Girls’ night out | ParkRecord.com

Girls’ night out

Amy Roberts, Park Record columnist

Typically, when you see a dozen or so ladies out together in a pack, making a bit of a ruckus, wearing matching costumes, giggling and carrying on, the logical thought is that you’ve come across a bachelorette party.

Well, there was a group of women much like this in Utah recently, but it wasn’t due to someone getting married. It was actually due to someone getting divorced. And instead of high heels and penis necklaces, these women wore ski boots and helmets. And they didn’t take a cab or a limo to their gathering place. They took a helicopter.

Park City resident Juli-Anne Warll was one of the 16 women from around the country who gathered in Utah last week to celebrate their first ever, and now possibly annual, ladies-only heli-ski trip.

"We all grew up together out East and went to the same ski academy. But that was over 35 years ago. And now we all live in different locations and wanted to have a bit of a reunion," Juli-Anne explained. "A friend of ours is going through a difficult divorce, and we just thought there’s no better way to get her mind off that than to be in the mountains, surrounded by supportive girlfriends."

But this was not your typical "stay at a five-star resort, lounge by the pool, shop and get spa treatments" reunion. This little shindig was made up of a hardcore group of moms, lawyers, writers, educators and more, all with one thing in common: skiing.

"Most of us skied in college and some even competed at the Olympic level," added Juli-Anne. "We spent our childhood competing against each other and it’s so nice now to be at a place in our lives where we just root for each other. We’ve all gone different directions, but skiing is the one thing we all have in common. And that’s why we decided to make our annual girls’ trip about the one thing that brought us together in the first place."

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The women are all graduates of Burke Mountain Academy in northern Vermont. But in the decades since graduating, this is the first time they’ve reunited on skis.

"I think going to high school in northern Vermont made us all appreciate the warm weather and sandy beaches. There were many days on the hill we wished we’d taken up surfing instead. So most of our reunion trips have been warmer," added Juli-Anne.

But this year, the girls decided it was time to get back to their roots. And they went big. No lounging in azure waters. No fruity cocktails complete with umbrella. They planned to heli-ski for three full days (Mother Nature permitting), and ski at the Little Cottonwood resorts in between the rotor wash.

And while the Cottonwoods are a far cry from the Caribbean, so far the ladies are all thrilled with this year’s decision to go West.

"Sixteen women all sharing a house and being cold and in ski boots every day isn’t everyone’s idea of a great gathering," said Juli-Anne. "But we couldn’t be happier. It’s so amazing to see how we’ve evolved from competitive rivals to really being each other’s cheerleaders."

The group even ordered special ski coats especially for the trip. The green coats are marked across the back with the letters SWIK, which stands for "Smartest Women I Know" (which explains why Sarah Palin was not invited to join them).

"We’ve all had our emotional ups and downs over the decades: marriage, divorce, children, loss, and other challenges and joys. But every time when we get together, we realize how empowering it is to be surrounded by educated, adventurous, independent women. And it really has been therapeutic for many of us," she added. "And this year it’s been even more special, because skiing is how we met. It’s the one thing we all have in common, and our bond is so much stronger because we’re out doing what we all love so much."

And while by the time you read this most of the women will have packed up and will be en route back to their own corners of the country, Juli-Anne is pretty confident there will be more ladies-only heli-ski trips in the future.

Because, somehow, they’ve figured out a way to make heli-skiing a relaxing and rejuvenating reunion.

Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley. If you have a story idea, please e-mail her at sabordog@aol.com.