Beginner’s Guide to Colorado Skiing and Snowboarding – Paul’s Top Five
Since I moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado almost primarily because of snow and the fun that can be had on it, I sometimes can't believe when I meet someone who has never been to any of our wonderful resorts. It is outside the comfort zone of many people. But if you are right on the fence and have been considering taking part in all of this wonderful slip-sliding on the snow, here are 5 tips that will make your first excursion that much more enjoyable.
5. Early birds get all the space they need, plus fresh corduroy
I can't stress enough how much of a difference an early start can make on your whole experience. The lifts generally open at 8:30. If you start at this time, you will have two of the most important things to a beginner--freshly groomed snow and plenty of room to enjoy it! Colorado skiing and snowboarding can be dangerous, especially for adults. One of the main hazards will be bumps or bare spots in the snow created by other skiers. If you arrive first thing and stick to the many slopes that resorts groom daily, you can be confident in the consistency of the snow. This allows you to create nice, even, repeatable turns with ease, and without worrying if an ice patch or bump is going to surprise you. I'm an advanced skier and the hazards that bother me aren't the steeps of the double black diamonds, but the inconsistent bumps on the runouts. Going in the morning allows you to enjoy a truly fresh canvas of corduroy, and you will love it!
4. Book your own suite, or pack your own lunch
At Breckenridge, I pay $10 extra to park at the base of Peak 9. Then, when it comes to lunch time I don't have to download all the way to the in town parking lot to access my cooler. If you aren't there early enough, bring lunches that don't need refrigeration and put them in a locker. You can save serious money by bringing your favorite simple lunch items. If you are staying for a few nights, spring for a suite. What you pay for in upgrades will be covered in what you can save by cooking a few meals on your own. I'm not saying don't visit the restaurants! You'll find some of Colorado's finest cuisine in the High Country, but a couple self made meals will help save some cash.
3. Make it a weekday excursion
The reason I'm so enthusiastically encouraging you to experience the skiing and snowboarding of our wonderful Rocky Mountains is because they are some of the best mountains for those activities in the world. I regularly meet people from Europe who live just a few hours or actually in the Alps. Why would they spend thousands to come here when one would think they'd have great skiing there? Because big mountains alone do not make for great skiing. One more ingredient is required--snow. We have some of the best snow in the world and we get a lot of it. So people are going to come from all over to enjoy our mountains, and they are mostly going to do that on the weekends. Take a day or two off work and school. Weekdays are an entirely different animal from weekends, and I cannot stress enough that it is truly better on the weekdays.
2. Take a lesson
Skiing and snowboarding are not intuitive sports. They require technique. Especially if you are an adult and have not been in the habit of regular exercise, a lesson will go so far in helping you have fun and keeping you safe. Maybe you could learn it on your own or from your friend, but I can guarantee a better time will be had by all if you just utilize the award winning learn to ski programs that are all over the Rocky Mountains.
1. Look for Deals
Look high, look low, but DO NOT pay full price. There are so many ways to save. Even if you stop in a local supermarket you are likely to find better prices than will greet you at the ticket window. Copper Mountain is offering one of the best deals out there with Shell. At some locations you can get a 2 for 1 ticket with a fill up of 10 gallons or more(see them for details). There are banks that offer free or 1/2 price tickets when an account is opened. My Vail Resorts pass pays for itself after 5 visits. We saved money booking a room and our lift passes in one package with Steamboat and the Steamboat Grand. Call the resorts directly and ask them how you can save money on a trip to see them. Just keep in mind there are many ways to save.
And please, don't complain about the prices. It's a magnanimous undertaking to allow people to ski safely on the amazing terrain that is offered. For everything the resorts provide from mobility, to information, to the most important thing, safety, the price is actually pretty cheap.
For more on why Colorado Resorts are worth every penny they charge, see my previous blog here.