience the glades that we know it has to offer.
After skiing we got some good news and decided to celebrate. We found a great Sushi place in the Village (with gluten free soy sauce and gf beer). Afterwards, we loaded up the car and the bellhop, brought out our skis already in their ski bags, and made our way back to Vermont. The luxury part of our ski vacation was done, but it sure was fun.
Days 8 and 9 Pico
Back at Pico, for closing weekend. We wanted to make sure we were able to see many of our friends. Surprised that many of them were not there, we were still able to do many of our favorite runs. Being that it was still a bit cold, things had crusted over. We were still able to take a family run down Upper Pike on somewhat firm moguls. By about 3 o’clock the kids were done. Mom and Dad decided to to take a few extra date runs, before closing out the day. I am glad we decided on Upper Pike, because it ended up being our last time on it for the season.
Sunday was the real finale; the last day of our ski trip and an end to Pico’s 80th Season. We started off relatively early, considering that it was our 9th day. As all of our friends showed up. We did not want to stop skiing. We skied until 4PM and then met, with all of our ski friends and die hards at the summit. We shared a champagne toast to the last chair, and hugs in our full winter gear. Unfortunately, the season had to end, an so did our 9 day adventure. We tried to make it last as long as we could. But around 4:30 we decided that the inevitable, could not be avoided and we should make our way down. We took the longest run possible, traversing from the east side of the mountain to the west, ending up on an undisclosed run around 5:30. The best and last run was the perfect way to finish out our 9 days of skiing and Pico’s last day! Our last big trip this season, we hope to get a few more days in on some soft spring bumps, but we are already planning our big trip for next year! See you out on the Slopes!
Day 9 Last run of the season on our “Undisclosed Run”, with close Pico friends. Taking in the last few turns. Unfortunately, the kids were racing ahead, so they did not make the photo op.