How to prepare for first time skiing / snowboarding?
Updated: a day ago
A colleague of mine is going for her first time skiing holiday in few weeks and had so many questions that I thought perhaps there are more people who may need the same information and advice as her. I have never thought about those questions as I was skiing since I was 9 and snowboarding since I was approx. 14 and going on alpine trips for the last 5 years and a lot of those things were naturally a habit of mine (some were not e.g. high UV face cream). So if you are thinking of, or preparing for your first time in snowy mountain resort, and you are not sure if you have prepared everything, see tips below that my colleague and I came up with.
While you are reading below advice, please note all weather advise is based on the assumption that you are going somewhere in Europe. However, I think a lot of those tips will come handy wherever in the world you are going.
Snowy weather in Chamrousse in February
So what do you need to buy before you get to the mountain resort:
Firstly, invest in good clothes - if you do not have appropriate clothes for the weather and sport (even if it drops to 1C and it may be snowing) you will feel cold and you won't enjoy your time in the mountains. I understand that you may not want to invest a lot, but there are some essentials that you must have. The most important items to invest in are: gloves, thermal leggings and trousers as they will keep you warm so don't be stingy 😉 Perhaps a good jacket too, to keep you warm. As you will be falling on your bum a lot (snowboarding version), you want to have waterproof trousers. So better invest in those pieces of clothing. My personal favourites and good quality for reasonable price here: Roxy for gloves and jackets, Salomon for gloves or snowboard boots. If you do not want to spend too much, just find Decathlon and buy your clothes there for the begining.
The clothes are available at the resorts to buy but usually at a premium price.
Secondly, some accessories - depending on the time of the year, you may need googles (December - February are usually snowy and windy so you will need for your comfort), if you are planning to go in March - April you may get away with just sunglasses. Also as part of the accessories I would suggest checking special cosmetics e.g. high altitude skin care, or lip protection. For more packing tips check my article here.
You're able to rent the equipment (skies, helmet, and sticks or snowboard) at the resorts. This may cost you around £60-£80 per day depending on the resort. It's a good idea to rent if it is your first time as you want to find out first if you like the sport before investing a lot of money in to your own equipment.
Thirdly, ski / snowboard lessons - I would strongly advise to take lessons if that's your first time - you will have great basic knowledge and enjoy the experience even more. You can check availability of instructors and schools on the mountains resorts website.
Photo: With a restaurant hut in the distance, it's good to have some snacks on you too!
Finally, from a pragmatic point of view (and my husband's favourite) buy some protein bars to have on you while you are on the slopes. Just when you are hungry, it's good to have a small snack.
Some other useful tips:
What clothes are suitable to ski in?
Would jeans or leggings work as a sport clothes? These are a No - you will feel extremely cold when they get wet.
It is a good idea to have layers - thermal tops, jumpers, or hoodies that keep you warm.
Good skiing / snowboarding or thermal socks are best to keep you warm - if you buy a pair that is specific for the winter sports, they will be really well insulated. Any woolly socks will do the work too. And for my dear ladies have your sports bra - it's way more comfortable :-)
If you're going only for a weekend what to take and what's waste of space?
Just take essential items, and that means your sports clothes, something for the evening to get changed - but think sporty comfortable clothes, more casual outfits. Unless you are staying somewhere where you know a dress up evening wear is preferred. If you are staying in a small town you may want to have boots (something like hiking boots) so that you have a good grip on the snow while you walk around. Trainers are also good, but if they are leather or waterproof (again avoid getting wet and cold)
No one to go with?
That's not a problem. Winter sports are fun when you have a group of like minded people and when you can sit at the top of the mountain with friends and enjoy a chat about life, work, or anything really with a glass of something delicious in your hand! You may be lucky with some winter sun too.
For five years I used to go for a week of snowboarding and partying with my friends as part of a organised entertainment with SnowShow Entertainment Group - which is a Polish company. However, the exact equivalent in England would be Snowbomb - you can make new friends, have fun partying and enjoying great concerts, but also learn new tricks from others. I'm sure you will find other providers too.
Photo: You can rent your equipment, but you need to think of your clothes.
Summary of Do's & Dont's
wear layers of clothes
do bring face cream with UV protection, you will be at higher altitude (e.g. French Alps resorts are anything above 1500 m.a.s.l.)
I have special factor 50 lipstick as for me they tend to get dry too
buy instructor-led lessons if that's your first time
Don't wear jeans or leggings for your sport activity
Don't take too many clothes, you will be on the slopes most of the days
Don't rely purely on card payments; there are many farmer markets offering delicious local produce which you will be able to buy cash only
I hope this was useful, and if you have any questions, please leave comments below for others to benefit too.
Snowy and sunny travels