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Flag of the United States the United States
Location of the United States
Ski Season edit
Ski Areas Alabama

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island

Capital Washington, D.C.
38°53′N 77°02′W
Largest city New York City
Official language(s) English
Area 9,631,418 km²
 - 2006 est. 298,869,502[1] (3rd)
 - Density 30/km² (172nd)
83/sq mi 
Currency Dollar ($)
Time zone (UTC-5 to -10)
Calling code +1

The USA is everycountry.

It has snow in the east, but over there sounds too much like Australia. It has snow in the west, along the coast range. Mammoth, the Tahoe resorts and Mt Baker plus a raft of little ones apread up and down.

Then it has the Rockies to the west of the middle. The Rockies include Big Sky in Montana, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, lots of resorts in Colorado, the Utah resorts and some way down in New Mexico.


The Rockies has one of the most favourable climates imaginable as a skier. Its altitude assures high snowfall, near impossibility of rain and due to being so far inland dry, dry snow. As its latitude is relatively low, temperatures are rarely extremely cold, and can be quite mild in spring.

Snow Areas

USA divides into three main areas, with some smaller regions.

  • The East These are the resorts in the east of the USA. They are mainly located in New England, but snowmaking means that there are many resorts further south. Popular legend says that these resorts tend to be cold, icy, windy and with inferior snow quality. Just like home. Apart from the cold bit.
  • The Rockies There is a string of resorts from Montana down to New Mexico, including Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. These are the fabled resorts, and earn their reputation through size, range of difficulty and, most importantly, snow quality. This is where you will find the light dry powder you see in ski movies. Major airports are Salt Lake City, Utah on the west side of the range, or Denver, Colorado to the east. One of the reasons that snow in the Rockies is so good is altitude, but this has the disadvantage that they are high enough to cause altitude sickness for some people.
  • The Sierras The Sierras are the range of coastal mountains running down the west coast. They include resorts like Mammoth, the Tahoe resorts (including Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Kirkwood and a few others) and Mt Baker in Washington. The Sierra resorts get heaps of snow because of the orographic effect of mountains near the coast. On the other hand, the snow tends to be wetter and heavier than the snow in the Rockies. The Tahoe region is drop dead gorgeous.

The Bible on snowfall & reliability, an excellent choice when choosing a ski area

Getting There

Qantas, Delta, V Australia and United have a variety of non-stop services between the east coast of Australia and Los Angeles. JAL flies to the West Coast via Japan. Air New Zealand flies via Auckland, Cathay via Hong Kong and China Air via Taiwan. Some of the flights which include intermediate stops require overnight stopovers. Qantas have dropped their direct San Francisco flights and now fly to Dallas. Texas is not famous for snow. United still flies direct to San Francisco from Sydney.

Visas and Documentation

Australia, along with several other countries, is a participant in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Tourists from participating countries with a machine readable passport or an e-passport do not require a visa for stays of less than 90 days. Australians are part of the visa waiver programme for the USA for short (less than 3 months) tourist stays. People who use the visa waiver programme must provide information electronically prior to departure. This will replace the horribly confusing green form handed out during the flight. Information on Electronic Authorization System and Application. There is now a US$14 per person charge for an electronic entry permit. A permit is valid for 2 years and allows multiple entries. The permit process requires you to give an address in the US. If you are entering multiple times you can edit details online to update passport numbers, addresses etc (although the reference number is huge). In any event, if you make a booking with an Australian airline TSA requirements mean that they will not issue an e-ticket until you can provide an address in the US. Having a mate in the US whose address you can use simplifies the process although the logic of providing your first night's address is that, if someone on your flight has the black death, you can be contacted easily for treatment or quarantine.

For more information on the VWP and passports visit the US Department of State Website


Most flights from Australia land at Los Angeles, although there are some that fly direct to San Francisco (SFO). Qantas is dicontinuing flights to San Francisco in mid-2011. Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is a wonderful, efficient facility. It works perfectly until some inconsiderate airline lands a plane there. That anyone would do this is a cause of resentment for the operators of LAX, and the place grinds to an inefficient halt while they ask Madge Hagendorf, one of the cleaners, what they did last time an aeroplane landed. It can sometimes take 2+ hours to get through customs, immigration and security in LAX. Everyone over 15 will be photographed and give 10 digital fingerprints. Keep this in mind for timing connecting flights. SFO seems to be more efficient, but the process is still slow.

Depending on what airline you arrived on, and which airline you are connecting with, you may have to travel between terminal buildings. Good luck with that. There are shuttle buses between terminals, but it often seems faster to walk.

Warning - There seem to be no clocks in the terminal. Make sure you are constantly aware of the time if making connections.

Leaving from Los Angeles airport requires you to join a line to check in, then another line to have your luggage cleared by the Transport Security Agency, and then a third line to have yourself and carry on cleared by the TSA. It is frustrating and slow. You should allow plenty of time. The terminals were not designed for this level of security (although they are being upgraded) so lines are all over the place.

You will have to remove your shoes and belts for security.

As of December 2009 it seems that there will be another round of increased security. Everyone will be searched personally and all hand luggage will be examined. Allow a lot of time to check in. Soon it will be faster to walk. There will also be limitations on leaving your seat on planes close to landing, and a range of other stuff.

LAX Maps

SFO Maps

The two major hubs inland, serving the Rockies, are Salt Lake City in Utah and Denver in Colorado. There are frequent flights to both these cities.

Access to the Utah resorts is a short shuttle or public bus ride from the airport at Salt Lake City.

There are shuttles from Denver to most of the Colorado resorts along I-70 - a major highway. Vail is about 2 hours from Denver by road. The Front Range resorts are much closer. Aspen, Steamboat and Telluride are a little further away.

Jackson Hole in Wyoming has its own airport, about 12 miles from the resort, serving the town of Jackson. Access to Montana resorts is through Bozeman. Getting to these airports usually requires a stop and change of planes in Denver or Salt Lake City. Telluride has its own airport, although flights are often diverted to Montrose. Steamboat, Vail and Aspen have airports as well. Currently (2014) flights in and out of Aspen do not happen if wind speeds exceed 10 mph (not all that rare an event). If that happens there is total chaos and a desperate race to get ground transport down to Denver or Eagle/Vail, which has bigger planes flying out of it. All these resort airports are small, and they do not have sophisicated instrumentation. Mountain weather is always unpredictable and the airports close frequently. Flights are diverted or cancelled. Ground transport is more reliable, cheaper and often does not take much longer than a flight.

Reno is the closest airport to the Tahoe resorts.

You should be aware that airlines flying small planes into small airports often offload luggage for later delivery. It may take a couple of days for luggage to catch up. Think about this when selecting what you put in your carry on luggage. A couple of pairs of undies and some ski or boarding boots may be useful.

Online Booking

Sites such as Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz and many, many others will help with online hotel, plane and car bookings.

If you decide to book your domestic flight legs separately to your international flights remember that, if flights are delayed, it is your problem to deal with rearranging onward flights. You may lose the fare for your original booking and have to pay last minute prices to get where you want to go. If all flights are on the one ticket dealing with re-booking and overnight accommodation is the airline's problem although airlines will usually not provide accommodation if the delay is caused by weather. Some do. Qantas put this writer into a hotel in LA for 2 days when the New York airports were buried in snow.

Customs and Quarantine

Customs and security on entry can be a nightmare. It can often take two hours or more to clear customs, immigration and security.

Tip: You do not need to declare Vegemite to Customs, although the incoming PAX card asks if you have any foodstuffs. It is your call as to whether US quarantine regard Vegemite as a food. Personally I would take the safe approach and declare it. They let it in.

One of the frustrations involved is that there are no transit lounges in US airports. Even if you are simply changing planes in LAX or Honolulu to go to Canada you must clear customs and immigration and have a US entry permit - visa or authorisation under the visa waiver scheme. If you are transiting, putting "Transit" or "In transit to Canada" satisfies the 'where are you staying tonight' question on the incoming passenger card and your electronic entry authorisation, and as a bonus, impresses the immigration staff.

If at all possible, arrive in the US through SFO instead of LAX. The immigration lines are usually far, far shorter and the officials much nicer.

If you are travelling to the USA from Canada via Vancouver airport you will clear US customs and immigration on the ground in Vancouver, before boarding. This is very efficient, and a lot better than dealing with the zoo of LAX. On most airlines it means that, if you are not stopping over in the USA on the way home, you can check your bags all the way to Australia from Canada without having to collect them and re-check them in Los Angeles. This definitely works with Canadian/Alaskan/Qantas. You do have to check yourself in. If your flight commences in a regional airport such as Kelowna or Kamloops and transits through Vancouver you must collect your luggage in Vancouver in order to clear US customs and security there. The set up in Vancouver airport is convenient for this.

Carry On Luggage

The Transport Security Agency is responsible for what you can, and cannot, carry on a plane.

Checked Luggage

Again, the Transport Security Agency is the best source for information on what is, and is not allowed in the aircraft hold. Most US airlines tend to be quite genereous with sporting goods allowances, but check the website of your carrier to be sure.

Note that the TSA WILL open your cases to search them without your permission and without you being present. There is little point using your own padlocks as the TSA will simply cut them off to get in your case or bag.

You can purchase locks the TSA can open without destroying them - TSA Approved Locks.

Alternatively, if you want to stop the zippers opening, submitter recommends simple plastic ties - these can be cut with scissors at your destination, and you can easily carry more and reseal the bag when next you see it.

By the way, when they search your bag, they will leave a little note inside... how nice.

Most US airlines are now charging for every piece of checked luggage - there are no free allowances. The charges and policies depend on individual airlines, so check their web sites. At the moment there are still free allowances if there is an international component on your ticket. This is something else to factor in if you are deciding to go for cheaper domestic legs by booking those flights separately from international legs. For example, United charges $25 for the first bag and $35 per bag for additional bags (2011). Southwest is one airline that does not (yet - Feb 2009) charge.

Experience in 2014 shows that, even if you have booked your international and domestic legs separately, you will not be charged baggage fees (at least with Qantas and American) if you re-check your baggage at the drop off counter on the other side of customs in LAX or check your luggage all the way through from JFK in New York (and presumably other airports) on the way home.

Luggage Delivery Services

Travelling with checked-in luggage is becoming increasingly frustrating and means that your journey to and from your ski resort is not the relaxed and enjoyable journey it should be. Considering you are going on holiday, it is not the best way to start it, especialy if you miss your connecting flights because of long check-in queues or worse still your luggage does not turn up in the first place. What is becoming increasingly popular are door-to-door luggage delivery services. They will pick-up all the luggage and equipment you would normally check-in from your home or office, or wherever you request and deliver it directly to your accomodation in the resort your staying. Speak with your travel agent about Personal Porter and they will be able to provide further information.

Luggage Forward is another organisation. Its quotes are cheap, and the service is very efficient.

Travelling on a Budget

Skiing USA on a Budget this article offers tips and ideas on how to get the most snow days with limited dollars.

Cultural Info

Aussie Expat Site that tries to explain the USA for Australians.

Their "culture" is well known to us through television.

The place stops for the Superbowl, which is in late January or early February (and to a lesser extent, the play-offs in January). These are great days to go sliding, because no one else is around.

When you are packing remember that the place uses 25% of the world's energy. A significant part of that is used for domestic heating. Thermostats in the US are set at ridiculously high temperatures. Indoors, the US in winter has one of the world's highest average temperatures. Pack T-shirts. It gets really annoying when you are shopping. Freezing cold outside, and overheated inside. Dealing with coats, hats and gloves as you enter and leave stores and malls is a major exercise.

National Holidays

  • January 1st New Year's Day
  • 3rd Monday in January Martin Luther King's Birthday
  • 3rd Monday in February Washington's Birthday
  • Last Monday in May Memorial Day
  • July 4th Independence Day
  • 1st Monday in September Labor Day
  • 2nd Monday in October Columbus Day
  • November 11th Veterans Day
  • 4th Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day
  • December 25th Christmas Day

The impact of these holidays on ski resorts is as follows:

  • The week prior to Christmas through to the weekend after New Year's day is extremely busy
  • Martin Luther King long weekend is busy
  • Washington's Birthday (aka President's Day) and the week following are also extremely busy
  • The month of March is relatively busy as different regions of the US stagger their Spring Break weeks throughout March and sometimes into early April
  • Select resorts such as Snowbird, Squaw Valley and Arapahoe Basin endeavour to stay open until at least Memorial Day and sometimes Independence Day


You have a car, don't you? Public transport is an afterthought in some places, in the rest it is absent. Fortunately car rental is inexpensive, and does not leave you with the stigma of being a hobo when you get on the bus. When renting a car, read the fine print on your travel insurance / credit card. Unfortunately very few policies actually provide insurance cover for the rental or the Porsche you may hit, instead they only cover the excess on the additional insurance you purchase from the rental company. In many cases this insurance can cost more than the car.

A satellite navigation system, either your own with US maps downloaded or part of the rental, makes driving on unfamiliar roads much easier. The voice directions mean that you have ample warning for lane selection at intersections on the interstates. Mounting a satnav on the windscreen is illegal in California.

There is a theoretical freeway speed limit of 70 mph (~110 kph) but it is routinely ignored.

If you are under 25 Enterprise Rent-a-car will not treat you as if you have leprosy. They also will pick you up and drop you off from your house/hotel etc for free.

When you hire, make sure that you know what the drop off charges are. If you are doing a one way rental the charges for leaving the vehicle at a different place to the point of hire can be very expensive. Do not assume that you can do a one way hire and drop the car at a resort.

Orbitz will do car rental price comparisons.

There are times when the mountain areas of the USA absolutely require vehicles to have either chains or 4WD with snow tyres (which they insist on spelling "tires") Even at airports where they must expect customers to be travelling to the snow, this can be difficult to organise through rental companies. Also, despite pre-booking, there is no guarantee you will get the car you booked.

This writer has been told by the Hertz call centre that they do not allow chains on their vehicles at all, ever. Given that they have an outlet in South Lake Tahoe, beside a highway where chains are at times required, this is probably wrong, but I'm just recounting a personal experience.

Also, the things they call chains are rubbish. They are commonly a ladder patterned device made of thin cable, with small pipe segments over the cable. Be very, very careful out there.

If you are required to carry chains and your rental company will not provide them you will probably have to buy chains. The concept of hiring chains has not reached the USA. Ladder chains for a small SUV cost about US$80 per set. They won't buy them back, for any discount, even if they are still in their unopened plastic bag. I tried.

Most petrol (gas) stations allow you to pay for fuel at the pump using a credit card. This is great, but they usually require you to enter a zip code. A 4 digit code will not be accepted, but you can sometimes trick the system by entering a leading zero. Entering a random valid zip code does not seem to work. If not, you have to go inside to leave a card as hostage, fill up and then go back inside to pay the ransom to retrieve your card.

Major ski towns/resorts such as Aspen, Vail & Park City have excellent intra-resort bus systems however this usually does not extend to outlying areas or nearby cities.

The train trip with Amtrak from the west coast to Denver is an excellent trip, although it can be more expensive than flying. Amtrak have adopted airline style demand pricing and ticket prices vary. You travel through the Sierras and the Rockies during the day, and across the desert at night. They have sleeping cars, or you can try to sleep in your seat. The scenery is amazing and relatively unspoiled by crappy US western towns and freeway detritus. The downside is that they won't stop the train for photo opportunities. It is possible to get an Amtrak Pass which is similar to a Eurail Pass. You can get on or off the train at Truckee or Reno if you are at the Tahoe resorts, and the same at Salt Lake City for the Utah resorts. The train also goes through Glenwood Springs, which is about 30 km from Aspen. On the US rail system freight has priority over passengers, and rail is subject to weather problems like other modes of transport. For these reasons, Amtrak is notorious for being late.

The Interstate freeway system is awesome, and gets you close to many ski areas. Vail, Beaver Creek and the Front Range resorts in Colorado are strung along I-70, for example.

Internal flights can be quite cheap.

Bus lines such as Greyhound go to many places. Travel by bus apparently can be quite interesting and a little frightening.

Food and Drink

There are some simple rules that will help you fit in with the more unusual of the native feeding rituals. Anthropologists have discovered the following rules:

  • Main courses are called entrees (a trap for the inexperienced when menus say free soup with every entree). This is because everything in an American meal is a precursor to the main course - dessert.
  • Even if you get the free soup with any entree you will not be able to get a soup spoon. They don't have them. The awkwardness of eating soup from a dessert spoon is the probable cause of the USA's eventual decline as a great power.
  • Most restaurants will not take reservations. They will shout "Party of one!!" with a straight face.
  • Food tends to be sweet. Portions are huge. Butter is white and cheese is orange. Nothing is simple. Any food you order requires a bewildering series of choices. Chips are crisps. Fries are chips. McDonalds tastes the same. There is no Vegemite.
  • Most coffee tastes like it has been drunk before. Starbucks is exotic and exciting. A short black is an espresso. A long black is a mystery. So is "white coffee" You don't put milk in coffee - you have it with cream or *gag* "non-dairy whitener". NASA has several labs trying to work out what this stuff is, so far unsuccessfully. The Mythbusters have established that it is highly inflammable. Use it if you dare. Homo is full cream homogenised milk. "Half and half" is half cream, half milk.
  • Most beer tastes like what happens after someone has already drunk the coffee and drunk the end product again. Look for the product of local microbreweries.
  • Salad comes between your entrée (their appetiser) and our main course (their entrée). Salad is eaten before the main course, not as a side dish with the main. If you don't deal with the salad you may not get your main course. Blue cheese dressing is surprisingly tasty.
  • If you are alone, drinking wine with food is a sign of decadence in some places. You can drink a gazillion cocktails before the meal, and a gazillion afterward, but drinking alcohol with food is several steps down the slippery slope of terminal alcoholism and cause for suspicion. Asking for a second glass means you are homeless and drinking meths on the street. Very few places sell decent wine by the glass, although this is improving steadily. Under no circumstances order a wine made in Idaho or with "blush" in its name.
  • One serving of breakfast is enough food for a normal person and the population of a small town. Many places have a seniors' breakfast, but you are not allowed to order it until you turn 60. A seniors' breakfast is small enough to be a perfectly adequate breakfast for most people. The challenge is getting to 60 before falling off your twig due to obesity and coronary problems.
  • Bacon is crispy. It is only the thin, fatty bit of what Australians know as bacon. Canadian bacon means bacon with the round meaty bit. Sausage with breakfast is something like a thin rissole. Proper sausages are called "link sausages".
  • Maple syrup is a legitimate condiment on bacon and eggs.
  • There is nothing marine about marinara sauce. It is a simple tomato sauce without meat or anything near what is conventionally understood by the word "marine". It is closer to Napoletana then proper marinara.
  • There is precious little in the price or quality spectrum between fast food and fine dining.
  • Vegetables have often made a long journey between cultivation and supermarket - eat them quickly as they seem to start wilting as they exit the sliding doors
  • There's plenty of Alcohol in Utah

Some of this information is a tad exaggerated.

Technology and Networks

They have them. To get reception for global roaming on your mobile (cell, over there) you need a tri-band or 3G phone - call your service provider before you leave and have roaming switched on (should be free). Make sure you know how much it costs to make and receive calls - it's astronomically expensive but can be worth it for texts. Data charges can also be incredibly expensive. Your phone probably has a setting telling it to use 3G when Wifi is not available. Disable it to avoid data charges. Also consider disabling receiving emails on your phone. Whatever cap you have on your Australian plan will almost certainly exclude calls, data and texts made outside Australia.

The US has finally figured out the concept of cheap prepaid mobile phones. These are available at places such as Wal Mart, with recharge cards for sale at most supermarkets and convenience stores

Prepaid SIM cards are also available for your tri-band phone. As of winter 2006, T-Mobile seems to have the best prepaid deal for visitors.

As broadband plans are flat rate with no excess usage charges, people seldom lock their wireless networks. Therefore free internet is everywhere.

Prepaid phonecards are an economical way of making calls on landlines, including hotel phones.

The international access code is 011.


I still havn't worked out the scam that is Payphones in the US. The 'non-chain' ones you find in hotels, hostels, pubs, clubs, bars, etc etc all belong to a million different companies all with their own custom rates and plans, as logical and understandable as their political system. 'Local' calls are usually quite cheap, however what constitutes 'local' tends to vary the time of day, ambient temperature, colour (sorry color) of your socks and what you had for lunch. If you plan to call anywhere further than a block away, best stock up on quarters. For example, calling Snowbird from Alta (a distance of about a kilometre) counts as a long distance call.


  • Don't use them unless you have to.
  • They only take quarters.
  • If you do have to, get a phone card.
  • Don't expect to get your money back if the call fails for some reason.
  • Don't expect anyone to care that you didn't get your money back.
  • Don't use them unless you have to.


Taxes are not included in marked prices, so everything costs a little more than the marked price. For an item marked $5.99 the real price will be a little more than $6 (as an example). This is why god invented one cent pieces (called pennies). You will accumulate them by the tonne. Each state has its own sales tax. The rates vary.

If you see a bowl or other container full of pennies next to a till the theory is that, if your price includes a couple of pennies over the change you have, you grab a couple of pennies from the bowl. Of course, the counter deal is that if you receive pennies in your change you drop them in the bowl.

Apparently there are 7,000 separate sales taxes. 50 states. 1,600 counties. Over 4,000 cities. No wonder their TV is crap. They are hiding from the taxmen.

Credit Cards


It is possible to extract cash from ATMs with some Australian cards. Check with your financial institution.

In 2014 chip and PIN technology had not penetrated the USA. Tap and go is beyond comprehension. You will find tap and go machines in some places (New York taxis, for example) but they are not enabled.


Tipping is an important aspect US culture to understand, as it can be quite foreign to visitors. Any time you are provided with personal service, a tip is customary. A rule of thumb is 15-20% of the cost of the meal/taxi ride/haircut/ski lesson etc, or $1 per bag or drink. This does not apply to fast food or supermarket checkouts etc. The exact percentage of tip should reflect your view of the service received, however even in cases of terrible service, a small tip is still appropriate. Remember a small tip is more of a message than no tip.

In the US, service providers will give you change for tips or break large notes. If you are in a hotel the front desk will also break large notes.

The concept of tipping can be hard to swallow however if you intend to be served again, how you tipped previously will often determine how well you will be served in the future. Wait staff can be very protective of their "turf" because of the expectation of tips. Do not assume that grabbing any passing server when you want something is acceptable behaviour. I have seen waiters almost come to blows about poaching.

When perusing a restaurant menu, allow for the fact that with the additional sales tax and tip, your cost will be approximately 25% more than the marked price.

You should also tip your ski instructor for a group lesson and also for your children's lessons. If you are having an all day private lesson you should take the instructor to lunch at a proper sit down restaurant, as well as tipping him or her.

Article about tipping

Health and Safety

Be insured. Be very insured. Health care is absurdly expensive.

When you cross a road be very careful. The traffic will be coming from the wrong direction if you are Australian or British, and it is very easy to forget. Look both ways. And again.

If you are driving, T intersections with no cars to follow are a real trap, and (at least for this contributor) are the place that driving on the right hand side of the road requires most thought. Be careful. Some people find that a mental recitation of "driver to the centre" helps. For the first few days driving on the right requires a little concentration - you cannot rely on auto-pilot to put yourself in the correct place in a lane. Most people over-correct, and drive too far to the right. Factor the likelihood of extra tiredness into your planned daily distances, at least for the first couple of days' driving. Satnav takes the problem of navigation out of the equation, and is a good idea.

Right turns on red are generally permitted unless specifically prohibited. At 4 way stop signs, right of way depends on order of arrival. First to arrive has right of way.

Emergency Numbers


Australian Consulates in Western USA

Los Angeles

Century Plaza Towers - 31st Floor 2029 Century Park East, Century City Los Angeles CA 90067

Tel: +1 310 229 2300

San Francisco

575 Market Street Suite 1800 (18th Floor) San Francisco CA 94105-2815

+1 415 536 1970


401 Andover Park East, Seattle WA 98188

+1 206 575 7446


2629 Main Street, Suite 190 Littleton CO 80120-4643

+1 303 738 1393

Medical Centers

Require proof of insurance.

Natural Disasters

  • Avalanches in the mountains.
  • Exploding mountains (aka Volcanos).
  • Tornados.
  • Hurricanes.
  • California will eventually fall off. During this process there will be earthquakes.
  • If you believe a recent movie, Yellowstone National Park will go kablowie real soon now, causing the end of civilisation as we know it.


Staying safe in the big cities can depend on which parts of the cities you go to. The concierge or desk staff of your hotel, or the locals, will have a pretty good idea of the no go areas. The no go areas can be quite close to safe parts of town. In San Francisco, for example, the Tenderloin District (a no go area) is about a block away from Union Square, the main shopping precinct.


When temperatures get below -20 degrees or so, as can happen in the inland resorts, there is a real danger of frostbite. Wind chill makes things dangerous at higher temperatures. When things get this cold you should ensure that there is no bare skin exposed to the outside air. If you are skiing or boarding in a group you should keep an eye on each other. In many resorts the lifties will also be checking, but you should not rely on this. Look for whitish or discoloured patches on the skin. If you detect frostbite, or anything you vaguely suspect might be frostbite, check with ski patrol or the medical centre

Wind Chill & Frostbite Exposure

Altitude Sickness

Some resorts, particularly those in Colorado, are at high altitude. Base altitude can be over 2,000 metres and the highest point can be over 1,000 metres higher. Altitude sickness can be a problem. A headache is the most obvious symptom. If you have time, slow acclimatisation is a good plan. When you are at the resort make sure that you stay hydrated. The mantra about your urine is "copious and clear". Some people get relief from a humidifier in their room. Pace yourself for the first couple of days. Wikipedia on Altitude Sickness