Family Skiing Hacks

image by Roderick Elme on Flickr

It was going to be that kind of a day. The tone was set 20 minutes into our first family ski trip of the season when Charlie lost his right mitten before we even left the ski rental hut at Mt Norquay.

It was supposed to be a casual ski day to ease back into things. My work Christmas party was in Banff, and so I scheduled some skiing for the next morning. We could sleep in, take our time, do some turns and try to become a ski family after a few fun excursions the year before.

Except the boys didnt fall asleep until 10:30, and then got up before 7a. By the time breakfast was done and we were heading up the hill, they were bagged. I had to know this was not going to go well.

We got the boys sorted first. They go their boots and helmets, and somewhere between my 2nd boot fitting and my wife’s 3rd, Charlie announced his right mitten was missing. We hadn’t been at the hill for 20 minutes yet, we hadn’t sat on a lift or shooshed a turn, and we were down a mitten.

That’s all you need to know about parenting right there, my friends. No matter how perfectly you plan everything, nothing will go the way it is intended, because 5 yr olds can make mittens disappear.

We are a new ski family, we don’t have all the hacks down just yet, but after our 3rd visit to a hill in the past year, I’m starting to take note of how other ski families get their kids on and off the hill without any added stresses.

Here’s a list of 7 ski trip hacks for families to make sure you get on and off the hill safely and with all your gear!

1. Sleds

When your kids grow out of their sled, you can still use that little bucket with ropes to pull their gear from the car to the chairlift. We made the mistake of getting dressed at the car, and letting everyone carry their own items to the chalet. No way, drag ’em. The snowbanks outside were covered with tossed sleds.

2. Hockey Bags

Put everything in one bag and carry it over your shoulder. Mittens, toques, boots, helmets, goggles. As with the sled, you don’t give your kids their gear until they absolutely need it. Keeping it all together is one way to get through the rental line.

Skiing at Mount Norquay

3. Carabiners

Buckle gloves, goggles, passes, and whatever you can together. We saw many kids flying down the hill with their season passes attached to the back of their helmets and goggles with carabiners. They’re an easy, secure way to make sure you don’t go down an accessory before you even start.

4. Bring two of everything

This is why you have the big hockey bag. Bring extra mittens, gloves, goggles, whatever, and toss them in a locker. You do this just in case your son loses a glove before you leave the rental shack. We got lucky on this one as we did have spare gloves tossed in a backpack.

5. Leave the kids outside

The rental shack is a hot place. If you’re good with the sizes and fittings, leave your kids outside the hut. Inside, they’ll get stuffy with all their suits, gloves, hats, and goggles on. This is why we lost ours. Try to keep them outside until the last minute when you need to do their boots up.

Mount Norquay

6. Don’t go skiing with kids

Now for a family ski vacation, you can’t really leave the kids at home, but you can ditch them in ski school. Mountains have great lesson packages and day camps where the kids can get off on their own without any stress for you. Now you still have to get them geared up, so pay attention to the first 5 items on this list before you drop them at camp.

7. Buy your own gear

Avoid the long, hot line in the rental shack by just buying your own gear. Then you just drag it up to the hill in the sled or bag and you have no extra time doddling in lines, fiddling with buckles where the kids could lose their gloves.

Mount Norquay

Once we got over the loss of a new red glove, we got out on the hill and carved some turns. We skipped the lessons this time, instead opting for Mom and Dad to take the kids through a few easy turns on the bunny hill and a couple of faster ones on the chairlift.

Oh, and a shout out to the gang in the Mt Norquay rental shack who spent far too much time with us looking for the lost red glove and offered up their own as replacements for Charlie.

Mt Norquay really is a great hill for kids and new ski families. The easy runs bask in sunshine for most of the day and our early season adventure wasn’t yet packed with crowds. The kids got their groove back, Mom and Dad discovered muscles we had forgotten about, and our family’s love of skiing grew deeper.

Here’s a clip of Zacharie taking his first turns of the season:

Next time though, we bring a sled.

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7 Hacks For New Ski Families

image by Roderick Elme on Flickr

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