The West’s Dry, Sunny and Warm Winter of 2015

Still Lots of Snow Atop Prospect Bowl

Still Lots of Snow Atop Prospect Bowl at Telluride Ski Resort

Whoa, what a busy time it has been. Today is my first real day on my computer in about two weeks. I’ve been tied up teaching skiing in Telluride and have enjoyed having many clients book me for extra days. It’s tiring though and I’m happy to report that yesterday–my first full day off in weeks–was spent lounging. I didn’t change out of my pajamas until 6pm and that was to take a hot tub. As much as it’s exhilarating to be on the mountain, it‘s also exhausting and sometimes a simple task such as unloading the dishwasher seems monumental.

What a crazy winter it has been! I’ve stopped counting, but I’d say we’ve had super sunny and warm weather for the better part of the past six weeks. The high pressure system that’s been hanging over the West has kept it oh-so dry–we hardly had any snow the past month and a half. It’s been killing most of us to see the incredible snow totals produced in the Northeast and we’ve all been doing the snow dance in the hope that some of that gorgeous white fluffy stuff comes our way.

View of Wilson Peak, One of Colorado's Renowned Fourteeners from Giusepei's

View of Wilson Peak, One of Colorado’s Renowned Fourteeners, from Giuseppe’s Restaurant in T-ride

Despite this, the skiing has remained very good–remarkably-which is why I’ve been working as a ski instructor more than I had planned for this period. People have not been canceling their trips at all. Instead, they’re thrilled about our gloriously sunny days and spring skiing conditions in the middle of winter. Back East I’m sure the one run, then in for a break, rule is being strictly enforced.

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Telluride Women’s Weeks 2015

Girl Power at Telluride Women's Week

Girl Power at Telluride Women’s Week

Women, skiing, snowboarding, instruction, wine, apps, laughs, hot chocolate, girl talk, girl power, toasts, victories, sharing, learning, shopping, dining, fun. It’s that time of year again at the Telluride Ski Resort. The first session of Telluride Women’s Week starts this Thursday, January 22 with a kickoff reception at Mountain Lodge Telluride and continues through Sunday, January 25. The second session is a little longer, beginning in the evening of Saturday, February 7 and continuing through Thursday, February 12.

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Wishing You the Best for 2015

Skiing is Fun

Skiing is Fun

How are you, dear reader?

I wish you good health, love and joy in this new year. It might seem like these well wishes are coming a little late, but strike it up to the French in me. In France, it’s tout à fait acceptable to extend new year’s wishes–both verbally and in writing–through January 31. I love how most everyone you encounter in France echoes choruses of “bonne année, bonne santé” throughout the whole month of January. I’m sure that this year those wishes are even more sincere.

After a super busy holiday season teaching skiing day after day at the Telluride Ski Resort during an extremely cold period of time, I finally collapsed from a mega head cold and sheer exhaustion (perhaps partly brought on by my big move the first part of December). I spent a whole week on the couch, one marked by the tragedy of the events that unfolded in Paris. So very sad. Like so many, my heart ached for all involved and for my beloved France. I checked in with my friends in Paris to express my love and support, many of whom attended the demonstration that was held a week ago today. Vive la France! Vive Franco-American friendship and may the French forgive us for the faux pas of not sending proper representation on their important day of solidarité.

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Skiing Beats Moving

Snowy Telluride

Snowy Telluride

That would be moving to a new place, of course. Because as a general rule, I do believe motion is lotion and you get some of the best motion when skiing.

Ski season is off to a great start here in Telluride. It snowed a ton in November, then we had a dry spell, now with fifteen inches of fresh over the weekend, we’re set up nicely for the onslaught of holiday visitors due to arrive late this week.

I’ve been working out early season glitches such as numb toes, goggle marks and other assorted woes. It takes a while for my feet to become accustomed to wearing ski boots again and damn, I just can’t seem to adjust my goggles on my helmet the way I did last year. I’ll work it all out and as a Telluride ski instructor, soon I’ll be spending eight-hour days in my ski clothing and equipment for stints as long as ten to fourteen days in a row. In the beginning of the season, I sometimes wonder how I do it, but fortunately I throw it into gear, work through the initial aches and pains, and then fall into the swing of things like skis gliding on the snow.

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Adventure Travel Love for You and KOTO

Hiking Mt. Wilson:  Adventure Travel at Its Best in Colorado

Hiking Mt. Wilson, a 14er: Adventure Travel at Its Best in Colorado

I think it’s so cool that we have some of the best adventure specialists based right here in Telluride, Colorado. It makes sense, since Telluride and the outlying region provide the perfect terrain for heading out and exploring the great outdoors whether you’re cycling, hiking, skiing, fishing, climbing or jeeping. Some of these guiding greats have done so well in the region that they also conduct tours beyond southwestern Colorado, as far away as the other side of the globe, in fact.

A few of these companies have generously offered tours to KOTO’s current fundraising campaign. I’ll be chatting more about these adventure specialists on tomorrow night’s Travel Fun, a special live edition of my talk show on travel, which airs Thursday, September 17, A LITTLE EARLIER THAN USUAL at 6:20 pm mountain time.

I have been doing this show for almost eleven years and you can find many of my interviews posted on my blog as podcasts. If you have enjoyed Travel Fun, I encourage you to contact me to make a pledge or a donation. You can also show your love by snatching up one of the below tours at a deeply-discounted price. Thanks to Lizard Head Cycling Guides, Telluride Mountain Guides, Telluride Adventures/San Juan Outdoor Adventures and Telluride Offroad, here’s what I have to offer:

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Marking Eleven Years in Paris and Telluride with Mom

Me and Mom Early Spring 1990ish Having Tea in the Garden at the Normandy Country House

Me and Mom Early Spring 1990ish Having Tea in the Garden at the Normandy Country House

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Closing the Ski Season in Aspen

Relaaax...It's Aspen

Relaaax…It’s Aspen

Smooth, silky, soothing, sultry, relaxing—that’s Aspen. And that’s how my ski season ended this year, and it was lovely. Just what I needed, too.

All kinds of celebrating from pond skimming in bikinis to dancing in ski boots typically take place on closing day at most ski resorts. Skiers and boarders in fun and crazy outfits cut loose as a way of toasting the end of a long ski season marked by few or many turns and often lots of hard work (in the case of those that work in ski towns). I celebrated Telluride’s closing day a month ago and enjoyed closing week festivities on the Front Range mid-April, so I had my share of end-of-the-season partying.

With the closing of its four mountains (Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass), Aspen has certainly seen a lot of colorful merrymaking these past weeks. So it wasn’t surprising that this bonus weekend of skiing on Ajax was marked by a bunch of folks—mostly locals—primarily interested in cruising the slopes of their beloved mountain for the last time. Sure there was a smattering of tutus, tiger costumes and wacky wigs along with a vibrant assortment of flowered shirts and shorts, yet the scene was pretty tame. The emphasis was on the skiing; in this case beneath azure blue skies on what were surely the warmest days of the year thus far. (It hit 70 degrees in the town of Aspen on Sunday.) more »

Reflections on My Ten Years as a Ski Instructor

Celebrating My Tenth Anniversary with Ski School Top Dogs

Celebrating My Tenth Anniversary with Ski School Top Dogs

As I ease back into my writer’s life, I’ve been considering my other life:  that of a Telluride Ski & Snowboard School instructor. The mountain closed just over two weeks ago and I again turned in my uniform with a big sigh of relief. I’m always grateful when I finish the season without having had an injured student or client on my watch. And I’m always relieved when I wind up unscathed myself (except for a variety of aches and pains and gross fatigue). I’m grateful that this has been the case for the past ten seasons:  My sterling record of safety has remained intact.

That’s not to say I don’t challenge my charges and sure, I’ve had some tricky moments of over-terraining just like all the other instructors on our mountain and elsewhere. But fortunately, everyone has come “back to the barn” safe and sound and seemingly happy from their ski experience with me.

But way beyond my actual job as a ski instructor, I can’t help pondering what this newly adopted profession means to me, especially after a decade of working day after day on the mountain with children and adults beneath sunny skies, bitter cold, balmy weather and blustery snowstorms. It has made me a better person; it has made me more whole. I was never very athletic and the physicality of this job has given me strength and confidence that spills over to other areas of my life. I have embraced the notion of self empowerment through sports, a concept that I came to know late in life, one of the themes of my travel memoir/love story A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France.

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