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Top Tips for First-Time Skiers – What to Know Before You Hit the Slopes

f you have never skied before or are in need of a refresher, these helpful tips will ensure you're prepared for a long, successful day out on the mountain.


What to Wear & Pack

For the purpose of this guide, we will assume you'll be renting your skis along with the essentials like boots, poles, and a helmet. Beyond that, here's what you should bring.

Whenever you do anything for the first time, knowledge and preparation are key. Being properly dressed and prepared for changing weather conditions could be the difference between a good and bad first-time experience.

What to Wear


Long Wool or Synthetic Socks

Foot comfort is key when skiing. If your feet are cold and/or uncomfortable, your day can get cut short fast. When considering which socks to wear, ski socks should obviously be your first choice. However, wool or synthetic high baseball or sports socks could work if you're in a pinch. No matter what you choose, make sure your socks are snug and not loose. Additionally, keep in mind that thickness doesn't always equal warmth and can lead to issues when fitting boots.


Base Layers

Just as with socks, remember to avoid cotton. Base layers should be thin to medium thickness, and layering on colder days is recommended. You can always shed or add a layer if needed.


Mid Layers

Your mid layers are the most likely to vary depending on weather. Mid layers can be any athletic clothing you wear to the gym, yoga, or on a hike. For warmer spring skiing days, you may just need a comfortable pair of board shorts under snow pants. For those bone chilling subzero days, a medium thickness, wool base layer under a nylon or polyester hiking pant mid layer should do the trick.



Just like having cold feet, cold or wet hands can end your ski day prematurely. Insulated (preferably waterproof) gloves will help you stay comfortable and will keep you on the mountain longer. Avoid wearing leather uninsulated work gloves, as they will likely turn your hands into ice cubes in no time.


Snow Pants

You can get away not wearing snow pants, but they are highly recommended. Comfort on the mountain is absolutely key. If you don't want to shell out the money for ski pants, you can get away with using waterproof or water-resistant pants with an extra layer or two.


Ski Jacket

Just like with snow pants, a ski-specific jacket isn't necessary but is recommended. In most cases, a waterproof windbreaker or outer shell with the right mid layer will do the trick. Just remember to layer and avoid cotton.



Skiing with goggles – or, at the very least, sunglasses – is highly recommended. Skiing without eye protection can be extremely uncomfortable and dangerous. Ski goggles not only shield and protect your eyes from the sun, but they also protect your eyes from icy snow and other debris that may be kicked up by the wind or passing skiers.


What to pack with you

These are all optional but good to have.

Learning the mountain - Your first time Skiing

Before you head out, you'll make your trip a lot smoother if you take the time to do some research. Knowing where to go on the mountain and around the base area will save you a lot of time and energy. Be sure to grab or download a trail map and make note of these locations:

Ticket Window

Even if you ordered your lift tickets in advance, you will most likely have to stop at the ticket window to pick up your ticket or RFID card that will allow you to ride the chairlift. If you ordered lift tickets in advance and had them mailed to you, you should be all set to go. Alternatively, if you’re renting gear, you might be able to grab your lift tickets with your rentals, but it is a good idea to check in advance.

Rental Shop

If you are renting equipment, you should try to arrive at the rental shop early. Most rental shops open before the lifts start spinning, so plan to get there early, as spots can fill up fast.

Ski School Meetup

If you are taking a lesson chances are they will have a designated meet up spot. Be prepared with all your gear and know where to go in advance. Lessons will start by the clock not when you arrive.

Trails and Lifts (Learn the trail signs!)

Chances are, you’ll be sticking to the magic carpet and bunny hill to start, but when you’re ready, it’s important to know which trails to go on and which trails to avoid. Beginner trails are marked with a Green circle and offer the easiest terrain. The next level above Green trails are for intermediate skiers and are marked by a Blue square. Finally, Black diamond trails indicate advanced terrain. Keep in mind that some chairlifts only go to advanced terrain, so be sure to know where you’re heading before you get on the lift.

Meet up Spot

Regardless if everyone in your party has a cell phone it's always a good idea to have a meet up spot. This can really be anywhere on the mountain just be sure to make it easily accessible and not out of the way.

First Aid Station

You never know what could happen out there! Make note of where the first aid station is just in case you need it.

Learn from the Pros - Take a beginner Ski lesson

Like learning anything else., getting professional instructions is always a good idea. If you're planning on skiing with an experienced friend or family member, you may be tempted to just have them teach you, but this is not advisable.

Taking one or even a few lessons will set you up for success and ensure you not only get down the hill without falling, but you also learn the proper technique. When signing up for lessons, you will have a couple options: Private or Group lessons.

  • Private lessons are the best and easiest way to learn how to ski. Going private over a group offers one-on-one lessons in which the instructor can give you their full attention.

  • Group lessons are best for groups of friends or family that learn at a similar pace, or for members of your party that may need a little extra encouragement.

Extra Tips - Skiing for the first time

Show up early

especially if you need to pick up lift tickets, rentals, etc. Ski resorts can get very busy, so show up early if you don't want to wait in lines.

Ski mid-week

Skiing mid-week is a good way to avoid crowds, and lift tickets are often cheaper. Less time waiting in line means more time skiing.

“Learn to Ski” Packages

Some mountains offer discounted rates for first-time skiers who are interested in renting and taking lessons. Check online or call before buying tickets, rentals, and lessons separately.

Ski and Stay Packages

If you are planning on staying at the resort, you might want to look into any available Ski and Stay packages. These are great ways to save on rentals and lift tickets, especially mid-week!

Watch ski tutorials

You can learn just about anything on the internet. That being said, ski tutorials are NOT a substitute for taking lessons. Ski tutorials can help you prepare and give you a basic understanding of how to ski before you even get to the snow. At the very least, they will give you an idea of what to expect before taking your first lesson. Online tutorials are also a good resource for learning other basics, like taking your skis on and off and walking with them around the resort.

Buy in advance

In some cases, buying lift tickets in advance from a third-party seller can be your cheapest option. Your local ski shop, sporting goods store, or other online retailer may have discounted lift tickets available.

Preparation, Positivity, Practice, Patience Preparation: Do your homework (which you're doing!). Know what to expect and show up ready to learn. Positivity: Keep it fun and stay positive. Be your own biggest cheerleader and stay loose. Skiing is fun! If you're not having fun, re-evaluate and give it another try. Practice: The best way to learn how to ski is to actively do it. Just try one more turn, one more run, or one more day out on the slopes. With enough practice, you'll be carving up Black Diamonds in no time. Patience: This is the most important and hardest principle to apply. Learning to ski IS challenging. You WILL fall, and that's okay. Take your time, pace yourself, and you'll learn a skill that will provide you with happiness for a lifetime.


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