7 Tips & Essentials To Have Fun on Your Next Ski Trip
By Adrien Spiegel
Taking a ski trip this winter might be one of the most exciting experiences of your winter. We thought we could help you with more than just the lodging! Take a look at these 7 tips and with a little bit of organization and planning your trip will be full of amazing memories!
1. Finding your Perfect Destination(s).
It can be a lot of fun finding a location that’s good fit based on your group or family’s preferences and skill levels. What type of terrain does the mountain consist of? How much terrain of each difficulty level do they have? Do they offer lessons? Do they offer deals on Rentals? These among others are questions you might find important and are usually worth exploring. So ask yourself what amenities you and your group will find essential for a great ski trip and let’s find the location that can provide them for you.
Pro Tip: Check out our recent blog post Top 5 Ski Destinations in North America to help you get started on your next trip!
2. Check the Weather.
It can be a bummer when you arrive to your destination excited to ski and the conditions are not what you expected, but it doesn’t have to be! Being proactive about checking the weather at your location can really give you a better idea of what the conditions will be like. First you will want to check winter weather trends to try and identify what time of the year will be ideal for your ideal conditions (powder, groomers, park, blue skies, etc.) A great place to start when doing your research is AccuWeather’s U.S. Winter Forecast which outlines how the current year’s weather patterns should affect snowfall around the United States. You should also check the forecast 1-2 weeks before your departure so you can have time to grab some last minute items in order to properly pack for the forecast.
Pro Tip: It always pays to have a backup plan when planning a ski trip just in case the conditions are not skiable and/or you get worn out after a couple days. When doing your research for your destinations, look at the other activities your destination has to offer and see if there are fun alternatives to skiing and snowboarding in the area. You might be surprised what other cool things are available for you and your family to enjoy in the area!
3. Packing the Right Gear.
As mentioned earlier mountain weather can be temperamental and weather reports can’t always predict rapid changes in weather patterns, so be prepared! If you don’t have any winter clothing you might be spending a pretty penny outfitting yourself and/or your family for this trip. Skis, snowboards, poles, ski boots, snowboard boots and occasionally helmets can be rented at the mountain and do not need to be purchased, but for the most part, you will have to bring the rest of your gear with you. Regardless of weather reports it is always good to pack multiple layers that way you can take them off or add them to easily adjust to the changing mountain weather. Your goal on the mountain is to stay dry and warm, so make sure to bring layers that will help you do that.
Here’s a general list of the items you’ll need and might want when you’re on the slopes:
- Winter Jacket – Water proof, minimum of 10,000mm, wind resistant
- Snow pants – water proof, minimum of 10,000mm, wind resistant
- Ski helmet – should fit snug, do not put a hat on under your helmet
- Ski goggles – fog resistant, interchangeable lenses are optional
- Synthetic face mask – breathable material
- Fleece or sweater – synthetic or wool, breathable
- Long sleeve thermals – synthetic, breathable
- Gloves or mittens – insulated and at least water resistant
- Long underwear/leggings – synthetic, breathable
- Synthetic ski socks – breathable
- Ski or snowboard boots – snug fit but not uncomfortable
- hand/toe warmers – optional
- Backpack – optional, good to store layers if you don’t use a locker
- Sunscreen – small tube, optional
- Water bottle – insulated, optional
Skiing and snowboarding is exercise so you will sweat and you may need to wash your base layers if you don’t pack extras. Make sure you pack enough clothes for the duration of your trip!
Pro Tip: Synthetic wools and artificial fabrics have the ability to wick away sweat and moisture instead of absorbing it like cotton. A sweat soaked shirt clinging to you in cold weather and wind could send you into hypothermia if you’re not careful. Look for synthetic layers that are breathable. If you forgot an item at home or need to get an extra layer, the mountain and ski shops in the area will usually have gear available for purchase, but you might end up paying an additional premium on these items for convenience. So make a detailed packing list and bring as much of your own gear as possible!
4.Take Care of Yourself and Your Group.
Make sure to take care of yourself and look out for others in the group. This means, skiing or snowboarding in pairs or larger groups, so you can look out for one another in the event someone takes a tumble. Also make sure to stay hydrated. An insulated water bottle could be useful, but at the very least be mindful of how much water you have been drinking, and make sure to take regular breaks to hydrate. If you need a rest day or a couple hours to cool off, take the time. Exercise like this at elevation can be incredibly strenuous on your body, so it is important to listen to your body and to know when to call it a day. The mountains will also have medically trained ski patrollers that help to make sure people on the mountain are having fun and being safe, but they can’t always keep an eye on everyone, So be careful, respect the mountain, look out for each other, and you’ll have a lot of fun!
Pro Tip: Take a look at the mountain map and familiarize yourselves with the different trails, on mountain support staff, and lodge locations. This will help you act quickly if something goes wrong. It might also benefit to get the phone number for ski patrol or have radios to communicate with your group if you split up.
5. Do not Neglect Transportation.
If your lodging is not right by the ski lifts and you have to drive a little ways to get to the mountain area, make sure to rent a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle to help navigate the snowy mountain roads. The Roads can be snowy and icy so these types of vehicles are necessary for your safety the safety of other drivers, and for getting you to the mountain to safely take advantage of the 2 fresh feet of powder that the mountain received the night before! Always make sure you have safe transportation to and from the mountain, and if the road conditions are bad consider staying put until they clear up enough that their drive-able. It’s is better to air on the side of caution when making this decision.
Pro Tip: Some mountains have a shuttle service that will take guests from the surrounding hotels to the mountain. Look into your location to see if they offer such services. This can help you save money on a rental car and also keep you from driving on snowy and icy roads!
6. Stay Within The Mountain Boundaries.
When at in a ski area, especially a big ski area like those in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, it is very important to stay within the marked terrain. Going off trail can put you and your group in danger if you’re not familiar with the terrain, so be careful and know where you’re going! The guidelines are there for your safety, and although breaking the rules can be exciting in some instances, these rules are in place to keep you out of dangerous situations. Familiarize yourself with these boundaries, know signs, and study the mountain map well and you’ll be all set! Push yourself, but within the boundaries of the ski area.
Pro Tip: (Experts Only) if you really are looking to push the limits and explore off trail, speak to someone at the mountain about having a guide or an instructor accompany you. You may also check if they offer any heli-skiing or cat-skiing at the mountain or in the area.
7. Take a Lesson.
Skiing and snowboarding are some of those things where the better you are at it, the more fun it gets! So take the time to have a lesson. Regardless of your skill level, most ski areas will have instructors and guides for any age or skill level. This is a great way to push yourself and learn more about the mountain you’re visiting.
Pro Tip: talk to your instructor or guide about the hidden gems around the mountain that only the locals know about. You just might find that untouched powder field you were looking for.
Hooray! Now you’re ready to properly organize, and enjoy your next ski trip! Keep an open mind, follow this guide and ski, worry-free.