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Packing up and skiing out west

Posted by Heather Burke  March 2, 2011 10:23 AM

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We returned from a week skiing out west only to shovel our driveway in Maine. The snow this winter has been phenomenal (my apologies to the snow haters), and not only in New England. Western resorts have been hammered with snow, too, so if you have a chance to go to Colorado, Utah, California, or Montana, you should. With deep snow depths and a late Easter (April 24), many ski resorts are pushing back their closing date.

Skiers and riders often ask me if I ship my skis, rent, or pay the excess bag fees to the airlines. I have done all three. Here’s my take:

Always bring your own ski boots on the plane. Also pack your ski essentials in your carry-on bag: goggles, gloves, ski pants, and jacket. That way, if all else is lost, you can still ski. It’s easier to rent skis and poles, and buy long underwear and other clothing than it is to find a comfortable pair of ski boots in S.O.L. circumstances.

Shipping your skis can cut down on the excess of gear you have to haul to the airport, and improve your odds of delivery. I trust FedEx far more than the airlines. We used on our recent trip to Montana. Our skis were picked up at our doorstep three days prior to our departure and arrived at our ski destination before we did. The expense for us, about $120 a ski bag with poles round trip, was worth the assurance (read: tracking number) that our alpine gear would be awaiting us.

Rental skis have the reputation of being old, heavily used gear with sharpie pen “rental #13” plastered for all to see. We discovered as a high performance, high service alternative. Your Ski Butler meets you upon arrival and sets you up on the top-shelf skis you reserved online from their impressive inventory. With a quick binding adjustment, you can be skiing on your arrival day without stress of baggage claim or long lines at the rental shop. Ski Butlers has a selection of wider powder skis, a nice option for East Coasters like me who don’t own fat skis. The price starts at $39 a day for skis and poles or a snowboard. Ski Butlers has won awards for their service in Colorado, Utah, Lake Tahoe California, Jackson Hole Wyoming, and Whistler.
For more ski tips, go to

[Photo credit: Greg Burke]

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Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.

Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at and


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