You’ve decided between private and group so you’re ready to hit the slopes. But wait! Have you run down the checklist? Checklist? That’s right! Making sure to have the right clothing and equipment will set you up for a great day of skiing.
To dress for success, layers are your friend. Think toe to head to be sure you’ve got it all covered. Ski boots give more support when they’re a little snug. Be sure socks are smooth so your feet will be comfortable. Here’s a tip; keep a spare pair of socks in your gear in case your first pair gets wet. Long underwear or leggings under snow pants will give you a little insulation against the cold. Snow pants should have wide enough legs to go outside of your boots – don’t tuck them in. On your torso, a thermal T-shirt, a turtle neck and sweater and an insulated water-repellent outer layer (you know, they call it a ski jacket) will keep you warm. I like to tuck at least one torso layer into my pants so that when I fall (& it will happen, trust me) the snow doesn’t go in my pants. When you’ve got all these layers on, can you still bend over and touch your toes? Can you squat down and get back up? You’re going to move when you’re on the slopes, so be sure you can when you’re all buttoned up.
If you’re new to the sport, you’ll likely be renting equipment. Boots, poles and skis are part of the usual rental package. Beginners don’t need poles so leave them in the rental shop. Helmets are available for an additional fee. Jenna and I are helmet wearing skiers and recommend you become one too. The folks at Pats Peak rental shop are very helpful. There’s a short form to fill out and don’t lie on it. Your height determines the length of ski they issue you. They’ll calculate the “din settings” based on your weight and experience level so for safety sake, be honest. I had to break 20+ years of rounding down my weight and up on my height; come clean, it’s in your best interest.
The credit card company asks “what’s in your wallet?” When heading to the slopes, your question is “what’s in your bag?” Here’s what’s usually in mine:
Notice, I have both glove liners and waterproof mittens. By March, I typically only wear the mittens but on the coldest days of January I’m thankful for extra layer on my hands. Quality mittens aren’t just for warmth – they protect your hands from the sharp edges of skis. The hat/hood/facemask fits under my helmet and protects my throat and face. If you’re not going to wear a helmet, be sure to have a scarf or facemask which covers your nose down to your chin. This is especially important on windy days or if you’re a speed demon. Some of our regular ski guests swear by their “Turtle Fur”. It comes from a VT based company, so you know, they know winter. There are goggles on my helmet; sunglasses are a good alternative. When I come home from skiing, I hang everything to dry overnight before I repack it into my bag. That way, I’m always ready to go skiing.
When you’re skiing with others who might want to stay out longer than you, add a book, magazine or your tablet to the bag. Pats Peak has WIFI in the lodges so you can stay entertained while the rest of your group is still on the slopes. I once overheard a couple of kids teasing Mom that “the reading is good in Colorado, why don’t you take us skiing out west?”
Now this point is important; be sure to have tissues in your pocket. The chair lift ride is long enough to pull one out and have a good blow. The other point to make on the biological side is use the bathroom before the lesson. You’re going to be outside for at least an hour… Enough said.
So let’s check, I think we have you in the lodge, fully dressed, rental boots on and skis on the rack outside. You’re ready to roll; get outside before you overheat. I’m hoping you have about 15 or 20 minutes before the scheduled class time so you can explore the current snow and do a few warm ups. Walk carefully in your boots, the decks can be slippery. It’s recommended to do a few stretches and limber up before you start to ski. If you have enough time and a little experience, put your skis on and see what today’s snow is like on a trail that matches your ability and amount of time you have. I’m experienced, not expert, and usually do a warm up run on the “long carpet” in front of the Valley Lodge.
If you’re taking a beginner lesson, it will be in the area to the far left. There’s a carpet lift, not a chair lift. It is not the first carpet you see when you leave the rental shop. You need to walk past the Main Lodge and you’ll find these signs.
If you’re a little early, put your skis on and practice sidestepping up the hill and sliding back down.
If you’re taking a higher lever lesson, there are flags and meeting areas for you. You’ll notice folks in blue jackets gathering nearby. They’re the instructors and will take it from here.
Next time we’ll fill you in on POP and Bear’s Den.