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BEFORE YOU REGISTER

HOW WILL THE CLUB CHANGE IT'S PRACTICES DUE TO COVID-19?

COVID-19 has resulted in a lot of uncertainty in the travel industry. For those members choosing to travel, the Club will work with Tour Operators to keep members as safe as possible.

Some of the actions we’re taking include:

  • Requiring all members to be fully vaccinated (as will Canadian airlines)
  • Air trips to Canadian destinations only.  Stay tuned for possible US bus trips.
  • Securing insurance from some Tour Operators


WHEN, HOW, AND WHY DO WE PICK OUR DESTINATIONS?

NTSC typically picks trips that will appeal to a wide variety of members -- notably a variety of terrain and more reliable snow conditions. Other factors include off-hill activities, night life and general ambience at price points that aren't cost prohibitive.

Unless we don't. Some trips are just too appealing even though we know that they aren't for everyone.

Except for perpetual favourites such as Whistler and Tremblant, we try to change things up and not visit the same resort more than once every three years.

We try to time the trips so that snow conditions are ideal (higher altitude or more northerly resorts early or late in the season) while spreading trips as evenly as we can from mid-December through early April. We'll avoid some holidays (especially US ones) but embrace Ontario ones to minimize the time off work. We try as best we can to offer a March Break trip every year unless the premium is prohibitive.

WHAT TRIP IS RIGHT FOR ME?

It depends what are you looking for. Value? Variety? Tradition? Thrills? Comfort? Weather? Culture? Cameraderie?

Our trips are first and foremost about skiing and snowboarding, so if you've never skied or snowboarded outside of Ontario, think about:

  • The sheer majesty of a big mountain range that stretches over two or three valleys, with a vertical drop almost 10X that of a southern Ontario resort
  • Skiing Olympic or World Cup runs in Park City, Whistler, Lake Louise, Hakuba, Lake Placid, Cortina, or Albertville
  • Taking a leap into Corbet’s Couloir or a similar hair-raising double black diamond run. Or just watching the experts tackle the challenge
  • Skiing or snowboarding in two different provinces in the same afternoon (BC and Alberta at Sunshine Village in Banff), or two different countries in the same day (Italy and Switzerland at Cevinia/Zermatt)
  • Sitting at a bar and meeting people from the UK, Lebanon, Croatia, and Russia and Austria, and singing beer drinking songs in a newly discovered language by the end of the night
  • Side trips to world renown cities and sites such as Innsbruck, Tokyo or Yellowstone National Park

If you are concerned about the level of difficulty of a resort, talk to a member of the Travel Committee who can advise you on the best trip given your abilities. And see the FAQ on ski/snowboard trail difficulty ratings.

HOW DO DIFFICULTY RATINGS IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES COMPARE?

The green (circle), blue (square), black (diamond) or double black (diamond) that you're familiar with locally applies across the US and Canada.

EUROPE


In Europe, resorts use a colour system to help skiers pick the best slope for their ability. It is worth knowing that the grading system will never get harder as you head down the mountain. If you are at the top on a blue run, you will always be able to make it to the bottom on either a blue or a green run. This is a golden rule of European piste grading. From the easiest to most challenging, they are coded:

  • Green: A green route will signify beginner or practise slopes. If you’ve never been skiing before, you’ll want to start here.
  • Blue: These runs are likely to be well-groomed with a shallow slope with a gradient of less than 25%. A European blue is closer to a North American green.
  • Red: These routes are steeper or narrower (or a combination of both) than blue slopes. Suitable for intermediates, they are usually groomed with a gradient that will not exceed 40%. A European red is closer to a North American blue.
  • Black: While best suited to experts, what is classified as a black route is ambiguous. In some resorts, they might only be slightly trickier than a red route. In others, it could be terrifying. A good rule of thumb is to judge a black route to the red route in the same resort.
  • Yellow/Orange: Recently, many European black routes have been reclassified as yellow. This colour signifies a run that is not groomed, is unpatrolled and considered off-piste within a marked area.

JAPAN


Japan uses a color-coded system, but shapes do not usually accompany them. Some resorts, mainly those catering to foreigners, use the North American or European color-coding system, adding to the confusion. When in doubt, check the map legend. The usual ratings are:

  • Green/Beginner slopes: These are usually near the base of the mountain, although some follow switchback routes down from the top.
  • Red/Intermediate slopes: At most ski areas in Japan, these constitute the majority of the slopes (40% to 60%, depending on how the slopes are accounted).
  • Black/Expert slopes: These are the steepest and most difficult slopes at the ski area. The difficulty of these compared to like-classified slopes at other ski areas is heavily dependent on the target audience.


I'M A BEGINNER SKIER OR SNOWBOARDER, SHOULD I GO ON A TRIP WITH THE CLUB?

Yes, if you are ready for something more stimulating and challenging than what you're skiing in on our Alpine day trips. All resorts we'll visit have designated beginner, intermediate and advanced runs, and we generally post the relative numbers (total runs or percentages) of beginner, intermediate, or advanced runs. Almost all of those resorts will have enough beginner runs to keep you interested.

But most people on charter trips will focus on intermediate and advanced runs, perhaps using beginner runs for warm ups or to where they're the only way to get from point a to point b. And so if you only aspire to, or feel comfortable on, beginner runs, you may find yourself skiing alone much of the time.

If you're a beginner, but plan to work at your skiing, set your sights on trips later in the year and you shouldn't have an issue.

If you are concerned about the level of difficulty of a resort talk to a member of the Travel Committee who can advise you on the best trip given your abilities.


CAN I STAY AND SKI/BOARD FOR LONGER THAN THE CLUB PLANS?

Most Tour Operators’ proposals will allow a limited number of diversions. There may surcharge to do so in order to maintain group airfare and it is a common requirement to join the Club for the outbound leg of the trip. Most trips will also offer a 'Land Only' price for members who want to arrange their own airfare (or are flying on points). Those members are not bound by the dates of the Club's trip, but are on their own for arrangements outside of the Club's reservations, such a bus transfers.

REGISTERING FOR A TRIP

WHEN I BOOK A TRIP, DO I HAVE TO FIND A ROOMMATE?

No. If you do not have a roommate we will provide means to help match you with a same-sex roommate(s). Most trips are based on double occupancy with a bed per person -- unless you ask to share a bed. We try to get you the best roommate possible (smoker/non smoker, partier/quieter). And some trips have a limited number of single rooms (with a single supplement, noted on the page for those trips).

I HAVE AN IKON/EPIC PASS, CAN I USE IT ON A TRIP?

Yes, we offer trips with a "no lift ticket" option for those with passes or for those who wish to Nordic ski.

THE TRIP I WANTED TO GO IN IS FULL, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

The options available are:

  • Choose another trip to join.
  • Go on the wait list for your first choice trip and in the event that a spot opens up (someone on the list cancels) or we are able to obtain more spots, we'll offer it to members on the waiting list in the order they signed up. While we cannot commit to anything, it is common in a normal season for 5-8 people to be offered spots in the last couple of weeks prior to departure.  
  • If you're really determined you may be able to book directly with the same tour operator for the same resort at the same week as the club. Just be prepared to pay a bit more, and check with the Committee to explore constraints (for example you may be able to book a room at a resort, but if we have a dedicated bus to drive us to the hills and that bus will be full, we can't accommodate anyone who isn't signed up through NTSC).

 


CAN I REGISTER A FRIEND WHO IS NOT A MEMBER OF NTSC TO JOIN ME ON A TRIP?

No. NTSC run trips are only available to club members. Membership has its privileges. This is a TICO (travel industry) regulation.

WHAT DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT DEADLINES AND WHY ARE SOME SO EARLY?

There are trip/club deadlines and individual deadlines. They are almost always imposed by the tour operator, and sometimes by the resort. Club Med in particular is very strict about deadlines, and even when the trip is later in the season (e.g. La Plagne 2100 in March) they will insist on early registration. This is why we must put that trip on sale even before new members can join.

Deadlines enable us to grow a trip in size, or reduce numbers (and in a worst case scenario cancel a trip).

Trip/Club deadlines apply to the entire trip. NTSC pays a deposit and we are subject to penalties if we cannot meet minimum group requirements. NTSC plans the season with the expectation that we will comfortably exceed those minimums, but in case we make a mistake we reserve the right to cancel the entire trip. But a more likely outcome of a poor choice on our part is that we will 'return' excess seats. Once we return seats to the Tour Operator it’s unlikely we can get them back and we will close registration. So the sooner people register, the more we can ensure group rates for hotel and flight and not incur a loss. Earlier registration may also guide us in requesting additional seats or accommodation if a trip proves surprisingly popular. In the case of bus trips, it may be the difference between adding a second bus or not.

Individual deadlines are typically driven by trip deadlines. Once we close a trip, you can't sign up for it. The other important deadlines relate to 1) initial payments and final payments, and 2) individual cancellations. Different trips will refund different amounts for cancellations at different times prior to departure. The Club's registration fee ($25 for bus trips; $40 for air trips) is non-refundable after you've paid. Payments to the Tour Operator may be returned (in whole or in part) depending on whether and when we can find a member to take your place. Additional fees may be imposed or payments forfeited (especially for air trips, where airline penalties are being passed through). Details are on the trip pages and vary by trip.



WHY DOES THE BUS TRIP SHOW IT IS FULL BUT THE BUS HAS AVAILABLE SEATING?

There may not be availability at the hotel. The tour operator blocks off an estimated number of rooms that are adjusted as needed. If by a certain date we do not fill them, we release them back to the hotel. We may or may not get them back later depending on availability.

ON YOUR TRIP

CAN I TAKE A LESSON WITH THE NTSC SNOW SCHOOL WHILE ON A TRIP?

NTSC Snow School instructors are not insured to teach at out-of-province resorts.

Lessons are available at each resort's snow school


I'VE NEVER BEEN ON A SKI TIP BEFORE, WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

Everything you would bring on an Alpine Day Trip, plus:

  • Medical/cancellation insurance -- options are generally included on each trip's web site. It is your responsibility to understand what coverage you have from your private insurance, and how it may or may not apply to specific circumstances that may arise on a ski trip -- especially an out of country trip.
  • enough to last 6-7 days.
  • Some resorts will have laundry facilities, but don't count on it. If they do (check the hotel's web site), then one travel size laundry detergent will suffice.
  • Anything you don't want to pay inflated resort prices for should you forget it (although liquor may be cheaper at our destination than in Ontario).
  • A passport for outside of Canada for Canadian citizens. If you're not a Canadian citizen, you must verify visa requirements. Verifying visa requirements is your responsibility! If you are turned away at the US border it is your responsibility to make your own way home from the border.
  • Ear plugs -- your assigned roommate may not know they snore; and if they don't know, we won't when we assign you to the same room. Ear plugs may also be useful on bus trips.
  • Boot dryer
  • Flip flops for the hot tub/sauna, and a bathing suit
  • Weather appropriate layers -- if you've never skied a big mountain, the difference between base and peak and between morning and afternoon can vary drastically; and mountain weather is notoriously variable.
  • If the trip is to a resort noted for its powder you may want to consider powder straps to lessen the risk of losing a ski.
  • DVD's or CD's (buses generally have a player, or the bus may support the connection of a phone or other devices with tunes). You may wish to share your musical tastes with the group (or not, in which case bring headphones). We show videos after the dinner stop of return bus trips; see above re: sharing your tastes.
  • Many people will bring food and drink on bus trips to share; more is always better. Overseas, you may wish to buy a SIM card for your phone (at the destination) to avoid excessive roaming charges.


WHAT DOES A TRIP LEADER DO, AND HOW IS A TRIP LEADER DIFFERENT FROM A TRIP REP?

NTSC Trip Reps are members of the Travel Committee. Each Trip Rep organizes one or more air and bus trips.  Some of these duties include building the trip events for our website, working with Tour Operators, organizing Priority Lists and sending out Registration links for trips.

Trip Leaders are volunteers who are selected from trip registrants to help create a fun and social atmosphere on the trips. For bus trips we appoint one Trip Leader per bus. For larger air trips (i.e. more members) we may appoint a co-trip leader or assistant trip leader. On each trip, the Trip Leader will host a welcome party, so that members can meet each other and to create a social atmosphere on the trip. Often Trip Leaders will organize other social events or outings on the trips.

Examples of Trip Leader duties include:

  • Send out last-minute information on the trip to registrants prior to the trip, including roommate information;
  • Provide an itinerary of key dates and events; and
  • Be available to answer questions and help solve problems that impact the group. So if you have individual problems with the resort or the hotel, that's probably your responsibility to sort out. Ask the Trip Leader, but that's not why they're on the trip. They're skiing or snowboarding too.


Plan your trip

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