[image of WLB Ski Club flag]

Upcoming Trips

Vail, CO
December 11 - December 18, 2018
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2018 Newsletter .

Big White, BC, Canada
January 11 - January 18, 2019
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2018 Newsletter .

Whitefish, MT
February 6 - February 13, 2019
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2018 Newsletter .

La Plagne, France
March 9 - March 17, 2019
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2018 Newsletter .

Big Sky, MT
April 2 - April 9, 2019
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2018 Newsletter .

Trips Archive

Big Sky, MT
April 2 - April 9, 2018


These skiers are obviously enjoying themselves!

Sölden, Austria
March 9 - March 17, 2018

by Mike Southwell

Sölden, Austria, is far away. It took us first a delayed, overnight plane flight to get to München, and then another four-hour bus ride to get there. Once we had arrived, though, everyone seemed to rate the trip very highly.

The area is gigantic, although in typical European fashion the vast majority of it is outside the network of trails on which they expect us to ski. That didn't stop many of us, since the most interesting skiing was often off-piste,although on-piste was nice also, and sometimes quite challenging. Cloudy and overcast conditions sometimes caused poor visibility, but we had two days of brilliant sunshine, one of which even had powder conditions for those who took advantage. There were so many trails and such fantastic scenery that it seemed impossible ever to be bored. The usual onsite modern restaurants were supplemented by historic Alms, so even lunches were interesting.

The Hotel Tyrol contributed also to our good times. Large breakfasts and dinners, accompanied by a good selection of local wines for those who wanted them, meant there was always satisfaction at mealtimes. The small size of our group, and the fact that it was a significant portion of the guests, meant that we had opportunities for interaction and socializing that would not have been possible at Club Meds or the other large facilities where we more typically go on European trips.

The quaint town was focused mostly on ski tourism, and we had no need for restaurants. But there were enough other shops and other attractions (an old church, a spa, hiking) to make even days off from skiing enjoyable.

And so thanks again, John, and Dottie in absentia, for another really nice trip!


some examples of the spectacular scenery


What in the world is this (download video; IMPORTANT: the Firefox browser will NOT play this video, so use a different one if possible.)?

 View Pictures from Sölden, Austria 

Mammoth, CO
February 11 - February 18, 2018
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2017 Newsletter .

Telluride, CO
January 11 - January 18, 2018

by Mike Southwell

Telluride’s brilliant sunshiny weather made up somewhat for cold mornings and a shocking lack of snow. Only about 15% of the mountain was open, which meant that skiing consisted of repetitive runs on a very few almost completely blue runs. So even the people who had been expecting much more challenging skiing simply relaxed and enjoyed leisurely runs.

At least the quaint town had other attractions to offer: fine restaurants, a very interesting museum, hikes, and (for those who were interested) a large number of marijuana shops. The Hotel Telluride gave us comfortable rooms, nice big breakfasts, and a lobby with coffee and cookies for apres-ski relaxing.

And so thanks again, John, and Dottie in absentia, for another nice trip!


the view east from the top of chair 6


the view north from the top of See Forever


free beer tasting

 View Pictures from Telluride, CO 

Vail, CO
December 11 - December 18, 2017
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2017 Newsletter .

Snowbird, UT
April 3 - April 10, 2017
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2016 Newsletter .

Chamonix, France
March 11 - March 19, 2017

by Mike Southwell

Chamonix, France, in the Haute Savoie under the famous Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, must be one of the most beautiful places on earth, at least if you are interested in mountain scenery.

After a long and crowded flight, followed by an extended bus ride, the Club stayed, as usual when we go to Europe, in a Club Med there, which gave us the usual overwhelmingly attentive treatment, constant entertainment, huge meals, and unlimited beverages of every sort. We also got guides to lead us, in groups of varying abilities, through the several locations where skiing was possible. The charming village and its equally charming environs gave even those who were not there to ski lots to do and find pleasure in.

A general paucity of new snow (it was reported that the snow conditions were the worst in 30 years) led us to be skiing on unexpectedly Vermont-like conditions, although warm temperatures in the afternoons even produced spring-like soft snow at lower elevations. But the beauty of our surroundings meant that even these conditions were very much enjoyable.

An un anticipated pleasure was the chance to ski on the nearby Mer de Glace glacier, where the skiing was not terribly difficult, even if climbing down to it and back up from it was indeed difficult, at least for most of us who did it. But the general feeling was that this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, never to be forgotten.

And so thanks again, John, and Dottie in absentia, for another great trip!


the 360° view from the top of Grands Montets

 View Pictures from Chamonix, France 

Taos, NM
February 11 - February 18, 2017

by Mike Southwell

The Club's trip to Taos, NM was a first for most attendees, almost all of whom considered this to be another one of our successful trips. The scenery was spectacular, and the weather was (surprisingly) warm and sunny. But a three-week lack of snow meant the snow was extremely hard and frozen (Vermont-like conditions, not what most of us had gone west for), which was not a particular problem on the groomed slopes but which made the harder terrain (moguls, trees, and the peak) even more difficult.

We stayed not as usual in a hotel but rather at the Snakedance Condominiums, literally steps from the lifts. This facility provided us with two-bedroom, four-person apartments with a full kitchen and a large living room. We therefore had the opportunity to manage our own breakfasts, and even other meals if we wanted to. This beautiful, recently renovated facility made a large contribution to our enjoyment of the trip. They gave us each warm and attractive Snakedance vests, and check-in and porterage was absolutely the most efficient we have ever experienced. There is yet one more reason for our happiness described in the next paragraph. And so there was a general feeling that Snakedance would be a wonderful place to stay again when we have an opportunity to come back to Taos.

Two non-skiing events made the trip particularly memorable. The first was a luxurious dinner for the entire club at the beautiful home of the manager of our condo. After some excellent wines and beers, and a wide assortment of appetizers, the dinner featured delicious New-Mexico style entrees, along with more wine and beer. The warm and friendly company of Roger and Diane, along with Beth and Bill and Meg, contributed to making the evening one we will long remember. An ancillary contribution was made by a pre-dinner side trip to the Rio Grande River Gorge, an absolutely astonishing site in the generally barren northern New Mexico landscape.

The second was a pizza party organized by John on Wednesday evening. This gave a chance for the entire club to get together with each other, not so easy under other circumstances. We may think that East Coast pizza is the best, but many were surprised at how good the New Mexico version was. And the chance for friendly interaction with others on the trip was a special treat.

Thanks again, John, and Dottie in absentia, for another great trip!


a view from Kachina Peak


John at Hunziker Bowl

 View Pictures from Taos, NM 

Aspen, CO
January 12 - January 19, 2017

by Mike Southwell

The four mountains of the Aspen resort have once again provided incredible scenery, wonderful weather, and fantastic skiing for skiers of all abilities from beginner to expert. But this trip provided some special extras.

Our stay coincided with Aspen’s annual wintersköl, featuring ice sculptures and much else, culminating in fireworks right outside our hotel. Then Mark initiated John Binder as an official Bushwhacker by presenting him with a t-shirt. The hotel was so thrilled with our presence that Frank the Tank and Tyler created a special edition of a magazine as an award. Large breakfasts kept us full, and a massive wine bar in the afternoons made it easy to unwind after a hard day of skiing.

Thanks again, John, and Dottie in absentia, for another great trip!


a view from Ajax Mountain


a view from Aspen Highlands


a view from the top of the poma lift at Snowmass


 View Pictures from Aspen, CO 

Vail, CO
December 11 - December 18, 2016
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2016 Newsletter .

Big Sky, MT
April 1 - April 8, 2016
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2015 Newsletter .

Jackson Hole, WY
March 3 - March 10, 2016

by Mike Southwell

The always-popular Jackson Hole trip once again (for repeat visitors, or finally for the several newcomers) offered spectacular scenery, highly variable weather, and a chance to engage in Jackson’s many pleasures, both outdoor and indoor. An added benefit was a relatively brief direct flight and an easy ground connection to the Rustic Inn, where we were accommodated in two-person stand-alone cabins with noticeably high-end facilities.

The mountain itself is not easy, though it is big enough to offer lots to skiers of every ability. Generally hard and icy conditions were (slightly) softened by relatively warm weather and occasional snow, which (except for one day) could best be described as showers. Almost everyone, however, found the skiing to be better than just good.

Although we had to walk outside to get to it, there was a plentiful and varied breakfast every day. A nice bar with an excellent wine selection (including Rustic Inn’s own private label wines) proved popular at other times. One special feature was a Club-only bison chili dinner.

And so John Binder once again has led us on a successful trip, and he even provided a special treat by actually wearing a helmet a couple of days.

 View Pictures from Jackson Hole, WY 

Cervinia, Italy
February 6 - February 13, 2016

by Mike Southwell

Looming over the Cervinia ski area in Valle d’Aosta, Italy, is the iconic Matterhorn, whose rugged beauty symbolizes the entire area. Staying at the Club Med, we were able to take advantage of instructor/guides to lead us around the area, which otherwise could have been intimidatingly huge. We also were able to take advantage of Club Med’s other attractions: a permanently open bar, varied and inexhaustible food (and wine) at our meals, and wildly active dance parties at night.

The weather, unfortunately, was not always up to the quality of the rest of the trip; fog and snow were an all-too-common event. That snow, of course, created lots of powder for those who were interested in skiing it. At the same time, though, there was lots of skiing, both hard and easy, for those who were not interested in the powder. And some of us took entirely different pleasures from the trip, not skiing at all but visiting the quaint village of Cervinia, and engaging in other activities.

The weather was, fortunately, nearly perfect for the highlight of the trip, our one-day voyage over the mountains into Switzerland to visit Zermatt and its surrounding slopes. The skiing there was not really very different from that at Cervinia, but the German names and restaurants gave that day a different feeling (and taste).

Despite a long and tiring trip home, we all greatly enjoyed this trip, and we’re looking forward to the Club’s next European trip, likely in two years time. Thanks, John and Dottie!


the mountains delineating the valley, seen from Plateau Rosa

 View Pictures from Cervinia, Italy 

 Cervinia Groupe 5 

Steamboat, CO
January 6 - January 13, 2016
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2015 Newsletter .
 View Pictures from Steamboat, CO 

Vail, CO
December 11 - December 18, 2015
For further information about this trip, see  the Summer 2015 Newsletter .
 View Pictures from Vail, CO 

Big Sky, MT
April 7 - April 14, 2015

by Mike Southwell
The Club’s traditional season-ending trip to Big Sky was yet another successful one.

Like most ski areas in the west, Big Sky has suffered this year from a relative paucity of snowfall. Spring conditions (warm and bright sun during the day, cold and freezing temperatures at night) produced some less-than-ideal snow conditions. But even though the snow was sparse and mushy down low in the afternoons, there was plenty of snow higher up, and that gave us near-ideal corn snow (as long as we didn’t go out too early, so that the sun had a chance to soften the frozen snow). The huge area provided plenty for skiers of all abilities, and there were never any lift lines, as usual.

Aside from the skiing and the Huntley Lodge’s gigantic breakfasts, we were given a very nice wine and cheese party, and the pizza party on Saturday provided an opportunity for us all to mingle. The base area is small, but there were a few shops and several restaurants, providing everything from quick bar food to fine wining and dining.

And so the Club concluded another wonderful trip and season, thanks to John and Dottie (in absentia).

 View Pictures from Big Sky, MT 

Whitefish, MT
March 4 - March 11, 2015

by Mike Southwell
Whitefish Mountain in northern Montana was previously and appropriately named Big Mountain, for it surely is big, as well as sometimes quite steep. But it offered us excellent and varied skiing: there were plenty of bowls and trees to supplement the trails. The general lack of new snow and the difficult spring conditions required our going out late if we wanted to avoid the morning frozen hardpack, and either staying high or coming in early to avoid the afternoon slushiness down low. But at the end, pretty much everyone was enthusiastic about the location, and eager to come back.

Kandahar Lodge had a very nice lounge area, a fine restaurant, acceptable rooms, and a continental breakfast that it would be generous to call anything other than barely acceptable (some people wouldn’t go even that far). Free buses allowed us to go down to the charming town of Whitefish, which had an array of nice restaurants and stores. Perhaps the greatest off-mountain attraction, though, was the spectacular Glacier National Park, only about an hour away; a number of us took the trip over there and came back awed by its beauty.

And so the Club concluded another great trip, thanks to John’s leadership, and found a new destination for future trips.


The view east and south from the top
[image of ]
Glacier National Park

 View Pictures from Whitefish, MT 

Whistler, BC Canada
February 5 - February 12, 2015
For further information about this trip, see  the August 2014 Newsletter .

Sun Valley, ID
January 6 - January 13, 2015

by Mike Southwell
Although the trip to Sun Valley, ID began with a long and exhausting day, the subsequent week resulted in yet another highly popular and successful trip. Sun Valley is a famous destination resort, to which the Club had never gone before. That alone was an attraction to many of us. But there were many more.

The area features incredibly gorgeous scenery; it is surrounded by mountains jutting up from a flat high desert. We stayed at the beautiful and luxurious Sun Valley Inn, with comfortable rooms and a huge hot tub (actually a pool) open 24 hours. Although we were a mile or so from the mountain, there was easy and free bus transport into Ketchum and from there to the mountain; free ski storage at the base meant that there was no need to carry skis back and forth from the mountain to the Inn. Ketchum itself offered nice restaurants and high-end shopping for those who wanted it.

As for the skiing itself, typical Sun Valley conditions are cold temperatures (zero or below at night, 20 high during the day), brilliant sunshine, and hard-packed groomed slopes. Although we didn’t really have the first two (it was above 30 frequently, and not always sunny), we certainly did have the third, which meant Vermont-like conditions much of the time. Many of us liked that a lot; a few were less thrilled, until a snowstorm on the last day generally reversed those opinions. There were very few other skiers, since they had been, we speculated, turned away by the less-than-ideal (by their standards) conditions; this meant that there were never any lift lines.

And so the Club concluded another wonderful trip, thanks to John and Dottie (in absentia).


The view toward the east.

The view toward the west.

 View Pictures from Sun Valley, ID 

Vail, CO
December 11 - December 18, 2014

By: John Horst Binder

Here is a note to all you people who think December is too early to go skiing.

We had one of the best snow and ski-weeks ever. Everything was open. (Everything). All the back bowls: Sun-up, Sun-down, China, Siberia, we even skied Mongolia-Bowl, which had deep powder. There was plenty of snow to ski my secret stashes like Riva Glades and W.F.O. We skied one of our favorites: Champagne Glades over and over again. It was even safe to go out of bounds at Blue Sky basin, without worrying of hitting stumps or roots.

Needless to say Vail always does a great job grooming. On our first ski day Friday Dec12/14 there was a good base plus soft snow. Saturday we received 11 inches and it snowed several inches the next day. Temperature was in the mid-twenties with colder nights so the snow stayed put. We had occasional sunny half days.

Everybody loved the hotel the Tivoli lodge which was a two minute walk from the Gondola. Talk about convenient location. One day my roommate Fritz and I were able to ski right to our room. Never again will I say: Dec. is too early to ski. You just never know.

 View Pictures from Vail, CO 

Big Sky, MT
April 1 - April 8, 2014

By JOHN BINDER INSPIRED BY PETE BROWN

Out of the five ski trips we took this year, Big Sky had by far the most snow and the best conditions. In addition the place is huge. Since Big Sky bought Moonlight Basin and Spanish Peaks. This year the ski area is larger than Vail. It also has more difficult runs and just as many blue cruisers. As hard as I tried I just wasn't able to ski all my favorite runs. Just not enough time in one week. But you can be sure I will try again in 2015. As my friend Steve put it: As long as you go to Vail early and Big Sky in April, I don't care where you go the other three trips.

Although Big Sky is a little short on restaurants, there are more than you can visit in one week. We had great dinners at the impressive Moonlight Lodge with its huge four sided fireplace with mountain goats displaced on it. At Bucks “T 4” know for its wild game. And a little hole in the wall called “Lotus Flower” with excellent thai food. One evening that everybody loved was our pizza party in the “Firehole Lounge”. It is one of the nicest rooms in the Huntley , with cozy couches, a checkers table and an impressive large fireplace blazing with real wood. I was sorry to see Edgar Alb miss it, since he had to leave early Sunday to return to work.

Four of our ladies that enjoyed their stay immensely were Betty Chaves, Loretta Hendrix, Maylin Lin, and Margaret Cavanagh. As luck would have it or Dottie's efforts they got upgraded to the presidential suite at the Summit, and could not stop raving about it. John got a standard room.

Anybody that has not had the experience of Big Sky should definitely make the attempt in 2015 when we all are one year older.

 View Pictures from Big Sky, MT 

Park City, UT
March 11 - March 18, 2014
For further information about this trip, see  the August 2013 Newsletter .

Val Thorens, France
February 8 - February 15, 2014

by John Binder

I had some of the best skiing of my life but I also had some of the worst skiing.

Let me explain.

We arrived around noon on Sunday Feb 9/14. It was a beautiful sunny day and lots of skiers were on the mountain. I thought I can’t waste a day like this. I quickly changed into my ski outfit and headed for the mountains. Ski-in Ski-out at Club Med made it real easy. The snow was light and fluffy and I had a few great runs-off piste of course. Too many people on the groomed runs. It’s like skiing in the trees and the trees start moving around.

Day 2 It was snowing and bad visibility. Our instructor-guide skied us off and separated us into groups 1-4, one beginners, 4 experts.

Day 3+4 Perfect days : 8" to 12" of powder plus sunny days. Our guide issued avalanche beepers and took us into the back country. Big Mountain skiing. As my friend Victor put it: Just Like Heli-Skiing.

Day 5 Thursday: Heavy snow and wind. I thought I skied in all kinds of weather and conditions, but at 75 years old I am beginning to change my mind.

Day 6 Friday: Pretty much the same. The upper tram and lifts were closed due to high winds and we skied mostly the groomed runs, which weren’t groomed at all but had 4+5 inches of snow on them. Most skiing in Europe is above tree line and it feels like skiing into a gigantic milk bottle. Without the guide forget it.

Last day Saturday: I spent the day with my wife Dottie and took advantage of Club Med excellent breakfast, very leisurely. Walked thru a very interesting town. We took a Gondola ride down and another one up and finally the Tram to the mountain top. Great view of the Alps. Took some pictures. Dottie took the Tram down and I skied back home.

a special note from Mike Southwell
I want to thank everyone who helped me as I struggled through the days after my accident. It is really nice to know that the Club is not just a random bunch of skiers, but actually a bunch of friends who expect to help each other and just happen to be skiers also. At least the day before had been possibly the very best day of skiing in my life (see John’s report above, and the pictures of untracked powder). I expect to be out of my cast around the end of March, and I’ll see you all back skiing next year!

 View Pictures from Val Thorens, France 

Lake Tahoe, CA
January 10 - January 17, 2014

by Mike Southwell

Those skiers who were looking for brilliant sunshine, incredible scenery, and beautifully groomed slopes were thrilled with this trip, which provided plenty of all of those. Those who were looking for more challenging skiing had to make peace with those beautifully groomed slopes, because of the extreme drought California was experiencing. A paucity of snow cover (the worst conditions in over 40 years, according to locals) made anything beyond intermediate slopes with snowmaking inaccessible; and once they did that, even they were pleased. Possibly even more pleased were a few members who decided to abandon Tahoe for Utah (which was experiencing big powder dumps) or Napa Valley.

Our hotel offered large suite-type rooms, sumptuous breakfasts, and extremely generous happy hours, at which we had otherwise all-too-infrequent opportunities for everyone to get together to socialize. The special reception for our club offered another opportunity, with even a nicer spread. Since we were only about 100 feet from Nevada, some for whom the other attractions of South Lake Tahoe were insufficient had the additional chance to lose money in the casinos.

Some alarms rose up when the bus for the airport failed to arrive on the morning of our departure, but John managed to salvage the situation, and we had a long but easy trip home. So concluded yet another successful club trip, marred only by Dottie’s inability to participate.

 View Pictures from Lake Tahoe, CA 

Vail, CO
December 11 - December 18, 2013

(partially) by John Binder
Previous December trips to Vail have featured often scant snow and accommodations acceptable at best. This year’s trip was superior on both counts. There was lots of snow and extensive coverage, and the Lodge at Vail proved to be a very desirable place to stay. The long-anticipated return of Dottie Binder was marred, however, by an injury, fortunately not too serious, incurred on the very first day. Dottie, we hope to see you back in action on the next trip!

 View Pictures from Vail, CO 

Big Sky, MT
April 1 - April 8, 2013

by Mike Southwell

John and Dottie Binder (Dottie in absentia) have run yet another great trip to the largest and probably most diverse ski area in the US, Big Sky.

Weather and its effect on ski conditions was certainly the dominant feature of the week. We began with warm, sometimes very warm, spring skiing. The effects here were two: by afternoon, we had the highly desirable corn snow to ski on, but later the snow (especially at lower elevations) got wet, slushy, and often hard to ski on, which sometimes sent us in early; and since the temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, that wet snow had turned to hard ice by morning, which often delayed our going out until it softened a bit. By the end of the week, however, temperatures dropped, and we got snow, sometimes mixed with rain at lower elevations, and sometimes very heavy. This produced wonderful near-powder conditions, especially in the less-tracked areas. And then, unprecedented for me, on two separate days we endured lift closings because of lightning in the area.

The wet, slushy snow produced avalanche, or more accurately, wet slide conditions. These occur when thin layers of snow in steep, rocky areas (typically not skiable themselves, but up above skiable areas) melt all the way through to the base, so that the now watery snow loses its grip on the surface below and goes sliding down, sometimes threatening the skiable areas below, notably at The Bowl alongside the Lone Peak Triple chair. Several spectacular slides occurred, and so a number of otherwise desirable areas were closed because of the danger. There are pictures of some of these slides in the Photo Gallery.

The Huntley Lodge’s huge breakfast buffet gave us all a chance to carb up in preparation for a hard day of skiing. A variety of restaurants offered dining and drinking opportunities in the evening. A highlight of the trip once again was the pizza party on Saturday evening, at which we all got a chance to associate with others with whom we might not have been skiing.

One prominent non-skiing activity associated with Big Sky is fly fishing, and a group of Club members spent a successful day engaged in that instead of skiing.

So another great season for the West Long Branch Ski Club ended with a wonderful trip, for which thanks are due once again to John and Dottie. And we all hope to see Dottie back again next year.

 View Pictures from Big Sky, MT 

Jackson Hole, WY
March 5 - March 12, 2013

by Mike Southwell
Thanks to Dottie Binder for once again organizing a fabulous trip! Incredible scenery, varying weather, often-challenging skiing, a nice newly renovated hotel with big breakfasts, an interesting and historic town, a precarious trip out and an easy trip home -- all these marked our trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Things began threateningly at the airport as we prepared to leave: our scheduled layover in Chicago was made impossible by a big snowstorm that had shut the city down completely. But United, to its credit, had in anticipation re-routed us all to Denver and then on to Jackson. There was some difficulty getting everyone onto the new flight on time, but eventually we all made it, a few alas without baggage until the next day or even later.

Jackson Hole is rightly famous for its rugged terrain and the concomitantly difficult skiing. These conditions were exacerbated on a couple of days by fierce winds, foggy conditions with extremely poor visibility, and rock-hard snow. But other days offered beautiful clear skies with warm classic spring skiing. And the area is so large that there is plenty for skiers of every ability.

One special property of Jackson Hole is the ability to take a bus over the mountains and ski at Grand Targhee on the western side of the Tetons. Several people took advantage of this opportunity and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day on those tranquil but still interestingly challenging slopes.

One highlight of the trip was the sumptuous wine and cheese party in the hotel on the second night, where we had the opportunity to mingle with others we might not be skiing with during the day.

So this was another highly successful trip, and thanks are due yet again to John Binder for his management. The only flaw was the continued absence of Dottie, but we hope to see her again very soon.

 View Pictures from Jackson Hole, WY 

Steamboat Springs, CO
February 2 - February 9, 2013
For further information about this trip, see  the August 2012 Newsletter .
 View Pictures from Steamboat Springs, CO 

Snowbird, UT
January 12 - January 19, 2013

by Mike Southwell
Weather and snow (or the lack thereof) were constant presences during our trip to Snowbird and Alta. The first three days started with sub-zero temperatures, which warmed up only to single digits, fierce winds, and a cold sun. On the last three days, however, we were treated to warm, almost spring-like temperatures, under brilliant blue skies. It was an unusual week when no snow whatsoever fell. But, although there were plenty of rocks around in some places, there was still pretty good snow, and fairly frequent hidden caches of powder.

[Nelson Bautista] A lucky few were treated to some guiding by Nelson Bautista, a former Club member, who now spends the winters at Snowbird, and is familiar with every tiny corner of this vast area. This provided the opportunity to get to areas which otherwise would probably never have been found.

Having two areas to ski in was a special treat, although in truth the most obvious difference between the two was the lack of snowboarders at Alta. Both offered gorgeous scenery along with wonderful (and often very challenging) skiing. Add to this very nice facilities at Cliff Lodge, and we had once again a terrific trip. Many thanks to John Binder, and we hope to see Dottie on a trip soon.

 View Pictures from Snowbird, UT 

Vail, CO
December 10 - December 17, 2012

By: John Binder and Dottie too.

Against all our expectations Vail turned out to be a very nice ski week.

Snow Conditions looked bleak, only one week before departure. Some even said to cancel the trip. (Impossible)

The surprise was it snowed Saturday and Sunday. When we arrived on Monday, light snow was falling. Since Vail is all grass (meadows) and practically no rocks, you can ski just fine with very little snow.

Tuesday was actually a ”powder day“. Wednesday and Thursday were sunny with groomed runs. Friday light snow started falling again. Game- Creek bowl and North woods opened. (Sorry no back bowls) The group of us headed into the Game-Creek bowl. There we skied Showboat, Wildcard, The Woods, and Dealers Choice. It started snowing Saturday afternoon and Sunday was a white out, we skied powder, it was great.

This allowed us to ski the whole front of the mountain,which is more terrain than many ski areas have.

Another surprise was, Vail Mountain gave everybody $15.00 lunch voucher for any one day to use on the mountain. (Unlike the previous year John and Dottie did not get taken out to dinner.)

Should we go back to Vail Dec 2013? Let me hear from you.

 View Pictures from Vail, CO 

Big Sky, Montana
April 1 - April 8, 2012

by Mike Southwell
Big Sky is traditionally the Club’s last trip of the year, and once again the trip was a highly successful end to the season. Two glorious powder days with bright blue skies formed bookends to four mid-week days that, while not quite as spectacular, offered all kinds of weather, all kinds of temperatures, and all kinds of scenery.

Huge and varied breakfasts at the Huntley Inn, a nice variety of restaurants, and our traditional pizza party, added social and gastronomic pleasures to the more athletic ones.

The only spoiler to the week was a fall on the first day that left John Legrande with a badly injured shoulder. But he was able to fly back with us, and seems to be on the way to a good recovery. Our best wishes go with him.

So the season ended, with that one exception, in a generally highly satisfactory way. Once again thanks are due to John Binder (who has recovered nicely from his knee replacement), and we hope to see Dottie back with us next year.

 View Pictures from Big Sky, Montana 

Telluride, Colorado
March 10 - March 17, 2012

by Mike Southwell
The spectacular scenery and the warm weather and the varied slopes and the great company produced fanatastic skiing. The general Winter 2012 drought of snow had affected Telluride as well as everyplace else, so thin cover combined with warm Spring weather led to conditions that were worrisome: powder was non-existent; groomed slopes were icy, occasionally frighteningly so; everything off-piste was bumped up into hard moguls that softened only slightly as the day wore on; trails at lower elevation got mushy late in the day. And yet the conditions turned out to be really nice when one was out on them.

The Aspen Street Inn and Victorian Inn provided friendly and comfortable accommodations, with huge breakfasts to get the day started right. The town itself was old-fashioned, historical, and funky, with plenty to keep people interested.

John had to run this trip without Dottie’s help, but he was up to the task. All in all, this was another great West Long Branch Ski Club trip!

 View Pictures from Telluride, Colorado 

Avoriaz, France
February 4 - February 11, 2012

By John Horst Binder
I ask myself this question every time we make arrangements for a trip to Europe:

Isn’t the skiing better over here? Don’t we have better and lighter snow in the States? Look at the “Champagne Powder” in Steamboat, and the “Best Snow on Earth” in Utah!

Well, we don’t always have the best snow. Vail in December and even Aspen in January left something to be desired when it came to the snow conditions. Actually, the whole West was dry. Avoriaz, on the other hand, had “Meters”! 4-5 feet on the roofs and on the village roads. They don’t plow the snow on the roads, they just groom it. There are no cars, just horse drawn sleighs and small snow cats. The streets became a blue trail. The ski-in-ski-out at Club Med became a crawl-in-crawl-out, as up to 6 feet of snow covered the streets.

But what really entices me to go over there, as I get older (and hopefully wiser): I am beginning to enjoy a more leisurely way of skiing. Europeans don’t rush to the Ski hill at 8:45 AM. The best skiing is between 10 AM and 2 PM. It’s cold in the morning and the visibility fades after 2:30 PM. So, I was really looking forward to a leisurely ski vacation: a big Club Med breakfast, ski 2 hours, lunch with my ski boots and ski clothes off, a bottle of French wine, maybe even lay down for ½ hour or so — YEAH RIGHT!

Avoriaz was some of the hardest skiing I ever did. I skied all my life and grew up skiing in Austria, so, believe me, I know what hard skiing is. But this was IT!

Yes, we didn’t get out till 9:30, late for our standards, but we skied till 12:30 or 12:45. Then back out at 2:00 PM till 4:45 PM.

The first day was fairly easy, just enough to get the guide comfortable with our group. The second day he issued avalanche beepers and that was the beginning of the end of easy skiing. It became more like ski touring! We traversed across bowl after bowl, 50 feet between skiers, because of the danger of snow slides, just to get to the right powder and probably to get too far away to get back home! Just when I thought there was no place to traverse anymore, he started to hike up and over the next ridge. As my ski buddy Michael Duffy put it; “Well, now he is just punishing us!” Then we went down a steep Couloir, down 2 beautiful powder bowls, through some trees, into and through some brush onto a long run out, where he announced: “We must hurry now so we don’t miss the shuttle!” I thought I was back in basic training.

Suddenly he cut across a creek onto a road where he waited for a bus. I thought we were going home — nothing of that sort! After a 15 minute bus ride, we changed buses for another 10 minute ride to the Avoriaz tram, onto 3-4 more chair rides, after which we finally skied down to Club Med. All this in about 2.5 - 3 hours! Were we in France? Were we in Switzerland? Who knows!

The one thing I’ll never say again: “There is really no hard skiing in Europe — I am going there for a leisurely vacation!”

 View Pictures from Avoriaz, France 

Aspen, Colorado
January 8 - January 15, 2012

by Mike Southwell
The trip from Newark to Aspen served as a paradigm of the whole trip: part went perfectly, and the other part could have been a lot better. Skyrocketing airfares forced us to substitute a bus trip for a flight on the Denver-Aspen leg, which proved tedious even as we drove through beautiful scenic landscapes. Similarly, the general lack of snow at Aspen, even with an eight-inch dump on the day before we arrived, produced extremely icy, really eastern, conditions on the groomed slopes, and very scrappy thin cover off-piste. And yet it was wonderful to be in these glorious surroundings, and even this kind of skiing has to be considered better than no skiing.

Rooms at Aspen Hotel and Molly Gibson Lodge were satisfactory even if not exactly spacious. The big and varied breakfasts complemented happy hours overflowing with food, beer, and wine. These were so epic that some club members substituted them for actual dinners.

Free inter-mountain buses once again facilitated our skiing at any of the four mountains, none of which was in the least crowded. This was presumably an unwitting benefit of the lack of snow.

We had the good fortune to be there on the weekend of Winter Sköl, and so we were treated to astonishing ice sculptures, along with a torchlight parade and fireworks on Saturday evening.

So despite the less-than-ideal snow cover, this was yet another successful Club trip, for which Dottie and John are once again entitled to our thanks.

 View Pictures from Aspen, Colorado 

Vail, Colorado
December 10 - December 17, 2011

For further information about this trip, see  the August 2011 Newsletter .


Big Sky, Montana
March 28 - April 4, 2011
by Mike Southwell

The 2010-11 season ended on a high note as the Club enjoyed its (nearly) annual trip to Big Sky. A week containing some less than ideal weather was framed by two gorgeous sunny days, the last afternoon being probably the best half-day of the entire trip.

Big Sky is a huge area, and so there was lots of varied terrain for skiers of every ability level. And we had them, from young near-beginners to grizzled experts.

There were plenty of memorable meals at base and nearby restaurants. But the gastronomic highlight was, as always, a pizza party hosted by Dottie and John in their spacious suite.

Thanks, Dottie and John, for another terrific year of trips, and I think we are all already looking forward to next year!

 View Pictures from Big Sky, Montana 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
March 1 - March 8, 2011

For further information about this trip, see  the August 2010 Newsletter .


 View Pictures from Jackson Hole, Wyoming 

Park City, Utah
February 13 - February 20, 2011
by Mike Southwell

The Club’s trip to Park City featured both sunny and snowy days, something for everyone indeed, along with dining and shopping in the quaint and charming town of Park City itself.

The resort’s three areas, Park City, Deer Valley, and The Canyons, offered skiing for every ability and preference, from the beautifully groomed intermediate runs at Deer Valley to the hair-raising steeps and bumps of The Canyons. Combine that with all the weather possibilities, and you have skiing that was sure to satisfy everyone.

Three days with Utah’s famous champagne powder made the trip memorable even for those who declined to ski in it. But two people actually went out on Sunday morning, before the bus took off for the return flight, for the highlight of the trip, some 20 inches of brand new powder.

All in all, this was yet another great WLB Ski Club trip. Thanks, Dottie and John!

 View Pictures from Park City, Utah 

Crested Butte, Colorado
January 5 - January 12, 2011

by Mike Southwell

The Club’s trip to Crested Butte this year featured spectacular scenery, a wide range of high-quality skiing, bitter cold weather, and, alas, illness for several participants.

The trip home, thankfully, avoided the “alas” factor, and we made it home easily despite fears of trouble at Newark because of the snowstorm in the East.

Looked at as a whole, I think everyone was pleased. A well-attended pizza party on Sunday evening was a highlight of a week in which people renewed old acquaintances and made new friends, and enjoyed the beautiful resort—at least most of the time.

 View Pictures from Crested Butte, Colorado 

Vail, Colorado
December 8 - December 15, 2010

For further information about this trip, see  the August 2010 Newsletter .


 Big Sky, Montana 
March 30 - April 6, 2010

 Steamboat, Colorado 
March 6 - March 13, 2010

 Alpe d’Huez, France 
January 30 - February 6, 2010

 Aspen, Colorado 
January 9 - January 16, 2010

 Vail, Colorado 
December 9 - December 16, 2009

 Big Mountain, Montana 
March 19 - March 26, 2009

 Lake Tahoe, California 
February 24 - March 3, 2009

 Club Med, Les Menuires, France 
January 31 - February 7, 2009

 Club Med, La Plagne, France 
January 24 - January 31, 2009

 Snowbird, Utah 
January 3 - January 10, 2009

 Vail, Colorado 
December 11 - December 18, 2008

 Big Sky, Montana 
April 1 - April 8, 2008

 Park City, Utah 
February 28 - March 6, 2008

 Club Med, Val d’Isère, France 
February 2 - February 9, 2008

 Vail, Colorado 
January 6 - January 13, 2008

 Aspen, Colorado 
December 11 - December 18, 2007