Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ski House in Tons of Alta Snow

You can tell you're in some serious snow country when your ski house is constructed with an Avalanche Hazard Analysis as part of its design engineering.  The Ski House of the Day is located in Alta, Utah...which sits at the end of Route 210 / Little Cottonwood Canyon Road.  According to the town of Alta, this road has the highest avalanche hazard rating of any major highway in America.  In fact, I'm told by the locals that the town of Alta is the only place in the country where the local government has the authority to require people to remain indoors (which they do regularly) when they feel the avalanche threat is high and/or when there is dangerous avalanche control work underway.  They call this an "Interlodge Alert" and although it usually only last for a few hours, it happens with surprising regularity in this town which is nestled between the canyon walls at an elevation of 9,000 ft.

Sitting past the end of the road, above the town of Alta, the Ski House of the Day is specifically made to stand up to the force of an Alta avalanche...and is built to last under the weight of "tons" of snow:

This beautiful custom ski house is a reinforced concrete home (engineered by CTS Engineering) which, according to what the engineer has told me, has been designed to withstand a snow-load of over one thousand pounds per square foot to protect against the impact of avalanches!  Any way you do the math, that's a load of snow!

Perched on the mountainside in the Grizzly Gulch area of Alta (the off-piste area in which Alta offers their expert-only snow-cat skiing at an elevation of 10,500 ft), this house is in a sweet spot for some exclusive skiing!

Inside, the great-room has a towering stone fireplace, skylights (to look straight up the mountain), and a walkway above....

....which leads to the third floor bedrooms:

The 28 ft tall windows across the front of the great room provide a magnificent view of the mountains, Alta and the canyon below... beautiful no matter what the season:

The house has a perfect setting for skiing, inviting living spaces, and stunning mountain views...

...but here's a look at this ski house's invisible yet most important feature: an abundance of strength...
 ...this is what it looks like after an avalanche struck the house.  There was no damage to the structure, and no one inside was harmed -- because this ski house was designed for tons of Alta snow! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Historic Ski-Jump Cottage

The Ski House of the Day, is the Tidholm-Koch Cottage.  Built as a ski house (and with a ski identity that includes an address on Ski Hill Road), this suburban home hasn't actually been witness to any skiing in a long, long time....almost 80 years, in fact!  This was one of the original "ski houses" built as part of a planned ski-theme community constructed in the 1920's...not in New England, not in the Rockies...but rather, it's in the unexpected ski state of Indiana!

The site of this ski house, in Ogden Dunes, is a mere 40 miles outside of Chicago, and is only a few thousand feet (as the crow flies) to the shore of Lake Michigan.  While Indiana is quite flat for a ski destination, the dunes along Lake Michigan rise to an elevation of about 200 feet in this area;  so considering that, and lake effect snow, maybe it's not such a big jump to imagine skiing as a reality in this unexpected location.  But how this house came to be (and its distinctive early owners) is an interesting bit of history.

Back in the 1920's, visionary entrepreneurs and skier club members envisioned an upscale, very exclusive community here...with a ski jump as its crowning dune-top centerpiece.  So, a planned community of about 100 home-sites was mapped out (with ski-flavored Scandinavian street names like Viking Lane, Norge Road, Lupine Lane) surrounding a central spot on the summit of the dunes that was chosen as the site for the ski hill / ski jump.  In 1927, concrete piers were built to support the massive steel structure that would become the jump. Touted as the largest steel ski jump in the world (according to the  Historical Society of Ogden Dunes  which has photos of the jump and more) the jump was an incredible 200 ft. tall and 600 ft. long!  The excitement must have been palpable as their first international ski jumping competition was held in 1928.

Built just two years later by MIT-trained architect, Harry Howe Bentley, the Tidholm-Koch Cottage (namesake and second home of its original owners) was one of the first houses in the new ski community, and became the model home for the other ski homes which followed.  The style of this home was influenced by the architect's affinity for English manors and French village houses:

It has interesting features such as multiple sets of French doors, Palladian windows, various bay windows, multiple fireplaces, archways, stonework, etc).  The walls are built of cement blocks which form both the interior and exterior walls, giving it a rustic, stone-like appearance.

 The house was originally reached by a flight of 63 stairs up from the road (but has since been reconfigured to be more user friendly) with the entrance remaining on the lower level:

The large living room with fireplace, wood floors and natural wood ceiling looks like a spacious and inviting place for socializing (apres-ski, or otherwise):

This impressive original ski-house of Ogden Dunes, the Tidholm-Koch cottage, was only a stone's throw from the ski jump.  With an estimated crowd of up to 20,000 spectators attending the ski jump competitions, this ski house surely was in the center of some high-flying action!  And, since the owners were restaurateurs (owners of the Imperial House, a well-known Chicago restaurant) during the roaring 20's and prohibition, I'd have to guess this house hosted its share of exclusive, swanky apres-ski parties!  The home has been updated, as can be seen in the modern kitchen; but house's dumb-waiter to the kitchen is surely a legacy of its original restaurateur-owners.

The house has two bedrooms (plus den), in its expansive 3300+ sq. ft (according to Home Swing), and has various other charming and interesting spaces throughout:

This bathroom looks as updated as that of any modern ski house:

I surmise that this ski house was the place to be and to be seen (...or maybe not seen, as the case may have been...) around 1930.  Unfortunately, the Great Depression, compounded by a lack of snow, led to the demise of the ski jump.  It closed after only five years in operation.  The structure itself was sold, dismantled, and moved.  There's apparently a marker commemorating the former jump site, but the landing/ski hill are now part of a community ball field.

The second chapter in the history of this ski house was its artist era.  (Artists seemed to be attracted to this area; in fact, it was the local artist community that sparked the development of the Indiana Dunes State Park in the 1920's, with the future goal of it becoming a national park.  Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore became a reality in 1966).  In 1946 this house was purchased by Joseph and Marie Tomanek.  Tomanek, a Czech-born Bohemian-American artist, painted mostly nudes in natural settings (such as the lakefront, the gardens, and the woods...all scenes that incidentally can be found very near this house), also painted several works of these dunes, including at lease one that featured snow-covered sand dunes. My guess is that the setting around this house was probably the backdrop for many of Tomanek's works.  The gardens and patios were artistically expanded:

This 83-year old ski house has been updated and renovated, but the charm and integrity of the original Tidholm-Koch Cottage has, fortunately, been maintained.

Even though ski-jumping is long-gone, and even though this house has had a varied past, because of its unique origin (at least in my mind) the Tidholm-Koch Cottage remains a "ski house" to this day.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

French Farmhouse Turned Ski Chalet

The Ski House of the Day is a gorgeous farmhouse renovation at the base of the ski trails of La Clusaz in Haute-Savoie, France.  The farmhouse was originally constructed over 100 years ago.   The current owners, a couple of life-long ski enthusiasts, fell in love with the charm of the area, and the potential of this quaint farmhouse; and they have transformed it into one of the most inviting and elegant ski houses imaginable.  This luxury farm conversion ski house is called Chalet Patagonia and is a real stunner:

The first thing to notice is the setting and the mountain backdrop around this house:

(La Clusaz looks like a fun place to ski).

 Inside, this house combines quaint, antique farmhouse charm with elegant European luxury everywhere...with things like its stone flooring which came from Italy, and the old beams which came from an ancient Swiss hall.

Upon entering, there is a small rustic kitchen just inside the door on the ground floor, where hungry skiers can prepare lunch as soon as they step through the door...

 ...and can warm up in front of the incredible ceramic stove while they're at it:
The ceramic stove came from Austria...I just love it!

Upstairs is the beautiful open-concept main living area with piles of fur cushions, leather armchairs, and woolen fabrics to make it skier-friendly and comfy:

 ...with an irresistible central fireplace:

...a most inviting dining area:

...and a second, more elegant, kitchen (with the perfect apres-ski refreshments on the counter!):

This beautiful chalet has five bedrooms and four bathrooms, with one more impressive than the next:

 Check out the adorable kids bunk room...I love the built-in bunks and those sturdy little stools (and, hey, I have a pair of vintage children's skis exactly like that hanging on the wall!):

As if all of that weren't enough, feast your eyes on this outdoor (wood-fired) hot tub in the snow:

Does it get any better than this authentic hot tub?

The owners of Chalet Patagonia have done a masterful job turning an old farmhouse into an absolutely spectacular elegant-rustic, antique-modern ski house!  I think it is simply gorgeous.  Ooh, la la!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Oh Canada!

Today is Canada Day, so I decided to check out some ski houses in Canada, and I found this sprawling, magnificent, lakefront estate in Nelson, BC.  It was recently operated as a luxury B & B (which has now closed) and the property is currently on the market (for C $2.4).  What a spectacular ski house this will make for someone!  On Canada Day, the Ski House of the Day is this magnificent Canadian house:

This area is home to some of the best deep powder skiing in North America with Whitewater Ski Resort nearby, and Big Red in Rossland.  For the adventurous, there's also Selkirk Wilderness Skiing and numerous other snow-cat, back-country and heli-skiing opportunities as well.  The mountains in this area get upwards of 40 ft of snow per ski season - amazing deep powder!

So, surely this house gets its share of snow, which transforms it into a winter-wonderland among the tall pine trees:

The house (with exceptionally lovely gardens in summer) is situated on a 2-acre lakefront property on beautiful (75-mile+ long) Kootenay Lake!  There are lake, forest and mountain views all this view from the dining room:

There's a large kitchen, but this magnificent (AGA) stove has to be its most stunning feature...I think it's the most beautiful stove ever!  I love that deep cobalt blue color, and look at all those separate baking compartments.  There could be some serious apres-ski cooking / baking magic happening here:

The house has five bedrooms;  here's a peek at one of them...nice post and beam construction and vaulted ceiling:

In addition to a cedar sauna, here's a soothing place to soak away the aching muscles apres-ski:

This house seems to go on and on...but for me here's the best feature of all...this house has an incredible indoor swimming pool in a gorgeous tropical atrium with a soaring ceiling!  Imagine swimming in here and watching the snow falling just outside all those windows:

....with a view of the lake and mountains beyond:
....simply breathtaking!   With this beautiful, inviting pool, I think I might have a hard time deciding whether to ski or swim!

With Canadian flags proudly flying in Nelson and all over Canada today...'s a look at how they celebrate Canada Day in Nelson.
Nelson, and this fantastic ski house, are absolutely glorious! Happy Canada Day, eh!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Burnt Hut Down Under

Here's an impressive ski house down the Australian Alps.  While I have not skied in Australia (yet, anyway), I have spent considerable time researching ski houses there...and this beauty is among the best I've seen.  The Ski House of the Day is Burnt Hut right on the mountain at the Mt. Buller ski area (which kicked off its 2013 ski season earlier this month) in Victoria, Australia.

The location of this ski house (middle of the photo below) is right along the 'Shaky Knees' ski trail, and it's one of the few chalets here where you can ski to and from the door (that's my kind of ski house).

The house sits in a great location in the snow among the gum trees...and it gets even more interesting on the inside.   The architectural and designer touches are obvious throughout the house, and they combine with modern technology to make this a beautiful, and functional ski house.  I love all the large, unobstructed windows to take in the views.  The feeling in this ski house is comfortable luxury with an exotic flair. Check out the comfy, fur covered places (which even include stuffed Persian camel sacks) to lounge in front of the wood-burning fireplace:

...the very complete, modern kitchen:

...and sleek breakfast bar seating (or apres-ski cocktail hour seating):

This very inviting dining room looks irresistible:
Nice place to share an apres-ski dinner;  it even has the romantic appearance of being perched up in the tree-tops. (, in a house called Burnt Hut, I'm thinking that maybe the centerpiece should be something other   No matter, it's simply gorgeous!

I love the comfy seating with a view:

This ski house has four bedrooms (plus sleeping loft)...

...and three bathrooms, like this sleek one (...more seating with a view):

This place has features that really make a house a ski house...downstairs is a ski room and drying room, and upstairs is a sauna:

The average annual snowfall at Mt. Buller is 2.42 m.  It has a vertical drop of 4,511 ft., and has 22 lifts.  Approximately half the mountain's trails are rated as intermediate....but there are chutes to be found as well;  check out Aussieskier's Buller Chutes off-piste run.

From Burnt Hut there's a picutesque view of the mountains through the icicles:

...but speaking of being 'down-under'...I'm wondering what (or who) is 'down under' the snow on the roof just 'down under' this beautiful house!  

I think Burnt Hut is a fantastic ski if I can only get...down under.