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Recommendations for first time skier

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

Never been skiing or to the snow before so I need some help. Heading over to the US in Feb next year and have decided to spend the first week and last week of my trip skiing. Current plan is to spend a week in alta and then head to big sky. They both seem to fit into the rest of my holiday which will be spent travelling up from LA to Seattle. 

 

Is this a good idea for a beginner? I will try to get lessons at both places..and will be staying at the resorts.

 

My main concern is Alta being an intimidating place to learn to ski due to how popular it seems and the level of skier that goes there. However the accommodation is reasonable and having meals covered is a big plus.

 

Any advice appreciated. 

post #2 of 29

Alta actually has quite a bit of beginner and lower intermediate terrain to learn on.  Would not recommend Snowbird just down the road, theirs is really limited.  Be aware of the altitude though, the air is a bit thinner than Australia.  Have fun.

post #3 of 29

You'll be fine at Alta. Don't even worry about it.

post #4 of 29

nocebo:  Welcome to EpicSki!

 

You will have a great time at Alta and Big Sky.  Last season I convinced a friend to head to Big Sky for her first trip out west.  She was pretty much a beginner although had skied a few times in little places.  There are some nice long greens and easy blues on Andesite Mtn and near the base.  Even a slightly steeper green that is marked "Beginners only" so that they don't have to worry about better skiers whizzing past them.

 

Alta is a great place for beginners and intermediates.  Many locals take advantage of the very coast beginner lift after 3pm to get their little ones started.  It's where my daughter learned to love powder on her first trip out west at age 7.  Just happens to also be great for advanced and expert skiers, so that's why you read so much about their adventures.  The ski school is very good for all levels.

 

Which lodge at Alta are you staying at?

 

Will you have a car at Big Sky?  Bridger is great for beginners and the lift tickets and lessons cost a lot less.  Might be worth a day trip, especially if you have the energy to check out downtown Bozeman for dinner.

post #5 of 29

Also, connected to Big Sky is a ski area called Moonlight Basin.  We skied there last year and while it has awesome expert terrain, it has excellent terrain for beginners and the best thing is that the place was deserted.  I'd highly recommend it.  If you do that don't buy the combined Big Sky/Moonlight lift ticket, just choose one or the other.  It is relatively new and nowhere near as built up as Big Sky.

post #6 of 29

Alta is good for beginners... take lessons wherever you go.  If you do go to Alta, ask for Sid... he's an older gentleman (low 80s, I think) but can flat out ski and is a great all around guy.  He took me from barely greens to advanced blues over the span of three days earlier this year.
 

post #7 of 29

Alta is a great ski area for any level of skier.  Note that snowboarding is not permitted.  The one potential problem is that it snows a lot there.  So some times the road to Salt Lake City is closed due to avalanche hazard or open only to 4WD vehicles.  If you stay in the SLC area you could be stuck there.  Lodging at the area is limited.  There is bus service from the SLC area to Alta if you don't rent a car. 

post #8 of 29

I won't bother echoing the virtues of both Alta and Big sky for a beginner skier. But I am curious how on a trip from LA to Seattle, you end up skiing in Alta and Big Sky. 

post #9 of 29

If you're in Seattle before you get to the Rockies you might get a head start on learning by heading up to The Summit at Snoqualmie (about 40 minutes from town) or Stevens Pass (1.25 hrs) and getting lessons.  These are both very beginner friendly places where you could begin to hone your skiing chops so that when you hit Alta and Big Sky you can enjoy your ski vacation even more. Both places have night skiing, so if you're tied up during the day you could get lessons in the evening as well.

 

Edit:

I re-read your original post and realized that you said that you'll be spending the first week of your trip at Alta, so the above recommendation doesn't hold water.  However, you'll be hooked on skiing by the time you get to Seattle so keep in mind that both of the areas mentioned above, and Crystal Mountain as well, have lots of fun stuff for you.  Enjoy.


Edited by Posaune - 10/14/12 at 1:02pm
post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

Alta actually has quite a bit of beginner and lower intermediate terrain to learn on.  Would not recommend Snowbird just down the road, theirs is really limited.  Be aware of the altitude though, the air is a bit thinner than Australia.  Have fun.

 

Yeah I read about the problems with altitude.. seems the only option is to drink a lot of water and rest if feeling sick? 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by marznc View Post

nocebo:  Welcome to EpicSki!

 

You will have a great time at Alta and Big Sky.  Last season I convinced a friend to head to Big Sky for her first trip out west.  She was pretty much a beginner although had skied a few times in little places.  There are some nice long greens and easy blues on Andesite Mtn and near the base.  Even a slightly steeper green that is marked "Beginners only" so that they don't have to worry about better skiers whizzing past them.

 

Will you have a car at Big Sky?  Bridger is great for beginners and the lift tickets and lessons cost a lot less.  Might be worth a day trip, especially if you have the energy to check out downtown Bozeman for dinner.

Thanks! I ended up changing Alta to Solitude though. Big part of that was one of the reasons I chose big sky - seems a bit more laid back and not as crowded. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jay_p View Post

Also, connected to Big Sky is a ski area called Moonlight Basin.  We skied there last year and while it has awesome expert terrain, it has excellent terrain for beginners and the best thing is that the place was deserted.  I'd highly recommend it.  If you do that don't buy the combined Big Sky/Moonlight lift ticket, just choose one or the other.  It is relatively new and nowhere near as built up as Big Sky.

I've already got accommodation in Big Sky. How easy is it to get there without a car?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

I won't bother echoing the virtues of both Alta and Big sky for a beginner skier. But I am curious how on a trip from LA to Seattle, you end up skiing in Alta and Big Sky. 

Heh.. its a skiing holiday but I'm not sure how much I will actually like skiing or how taxing it will be. So I just needed something to do in between. I have since added a couple of days to Utah to wont have time to do LA to Seattle anymore. Going to spend a week in NY instead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crudmeister View Post

Alta is a great ski area for any level of skier.  Note that snowboarding is not permitted.  The one potential problem is that it snows a lot there.  So some times the road to Salt Lake City is closed due to avalanche hazard or open only to 4WD vehicles.  If you stay in the SLC area you could be stuck there.  Lodging at the area is limited.  There is bus service from the SLC area to Alta if you don't rent a car. 

Only spending one night in SLC then 9 at Solitude. Would like to head over to Alta for a day or two if possible but it seems the shuttles only go to the airport > resort and vice versa. 

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dprice72 View Post

Alta is good for beginners... take lessons wherever you go.  If you do go to Alta, ask for Sid... he's an older gentleman (low 80s, I think) but can flat out ski and is a great all around guy.  He took me from barely greens to advanced blues over the span of three days earlier this year.
 

Yeah I'll be getting lessons at both places. Can you recommend anyone at solitude?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

If you're in Seattle before you get to the Rockies you might get a head start on learning by heading up to The Summit at Snoqualmie (about 40 minutes from town) or Stevens Pass (1.25 hrs) and getting lessons.  These are both very beginner friendly places where you could begin to hone your skiing chops so that when you hit Alta and Big Sky you can enjoy your ski vacation even more. Both places have night skiing, so if you're tied up during the day you could get lessons in the evening as well.

 

Edit:

I re-read your original post and realized that you said that you'll be spending the first week of your trip at Alta, so the above recommendation doesn't hold water.  However, you'll be hooked on skiing by the time you get to Seattle so keep in mind that both of the areas mentioned above, and Crystal Mountain as well, have lots of fun stuff for you.  Enjoy.

Cool. Will keep that in mind for a future trip. Seattle is somewhere that I definitely want to visit.

post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nocebo View Post

Thanks! I ended up changing Alta to Solitude though. Big part of that was one of the reasons I chose big sky - seems a bit more laid back and not as crowded. 

 

I've already got accommodation in Big Sky. How easy is it to get there without a car?

 

Heh.. its a skiing holiday but I'm not sure how much I will actually like skiing or how taxing it will be. So I just needed something to do in between. I have since added a couple of days to Utah to wont have time to do LA to Seattle anymore. Going to spend a week in NY instead.

 

Only spending one night in SLC then 9 at Solitude. Would like to head over to Alta for a day or two if possible but it seems the shuttles only go to the airport > resort and vice versa. 

 

Yeah I'll be getting lessons at both places. Can you recommend anyone at solitude?

You should be able to take the public transit ski bus from Solitude to Alta.  The two canyons, LCC and BCC, have pretty good service during the ski season with buses that go fairly often.  Definitely recommend going to Alta for a day to check it out.  No need to bother with Snowbird because there are relatively few runs for a beginner.  You can actually ski from Solitude to Brighton.  Ask about that after you get the basics figured out.

 

Can obviously also take the bus from Solitude into SLC for sightseeing or dinner.  Brighton has night skiing so pretty sure the buses run in the evening.  Not too many options for food in BCC.  The bus schedule won't be available until Dec.

 

Depending on the weather, you might want to consider renting a 2WD car in SLC.  Meaning, if it's clear and snow on the road is a non-issue.  That would give you the option of driving up to Snowbasin for day.  That's a great place for beginners on a day with good visibility.  Wonderful views.  Quite different from LCC and BCC.

 

Look on the Big Sky resort website for links to the shuttle from the airport.  Takes about an hour for the drive in good weather.  Most of the drive is in the valley so usually not a big deal if snowing on the mountain.

 

The Big Sky area is served by a free bus.  So getting over to Moonlight Basin should be pretty easy.  Note that there is a combined lift ticket but it's probably easier to ride the bus.  Takes a lot of skiing to get from one ski area to another.  Lone Mountain is big and the two are on opposite sides.

 

Are you going to do a day trip to Yellowstone while at Big Sky?

post #12 of 29

Since you will be renting equipment, the biggest potential for an unpleasant ski experience is if the boots you rent don't fit properly.  It's hard to get a rental boot to fit properly, and my experience is that the folks in the rental shops are not the most experienced in getting the right size boots on your feet.  I haven't skied the areas you are going to, but maybe someone here can recommend a shop or a particular person at the resort that does a good job with rental boots, or have any suggestions for a good rental experience? 

 

You might get a better deal, equipment, and advise in a shop in town, away from the mountain, but then you have the problem of not being able to switch boots easily if they are painful.  As you will learn by a quick search of this site, ski boots should fit much snugger than street shoes, and are often a size or two below your regular shoe size.  Your feet control your skis, and any extra room in the boots will make it harder to control yourself, and will end up causing foot cramping, blisters, and cold feet (from having to crank the buckles too tight, cutting off circulation).  Think of a snug handshake for your entire foot, with your heel being held in place as you flex your shins forward. 

 

Although you're not buying boots (though it actually might make sense if you are skiing for two weeks and plan on doing it again), this link has great info on how boots should fit: http://www.epicski.com/a/boot-fitting-which-boot-will-work-for-me

 

Have fun, I'm jealous!

post #13 of 29

Since you've never skied before, are you sure you want to commit to 9 straight days of skiing at Solitude? That's an awful lot for a beginner; hopefully you are very fit. Going someplace that has an actual town and a variety of other diversions, in case skiing all day every days turns out to be a bit much, might be better. Have you thought about Park City? I know you want to avoid crowds; Deer Valley (resort @ Park City) actually limits ticket sales so that the slopes don't get too crowded.

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post

Since you've never skied before, are you sure you want to commit to 9 straight days of skiing at Solitude? That's an awful lot for a beginner; hopefully you are very fit. Going someplace that has an actual town and a variety of other diversions, in case skiing all day every days turns out to be a bit much, might be better. Have you thought about Park City? I know you want to avoid crowds; Deer Valley (resort @ Park City) actually limits ticket sales so that the slopes don't get too crowded.

I think Christy makes a good point...coming from Oz to the USA for an extended ski trip as a never ever is a pretty big commitment.  Not sure if any of the Kiwi resorts (or possibly something in the Snowy Mnts) are still open, but I would consider doing a long weekend first to see how you like it (and to give your muscles a chance to see what it is all about)

 

Whether that is possible or not, I would recommend doing as much off snow ski related training as possible.  Balance and the small muscles are important, so don`t just work on the big ones.  If you were going to start playing basketball, soccer/football, etc. for the first time, would you start with 9 straight days?  Maybe if you were really keen, fit and had an athletic background...

post #15 of 29

Alta is a great choice for someone who has never skied before.  The beginner trails at Alta are some of the easiest beginner trails around.  Solitude is not such a great choice.  Their green trials would be rated blue at many resorts.

 

The layout of both Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyons are similar in that there is mellow terrain at the top of the canyon where Alta and Brighton reside, but the terrain lower down the canyon is steeper.  So neither Solitude nor Snowbird are good choices for a first time skier.  That said, Solitude is much more appropriate than Snowbird.

 

Since it sounds like you have already booked lodging at Solitude, I'd recommend doing a day (or two) of lessons at either Alta or Brighton before tackling Solitude.  It's s short free bus ride from Solitude to Brighton and a longer (~1 hr) bus ride from Solitude to Alta.  BTW, the terrain you'll be skiing at Alta will not be crowded.  Most people go there for the steeps, not the easy stuff.

 

BIg Sky is also a good choice; make sure to hit neighboring Moonlight Basin while you are there.

post #16 of 29

I gotta say nocebo, people are leading you astray here.  Alta is for experts.  They have some basic beginner and intermediate terrain, but it's sort of like having french fries at an Indian restaurant.  If you want to start out right, I'd recommend Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) as the first choice, and Deer Valley as the second.  Both have excellent beginner terrain that will actually give you a chance to ski the mountain and not be a cast off on the side.  Deer Valley has green runs that take you for miles starting at the top with great views.  The best thing about being at the top of the mountain is it gives you the option to hit an intermediate slope whenever you are ready.  Some mountains don't have that.  Alta..... eh.  You can do a lot better.  Honestly, that place is really not great unless you are a double black skier.  Then it gets pretty good.

 

So stay in Park City and walk to the lift and ski PCMR as your first mountain and Deer Valley as your second.  I promise you that will be a better experience than Alta will be for a beginner.  The only way I'd change that opinion is if there has been a dearth of snow for some time.  Then Alta would potentially have better snow conditions (which is very important for a beginner).

 

Have you considered Colorado?  I'd recommend Vail or Breckenridge or Steamboat for a beginner.  Or even Keystone, with the very classic and predictable piste map.  The mountains in CO are a lot more classic in terms of top to bottom than in Utah, in general.  Another easy beginner resort in Colorado is Loveland.  Easiest to get to from Denver, cheaper, and on the way to the others.  Eldora is a nice little starter mountain as well.  Close to Boulder, CO.  Nice little mountain.

 

There was a Northstar threadI just posted on.  Northstar in the Tahoe area is a nice classic beginner type of mountain.  True mountain experience with lots of blues and not too much vertical or odd twists and cliffs.

post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michigander View Post

I gotta say nocebo, people are leading you astray here.  Alta is for experts.  They have some basic beginner and intermediate terrain, but it's sort of like having french fries at an Indian restaurant. 

Have you skied Alta as a beginner or intermediate?  I have long ago . . . and so has my daughter in recent years, as well as her friends and mine (adults).  As others have said, it is an excellent place to learn at any level for a variety of reasons.  In general, if you know where to look then Alta is wonderful at any level . . . not just "double black," which of course do not exist on the trail map.  Alta only designates trails as green, blue, or black.

 

By the way, the OP was trying to make decisions several months ago if you'd bother to read post #1.

post #18 of 29

For someone who has never been to a ski resort or skied, I wouldn't recommend Alta for a week.  The place is dull as paint at night.  I don't think I would like holing up there for the week, and I've been skiing there for 30 yrs.  It's doable as a beginners resort, but there are much better places for a beginner to be.  I would recommend you go somewhere where you have the easy choice to ski different resorts each day.  If you go to Tahoe or Aspen or Summit County Colorado or Park City Utah (or Salt Lake City if you have a car) your can see and ski a much bigger variety of terrain and scenery.   Instead of riding the same lifts each day, why not ride 40 different lift during your week?

post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post

  I would recommend you go somewhere where you have the easy choice to ski different resorts each day.  If you go to Tahoe or Aspen or Summit County Colorado or Park City Utah (or Salt Lake City if you have a car) your can see and ski a much bigger variety of terrain and scenery.   Instead of riding the same lifts each day, why not ride 40 different lift during your week?

I basically disagree with this.  40 different lifts for a never ever?  That might be possible if he is athletic and picks things up quickly, but that wouldn`t be my first priority.  For a never ever, I would recommend picking a resort with a good ski school and flat learning area that has a nice progression to easy and then moderate greens (and hopefully easy blues).  A good variety of greens is nice for an extended trip so you are not doing the same run over and over, but I don`t think most never evers want to figure out the trial maps and where to park at a bunch of different resorts.  Another thing to look for is easy access (aka rent skis from a slop near the beginner area- it might be more expensive, but I don`t see that many never evers who are really comfortable carrying skis great distances).  

 

Being that he might be coming out solo and is going to need lessons, I think the ideal place might be something like a Club Med- unfortunately the one at Copper closed over a decade ago and the one at Crested Butte closed a few years after that.  Not sure if there is anything stateside currently that offers this sort of all inclusive program (lessons, lodging, food) but it could be very good both from a ski and social perspective for a single newbie.  If it is still available, something like the unlimited adult group lessons at Breckenridge might be something of a substitute. 


Edited by MEfree30 - 10/25/12 at 6:49am
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post

For someone who has never been to a ski resort or skied, I wouldn't recommend Alta for a week.  The place is dull as paint at night.  I don't think I would like holing up there for the week, and I've been skiing there for 30 yrs.  It's doable as a beginners resort, but there are much better places for a beginner to be.  I would recommend you go somewhere where you have the easy choice to ski different resorts each day.  If you go to Tahoe or Aspen or Summit County Colorado or Park City Utah (or Salt Lake City if you have a car) your can see and ski a much bigger variety of terrain and scenery.   Instead of riding the same lifts each day, why not ride 40 different lift during your week?

Different strokes for different folks.  May not apply to the OP, but for me and my friends being at a lodge at Alta for a week is wonderful.  No stress, just get up, have a good breakfast, ski until too tired, relax at lodge until an early bedtime, sleep, . . . repeat.  All about the skiing.  Easy to make a few new friends at the lodge during the afternoons and evening.  Would certainly rather be at Alta for a week than Solitude.

 

Note that I've also done ski trips where I hit up a different place every day near SLC or in Tahoe.  Did a few as an intermediate and doing more as an advanced skier with friends who are advanced skiers.

post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 

Accommodation is already locked in. Not worried about spending time at the one place although for solitude I will try and do a trip to Alta and maybe Park City as well. But I'll be happy just kicking back with a book etc when/ if I don't feel like skiing.

Fitness should be ok, I run and play basketball. Will start to add some specific ski exercises soon when at the gym. 

 

Went to google maps and looked at slope view for solitude and it seemed pretty steep on what I think are the easier runs. Usually pick things up quickly so hopefully the same with skiing.

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nocebo View Post

Accommodation is already locked in. Not worried about spending time at the one place although for solitude I will try and do a trip to Alta and maybe Park City as well. But I'll be happy just kicking back with a book etc when/ if I don't feel like skiing.

 

Fitness should be ok, I run and play basketball. Will start to add some specific ski exercises soon when at the gym. 

 

Went to google maps and looked at slope view for solitude and it seemed pretty steep on what I think are the easier runs. Usually pick things up quickly so hopefully the same with skiing.

If you are lucky, perhaps you'll meet some folks at Solitude with a car that isn't full up who are also interested in exploring a bit.

 

Yes, Solitude has steeper greens and blues than some places.  Brighton is very close by.  Should be able to take the bus over.  That may be the better place to start.  My sense is the ski school is pretty good because that's one way that Brighton can compete.  Also, Brighton is owned by Boyne.  Boyne has quite a few resorts and knows how to run a quality operation.

 

Here's some ski conditioning exercises to consider.

 

 

post #23 of 29

Occurs to me that since you are new to skiing, be good to check out Part 1 of the Injury Prevention series.

 

post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 

Cool. Thanks for the videos. Will have to check out Brighton now too. 

post #25 of 29

It's possible to ski from Solitude to Brighton.  But I'm not sure how difficult the crossover trail is.

 

By the way, Big Sky will be really fun.  There are long green and blue runs there.  The area has a very different feel than the Utah canyons.  If you are there on a Monday, there is a place for all you can eat prime rib for $15.  There is a shuttle from Big Sky to it.

post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

 If you are there on a Monday, there is a place for all you can eat prime rib for $15.

 

Seriously, how much prime rib can one eat?

post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 
Sounds like a good way to kick off Big Sky - I arrive on the Monday. I'm guessing its the 320 Steak House Restaurant?
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nocebo View Post

Sounds like a good way to kick off Big Sky - I arrive on the Monday. I'm guessing its the 320 Steak House Restaurant?

Yep, 320 Guest Ranch.  Monday nights 5-8pm and it pays to be there before 6pm.  As I remember they have a shuttle from Big Sky if needed.  Takes about 30 min for the drive.

 

I have retired friends who live in Big Sky.  Send me a PM if you would like to be introduced.  They love showing off Big Sky to visitors.

post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ADKS View Post

Seriously, how much prime rib can one eat?

For $15, doesn't take much good prime rib to make it a great bargain.  Goes with standard American comfort food like potatoes.  Plus the atmosphere is very relaxed.  All round tables.  Lots of locals as well as tourists so easy to find someone to sit with.

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