Moving into 2021, on a positive note, there appears to be a light at the end of this pandemic with the planned schedule of having all Canadians vaccinated by September. (Let’s all hope!) However, as the saying goes, it is always darkest just before dawn. And over the last few weeks we have been facing the darkest times of this pandemic so far.
Truly this has been the winter of our discontent. While we had hoped, at some point, to be able to organize daytrips this season, we did not want to drag out the decision and raise false hope that we would be able to operate this season when realistically we will not.
Given the current province wide lockdown, and the expectation that even if we move into the Red zone by mid-February for a month, followed hopefully into Orange, we would not be able to run any daytrips until mid-March at the earliest (if at all), your Board of Directors has made the difficult decision that we will be unable to run any daytrips this season. Therefore, both the Downhill and Cross-Country and Snowshoeing daytrip seasons have been cancelled.
The pandemic has also impacted our planned long trips. All of the u-drive trips to Quebec resorts have been cancelled, while the remaining charter trips to Alberta and BC are constantly under review based on the latest restrictions. The Club Med trip to St. Moritz was also recently cancelled.
Due to these changes to our plans, we have also made a decision on deferring membership to next season. Please see the next post for more on membership deferral.
I would sincerely and personally like to thank and acknowledge all of the hard work done by our Directors and their volunteers in trying to plan for a season that unfortunately we will not be able to enjoy. The club cannot operate without the numerous hours and extensive efforts by our volunteers. This pandemic season has been especially hard, tripling or quadrupling planning time for no reward. It is the volunteers who make HPSC the fantastic club that it is, so a big THANK YOU to all of you.
While we can’t organize any HPSC trips or events, we still encourage members to get outside and to enjoy local parks, ravines, and trails. It has been great to see the social media posts of members who have been making the best of the current situation and continuing to get outside and enjoying the winter through skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, and skating in our local parks. (I took the above photo of Colborne Lodge on Boxing Day as I circumnavigated High Park on my snowshoes).Although this has been a tough year so far, we will come through this and thrive as a community.
As the current saying goes “Stay Positive, Test Negative!”
I have always loved the history of skiing. And Sun Valley has more history than most in North America.
It was the first destination ski resort built in the US (established 1936), long before Vail or Aspen were even thought of. It had the first chair lift in the world and was the playground of Hollywood stars and celebrities from the Golden Age. Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway used to eat (and carouse) at the Trail Creek Cabin. In fact, Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Suite 206 of the Sun Valley Lodge hotel. And his grave is located in the area. The hallways of the Sun Valley Lodge are lined with photos of the celebrities who have stayed or performed there (they also host skating shows in the summer).
And it is the setting for two of my favourite movies “Sun Valley Serenade” from 1941 staring among others The Glenn Miller Orchestra (and is shown 24/7 on one of the TV channels at the resort and is shown daily in the Village Opera House), and “Ski Party” (1965) – the last of the “Beach Party” series of movies, with special 1960s musical guests including James Brown and the Flames (dressed up in a ski sweaters and those old stretch ski pants.)
During the season of my 50th birthday, Sun Valley was included as one of the HPSC trips. It was a little more than I would normally spend, but it was well worth it.
Sun Valley, Idaho is not easy to get to, so therefore is not part of our tour operator’s standard roster of trips. This excursion was put together specifically for HPSC. We arrived late on a Sunday night after a very long travel day (Toronto-Denver; Denver-Boise; and then a 3 hour bus ride). The first thing we noticed is that the Sun Valley Lodge doesn’t just have a doorman, it has both an outdoor door man, and also an indoor doorman. And they had staff to take all of our skis to the ski room.
The hotel is not just the only luxury feature. Arriving at Bald Mountain on the free and frequent local buses (the hotel and resort complex is across the town of Ketchum from the main hill, Bald Mountain) you encounter one of the most luxurious base lodges you will likely encounter. (Sun Basin in Utah, owned by the same company, has a similar vibe). All carpeted, comfy chairs, stone topped tables, two-story stone fireplace. Free cubbies with doors on them. You can also leave your ski boots at the day lodge over night or have them dried out over night at the pro shop. Skis/boards can also be stored overnight at the hill. And the food!!! I have never seen a salad bar like it!
If you have ever skied at westen resorts and suffered from altitude sickness, not to worry about Sun Valley. Bald Mountain tops out at just 9,100 feet (so no altitude sickness), but one of the great things is that the slope is a consistent pitch from top to bottom.
While the skiing is fantastic and varied, it is the extra experiences that made this trip so memorable. It was the horse drawn sleigh ride at twilight to the Trail Creek Cabin for dinner. It was having lunch at the famous mid station restaurant “The Round House” and having fondue in Averall’s Bar (named after the founder of Sun Valley and President of the Union Pacific Railroad, Averall Harriman) located on the lower level of The Round House and looking out towards the town of Ketchum. It was listening to live jazz in Duchins Lounge in the hotel. It was seeing “Sun Valley Serenade” on the large screen at the Opera House in the village, and meeting some of the locals. It was sitting in the huge outdoor heated pool – more like a hot tub 55 feet in diameter.
While there are many celebrities who live in the area, the town is very unpretentious. And you will never know who you will meet. While we were there, Tony Robbins was holding one of his higher end events. On the bus back to the hotel one afternoon, while a couple of us were talking about meeting some of the people who were part of Tony Robbins event, a blond women about my age, who piped up and said that they were also part of the event. She mentioned that Tony Robbins events had helped her daughter recover from an injury and get back to dancing with the New York City Ballet. She mentioned that as a former Olympian it had been helpful as well. We asked “What sport?”
“Figure skating” “Pairs?” “No singles” she replied just as we were stepping off the bus. Later that night, one of our group reported that when walking along the hallway in the hotel, she noticed a photo of our Olympian. Looking her up it turned out to be Rosalyn Sumners, the US Silver medalist at the 1984 Winter Olympics – who narrowly lost to Katarina Witt.
At Sun Valley you never know who you are going to meet. It is not about your fashions, or what bar you are drinking at, it is really about the skiing and an authentic (while admittedly comfortable) experience. While there might be a bar to drink champagne at, most places are much more low key.
Every year, I always check off Sun Valley on our Long Trips survey. But it is not just me – Sun Valley was voted as the Number 1 Western Ski Resort by the readers of Ski Magazine for the 2021 season, moving ahead of Aspen Snowmass. And in my view well deserved.
SkiFit is on for this season! Starting as usual on the first Saturday after Labour Day, September 12th at 9am.
However, due to the ongoing pandemic we have had to make a few slight adjustments. For this season, we are requiring that members register online to participate in the weekly SkiFit session. It is still free but just need you to register. The sessions will be listed under the Social tab on the website.
Weekly registration will open on the Tuesday prior to the session and will stay open until the start of that week’s SkiFit on the Saturday morning.
To ensure we are able to organize and maintain the required physical distancing, we are restricting the number of weekly participants to just 25.
The Grenadier Café is not currently open on the weekends, so we will not be brunching after SkiFit this year.
The weather is hot and summer is in full swing, but the downhill day trips committee has been planning for snow and winter! Thinking ahead to next season, Erika and David (Director of Snowschool) met virtually with all of our downhill resorts. Hills are fully committed to being open and offering skiing and snowboarding, and are excited to welcome back HPSC skiers and snowboarders. As expected, hills will have COVID policies in place for next season. Masks will be mandatory inside, social distancing protocols will be in place and capacity will be limited. As HPSC reserves our dates well before the winter, we will have reserved lift tickets to all hills. This will include our bus and drive-up members. We are also planning for protocols on the bus, organization to drive-up registrations, and lessons. We will be releasing more details in the fall and closer to the winter, but for now, rest assured that we are doing everything we can to ensure we can get on the hills and enjoy our ski days as much as any other year.
As we are all adjusting to new rules and realities, the downhill day trips team is monitoring the ongoing public health situation. As our 2020/2021 season is still months away, much of our planning does take place in the summer and fall months. Currently, larger resorts such as Blue Mountain are only beginning to slowly open their summer operations and do not have any updates for the winter season. We are hopeful that our winter will include skiing and snowboarding, however, it may look a little different. We can expect fewer people on chair lifts and few people in the lodges. As new guidelines and policies emerge, the downhill daytrips committee will keep HPSC members in the loop and updated on decisions or revisions to club policies. Suggestions and feedback are always welcome, and we look forward to seeing you on the hills soon!
It has been a great season so far . . . but it isn’t over yet!!
However, day trips will only run if members sign up. While buses in January and February were guaranteed to run, in March we need to ensure that trips are economically feasible. They will be cancelled if there are not enough members registered. And remember that if the bus doesn’t run, we do not provide lessons for drive up registrants.
Some highlights in March:
Our only trip to Beaver Valley Ski Club – home of
Avalanche, Ontario’s steepest groomed run, on Wednesday March 18th.
Our one and only ‘Sleep in Saturday’ on March 21st
to Caledon Ski Club. Pick up times are
45 minutes later than the usual Saturday times so you can sleep in. We will be departing from 400/7 at 8:45. If
you usually ski on the weekend, and don’t get a chance to go to the private
clubs, this is your opportunity!
There will also be a Skiis and Biikes demo tent
at Caledon that day (please see the separate article).
Due to the popularity of this year’s Sundays at
Blue trips, the board has approved adding in two more Sunday trips (March 15th
and 29th) that were not on the original schedule. Way to go to the Sunday@Blue
Crew for coming out regularly and making this possible.
Due to popular demand, the Davenport and Yonge
pickup location has been added to all weekend daytrips in March.
Come enjoy some spring skiing and before saying goodbye to our 70th HPSC season!
After the extreme weather conditions, and day trips cancellations last weekend with safety of our members being the top priority for the club, we are announcing a new date for our Annual Tradition: Double Double with lessons in the morning and in the afternoon. New date is Saturday February 8 at MSLM. Register early, we will have double double buses and drive up spots available based on your interest.
Our Downhill and Snowboard Instructors traveled to Tremblant Dec 13-15 for their annual Outdoor training clinic. They spent 2 days training with the Level 4 Instructors from Tremblant to get ready and motivated for teaching this season. Conditions this year were variable with fog, rain and then ice, however great fun and learning was had by all. About 20 keen instructors drove to Tremblant ahead of time to get ready and a few other continued on to Mont-Ste-Anne after for more training! Can’t get enough on snow adventures!!
Your instructors are continuously updating their skills with ongoing training from our Level 4 Sandy Gartner throughout the season.
We are happy to inform our members that, in this our 70th anniversary year, we have entered into an exclusive sponsorship agreement with a store many of you are familiar with, Skiis & Biikes.
As many of you know, Skiis & Biikes is the largest snow sports retailer in Ontario. Started in 1978, the family owned business has grown into a major supplier of goods and services for skiers and snowboarders with locations in Mississauga, Toronto and Collingwood.
We are excited about what this will mean for our membership. Below are a few benefits of our sponsorship agreement for our members in 2019/20:
Discount Shopping Nights with 15% off ski equipment, clothing and merchandise happening December 5th at their Toronto and Mississauga locations. Find out more.
a 50% discount on one Ski Tuning per member that will be available until the end of the current ski season
Monthly Ski Tuning Clinics for members with special discounts on ski tuning materials and supplies
Skiis & Biikes will invite HPSC members to attend Demo Days for their Downhill and Cross Country ski brands at resorts who host these events in Southern Ontario
Race Day prizes for Downhill, Snowboard and Cross Country Races
Many of you are already social media friends with Skiis & Biikes. We encourage you to post your experiences on Facebook, Twitter, share news and events that you believe would be of interest.
We look forward to a fruitful and exciting partnership with Skiis & Biikes and hope our members enjoy the benefits.
A note from Skiis & Biikes Our mission for 41 years in business has always been to get families outside. We are a family-owned business with an endless passion for skiing and adventure and we pour this enthusiasm into everything we do at Skiis & Biikes. We are excited to partner with the High Park Ski Club and get to know all the members who are as passionate about winter sports as we are. Come by any of our shops in Mississauga, Yonge St, Collingwood, or Caledon to get the gear you need to be ready for a great winter outdoors. We are proud to offer Performance and Bootfit Guarantees so you can ski with the knowledge that you will be comfortable and having fun on the hill. We’re looking forward to meeting everyone in the HPSC!
Have you wanted to learn to ski or snowboard? Or get back into the sport? Or don’t have anyone to go with? Or just don’t want to drive all the way up to the resort yourself. You are who HPSC is made for. Come test us out!!
On December 7th we want to welcome all potential members (and of course members) who would like to find out what an HPSC downhill day is like. This is the first of our two annual Test Drive days which means registration is open to one and all.
to a discounted group lift ticket, as on all of our daytrips, all who register (including
non-members) can participate in our free lessons by our CSIA qualified ski