My Favourite HPSC Trip . . . Jackson Hole 2015

By Christine Bellerose

Jackson Hole, Wyoming March 2015

I have been on many wonderful trips with HPSC and can remember all of them for tons of different reasons, the people, the snow, the resort, the weather, the food… one that stands out in my memory for all of the above is Jackson Hole, March 2015.

This is the trip where…

– One member arrived in a wheelchair but left the trip standing up after days of skiing!

– One member arrived standing up, skied a number of days and left in a wheelchair after breaking a leg at Grand Targhee but still a good sport!

– One member had to be rescued by patrollers after attempting to go down a chute; no, not Corbets Couloir. No name, you know who you are 😆!

– One member was left behind, at the huge 😉Jackson Hole airport on the way back home!

Jackson Hole, Wyoming March 2015

– At least twenty members made it to the Après every day, thanks to some dedicated skiers who stopped early to save us a table!

– We celebrated St Pattys as if COVID had never existed!

While there was the great Jackson Hole skiing, the spirit of the members made this trip a memorable week for all, great skiing and partying! That is what our trips are about! Soon to come again!


Most Memorable HPSC Experience – “It happened in Sun Valley not so very long ago . . .”

Vintage poster of Sun Valley – Roundhouse

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).

Poster for the 1941 film Sun Valley Serenade on the wall of the restaurant where we had a group dinner.

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.) 

View towards Bald Mountain past the Sun Valley Lodge hotel where we stayed.

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. 

Lodge at the top of the Seattle Ridge area of Bald Mountain is just an example of the day lodges at Sun Valley.

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!

Just below The Roundhouse at mid-station looking towards the towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley

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. 

Ready to hit the Warm Springs Run
Averall’s Bar on lower level of The Roundhouse for fondue

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. 

Hot pool at Sun Valley Lodge with Bald Mountain in the background.

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.

Looking across the village green towards the other hotel – The Sun Valley Inn

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.

The Plan for the Season

President’s Report

Planning this season has been like playing a game of three-dimensional chess; for every decision we have to make we have had to consider multiple layers of influences and impacts. 

We have honestly done all we can to try to plan a season as normal as possibly – however, this year is obviously not a normal year.

In a regular season at this point we would be talking about the success of our first trips or a fantastic and fun holiday party.  This year however, as with many our things in our lives, we have had to adjust to the reality of the current situation. 

As you may be aware, the club has already been required to make some hard decisions regarding a number of trips due to the evolving situation from both our resort partners and the overall health situation.  

And this week your Board of Directors has had to make one of the most difficult decision . . .

We have made the determination that High Park Ski Club will not be arranging for any day trips, including drive-ups, while Toronto is in the GREY or RED zone categories. 

Throughout all of our planning and decision making, we have had the following guiding principles in mind:

  • We will follow the latest public health guidelines as outlined by the federal, provincial, municipal governments, as well our industry governing bodies;
  • We will attempt to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 within HPSC;
  • We will arrange for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing when safety and guidelines allows; and
  • As a club we are all in this together.  To the best of our abilities, we will not create policies that favour one group of members over others.

As a volunteer-run non-profit club, we must act in good faith to abide by all guidelines and policies and procedures that we have put in place. As well, all members and volunteers are required to adhere to these standards in order to enable our club to continue to offer winter activities this season when we are able. As a club we do not have the same luxury in making choices as we have as individuals.  

Your Board has been working on a detailed COVID Protocol document that outlines the procedures and policies that we hope will allow us to move forward with this season. This document allows us to make decisions based on a set of principles and guidelines that have been thoroughly thought out.  It must be noted that this is a living document that will be updated as new knowledge, guidelines, and situations occur. 

The full document is available on our website at COVID Risk Management Framework_2020 12 10.pdf (hpsc.ca)

Following are some of the key highlights:

General

  • The club will act in good faith to abide by the COVID-19 mitigation guidelines established by the federal, provincial, municipal governments, resorts, public health agencies, and CSIA, CSCF, CASI, CANSI.
  • Decision to run trips will be based on the provincial guidelines.  Since HPSC is Toronto based and registered, we need to follow the guidelines as outlined for Toronto, no matter where our members live.
  • As such we will NOT be running/organizing trips if Toronto is in a GREY or RED zone.
  • There will be a mandatory COVID screener prior to all HPSC activities.  Those who are sick or have any symptoms are asked to still complete the screener but to not show up for the trip or event.  A full refund will be processed for these members.
  • All trips will be for HPSC members only.  There will be no Test Drive or Bring a Guest trips.

Lessons

  • Lessons will be limited to a ratio of four members to one instructor.
  • Limit downhhill/snowboard lessons to STEP 3/NOVICE and up.
  • To avoid crowded lesson lineups, lesson start/end times will be staggered.
  • Members will need to wear a non-perforated face covering whenever 6 feet distance cannot consistently be maintained (e.g. lift lines, lesson lineup) and in instances where the resort has mandated wearing a face covering.

Bus trips

  • When we are able to run buses (based on provincial public health guidelines), there will be a maximum of 30 members per bus, with most sitting by themselves in the window seat.  Members can sit with others in their households or whom they are bubbled with.
  • While on the bus, all members must wear an appropriate mask at all times.
  • On the bus, members will need to remain seated throughout the trip (with the exception of going to the washroom.)
  • Food, drink, and talking will be kept to a minimum on the bus. Please eat and drink prior to boarding the bus. No alcohol consumption will be allowed on the bus.
  • The bus will be fully cleaned by the bus company prior to the trip, and high touch areas will be cleaned after arrival and after lunch.

Long Trips/Charter trips

  • There will be no long bus trips this season.  Trips organized to Quebec destinations will be “self-drive” only.  HPSC will not be involved in arranging carpooling. 
  • On trips including Charter trips, there will be no trip leader on the trip.  A trip supervisor will be assigned to create an itinerary and general information which will be provided to trip participants prior to the trip.
  • HPSC will not be involved in assigning roommates this season. 

Consequences

  • Members who are found to not be following the outlined procedures and policies of the club, or those of our resort partners, will be open to escalating consequences from warnings, being asked to leave an event or lesson, suspension from further trips, to being barred from membership.

If a member tests Positive 

  • Members who participate in any club activities and subsequently test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days must inform the club of their test result and are suspended from participating in any club activity until medically cleared.  Close contacts are suspended for 14 days following possible exposure and encouraged to get tested. All close contacts (including all on a bus if that is the case) will be contacted by the club.

We realize that some of you will be disappointed by the processes, policies, and decisions we have had to make.  To be honest we also are disappointed, but these are the difficult decisions that, in the best interests of the club, we have had to make under the circumstances as they currently stand. 

As I have written before we will need to be very flexible in the coming months.  But given the good news this week regarding vaccinations, there is great optimism that next year at this time we will be celebrating together on a trip or at a fantastic holiday party! 

Justin Graham

President, High Park Ski Club 

Sun Peaks Resort, Feb 28, 2021

Predictions are for great snow this winter at one of HPSC’s favourite destinations.  Our annual Sun Peaks trip usually sells out right away, but this year, there are still some spaces. There are 2 great hotel options in this ski in-out village. All Covid safety protocols are in place at Sun Peaks. Time is running out…

Looking for “Excitement!” ???
Beautiful Sun Peaks village – ski in-out

Sun Peaks deadline date is Dec 22nd. To sign up, login to the website, click on the Register button and contact the supervisor to make arrangements for the deposit.

Long Trip >>> I must Cancel? Trip Cancelled?

As always, travel insurance is STRONGLY recommended for all trips. For charter trips, you can purchase from the tour operator a travel insurance policy covering cancellation due to medical conditions, and covering medical expenses while you are away. You can also add on to this policy, “Cancel For Any Reason” insurance (CFAR) which allows you to cancel at any time, or for any reason. CFAR is available on all trips.

BOO HOO, I REALLY WANTED TO GO SKIING! BUT NOW I CAN’T…

IF YOU MUST CANCEL from a trip whether for illness, injury or any reason, here are the conditions. First of all, email the supervisor who needs to know immediately and will assist you to follow the rules and procedures to get a refund.

a. Charter trip,
Cancellation policies are set by the tour operators, not HPSC. In each trip description, there is a paragraph which outlines the cancellation conditions for that specific trip.

b. Overnight trip,
Cancellation policy and procedures are described on the website; click CANCELLATION POLICY 2021. Importantly, members should note that there is no refund for cancelling within 7 days of departure.

____________________________________________________________

OH, NO. …….. NOT AGAIN !!

What happens IF A TRIP IS CANCELLED because the hotel or resort has closed due to COVID? In the unlikely event of a total cancellation, you will be informed immediately.

a. Charter trip,
Refunds will be given according to the policies of the tour operator and resort. This will require a claim on your own insurance or the insurance you purchased from the tour operator. Instead of a full refund you could possibly be offered a partial refund and future travel credit.

b. Overnight trip,
You will likely get a full refund. Where HPSC has been fully reimbursed by it’s suppliers, members will receive a refund of same. Where HPSC has not been reimbursed or only partially reimbursed, members will be expected to claim a refund from their own insurance. This year our 2021 hotel contracts were structured for a full refund. Member refunds will be made back to the credit card that was used for payment.

Deadline Dates for Charters

Ski season will be here sooner than we realize. All resorts have Covid protocols in place now so skier safety will be top of mind. If you planned to sign up for a charter trip but haven’t done so yet, take note of these deadline dates. For each trip there is a date by which the un-booked space must be released as explained in the trip description. If you miss this date, you may still be able to sign up… but the price will be higher because of increased charges by the airline for your air seat. And more importantly, there may not be an air seat for you at all… or a hotel room for you at the group rate. Deadline dates are as follows:

TripDeadline Date
C2 BanffNov 25
C3 PanoramaDec 15
C4 Sun PeaksDec 22
C5 WhistlerDec 30
C6 St MoritzDec 12

To sign up for your trip, login to the website, click on the Register button and contact the supervisor to make arrangements for the deposit.

Overnight Registration Is This Week

Trip Sign-Up Night #3 (TSUN) will occur this week on Thursday, October 29 starting at exactly 8:00 PM. All 6 overnight trips go on sale for the first time. We have four Downhill trips, one X-country trip and the weeklong trip to Mt Tremblant is a combo DH & XC. Login, go to the webpage for the trip you want, and scroll down to the “Register” button. Don’t look for the button now; the “Register” button will appear only after 8:00 PM. Registration will continue 24 hours a day until each trip is sold out.

Getting on a Trip

Only members who have paid the membership fee for 2020-2021 are allowed to register. If you haven’t renewed your membership yet, do it right away because it will take 24-48 hours to be approved. The procedures for registering on TSUN are on the webpage, TRIP SIGN UP 2021.

What’s Different Now

The pandemic caused us to make big changes to overnight procedures. Firstly these are now self-driving trips. We reviewed bussing for overnight trips and rejected it as being very unsafe at this time considering the duration, confinement, masking, social distancing and sanitation that members would experience on a charter bus for the lengthy time it takes to get to distant Quebec ski resorts. Since we could not guarantee safety despite Covid protocols that might be in place, we organized trips for those who can arrange their own transportation.

Secondly, HPSC will not be assigning roommates this year. If you do not have a pre-arranged roommate, you will be required to pay the single room supplement. Therefore when you register, you are booking a room and can specify the name of your roommate (or a SINGLE).

Thirdly, because you are booking a room and not one seat, the non-refundable deposit this year is $200. Your roommate doesn’t have to pay a deposit because you have already secured the room. When you each have to pay the balance of the overnight trip cost, we will assume your roommate has given you half the cost of the room deposit.

Trip Supervisors

A supervisor is assigned to plan and manage all aspects of each trip. The supervisor may or may not travel on the trip itself, but they are very knowledgeable and experienced in HPSC group travel. If there is a question that the detailed description on the website doesn’t answer, please email the supervisor. The supervisor webpage is open to members-only, so you must login to get the email address.

Registered Attendees

“Anonymous”

When you register for a trip you can decide if you want your name added to the list of attendees. The list is not public and can only be seen by members after they login. If you don’t want your name shown, click on the flag and you will show up as “Anonymous”.  If you are already registered and want a change, contact the supervisor.

Enjoy a XC ski/snowshoe stay-cation with HPSC

The XC team is pleased to announce that our Family Day long weekend adventure is booked! Trip W6 will be heading up to Hunstville for three days with options to ski and snowshoe in three different places: Arrowhead (one of our favourites!), the trails near the West Gate of Algonquin Park (Fen Lake for groomed trails and Minnesing Trail for backcountry skiing), and the Frost Centre in the Algonquin Highlands. This will be a self-drive trip, car-pooling with those in your bubble.

The cost for this trip is $310 for three nights, double occupancy; the single supplement is $305. We will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Huntsville – Muskoka. The rooms come with a fridge and microwave, so you can bring much of your own food if you want. We are hoping to offer instruction for beginners and perhaps guided snowshoeing, but this is not yet confirmed. Trip sign ups start on Thursday, October 29th at 8:00 pm.

A little about the ski and snowshoe locations! The Frost Centre has 22 km of trails at all levels, plus backcountry trails. Facilities include two on-trail, self-serve warm-up cabins (equipped with wood stoves), washrooms, outdoor toilets and parking; we are confirming that these facilities will be available in 2021. Arrowhead Provincial Park we know and love, but may not get to this year as a day trip. Arrowhead has an extensive set of classic and skate trails as well as snowshoe trails, some lovely classic-only ungroomed trails, and warm up buildings (note, these may not be available this year). The Fen Lake Ski Trail is located at the West Gate of Algonquin Park. It offers four loops from 1 to 18km with both easy and more challenging sections. All trails are groomed and trackset. A shelter and toilets are located at the beginning of the trail and at Fen Lake. Alternatively, the Minnesing Trail (23 km from the West Gate) has four loops ranging from 6 to 32 kilometres. The trail is maintained for backcountry wilderness skiing and is not groomed. Snowshoes are permitted on this trail.

Last year’s Family Day trip in Sault Ste. Marie was a blast. Let’s make it a great one this year!

Charter Registration is This Week

The date for registering for our charter trips is this Thursday, Oct 15 at 8:00 PM. Synchronize your watch to CP24 and wait for the clock to tick over to 8:00 PM. Be sure to login first.

Registration is already open for Whistler and St Moritz-Switzerland. Whistler has an early bird price that has been extended to Nov 15. St Moritz is an all-inclusive trip to a 4-Trident Club Med resort where all meals, all refreshments and all ski guiding are included.

Remember that you must have paid your membership fee for 2020-21 to be able to register.

Overnight Trip Registration

Registering for overnight trips will occur in two weeks on Thursday, Oct 29 at 8:00 PM. This Covid year, we had to make significant changes to our overnight trips with the emphasis on safety. Enjoying a ski trip to Quebec while being as safe as possible has caused us to arrange u-drive trips instead of our usual practice of bus transportation.

The difficulties of social distancing on a long distance bus ride, for many hours, with all hygiene considerations, and the reliance on everybody onboard to maintain Covid protocol, did not allow us to run our buses safely. Thus we have 5 u-drive trips with 5 excellent opportunities to “Ski-Quebec” including two weeklong trips. So plan your transportation, with a roommate, free up some cash, mark the signup date on your calendar, and get ready to register. Oh… we have single rooms available if that is your choice.

Quarantine for Covid

A few members have asked about the federal government requirement to quarantine following your return back to Toronto from a charter trip. This requirement now only applies to a trip leaving Canada; our BC and Alberta trips are not affected. The tour operator for the St Moritz trip has told us that by the time this trip runs next March, quarantining will no longer be required. But there have been many surprises during this pandemic so nothing can be ruled out for sure.

Get Ready for 2021 Registration

With summer over, the excitement of ski trip possibilities is upon us. Our 2021 lineup includes 6 charter trips and 5 overnight trips. To register for a charter or overnight trip, you must begin by reading over web page TRIP SIGN UP 2021. This page gives all the information about how to register and when to register.

Registration opens sooner than you think. Whistler is already open and at the end of this month, registration will open for St Moritz-Switzerland. As in past seasons, registration will open at precisely 8:00 PM on the dates listed. So don’t look for the Register button before those dates; the button won’t be showing. Although registration for overnight trips doesn’t happen until October 29, you will find it helpful to understand the procedure so you can ask any questions now about particular trips you may be interested in.

Note: You must have paid your membership fee for 2020-21 to be able to register.

Safety, Safety, Safety

Skiing is still great! But due to the pandemic, we had to make several changes this year to be able to run long trips in a safe manner. Safety was our primary consideration. A major change is that we cannot match up roommates for those who don’t already have one. Thus if you do not have a pre-arranged roommate, you will be required to pay the single room supplement. Another change is that all overnight trips will be u-drive. There is no bus transportation available this year because we could not guarantee social distancing on a long distance bus for the number of hours it takes to get to the resorts. A further change is that our normal après ski receptions cannot be held. Instead we will create opportunities to meet and mix with fellow travelers during the ski day. Skiers will be grouped up according to ability, and on all overnight trips HPSC instructors will provide guided touring as they have done in the past.

A final change you will notice is that while a supervisor has been appointed to organize each trip, they may not actually accompany the group to the resort. Supervisors are well-versed in the trip parameters and will respond to any questions you may have. The web page for supervisor name and email address is found by hovering over the Charter 2021 landing page or Overnight 2021 landing page. The supervisor page is a member-only page so you must login first.

FOTL Pass

Coronavirus cancelled charter trips C7 France and C8 Taos last March affecting 84 members (boo hoo!). These members received a Front-of-the-Line (FOTL) pass for 2021 to help them through their tears. They have the privilege to reserve a seat ahead of the rest of the membership. Thus when you are looking at the trip page, you may see that some seats have been sold before the registration night. These are the FOTL passes.