Category Archives: Travel Advice

Gap Year Gaps: Skiing in North America

A year can be a long time – just because you’re working or volunteering abroad doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to a vacation. In a new feature, Gap Year Gaps will explore the best ways to break up your gap year with some extracurricular travel.

Everyone needs a holiday – even if you’re on a disaster relief project in Jamaica or teaching English in Canada, a ski holiday with friends can make for the perfect break.

We’ve scoured the range of ski holidays available this winter and settled on easily the best two resorts in North America: Vail Ski Resort in Colorado, and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia. Both resorts offer established and beginner skiers the chance to experience skiing on inspirational slopes, and the opportunity to explore other sports and activities, in breath-taking surroundings.

Vail Ski Resort

Whistler Ski Holidays, CanadaVail Mountain is a massive 5,289 acre resort nestled in Colorado – the largest single mountain resort in the US, second only to Whistler Blackcomb in terms of total trails in North America. There’s a slight bias in the number of trials geared towards advanced and expert skiers, making it the perfect spot for the seasoned snowhounds to hit the slopes. That’s not to say beginners don’t get a look in, with a variety of ski lessons and entry slopes to suit skiers of all ability levels.

In a first for USA ski holidays, Vail Resort is taking inspiration from the world of video games this season – each ski pass will be equipped with a radio transmitter, which will track things like your total vertical feet skied and upload them to the web. The purpose? You’ll earn special virtual achievements and gain levels like in a video game. In future, Vail Resorts says it will be expanding the programme to allow dedicated skiers to unlock special rewards and resort perks. Neat, non?When it comes to the best skiing holidays in Canada, let alone North America, Whistler Blackcomb is pretty much at the top of the list. Certainly, its statistics speak for themselves. The resort is 50 per cent larger than its nearest rival, its lift about to cope with 65,507 skiers per hour, while an amazing 2 million visitors hit the slopes annually – making it the most-visited ski resort worldwide. It even sports an epic vertical run of some 11km (or 7 miles if you prefer) – a world record until 2009.

Whistler Blackcomb

When it comes to the best skiing holidays in Canada, let alone North America, Whistler Blackcomb is pretty much at the top of the list. Certainly, its statistics speak for themselves. The resort is 50 per cent larger than its nearest rival, its lift about to cope with 65,507 skiers per hour, while an amazing 2 million visitors hit the slopes annually – making it the most-visited ski resort worldwide. It even sports an epic vertical run of some 11km (or 7 miles if you prefer) – a world record until 2009.
Technically two mountains (the Whistler and Blackcomb resorts merged in 2007), Whistler Blackcomb caters to all levels of skiers and snowboarders, and is home to a mind-blowing 200+ trails, five terrain parks, one super pipe and one half pipe. While the resort’s world-class ski and snowboarding facilities are deservedly renowned, it’s Whistler Blackcomb’s extensive après-ski amenities that keep folk coming back. When you retire from the powder, there’s Whistler proper, a picturesque fairytale village located that supports the resort with over 130 restaurants and 200 shops.

So Why Wait?

Whatever you do on your gap year, remember that you have to look after the most important person, you. You do deserve a break from it all from time to time, so why not take your friends on a group ski trip to relax and unwind? It could just be the best decision you make this winter.