\\ First-timer’s Skiers Guide

I never expected our skiing holiday to actually happen. My boyfriend asked me, out of the blue, if I would be interested in going along with 3 other girls and 12 motocross boys! I’d also never really thought about booking a skiing holiday simply because I didn’t have any experience, I didn’t particularly like the idea of being cold on a mountain side all day and I’m always so careful about what I spend my savings on.

Want my honest opinion about the whole trip?

It was truly incredible, so much so I returned home and began looking at ski seasons immediately. The mountain scenery is just breathtaking, the feeling of gradually building up speed, getting more confident and getting faster and faster going down the slopes is exhilarating and stopping for lunch above the clouds really is the icing on the cake!

But I guess like any ‘first timer’ it’s always going to be a little bit of a learning curve. Well it was for me anyway, from knowing what to pack to perfecting your technique.

So, in order for you to make the most of your skiing holiday and thoroughly enjoy your time on the slopes I’ve compiled a few pointers for you!

SHOULD I HAVE LESSONS BEFOREHAND?

From personal experience I benefited a lot from having a lesson before I went skiing, especially as I was going away with people who could already ski.  I combined a trip home with a 6 hour beginners lesson booked at the Chill Factor in Manchester. By all means lessons are not cheap in the UK or on the slopes, but at least by having a lesson beforehand you will find out whether skiing is for you!

The 6 hour tuition was so much fun and I covered so much in just one day. From putting a pair of ski boots and ski’s on to completing my first run on the beginner slope! Depending on how well you pick things up obviously depends on how quick you move through the different stages, but the instructors are always on-hand encouraging you and giving you advice to improve on your next run. Luckily it came quite natural to me and I did achieve a lot more than anticipated, ending my day by turning parallel down the big slope!

Just to clarify the 6 hour beginners lesson at the Chill Factor is 6 hours of skiing plus breaks and lunch on top, so in total you’re there for around 8/9 hours.

Another bonus of having a ski lesson beforehand? You save your holiday spends for better things like food & drink!

WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE IT? IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO?

Now this is partly why I highly advise going for a ski lesson beforehand, simply because a skiing holiday does not come cheap. But do not be feared. Whether you just want a day off to relax those muscles or decide its not for you there is still plenty to do. In most resorts or ski villages there are numerous bars and cafes to visit, or you could go walking and even try out cross country skiing. I kept spotting a horse and carriage ride whilst on the lift which looked great fun too! Or you could just spend a morning relaxing in the hot tub and then get the cable car up to the mountain, grab yourself a deck chair, pop on the sunnies and enjoy your lunch with a panoramic mountain view. Perfection!

CATERED OR SELF CATERED?

Depending on what kind of accommodation you chose to stay at (& your budget) will obviously depend on whether you are catered or self-catered. Self catering is usually seen as the cheaper option but your spending’s will soon disappear if you decide to eat out morning, noon and night!

From what I understand catered chalets do come at a more expensive price, but then again you get the majority of your meals included and it’s quite a lovely thought knowing you’ll be returning back to a nicely heated chalet, a tidy bed and food on the table. There’s also the added bonus of getting to know the local area from your host.

Our chalet was self catered and to be honest it worked out really well. We did a mass shop every few days and each of us chipped in 10/20 euros which stretched further than we thought. For our meals we bought an array of items for. Here are a few ideas.

BREAKFAST: Croissants, bread, yoghurt, fruit, porridge.

LUNCH: Each day we made cheese and ham baguettes and then usually grabbed a hot chocolate and portion of chips on the mountain.

Dinner: We made several big dishes which everyone could just tuck into. Bolognese, curry, chilli, pasta bake, lasagne.

Would I go self catered again? Yes, but I would always like to try my turn at being waited on hand and foot!

WHAT TO PACK?

For some bazaar reason my boyfriend and I decided to share a 23kg hold bag and then had a small rucksack each as hand luggage. Whilst I was packing (which I did about 10 times) I was panicking about how little we were able to take. Fitting bulky clothing for 2 into one average sized suitcase is a challenge, but in all honesty we didn’t even wear half the clothing we took!

Like any sport you always want to look the part regardless of whether you know what you’re doing or not! My best advice would be to go out and try on ski gear, get a feel for it! As I’m fairly tall I usually have problems with trouser length and finding trousers that comfortably fit my butt and thighs into. So going out and trying different brands was a great way of finding out what was comfortable, what size I was and what colour I liked the most! Also look out for deals, around Christmas time there are so many good deals going for ski-wear especially as the January sales appear. Oh and also, if you’ve got a ski holiday booked for after Christmas it’s the perfect opportunity to ask Santa for a few small gifts: gloves, neck warmer, thermals.

Other things you’ll need (these aren’t really optional, you’ll probably freeze without them) :

  • Ski Jacket – wear it to the airport, one less thing in your suitcase and make sure it has a zip in the arm so you can put your ski pass in (most do)
  • Salopettes AKA Ski trousers
  • Goggles/Sunglasses
  • Thermal ski socks – you’ll want to keep those toes nice and toasty
  • Sports Bra (for the ladies)
  • Base layers – for a week I took 3 long sleeve thermal tops and 2 thermal leggings
  • Mid layers – for a week I took 3 fleeces
  • Gloves
  • Neck warmer
  • Knitted hat
  • Small rucksack – this acted as my hand luggage but also my day bag for the slopes. Great for putting water into, Go Pro, snacks, money, sunglasses. For only £2.49 at Decathlon it was perfect.

Personally I wouldn’t advice borrowing ski gear off friends or family simply because it doesn’t come cheap to buy and if you go ripping something the last thing you want to be doing is ruining something that isn’t yours!

Ski boots, helmets, poles and ski’s you can hire, ours were booked in advance through our chalet so the evening we arrived the company came out to us and we got kitted out – If you’re finding your boots uncomfortable don’t be afraid to go back and get them changed for a different size.

WHAT TO WEAR OFF THE SLOPES?

Someday’s we went straight from the slopes to Apres Ski still in all our gear and I can assure you you don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Most restaurants and bars are pretty casual, so there’s no need to pack that LBD and heels. A pair of jeans and a big knit jumper is just fine. Something I did spend a little bit of money on was snow boots. There’s nothing worse than having cold feet and uncomfortable shoes to walk around in, especially when there is snow on the ground. I bought my boots from Mountain warehouse in the sale, £29.99 reduced from £100. These were the only shoes I took/wore and I was very thankful for them.

Other things I packed (which are fairly important) :

  • Swimwear
  • Suncream
  • Adapter for charging phone, camera etc
  • Lip balm – your lips can get so dry and sore
  • Moisteriser
  • Tissues – take some on the slopes with you, you’ll find you suddenly get a runny nose out of nowhere!

 

MY TOP SKI TIPS

  1.  ALWAYS wear a helmet! Looking ‘cool’ isn’t important, it could save your life on the slopes.
  2. Wear more layers than you think you will need. You may feel all hot and sweaty whilst getting ready in the chalet but once you step outside and are on the mountains you’ll soon feel the chill.
  3.  Take a versatile and practical bag for the slopes. One big enough to fit everything you will need and one practical enough to not get in your way.
  4. If you’re not confident enough to do a certain run then tell your group! Everyone will thank you for it and can meet you safely at the bottom.
  5. Always choose safety over style!  Never compromise your safety for fashion.
  6. Be confident and no one will question your ability or style! Remember you can do this and if you fall, just brush off the snow and get back up!
  7. Ski schools schools are your nemesis! Picture a snake, made up of 10+ very small people roughly a meter apart, winding their way down a blue slope. Dodging them is a nightmare. My best advice would be just left them go first! As your most likely to plough straight into them.
  8. Air your gloves out! It sounds so simple. But if you’re anything like me my gloves and hands from day one stank! Do not leave them in your bag overnight. Air them and dry them out by the fire as best you can.
  9. Tuck everything in & zip up every pocket! I found out the painful way that unzipped pockets and loose under layers soon fill up with snow when you fall, which then quickly turns to icy mush down your pants!
  10. This is not a relaxing holiday! Yes you might have booked the time off work and yes you might have told everyone your going away to the glorious snowy mountains, but let me make this very clear this is not a relaxing holiday! – Well it might be for those that can ski. But for us first-timers its a different story. Instead you’ll hurt where you never thought pain could reach and at the end of your day relaxing even sounds exhausting, all you will want to do is get that head on the pillow.

They say skiing is something you either love or hate. I have well and truly fallen head over heals for skiing. ⛷

Love, AR

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