Monday, February 24, 2014

Layering for warmth. Merino Wool is your friend.

Do you have a misconception about wool being uncomfortable and itchy? Are you still wearing cotton under layers? Are you tired of being cold? My advice...get rid of cotton. Cotton traps moisture and keeps you cold. As soon as you begin to sweat if you are wearing a cotton under layer the moisture will absorb into the fabric.  As soon as you stop moving you will immediately become cold,very cold.

With technology things often become more advanced and improve. Gear and athletic clothing is no exception. There have been many products developed to help you have the best experience and stay comfortable so you can pursue your outdoor activities longer.

If I can recommend investing in three things it would be Merino Wool,(Smartwool and Icebreaker are my personal favorite) Down Sweaters (I like Patagonia) and Gortex (there are many great companies to chose from.)

I find I am most comfortable when everything that touches my skin is wool. My second layer is either a poly pro or wool (depending on the conditions.) I prefer Merino wool because it also possess antimicrobial qualities so your clothes will not stink.  This stuff really is amazing! Then I layer a lightweight down sweater 600-800 fill. Down sweaters are the thinner version of their cousin the "Stay Puff Marshmallow" puffy down. Last but certainly not least would be a Gortex jacket. Gortex is great for keeping you dry. These products are not the least expensive options but trust me they are worth every penny.

-Kamlyn Cantrell

Thanks Kamlyn! Your advise is particularly apropos during the spring season when weather conditions can seemingly change every 10 minutes. 

Pete's Portillo Adventure

I was fortunate enough to visit Chile for the second summer in a row in 2013.  I spent three wonderful days at Portillo.  After a comfortable flight into Santiago I was met a very friendly driver, Manuel from Santiago Adventures.  We chatted about Chilean history, culture, and geography on the three hour drive up to Portillo.

I checked into my room at the Hotel Portillo just long enough to shed my travel attire and get into my ski clothes and hit the slopes around 2 PM.  The conditions were sunny spring like with plenty of coverage.  Portillo is one my favorite ski resorts on the world.   Not just because of the amazing skiing and scenery but also because of the wonderful overall experience you are presented with when there.  It’s like coming home to your family after being gone for years.  From the staff to the fellow guests everyone is very friendly and inviting.  Not to mention the food and service.  Now back to the skiing.  Portillo has a series of sling shot lifts that consist of 4 or 5 pomas that access the very steep terrain at the resort.  There is a trick to getting off these lifts as the first person on the left gets off in the order of left to right after it backs ups and stops.  Let’s just say it took me a few tries.  The most famous of these lifts is the Roca Jack lift.   It accesses some the most epic terrain at the resort.

Many of the North American and European ski teams train at Portillo during August and September.  I was lucky enough to watch the Austrian team train while I was there.        

Pete will share some additional tidbits from his trip "way down south" in the coming weeks. Thanks Pete!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Telluride's Tribute to the Denver Broncos Superbowl Run

Check out this amazing video Telluride created for the Broncos Superbowl bid:


Interested in visiting some of those amazing places in that video? Book your Telluride Ski Vacation Package today!  Who will be rooting for the Broncos this Sunday?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pete's "Tips &Tricks" for saving $$$ on your ski travel airfare

by Pete Kondak

A lot of people ask me about me about getting best priced air fare. I'm happy to share some of my knowledge from working on both sides of the counter at the airport.

First off, flexibility is going to save you the most money.  Typically the best days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to fly.  The airlines have less travelers flying on week days so the fares are a reflection of this.  Also always purchase your tickets directly with the airline (unless, of course it's part of a ski package with Tours de Sport!).  If you book your tickets on Priceline or Hotwire or a similar  website you are the usually the first one to get get bumped off an oversold or overweight flight.  In fact some carriers such as Delta will not give the passenger a seat assignment until they are at the gate if they booked on a discount travel site. Not many people know this, and 95% percent of the time you can get the same fare on the airline's website.  The airlines are all about loyalty. That's why they treat their high value frequent fliers so well.

Another great option is to look at Southwest.  Southwest Airlines does not publish any of their fares on any website except their own.  Typically their fares are less then the larger carriers and have no baggage fees.  Also Southwest tends to fly in major cities smaller airport's such as Chicago's Midway.

With the airlines charging more money for luggage, it's in your best interest to pack light.  Pack as much as possible in your carry on luggage.  All of the major airlines still count a ski bag and a boot bag as one piece of luggage even though they are 2 different pieces.  Also try and keep your checked luggage under 50 pounds. Weigh it at home before you come to the airport if possible.  This will ensure you don't pay overweight charges.  All of the major airlines also have credit cards that waive the baggage fees.  On Delta's AMEX Card, as an example,  they will waive the baggage fee for up to 9 people in the same reservation. 

 Good luck and happy travels to ski county! Make sure to say hello when you're in Jackson!


Pete knows of which he speaks having worked the counter at Jackson Hole airport which is a crazy place, both Winter & Summer.

Girls Backcountry Hut Trip

by Kamlyn Cantrell

Sometimes you just need to hang out with the ladies. Men need to do the same with the boys. I think it is important to bond, laugh and just get to know each other on a deeper level or just be kids again.

After I a rough patch of losing my one parent in 2010 and then the other in 2011 it was time for me to gather my crew of chicas, pack my gear and head out into the backcountry. Along in my backpack I brought the ashes of both of my parents.

The alarm went off at 5 am and by 6 am we were out the door. By 7am we had started our trek to the Fritz and Fabi Benedict Huts just outside of Aspen, Colorado. There were 6 of us, all women. We all started off and set our own pace.  It was a half a day of hiking as the conditions were tough that year. We made it to the hut and the excitement could be felt by all. Once we had a rest we all started to settle in and start to work.  Time to build a fire and shovel our snow for water. One of my friends decided to wander off to find a place to spread my parents ashes. She came back and told me of the most beautiful spot by a frozen lake that she had found. I thought it would just be the two of us going because I had not shared with everyone that I had brought my parents. :) When the others found out they all wanted to go. They  said they felt honored to be a part of this with me. We decided to go around sunset. The light was perfect and I cannot express the natural beauty that surrounded us. 

It was a magical weekend at the Fritz /Fabi huts for me that spring. Everyone was so supportive and I truly could not have picked a better send off for my parents.  I think they would have been proud.

"Tucked into the wilderness above Aspen, the Benedict Huts are two beautifully crafted cabins built in 1997 to honor the late Fritz Benedict and his wife Fabi, the spiritual parents of the 10th Mountain Division Hut System. It was Fritz, along with a small group of Aspenites, who first conceived of the hut system and then started it.

The Benedict Huts form a pleasing link between the McNamara Hut and Aspen, as well as providing access to a vast area of virtually untouched winter wilderness to the east of the huts."

Layout and capacity: Fritz Hut has 3 small bedrooms with double beds, 3 single beds in the main room, and 1 daybed that doubles as a couch. Capacity is 10. Fabi's has single daybeds that double as couches, a double bed in the main room, and 1 separate bedroom with a double bed. Capacity is 6 and hut must be booked by a single party.

Hut Location: The Benedict Huts are located in a vast backcountry area at 10,970' about 5 miles southeast of Aspen, Colorado. 
The main winter route into the Benedict huts follows parts of the Smuggler Mountain Road. The route climbs steeply out of the Hunter Creek Valley over the first 3 miles to gain the long, gradual ridge on the top of Smuggler Mountain. The last 3 miles follows the ridge line with one short, steep climb just before the hut.

The huts can also be reached from the McNamara Hut but half of this trail passes through a Primitive Wilderness Area and they are unable to mark the trail at all. This trail is rarely traveled and should only be attempted by experienced backcountry travelers.

Winter Trail Access
  • Trailhead: Hunter Creek, Elevation: 8,380' Route: Via Hunter Creek Trail and Smuggler Mountain Road,Total Mileage: 5.8 
  • Trailhead: Upper Hunter Creek, Elevation: 8,380' Route: Via Hunter Creek Trail and Smuggler Mountain Road, Total Mileage: 4.8
  • Trailhead: McNamara Hut, Elevation: 10,360'' Route: Not a 10th Mountain suggested route. Due to Forest Service Primitive Wilderness designation, no cleared trail or trail markings are allowed in the No Name Creek drainage. The route between the McNamara and Benedict Huts is very difficult and is rarely skied in either direction. Total Mileage: 8
Get out there if you have a chance, and enjoy!


Kamlyn may have relocated to Vermont (where new adventures await), but a part of her will always reside in the wilds of Colorado!