Editor’s note: “First Tracks” is a biweekly skiing report.
Continuing on the equipment and gear theme, I want to make a few points.
The first is clothing layering. Look it up, and use the correct base layer of breathable, lightweight material. No cotton. Technical clothing is a great investment and will last.
Happiness is being warm and dry.
As for the outer layer, a Gore-Tex or similar waterproof, breathable parka or jacket is a must. I’ve used the same one while patrolling for more than 20 years, and with the proper care and a lifetime warranty (new zipper and Velcro), it’s still very servable. Get good quality stuff, and it will last. Wash it with Tech Wash before you put it away for any length of time (or when you feel it’s needed) and re-waterproof with appropriate products for the garment.
I’m into form and function, and not so much fashion. (My friends tend to remind me of this). This leads to another point: Outfitting a family can be expensive. Here are a few tips:
- Young kids don’t need high-end gear! It needs to be functional.
- Handed-down equipment is OK as long as it’s been maintained and is safe.
- Trade with other families, even if your junior racer grows out of their stuff in one season.
- Swapped and used equipment and clothing can work well unless your teenager is out to make a fashion statement on the ski club bus. If that’s the case, work out a payback plan.
- For skis and boots, check into buy-back/trade-in plans and season rentals from shops in the area.
Another planning exercise that you need to consider is to firm up plans for ski trips. I’m talking about the drivable 2½- to six-hour road trip for the long weekend or midweek ski trip with friends or family. Look at a school holiday calendar, either to see when you can get out of town or when to avoid ski resorts.
Examples: Don’t plan to head to Holiday Valley, in Ellicottville, during Presidents Week in February unless you can go Tuesday through Thursday. Great little ski town. Huge crowds, especially on those weekends. This holds true for other ski resorts within driving distance.
Another example is the need to check room availability in and around the larger resorts. Case in point: Mount Tremblant, in Quebec. It’s the real deal and five hours from us. Check college holiday dates in both the northeast and in Canada before you book lodging if you don’t like crowds. I’ll have more about these two awesome places later in this series.
We’re fortunate to have some good skiing virtually in our back yard with some great, fun programs for young and old alike. Each area has its strengths. Each may offer something unique. I have my favorites; I also have my biases. I plan to tell you about that soon.
Scott Launt grew up in Cortland. Much of his misspent youth was at Greek Peak. He is a member of the National Ski Patrol at Labrador and a member of the Onondaga Ski Club. His next report will appear in the Syracuse New Times Nov. 27.