Courmayeur – From France to Italy!

Okay, the trip to Chamonix was…..a challenge!

If you have read my blog on Chamonix – well I was determined to get beyond the negative!  Our trip provided an opportunity to ski Italy and Switzerland – and from France, this was all good.  Access to Italy was easy, access that to Switzerland was much farther away and logistics to get there were somewhat complicated.  I like to think I’m a smart cookie, so I took the opportunity to ski Courmayeur, Italy.

Courmayeur is located at the foot of Mont Blanc.  As I said, getting there from Chamonix was an easy connection through the Mont Blanc Tunnel.  An 11.6 km ride was an absolutely short ride between the two countries.

I had taken an Italian language course in anticipation of using it in Courmayeur.  That morning armed with practice the night before of asking for ski tickets, food and wine I looked forward to using my new language skill. I might have been a little cocky – I speak French and English, after all.   We drove up to the base, booted up in the bus, took the avalanche packs from our guides (I will get into that later) and walked to the ticket window.  As I approached the cashier I said in my best Italian – “Un billet de ski”….and the cashier responded “ a full day pass” in perfect  English!  My mouth dropped open and my hopes of being mistaken for a true Italian speaker were immediately dashed….there go my dreams of learning the language and retiring to Italy!

So, now it was time to learn about our “avalanche packs”.  For any “off piste” skiing,  these were required. It was a little disconcerting considering we had learned the snowfall this year had been below normal on the Italian side.  Armed with guides and avalanche packs – off we went to hit the peaks of Courmayeur.

The weather was cool and the lack of sun was failing to soften the crunchy snow.  Even the groomed runs showed our guides that we had skills skiing hard pack!  When taken off-piste and into the woods it was our Vermont skiing skills that got us through the crustiness.

Looking on the bright side, lunch as always in Italy in the hills is flavorful and the wine flows.  Lunch at Courmayeur was no exception.  The guides had reserved seats for us at La Maison Vielle on the mountain.  This slope-side eatery has a very small space but they have an abundance of great food and wonderful Italian hospitality.  We ate family style pizzas and salads that were so tasty they shamed any designer pizzeria in the US!  The table wine did not disappoint…or leave us drunk and unable to ski – thank goodness!  The wind blew,  the sun began to shine and the afternoon skiing took on a very spring like feel.

It was a great day again skiing in Italy!  This country always provides a wonderful experience…the skiing is enjoyable, the eating is always a wonderful experience, and, the viewage never disappoints!

Until next time!  Cammy

Skiing Okemo on April 2nd….felt like February!

Can you believe it's April!
Can you believe it’s April!


You know that Okemo is my home mountain.  This season (2012 – 2013) may have started out slowly but when March rolled around….well, winter went out like a lion!  Winter is not giving up to spring easily!

Temperatures were in the mid-forties last week and spring skiing was at it’s best.  If you didn’t get out early to feel granular give way to mashed potatoes by noon, you were working really hard in the afternoon!  Ever unpredictable, Mother Nature decided to drop the temperature in April.  Even the Groomer’s had a February Flash-Back!

Some great skiing could be found on Heaven’s Gate and Screaming Demon and of course my favorite fun of all time – War-dance!

My friends and I skied for 3 hours in temperatures that didn’t get past the teens; wind howling at 20-30 miles per hour….definitely NOT April weather!  But don’t despair – our fickle friend Mother Nature has a rise in temperature in store for us this coming weekend – just in time for Okemo’s Slush Cup!  If you can get there on the 6th – the fun begins at 11 am.  Skiing will be great as the cool mountain temperatures are keeping the snow for us to enjoy well into April!

Top off your day of fun and excitement with a ride on the Timber Ripper!  Come visit Okemo this weekend!  See you there!

Chamonix in February – What a Ski Experience!

Chamonix was my 12th ski area to visit on my quest to ski 60 new ski areas by the time I’m sixty.  It’s been a year since that trip……and it has taken me some time to write about this experience.  It was quite an achievement after knee surgery and I needed a little self-praise.  I had to find forgiveness in my heart for the thieves who stole my beautiful Kastle skis.  Then I needed to get to that mental place where you can remember that life’s experiences matter more than “things”.

Six weeks after knee surgery I boarded a plane to Chamonix France.  The journey to get there involved plenty of Physical Therapy and the actual journey included plenty of pain meds and ice packs!  But I was ready for an adventure….with dreams of skiing Vallee Blanche!

Have you ever been on a group ski trip?  Well, the plane ride to another country and coach trip to the mountain can be exhausting!  Once there, the group gets room assignments, ski locker assignments and locks – by the time you are finished, one can only hope to get in a nap before the welcome cocktail reception where you learn all about the mountain , skiing options, guides and more.

I promised my physical therapist that I would have a “day of rest” from our travel. So…I chose a little cross country skiing.  Oh, that promise was a day of rest from DOWNHILL skiing…but I was so excited to ski I wanted to be ready for the next day – and a little muscle toning couldn’t hurt!

The next morning, with visions of testing the slopes with my new surgically repaired knee, I headed to the locker room.  My lock was undisturbed; poles nicely placed in their locked home – WITHOUT SKIS!  I couldn’t believe it!  Did I have the right locker?  A double take and a lock number check and re-check confirmed my greatest fear…my beautiful Kastles were stolen!  Angry and annoyed – yes; frustrated at the lack of security – yes; really pissed off at the Hotel’s lack of concern – ABSOLUTELY!

So as you read about my first day on the slopes – think about my mental attitude.  Was this an all-encompassing less than perfect day?  Or was the day really not that bad but tainted by having my skis stolen?  You be the judge.

I finally got rental skis that the hotel paid for.  Chamonix is a resort town that connects you to various mountain areas primarily by bus – not my favorite – so we walked to the one area we could access that way – Brevent – Flegere.  That choice proved to be a significant vertical challenge that my brand new knee didn’t enjoy.  The views were fine really, but I found myself taking the Alp views for granted – like I expected them.  Did I mention it was windy?  Because of wind gusts some of the lifts were closed – so we decided to find an on-mountain dining experience – after all, we were in France surely we would find some great food.  HA!  Slow, bad service and mediocre food – the hits just kept on coming!

All I could think about was someone else was enjoying MY skis.  So I did the only thing I could think of to be sure the next day was a much better one by heading back to the rental shop and exchanging the rental skis for another pair.

Armed with a new set of rentals, I headed back to the hills the next day.  The walk from the hotel to the bus in ski boots was a little torturous but I vowed not to complain.  That didn’t stop me from wishing I was in a ski-in-ski-out arrangement, not a walking-about Resort town!  Of course once I sampled some of the most scrumptious French gastronomical delights I wished THAT thought away!

The regions that I managed to ski on this trip that we accessed by bus were Domaine des Houches and a trip to Italy to ski Courmayeur.  I missed the opportunity to ski Les Grands Montets – perhaps someday I will get back there, and I chose not to ski Vallee Blanche.  My knee and I decided that hiking with crampons along a narrow ledge on unfamiliar and less than perfect rental skis would be a bit of a challenge.  I did get the opportunity to travel up to L’Aiguille du Midi and see some adventuresome skiers…who know – maybe someday…..

I have decided that someday I will give Chamonix another chance.  I am willing to see if my temporary physical limitations so soon after surgery and having my skis stolen cast a shadow over the good food, evening entertainment and the beautiful view of the Alps.  L’Aiguille du Midi is an awesome experience and one not to miss.  You feel you are an arm’s length to heaven and the closest you will be to God while alive!

That, my friends, is why I keep on travelling!


A January to Remember!

As you know, Vermont is my home and Okemo Mountain Resort is my home mountain.  This winter has been a particularly odd season with very little snow.  So I took the opportunity to have my knee repaired over the Christmas Holidays and threw myself into physical therapy following surgery.  Thanks to Dr. Michael Cushner and his team at WestMed for putting my knee back together again!  Thanks also, to Scott and his team at Eastside Sports Physical Therapy in New York City for motivating me to keep my goal alive and work through the pain!

I’m happy to report that after four weeks of Physical Therapy, I was cleared to ski this past weekend!  In an effort to evaluate how I will do on my trip to Chamonix in February – and not with out a little apprehension – I geared up and headed to the base for a few turns on the beginner slope.  Walking in my ski boots gave me the greatest pain pre-surgery so imagine my joy when I began to walk pain free!  My fears were quickly dissipating as I made my way to the chair.

It is amazing how one slow chairlift ride to the top of the beginner slope is all it takes to get my passion for skiing fully flowing!  To feel the light wind in my face, to hear the swishing of those beginner skiers on the slopes below me – well, I was rejuvenated!  I was ready just as if I was taking my first trip down the mountain at 16!  As I got off that lift – a little hesitancy as I applied some weight bearing pressure – but no pain!  After a few turns on the beginner slope I quickly realized I needed to challenge myself and my knee to the skiing I most enjoy – steeps and speed.

Up another lift to ski Ledges!  It was awesome!  And I realized that my knee was ready to go anywhere – and so was I!

The next leg of my adventure on my list of “Ski sixty for sixty” begins February 4th when I’ll board a Swissair jet at JFK bound for Geneva!  I may not get to ski all the locations I had hoped to before surgery, but no regrets and no sadness because only four weeks after knee surgery I will ski Chamonix France, into Italy and Switzerland all in one trip! Now that is an amazing feat and vacation!

Watch for pictures next month from my fabulous trip.  Thanks to Jim Garvey and Alphorn Tours for what I know will be another great ski trip to add to my list!

A Skiing injury WILL NOT slow me down!

Talk about waiting until the last minute to write this month’s blog!

As you know from Thanksgiving to the end of the year it is quite a rat race between all the visiting, eating, exercising to keep the pounds off, gift buying, holiday card mailing and whatever else we all do in the holiday season.  Well, I added a little more to all that.  I had knee surgery.

Two years ago I was hit by a snowboarder and suffered some knee damage.  I was able to keep that injury from worsening through cortisone shots – most importantly, I was able to ski.  For some reason this year the cortisone shot at the beginning of the season lasted one week and the pain and knee locking got significantly worse.  Knowing Chamonix is around the corner in February and I have 6 ski areas to get in this season I committed to arthroscopic knee repair on December 27th.

So luckily for me but not my fellow skiers, this season did not start well.  Okemo, the mountain having the most snow this season, had to blow snow just to open for the Holiday week crowd.  I hear the conditions are icy and the crowds thick after ten in the morning….so I am in a good place for recovery.  My Orthopedic Surgeon promised that I will be on the slopes by the end of January and ready for the trip in February.  Ah, the beauty of modern medicine and rehab!

Well, it is a short note today as I won’t bore you with the cycling and leg work requirements to get the leg and knee in shape.  Here is hoping that you help make this New Year a safe skiing and riding season!

Happy New Year!


A New Pair of Skis – Does Brand Loyalty give you what you need and want?

Wow, where does the time go?  October came and went – with NO Blog from me – but with Vermont in full recovery mode from Hurricane Irene.  The fall leaves left much to be desired in their muted tones as work crews feverishly repaired roads washed away from the storm and businesses tore out water logged walls and went into full renovation mode in preparation for another ski season…and then came November!

Here we are in November and the season begins with a freak storm at the end of October which left heaps of snow in New york, New Jersey and Connecticut and six to ten inches at the higher elevations at the Vermont Ski areas.  Personally, since I wasn’t skiing I was able to make snow angels at my house!

Tradition prevailed and Killington opened first with the usual terrain.  Warm weather is making everyone anxious for opening day at Okemo, Stratton and Bromley.  Good news though – cold weather has arrived and the snow guns are running…ah!  The Sweet sound of the generators!

So having time to sit by the fire and get excited for another ski season, I was thinking about what would interest my blog followers.  I realized while I am not an expert on the technology of skis, I have something important to say about ski selection.  FORGET BRAND LOYALTY!  And I say that with conviction!

I once was a brand-loyal consumer.  After my strong start on a Sears ski package, I had a towering pair of Fischer’s (remember those days?), and found a pair of Rossignol skis that I fell in love with.  That led to a decade long relationship with Rossignols. (They ARE French!) My friends repeatedly suggested other brands; I even loved the Rossi “women’s ski” , and always gravitated back to Rossi’s after a demo day at the mountain.

And then it happened!

Another knee injury, a few added years and I realized that I needed to pay attention to other skis out there that might work better for me.  After demoing many brands such as Solomon, K2, Rossignol and Kastle – voila!

I fell in love with the Kastle ski!  These flexible, wide-under-foot, wood core skis – were perfect for me!  While I was demoing, my friends said they made me a better skier…and the wood core doesn’t vibrate like other material does and I felt like I was floating – not fighting some of the “snow inconsistencies” we deal with here in Vermont!

So how excited was I?  Immediately I went right to The Boot Pro (you remember Shon from my September blog) and purchased a pair.

I want to encourage everyone to demo – get out of your brand comfort zone and see what is new and different in ski technology.  Or maybe you’ll find older technology (wood core) that works for you and makes your skiing better and more fun!

I plan to try out the new Elan.  There is actually a right and a left ski with a rocker-edge technology to help in certain types of snow.  If you flip feet, it has another purpose getting you through some different snow.  David Bowyer, PSIA ski instructor at Okemo and Elan rep is a source of info on these.  If you are intrigued, send him an email for more information at  I am definitely interested in demoing them this season.

Sometimes the best technology for you is not with your preferred brand.  Sometimes the best technology for YOU is technology that has been around for a long time.  We all want to be the best skiers we can be – so take advantage of demo days at your local mountain.

Here is to another great ski-season!  Until next time, Cammy



What makes skiing such a pleasure? Boots, Boots, Boots!

Last month I wrote about how I first got into skiing when I was 16.  Lured by the coaxing of my best friend (we were trouble and fun together!) I rented a pair of skis and headed down Carlington Hill.  A pair of lace-up boots (that fit poorly) and a skinny pair of skis that towered over my 5’2″ frame (I have not grown) were my first experience with ski equipment and I STILL loved it!  Go figure!

When my parents realized this was my passion ( I was a “dancer” – someone else’s passion!) they gave in and for Christmas bought me a package of skis/boots/poles – at Sears.  Wait – and a ski suit that today would be hilarious on the hill!  So I started my journey with Sears as  my specialty ski shop!

The lace-up boots covered me just above the ankles and were made for a girl with narrow feet…..that I didn’t have and DON’T have.  You can imagine the pain, but complain – no never!  There were no alternatives!  The skis – as long as they got me down the mountain, I had so little knowledge and experience that I was good to go!  Boy have I learned so much over the years!

How do boots make a difference?  Well, everyone you ski with has an opinion and I love my ski-instructor friends but all share similar yet different ideas on boots.  And boy do they love to talk about it!  So what’s a girl to do?  Find a boot-fitter – and I found Shon!

Shon and Alex Racicot are the proprietors of The Boot Pro.  You can find them at and their shop is located at the base of Mountain Road in Ludlow, Vermont.  Full of experts on boot fitting, skiing, tuning and technology, their shop is one-stop shopping and no miss for your skiing comfort and performance needs.

Shon has been fitting me in boots long before he opened his own shop.  Let me share a few classic “moments” with Shon.  Once I came in with a pair of boots I bought on sale in a foreign country and after a few runs in agony I brought them to Shon to “fix” them.  He good naturedly worked on those boots for a year and finally said to me, “Cammy, if these boots were on sale in a foreign country, maybe they were meant to just find the right feet – and yours are not for these boots”.  Lesson Number One – listen to Shon.

I didn’t.  The next year while Shon was fitting me for boots I was looking for….slippers.  he said that I could get comfort and performance if I would just trust him.  Stubbornness prevailed: I didn’t listen and went for the slippers.  What do you think happened?  In one year they were too big and my feet were sloshing in my boots by the end of the season.  Ever professional, Shon never said “I told  you so”.  He just put me in boots I now love.  And because he has fitted me for years, when some carving of plastic is needed for my imperfect ankle/foot, he knows what needs to be done.  A fitted foot bed – a must!  Trust your boot fitter!

Next month I’ll share some shopping tips on ski selection!  Until then – Cammy


Celebrating Life in August!

What does a passionate skier like me do in August?  Celebrate life….of course!

Well there were no ski mountains to conquer this month and add to my list but that did not make August boring by any stretch of the imagination.  Why?  Well August is my birthday month!  So there were celebrations with family in Canada, celebrations with friends in NYC and more celebrations with friends in Vermont.  I’ll let you guess how many years I have left to achieve my goal!

Vermont is my home and I’ve spent many, many years skiing at Okemo Mountain Resort.  Okemo has an excellent ski school and is a very welcoming mountain for skiers of all abilities.  Jackson Gore has added some fun and steeper terrain and I’ve spent many a weekend enjoying/cursing the bumps on Big Bang!  I encourage you to visit the mountain.  It is a gem among the many mountains in Southern Vermont.  If you let me know you’ll be there – I’ll introduce you to my friends and share a beer with you at The Loft!

I was 16 when I first put a pair of ski boots and skis on my feet.  My first trip down a hill was in an urban setting on a man-made hill in Ottawa, Canada we city kids affectionately called “the Carlington Ski Hill”.  While Carlington Hill makes Wikipedia as a “notable geographic feature in the neighbourhood” part of it was formerly a ski hill with a tow lift named for Canadian alpine skier Anne Heggtveit.  In recent years it has been used as a sledding hill and a snow dump for the city of Ottawa!

Proud of my Canadian heritage, here is some information about Anne Heggtveit.  Anne Heggtveit was a Canadian alpine skier born in Ottawa, Ontario on January 11, 1939.  She first gained international attention in 1954 at the age of 15 when she became the youngest winner ever of the Holmenkollen – a Giant Slalom event in Norway.  She went on to win first in Slalom and Giant Slalom in the US National junior championships as well.  Although she suffered from several injuries between  1955 and 1957, she still earned a spot on Canada’s team at age 17 and competed at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina, Italy.  At the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California Heggtveit won Canada’s first-ever Olympic skiing gold medal!!!  You’ll find a ski run named after her at the Camp Fortune Ski Resort just outside of Ottawa.

While I am no Anne Heggtveit on a pair of skis, I share her love and passion for the sport.  So my first run down Anne Heggtveit Hill and I was hooked!  I have skied Cortina, Lake Placid and Squaw – all Winter Olympic Game sites and try to channel my “inner Anne” each time!

To date I’ve skied a total of 11 new ski mountains since starting this at the age of 50:

  • Stowe, VT
  • Trois Vallees (Val Thorens, Mirabel, Courcheval) France
  • Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec Canada
  • Le Masif, Quebec Canada
  • Lake Placid, NY
  • Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Cervinia, Italy
  • Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe CA
  • Sugar Bowl, Norden CA

So while there may not be any snow or mountains for me to ski this month, my passion for the sport keeps it front and center in my mind.  I’m in the planning stages for the coming ski season and Chamonix, France is on my calendar for February.  I understand there are opportunities to visit Italy and Switzerland on this trip which means not only adding three new ski mountains – but skiing three countries in one trip……now that is AWESOME!

Do you have a suggestion  for me this year?  Want to join me?  I welcome your suggestions on new mountains I should consider this season and stay tuned as my plans solidify for this ski season’s new mountain adventures!


Skiing in July!

The 4th of July weekend was filled with all of the traditional holiday summer activities! Picnics, barbeques, beach outings, boating, cycling – AND SKIING!!!!

You see, what happened was…….

Mother Nature provided Lake Tahoe with so much snow this past winter – right through Memorial Day – that resorts were able to open for the July 4th weekend. This event has only happened 4 times in the last 40 years! Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl all opened this holiday weekend to provide skiers and riders with a spring skiing foundation – IN JULY!

I have a dear friend who is a seasoned boarder at Squaw and when she suggested a trip from Manhattan – of course I took advantage and added Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl to my list of new ski areas!  “Ski sixty for sixty” has two more mountains on the list!  (It was tempting to revisit Alpine Meadows – but there were so many activities to indulge in – I passed up that opportunity.)

Squaw Valley was an awesome experience!  My friend guided us along beginner, intermediate and expert steeps – we skied everything open for the taking.  Squaw had lost its top to bottom skiing by this weekend but still had over 100 inches of base at elevations above 7,000 feet.  (Squaw’s base elevation – 6,223 feet above sea level)

First tracks were a must (have you met me?) so we got 2 hours of skiing and riding in before the snow got a little sticky and the crowds got a little deep.  The need for a summer sport called us!  I’ll never forget seeing the Lift Operators standing on the snow in flip flops, shorts and Squaw golf shirts – an incredibly unique experience for a northeast skier!

The next day Squaw hosted the Cushing Classic (slush cup) where costumed skiers and boarders slid down attempting a pond – surf crossing for points and glory.  With temperatures in the upper 80’s and crowds as big as on a powder day I’m told, we had a lot of fun watching great pond crossing failures and successes.  It’s a shame that man in the thong didn’t even make it to the pond….the thong didn’t quite provide sufficient coverage to protect his fall and the resulting butt-burn!

Squaw Village was amazing and I love the commemorative T-shirt for skiing Squaw in July!

But then I got to ski Sugar Bowl on July 4th!!!!

Sugar Bowl Resort is located atop Tahoe’s majestic Donner Summit.  Its base is at 6,883 feet above sea level and rises to an elevation of 8,383 feet.  We started early and got about 2 hours of great skiing on fun terrain!  We experienced top to bottom skiing on intermediate and advanced trails on Disney Mountain.  Sugar Bowl is known for its chutes on Mt. Lincoln which was not open that day but clearly had enough base for anyone willing to make the climb.  It boasts some great steeps and warrants a return trip for me!

We had special passes to ski with all the Season Pass-holders that day (friends of friends are awesome!) so I felt extra special skiing on July 4th!  Unlike Squaw, there is no “village” but I was so grateful for the opportunity to ski with staff from Sugar Bowl and experience their mountain with them.  Season Pass-holders are known by first name….so if you are looking to be part of a ski community, Sugar Bowl is your kind of place.  I just live too far away so I’ll have to be content with the experience – and my cool T-Shirt!

My photo gallery has awesome pictures from Squaw and Sugar Bowl – you’ll see how skiing in July in the Northern Hemisphere was such a wonderful experience!  If you have had a similar experience in the past I’d love to hear from you!  Meanwhile, I can’t WAIT for my next adventure!!

Having a goal!

What can sixty for sixty possibly mean? 

It means life, it means health and it means excitement… a healthy and exciting life no matter how old you are.  How do you do that?  For me – you have a goal and set a plan.

Everyone has a passion for something and mine is downhill skiing.  I love winter, I love snow and believe it or not I like the feel of getting locked into a pair of ski boots – pure cement on feet, my friends tell me.  They don’t have the same level of passion which is understandable.  I love the feel of the wind on my face and the speed of “swooshing” down the mountains.  I love the challenge of deep snow, moguls and the joy of “skeasy” groomed trails.  Reality is wisdom and as I grow older I wear a helmet when I ski and avoid tree runs.

So with a passion for skiing I wanted to make sure I maximized my love for the sport and kept myself in shape to enjoy life and my passion for a long time.  As such, sixty new ski areas by my sixtieth birthday was born.  I planned six new ski areas a year for ten years.  A long term goal that is just full of excitement! 

With this goal in mind – I became more of my old self.  Travel and skiing locations that have been former Olympic sites has made the plan that much more exciting!  Why all this planning?  After many years of marriage I found myself single.  Being single gives you an opportunity to redefine yourself and grasp life as a means of overcoming the pain of a lost spouse – from divorce or otherwise.  Living is a choice!

So I am two years into my plan and want to share with you the places I’ve been and the accomplishments toward my goal:

  • Trois Vallees – Val Thorens, Maribel, Courcheval – France
  • Stowe, Vermont
  • Mont Ste. Anne – Quebec, Canada
  • Le Masif – Quebec, Canada
  • Zermatt – Switzerland
  • Cervinia – Italy

I welcome all of you to share your experiences with me or join me as I travel these next eight years!  Contact me at  Come join me in my quest for SIXTY FOR SIXTY!!