Many parents of young kids want to go skiing but are not sure if it is a good plan and if the kids will enjoy it. The truth is that the snow, as the sand, is one of the most ludic elements that the kids enjoy the most.
My kids, Francesca y Nello, made their debut when they were 4 and 1 year old respectively. Of course Nello had to wait for two more seasons to enter the ski school but that didn’t mean he was left out of the fun.
In Argentina there are many ski resorts, from Cerro Catedral in Bariloche, the biggest in Latin America and the most popular in our country, to the smallest and less known such as Batea Mahuida in Villa Pehuenia, Neuquén. Our choice is always Chapelco, in San Martín de los Andes, for us is a middle point between the two extremes.
We stay at El Refugio de Montaña, some cozy cottages located in Las Pendientes at 1.600 mts high surrounded only by snowy trees, native birds, any occasional fox and a view of the Lanín volcano that makes me want to stay there for good.
Unlike other trips, this has its own routine: we got to San Martín airport where Miguel, our transport guy, is waiting to take us to the supermarket and the leave us in the cottage up in the mountain (we don’t need further transportation during the week, just our skis), after checking in and leaving our bags we go to the equipment rental store so we can start our ski day early the next morning.
The days go by in a total calm, getting up early in the morning, going out to ski, having lunch at the mountain enjoying the Andes at its best, having a hot chocolate before going back to the cabin, lighting up the fireplace and preparing a homemade meal. As for the kids, they start their day at the ski school with other children and by the afternoon they ski with us. The ski week offers time for it all: time to be alone with yourself gliding down the mountain, only listening the sound of the skis against the snow, with the wind and the sun (in the best case) in the face. Time for the couple, when the kids are at ski school Seba and I have lunch dates and get to talk with the best scenario at our feet. Time for the family, when we ski together, we make snowmen and snow wars, sleigh competitions and many table games in the cabin.
If the question is whether your children will like snow, the answer is: I do not know a child who did not like it. But as every child is different, you have to bear in mind that while some will adapt quickly to the ski school other might take a while. The ski instructors for children are really funny and nice, at least for my experience.
What to bring?
Good ski clothing for all the family. I usually buy Columbia or North Face. My kids coulb be sitting in the snow for hours and stay warm and dry. For them I choose snow bibs that will keep the snow away even if they thow to play in it.
Snow boots or waterproof shoes. With low temperatures it’s essential to keep your feet warm and dry.
Helmet, gloves and goggles. In our country the helmet is not mandatory, though it should be. A couple of years ago, another skier hit me from behind and I hit my head hard on the snow, if I wasn’t wearing it maybe I should have gone to the hospital. Goggles are also a must, the sun reflection in the snow can cause severe cornea burns. The gloves, as the boots, should be waterproof to avoid freezing your hands.
You’re not going to the beach but take sunscreen: I’ll say it again, the sun reflection in the snow can cause sunburns in the skin as well, as if you were in the Caribbean. If you don’t want to look like a raccoon use protection.
Medicines: specially when travelling with kids, take an antipyretic with you and any other medicine that you use in a regular basis. If you’re staying at the mountain, this omission could cost a small fortune in transportation to the drugstore, not to mention the time it takes. For the grownups, some muscle relaxant (always with medical prescription) could be a lifesaver, the first days of skiing some muscles you weren’t aware of their existence will hurt.
Ski / snowboard equipment: Like snow clothes, these equipment are available for rent at the base of the mountain or in local stores. There are different prices depending on the quality and category of the equipment. We buy our snow clothes but we rent the equipment.
Table games: cards, coloring books, play doh, among others are a really good entertainment for the time inside the cottage. If you’re staying in a hotel with game room or kids club they won’t be necessary.
Play in the snow: every year we make a snowmen, with scarf, wool cap and carrot nose. We also rent slides to race in the snow. Snow angels and snow wars makes us laugh really hard.
Have you dare to go on a ski week with your kids already? Share your experience!