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Best Place for Beginner/Wanna-be

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I hope someone can help with this one.
I'm looking at booking a trip for the first weekend of Dec. ( w/ decent snow fall?) for myself & my brother who's never skied before. I'm interested in a resort with a good school for him, I'd like to learn to ski the steep stuff, & I need to get fitted for a pair of boots while I'm there.The only place I've looked @ is Winter Park & Le Ski Lab
I've only skied 2 resorts, so I really could use some advice.


New Junkie
post #2 of 27
The number of resorts around Summit County should offer a pretty good mix, I'd think. If you want to come to Canada, Whistler/Blackcomb has both terrain and instruction for any level of skier. Banff area would offer much the same, Sunshine has lots of beginner terrain and offers trips into Delerium Dive to work on your steeps goal. Lake Louise is a little steeper for beginners, but still good for want you're looking for.
post #3 of 27
I'll throw Vail's ski school into the mix. My wife was basically a new skier and their school made a believer out of me. They not only got her up and running in a short period of time, but gave her the confidence to continue to progress. I was amazed at her progression and her urge to become a better skier at the conclusion of her lessons.

I've also heard good things about Beaver Creek's Ski School which is a short drive away from Vail, but have no experience with them. I'm sure most of the Colorado resorts have competent ski schools.
post #4 of 27
You will find that most good ski areas have good ski schools that offer something for the first time skier to the seasoned skier looking to improve. here at Park City they offer an early season multi day program called ski College. This program really helps get your season off on the right foot. I'm a supporter of multi day programs. I just think you learn a lot faster, since you are working with the same instrutor and doing drills over and over so you can really learn the skills. I understand the Aspen offers a vary good beginners program. we have some of the top Instrutors in the country posting here It might be better to post this question in the instrutors forum. Good luck on finding the right program for you and your brother.
post #5 of 27
Originally Posted by rayl1964
I hope someone can help with this one.
I'm looking at booking a trip for the first weekend of Dec. ( w/ decent snow fall?) for myself & my brother who's never skied before. I'm interested in a resort with a good school for him, I'd like to learn to ski the steep stuff, & I need to get fitted for a pair of boots while I'm there.The only place I've looked @ is Winter Park & Le Ski Lab
I've only skied 2 resorts, so I really could use some advice.


New Junkie
Well, the amount of snow is a crapshoot that time of year but you might consider Taos. They have a half-price sale till December 17th where the tickets are $20, lessons are half off and quite a bit of lodging is also half-off. If they get snow it's one of the best places to practice skiing steeps and their ski school is famous for its quality. Plus, right at the base you'll find The Boot Doctors (also in Telluride). They offer great boot fitting service. I think they're on the list of recommended fitters found somewhere on this site. They successfully helped out some hard-to-fit family members last year.

A good bet for snow might be Grand Targhee. Not at all steep but JH is just around the corner.

post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the swift reply.
The reason I opted for a Quick trip in early Dec. is to get fitted for a new pair of boots. I decided to bring older brother along so I could hook him.
I purchased a pair of K2 XP's this year, & since I know zilch about boots, I thought I'd be better off making a quick trip to a good fitter, this way I can have a total trip w/ the family in Jan & not have to worry about spending time in a shop getting fitted.
(Up until 2 years ago, the only skiing I did was on water, so I'm cramming when it comes to snow & equip.)
This forum is outstanding.

post #7 of 27
Hey NJ

An option for you may be Breckenridge. There is a bootfitter on Main St called Surefoot and they custom fit boots. Their school is awesome, great "1st timer programs". Actually most of the resorts have specials for first timers (ie lessons, lift, equip together) packages. Good Luck!
post #8 of 27
I would reccomend that you strongly look into skiing Sunshine Village that week, and talk to L7 here on the forum about your boot situation. You are going to have a hard time finding a lot of steep stuff open anywhere you go the first week of December, unless you are real lucky.

I have made that early trip to Sunshine several times and think it is a more reliable option than most of the other areas. ..By that time of year their snow is generally pretty good, but still building to what the locals want it to be. It has always seemed like having a personal ski area to us at that time of the year. ...Do be prepared for it to be 'brisk'!

We brought a 45 year old first timer one year, and his progress was phenomenal. The ski lessons he enrolled in wound up being more of a private than a group lesson, and he was working his way down Strawberry by the end of the day. At the end of three days, he made the loop down off of the Angel lift a couple of times. -- Not bad for a 245lb 45 year old never-ever!

Best of Luck with your trip!
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Sunshine sounds & looks nice.
Actually I had to look it up. Still some what ski stupid, but I research & read almost daily.
Sunshine - (Lake Louise or Banff?) or just go & wing it?
and L7? Boot expert?
Tried Jeff B. about a month ago or better. No reply yet.
I have EEE wide feet, so I was considering a Dalbello boot, but I'm sure there are many choices out there, even in wide.
Also, I'm bringing a 46 year old, @ about 145 Lbs.
I haven't introduced him to micro brews yet!

Again Thanks for the info.
post #10 of 27
Your options for lodging would be in Banff. L7 is a member here and runs one of the ski shops in town. He can steer you in the right direction, and the exchange rate shouldn't hurt the situation either.

Check out www.skibig3.com for package options that time of the year.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm gonna price it (Banff) & see how it looks
Is the snow fall in & around park city also ify during Dec.?
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
At Skibig3 .com, the season seems to open Dec.17
Seems a little late. Is that correct or am I reading something wrong?
post #13 of 27
LCC (Alta/Snowbird) often has a really good early season snowpack, and certainly no shortage of steeps! The ski schools at both are outstanding, and although they have the reputation as experts areas there is more beginner and intermediate terrain than first meets the eye (esp. Alta). My son learned to ski there when he was 3! Steve Bagley is a great bootfitter who has a shop at Snowbird. Would also highly recommend Jeff Bergeron at Breckenridge. He posts here, but seems to have been away from the computer for a while. You can call him at Boot Fixation (1802 Airport Road Breckenridge, CO 80424 970-453-8546)
post #14 of 27
Pretty much any resort is going to have a good learn to ski program. I'd think you'd be more interested in climate and terrain for a never-never. I don't think I'd pick Canada (very dark at that time of year) when there are much warmer and sunnier alternatives. I'd go with Utah over Colorado since it's a lot less crowded at that time of year and the snow is somewhat more reliable then the front range in Colorado. The novice terrain at Alta is pretty expansive. Brighton has a lot of novice terrain. Deer Valet has lots of novice terrain and snowmaking.
post #15 of 27
Well since we've already had some snowfall in Summit County, you might consider giving us a try! If you check out Copper Mountain, many of Epic's best pros. Our own Bob Barnes teaches at Copper. Bob is brilliant, technical and detailed. Depending on your brother's learning style, another great choice would be Mike_M, who is creative, perceptive, intuitive and extremely patient. December is a good time for ski instruction, since the slopes are not very crowded.

For more info on this, check out this thread: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...8&page=1&pp=30
Jeff Bergeron is phenomenal as a boot fitter. Send me a PM if you have trouble contacting him, and I'll give him a call.
post #16 of 27
I have to agree with some of the recent comments here. Part of the lure for us was the idea of a bunch of southern country boys going up there and skiing in what some might call 'bitter' conditions, from daylight till dark. ..Not too many people find that an enticing situation.

Brighton/Alta or Copper Mtn. would be more like what most people are looking for.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
You mean it gets cold up there?
Actually,I appreciate all of the threads posted. I plan to price Alta Bird, Copper, Banff, Steamboat and maybe a couple of others, & I'll try to remember to bring a jacket.
Are overalls acceptable on the slopes?

Thanks Yall !
post #18 of 27
Now that you have passed on information about the beginner's age and location, I have to retract the reccomendation for Copper Mtn.. Your 46 year old brother would likely encounter some form of altitude adjustment problems due to the fact that the base altitude at Copper Mtn. is around 9600 ft.

The altitude that a person sleeps at while their body is acclimating to altitude is often critical in how severe the symptoms they encounter will be. All of Summit County Colorado is at altitudes that flatlanders such as your brother tend to have problems. ...It is much more important than how cold it is, or how good the snow might be!

The sleep altitude in Banff is 4500 ft. and Salt Lake City is at 4300 ft. Park City is at 6900 ft. and Brighton/Alta-Bird are at elevations over 8500 ft. I would rule out staying near ski areas in the canyons(Brighton/Alta-Bird) because of the base elevations. A general rule of thumb I use for flatlanders is that they should sleep below 6000 ft. if possible for the first 3 or four days.

That said, I return to the recommendation of staying in Banff and skiing Sunshine Village in early December.

P.S. - You can wear anything you want on the slopes up in Canada. They are a real 'laid back' group of people! ....And; you will find that one piece suits are more popular up there, because they tend to be warmer on 'brisk' days.
post #19 of 27
Originally Posted by feallen
Now that you have passed on information about the beginner's age and location, I have to retract the reccomendation for Copper Mtn..


A general rule of thumb I use for flatlanders is that they should sleep below 6000 ft. if possible for the first 3 or four days.
You have to be joking. Any reasonably fit 46-year-old who sleeps at sea level can function just fine at 10,000 feet if they pay attention to basic acclimating rules like drinking tons of water and avoiding alcohol and caffiene the first few days. If the guy is a walking heart attack waiting to happen, sure... stick to the low elevation resorts. A ski resort with 10K base eleveation will see the occasional altitude sickness problem but it's not like you're asking the guy to climb Everest.
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
If I have to give up alcohol & caffiene I'm staying home.
post #21 of 27
Well Geoff, it seems you don't have much experience with altitude symptoms. A large majority of residential flatlanders transitioning to altitude have symptoms of some nature(headaches, shortness of breath, a 'fuzzy' feeling), while a few develop more noticeable symptoms that may or may not lead to medical attention. ....Why would a person trying to convince a 'newbie' to take up the sport want to choose an option that includes the possibility of not feeling all that good while there? ..I have been with a number of large groups where significant numbers developed symptoms, and suffered to the point of stating they didn't intend to try skiing again; merely because the trip organizer chose to ignore warnings about altitude sickness.

The old saying; "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" , was never more appropriate!

The safest way I have found is to sleep as low as possible and stay hydrated. I also use diamox if I must transition a bit faster than I would like.

This is a vacation we are talking about, and I feel if a few well chosen warnings can alleviate complications, it is well worth it.
post #22 of 27
The alcohol and caffeine recommendations are generally now thought to be not true, at least if one pays attention to adequate hydration. At one time, the effect of alcohol was thought to be magnified at altitude. This is now been shown to be false. Caffeine's problem is that it is a diuretic (makes you pee a lot). As long as you pay attention to what you put out and what you take in ( also remembering that there is a high altitude diuresis, which compounds the effect of both the caffeine and the dehydration cased in part by breathing drier air at a faster rate than at sea level) you can drink coffee to your heart's content. In fact, abrupt cessation of caffeine intake in habitual coffee drinkers can lead to - you guessed it!- headache and malaise, symptoms that are easily confused with AMS (acute mountain sickness).

There are some people who are more subject to developing AMS than others, and any flatlander will be affected to some extent when presented with a rapid ascent. The key to minimizing problems is clearly graded (slow) ascent (spend a day in Denver or an intermediate altitude first). There is no question that it is easier to perform at a lower altitude resort than at a higher one. Headache and fatigue is VERY common for the first 48 hours when ascending acutely from sea level to over 2500 meters (about 8700 ft), it is just more severe and incapacitating in some people than in others. "Climb high, sleep low", as alluded to in Feallen's post, is good advice, as is taking it easy the first couple of days, however there are a lot of people who do just fine coming to Summit County directly from sea level. Diamox (acetazolamide) should only be considered, according to most authorities, for those who have had problems before. It requires a doctor's prescription, should be avoided by those with sulfa allergies, and hase several potential side effects (including making beer and any carbonated beverages taste awful).

The body's natural adaptive mechanisms begin to kick in in as little as several hours, and most people notice a significant improvement in 24-48 hours. After that time, I think the most common complaint is sleeping poorly.
post #23 of 27

Sunshine and Ski Big 3

The reason Ski Big 3 has a Dec. 17 opening date is Norquay, the smallest and latest opening of the three hills. Both Sunshine and Louise should be open with some challenging terrain by the time you get up here.

I (re)learned to ski at Sunshine so I'm a big fan of the program. In three days I had gotten my basic technique down and was comfortable on all the green runs, and ready to try one or two of the easier blues. I found Sunshine quite a bit easier than Louise as a beginner.

Temperatures at Sunshine are often a bit warmer than down here on the plains. A set of poly underpants, fleece undershirt, lined ski pants and a jacket with detachable fleece liner usually keeps me toasty down to 0 or -5 degrees Fahrenheit. December can be pretty variable with daytime temperatures usually ranging between 10 and 30 degrees F. If it's windy (and it usually is), you may well want a fleece neck warmer. After skiing you can always warm up in the Banff Upper Hot Springs!

This is still shoulder season for Banff so accommodation prices are a bit lower than peak. Another option is to stay outside the park in Canmore which adds about 12 minutes commuting time to the hill but lowers the room prices by $10 or $15.

The slopes should be pretty uncrowded on week days. Just you and a couple of hundred Brits on package tours.
post #24 of 27
I don't recommend going that early in the season to Banff. It is VERY cold and dark, the coverage may be poor (lots of exposed rocks), and if El Nino predictions hold true, this year might not be a good one for snow there.

I would hedge your bets by booking a trip to a place where you will be more likely to find decent snow.

Check this link out: http://webpages.charter.net/tcrocker818/earlysno.htm
post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the link.
I'll probably hold out until the last minute, & am steering towards SLC for lodging. This way I have a multitude of mountains to choose from, according to snow conditions.
Really would like to give snowbird a try, if the snow is good.
post #26 of 27
there will be alot more snow in slc b4 xmas than banff,, i went too utah last year around the same time and it was good,, although not all steeps were open lots were some resorts had like 50" base by that time ,, canadian resorts cannot compete with utah i dont think anyone can,, it says greatest snow on earth on their license plates,,,, dont bother with the park city areas except maybe the canyons, all three are expensive,(6$ U.S. for a locker in the lodge at park city) and not challenging at all compared to others(little and big cottonwood canyons, snowbird/alta and sloitude/brighton go there!!!)),, brighton and solitude were ok with gr8 snow no crowds (we only skied weekdays) shorter runs, solitude had gr8 steeps though,, but alta and snowbird are where its at lots of snow(500" a year way more than banff), gr8 terrain, scary even famous steeps, and lots was open even at that time of year ,, dont get me wrong banff is great and will beat anywhere else by alot on price, but it does get cold, i will ski in anything and have skied at minus 30 celsius in canada (i am from calgary and ski banff areas all the time) , without wind , at that time of year, but it could be nice too, slc doesnt get that cold i dont think, alta and snowbird have more than enough beginner terrain ,, maybe look at brighton for lessons,,
post #27 of 27
It sounds like you've ruled Whistler out, but I should mention two programs if you are still considering it.

1. Fantastic packages available if you book before Oct 31st. I had very good luck with air tickets from cheaptickets.com as well.

2. One of the "Supercamp" weekends is Dec 18-19. This is 2 days of instruction from Level 4 CSIA folks in groups of no great than 3 people. This is no good for your friend, but might be an option for you, although it's not steeps-specific.
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