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New & Scared - Page 2

post #31 of 54
My 0.2$ :
1 - Not really. Use yellow goggles when it's foggy and stay under the trees if you feel uncomfortable.
2- Get yourself something waterproof AND breathable. ie goretex or a cheaper lookalike. really. Think layers rather than big puffy jackets. Typically a base layer, 1 or 2 polar fleece, a goretex jackket No cotton base layer, never, but some specific synthetic one. It will does wonder to keep you warm but not soaked. Keep in mind that you will alterrnate between physical activity and long stays on a chair in cold weather. If in doubt : rather one size too large than too small.
Thin socks, preferably specificaly designed ski socks. Those super thick wool socks will get wet and impair your skiing. The ski boot itself should be enough to keep you warm but in the most biting cold. If our feet are cold, it's usualy because of blood circulation issues.
3- Your call. I don't wear one, but I should... It's unlikely you'll need it, but accidents do happen. You'll need a hat anyway, so...
4- Can't comment. But, yes, long and not too steep is good for beginners.
5- Take lessons. Really, you won't figure it all by yourself. And it's all about fun ! Do not let wanabee "experts" spoil it.
6- What ? No alcohol after a good day of skiing ? Are you guys mormons or what ?
post #32 of 54

The "not being able to see" comment and "snow ghosts" are related. They get weather that blows snow into the pine trees such that all the green gets covered. Then when the clouds roll in again it's very difficult to tell cloud from snow from from tree. Goggles can help, but it can get bad. I spent 2 weeks at Big Mountain in one trip. Out of 14 days, there was only one run on one day where I actually got nauseous from vertigo for a few minutes (this is where stomach says "Hey brain, you and inner ear better get your act together). I would have said it was difficult on one section of the mountain for one run. A wuss might have called it #@$#$%#$ing impossible. Altogether, I recall maybe 4 days where it might have been cloudy enough for the biggest wuss to call it quits. Even on the worst days, there were always parts of the mountain you could get to that were fine. And the lower part of the mountain where the easiest runs are looked to be fine every day.

Big Mountain is an outstanding vacation experience. When I went it was like a trip back in ski time to the days when everyone was part of a secret but very friendly community. It's an excellent example of why they call it "Big Sky" country. If it gets cloudy enough to bug you, there are plenty of alternative activities around Whitefish and Glacier National Park.

You're on the right track about a shell. Check out Sierra Trading Post,
Campmor and the REI outlet. With a wicking underlayer, a turtleneck second layer, a fleece and a shell you'll be cooking on all but the coldest days.

You don't need helmets, but they are recommended. You never know how quick you'll advance to more difficult terrain. Big Mountain has some cruisers that will suck you into going faster than you realize, some very tempting trees and some advanced terrain if you know where to look (maybe the next trip after this one, eh?). The cool part about helmets is that they are generally warmer than hats.

If you run into a big lug in the ski school named Rob Swanson, tell him Rusty from Whitetail says hi. Even though you don't drink, you might want to look and see if one of the bars in town still has nightly mouse racing.: No worries. You're going to have a great time!
post #33 of 54
Have a great time, and pay attention to all the advice above (well, not the cotton trousers thing).

Yellow goggles for flat light; an ability to layer under a good shell for warmth and waterproofing; as many lessons as you can afford, because you also get to see the mountain; please wear a helmet - it might never happen, but what if it does? A couple of seasons ago I had at least two stacks where the helmet was vital, and two near-misses thanks to other skiers ... which I admit isn't a lot in the best part of 100 days' straight skiing, but that's the point.
post #34 of 54
Originally Posted by mpmommy View Post

Don't know about the taxi deal, if there is one it's going to be spendy. I do know that there are ski buses that run in Whitefish up to the mountain. I don't know if they run in Columbia Falls tho. Call the place your staying at and ask about shuttle service (i.e. if the hotel provides one or if the ski bus stops nearby).

The roads are usually cleared fairly well. But I can understand not wanting to drive if your not used to it.
The Snow Bus runs up and down ONLY to Whitefish. I don't know what this year's schedule is like, but in general if you miss the bus it's an hour wait for the next one. Meadowlake Resort runs their own shuttles. I don't know if they run one into C.Falls or not, but I am pretty sure they run trips into town, not just to the mountain.

The fog I go on about RARELY applies to the slopes MPMOMMY has mentioned earlier. Generally, the fog hangs around about halfway down the mountain, i.e., the top of chair two. When we have inversions, generally the top of the cloud layer is below the bottom of the ski area. On rare occasions, the chairs you will be on will be socked in. A bigger issue in January is the approx. 10 days of negative numbers (25 below zero F) that can hit. I've been here through three seasons now. The first two years, it happened during the first two weeks (if memory serves -- I am sure will be someone who has actual stats) of January. Last year, it happened in December and then again during the NorAms in February. Make sure you bring a face mask for those days as the winds can really howl while you are on the lift. Once off the lift, you can figure out which trails are more protected. The "backside" is usually not that windy as it is in a protected bowl. If the days are clear that back bowl will be one of your favorite places as the groomed runs are gentle and the snow is always perfect. In fact, Caribou is great for those who like peaceful skiing on perfect snow if you know how to hold your speed through the flats. Definitely take a mountain tour with an Ambassador. It's free.
post #35 of 54
Originally Posted by therusty View Post

The "not being able to see" comment and "snow ghosts" are related. They get weather that blows snow into the pine trees such that all the green gets covered.
Actually the snow ghosts are created when supercooled vapor in the air suddenly collides with the trees and freezes onto it. It's not really snow, it's rime. See
post #36 of 54
Buy a helmet! Would you buy a seatbelt-free car on the premise of seeing how much you drive? Closed head injuries are much more of a trip killer than an ill-fitting jacket.

Helmets are a fabulous source of controllable head warmth as well as potential life savers. Remember, other people are on the slopes. They have varied skills and you sadly cannot control what they do or how close to you they are when they do it. If you are remotely concerned about fog, this purchase is imperative. Minimize your personal injury risk with this under $75 purchase (check eBay after trying helmets on).

As a fellow South Carolinian, I know you will LOVE skiing out West. There will be no packed slopes. Beautiful long runs will greatly advance your skills. There is no better feeling than fresh powder under your skis. It is sublime.

Now go read about helmets. We must preserve Charlestonians smart enough to ski out West.
post #37 of 54

Neck Fleece

Originally Posted by Alaska Mike View Post
... A fleece neck warmer...will also help fend off the cold. ...
Also called a Neck Gaiter.

This is a great suggestion that made a world of difference for my wife.
Better than a turtle-neck baselayer since it's more adaptable while on the hill.
A neck-warmer will allow you to open up your jacket zipper for venting, but keeps your throat warm.
We've been in super cold temps (-20 F/-55 with windchill) and pull it up over the mouth and nose for the lift rides. (well, that plus an inside the helmet liner but you won't need that at Big Mountain.)
When wearing a helmet, it'll keep the back of your neck from getting snow down it if you end up sliding on your back.
You'll want a simple tube style. The wrap+velcro ones shift/twist and the shaped ones designed for over-the-nose never stay lined up.

I'd second everyone's suggestion for lessons. Your hubby may remember last year's instruction, but each teacher has a different approach and can build on what he already knows and stop any bad habits that are developing.

Since you've both got a few days on snow, you won't get put into a "never-ever" lesson this time. Hopefully the ski school will do a ski-off to see where you're at already before starting the lessons.

have a great time and post us a report when you come back.
post #38 of 54
Originally Posted by TomK View Post
I'd second everyone's suggestion for lessons. Your hubby may remember last year's instruction, but each teacher has a different approach and can build on what he already knows and stop any bad habits that are developing.
Almost every certified instructor that participates in this forum still takes lessons in some form or another (clinics, coaching, etc.). Instructors are often not too bright , but I bet a lot of them remember at least a little bit from last year, and they go to clinics anyway. The better you get at skiing, the more fun it is. It also gets a lot less intimidating.

A note on goggles: Don't go too cheap. Almost all goggles on the market have double lenses (I'm referring to inner and outer, not left and right!), but a few single-lens goggles may be around. Don't buy single-lens goggles - they fog up immediately.
post #39 of 54
A note on Helmets:

Save yourself some money and check whether Big Mtn. rents helmets. Most major resorts will rent out nearly every kind of gear you can think of, from clothes, to skis/boots, to helmets. If you're not ready to plunk down $50+ for a piece of gear that may not be necessary for your type of skiing, a rental is a great way to go. Just remember, the more you ski and the more competent you become, the more inherently dangerous the sport becomes. If you become an addict like the majority of the Bears on Epic, you'll soon find yourself with more gear than you know what to do with!
post #40 of 54
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post
Actually the snow ghosts are created when supercooled vapor in the air suddenly collides with the trees and freezes onto it. It's not really snow, it's rime. See
Oops - you caught me barking up the wrong tree! All I saw was a ton of flying snow.
post #41 of 54
Originally Posted by moguljunkie View Post
I don't actually personally know anyone who's ever had a major head injury from skiing, but I wear a helmet anyway because of the type of terrain I ski and the fact that I ski at crowded Eastern resorts. The odds of a beginner on easy terrain being hit by another skier and sustaining a major head injury are tiny, according to data pulled from these sites: and eginner%22.

Just quickly pulling numbers from these sites:

# of head injuries to skiers = 3.8/100,000 visits

% of head injuries to beginners = 31% of the above (or 1.27/100,000 visits).

% of head injuries considered to be major = 1.3% of the above (or 1.7/10,000,000 visits)
WTF??? hahahahahahahhaha......I love the fact it goes to decimal places........
post #42 of 54
Thread Starter 
I kinow I'm already addicted but doubt being in SC I'll get to ski more than annually! I'll just have to become a regular here and live vicariouslyl
post #43 of 54
Thread Starter 

jacket good enough??

Originally Posted by therusty View Post
You're on the right track about a shell. Check out Sierra Trading Post,
Campmor and the REI outlet. With a wicking underlayer, a turtleneck second layer, a fleece and a shell you'll be cooking on all but the coldest days.
Would this work with bottom layer wicking, middle fleece, and topped off with this: (one for hubby too)???
What a deal! 6
post #44 of 54
Looks good to me. I am a strong believer in integrated hoods on jackets. We lose 40% of heat through our heads in cold or wind, but it's easy to flip that hood back when it's warm or you're skiing energetically. JHrefugee has it right on the climate. Not much altitude issue with 7,000 peak, primarily Northwest, not continental climate. The fog is very frequent so have good double pane goggles. Waterproofing is key in the Northwest climate. You'll be regulating temperature by layering. The bitter below zero cold is not that likely, but if you get it buy some glove liners, face mask and an extra layer while you're there.

I agree with the positive comments about the mountain and ambience. It's very uncrowded. I research ski areas obsessively and Big Mountain was one that exceeded my expectations.
post #45 of 54

Big Mt

TugboatJulie, Welcom to epic where you'll always get good information from people who really ski - a lot. First, send a private message to SibHusky (she's no on today but usually here) she lives in Whitefish and ski's Big Mt. a lot. She will really be able to help you. I plan on going over hte hill this year and ski with her.

Remember you are going North almost to the Canadian border. I live way up No. in Idaho and recommend. Layers yes, but at least one layer should be something warm i.e. fleece jacket under parka. I have 3 basic type of sweaters l light, l med. and one thats really warm. For shuttles etc. take another pair of gloves/light ones fine. Boots dry every night, clean dry socks, you have no idea how cold your feet can get if you put them into slightly wet boots (perspiration) and go outside where its really cold. You need some neck and face warmth cover. Don't let all this scare you its just common practice up here. The really great snow and lack of crowds will more than make up for the cold.

Get ahold of SibHusky, she will really help you out. Good Luck Have some Fun in Montana - Pete
post #46 of 54
Not sure what you mean by not being able to see on the slopes so I can't respond to that.

Helmet, hell yes. Brains are irreplacable and there are maniacs on skis and boards everywhere.

Don't know the particular mountain, but every mountain has a variety of terrain. Ask the guest services people and they will help you find trails that match your abilities. Or better yet, schedule a lesson and your instructor will help you and give you the techniques that are missing from your abilities.

Originally Posted by tugboatjulie View Post
: This will be my first time to ski in real snow. My husband and I will be visiting Big Mtn in late Jan. 07. (We chose MT due to timeshare/shuttles/money-saver.)

We're still very much beginners...having only skiied in NC and VA a couple of times(we're from chas, sc).

1) I read about not being able to see on the slopes, etc.--should I worry?

2) Since we're used to mild winters, I don't know what kind of jacket to get. (I hate what I had last year--too bulky/big.) I really want a softshell that's warm and roomy enough for layers--w/o spending much $$.

3) I see people with helmets on, do we need that? I can't imagine going very fast or advancing enough for real slopes! (I did make it to blue last year, mind you.) We'll have goggles--any specifics required? (budget, novice-style, please)

4) For beginners, is Big Mtn ok with its variety of slopes--not too steep, but long is good??

5) Any advice you can give...I'm listening.

post #47 of 54
I've done two trips to Big Mtn in the last two years. Each one week long. I really enjoy the place. Both Dad and I can find areas of he mountain that we can enjoy. I enjoy more difficult terrain and Dad goes for pleasent runs (his words).

Weather can be extreme. When a Canadian jet stream dropped, I was one of the fools out on a negative 25 degree day with a wind chill down to neg 40. Totally bundled, I could stand the ride up and the ski down with 15 min in the lodge at top and bottom to thaw the toes and fingers. Nearly had the slopes to myself. Wonder why.

Later in the evening I found out a shocking display of cold. The walk form the hot tub/pool complex at Ptarmigan villiage to the unit we were in was less than 50 yards. In a short 1 min walk my swimsuit and towel froze solid rigid.

I don't want to scare you. The cold outside is easily matched by the warmth of the locals and staff. Everyone is welcome. Great casual ambience. Lots of good beer and buger places in Whitefish. The pesto and arugala crowd has yet to make a big splash.

Instruction at Big Mtn is solid. I do the regular group lessons about every other day during my stay. I also forced my dad to try a lesson this last year. He loved it. I agree with previous comments about the benefits of working with new intructors. They may have a new way of explaining a concept or a new drill that makes a significant breakthough for you.

As a more advanced student, I generally go out with a VERY small group. Namely, the instructor and me. Occasionally, one of the local lesson junkies will show up. (Jaques) Dad had two other students with him for his lower intermediate group lesson. The 3:1 ratio is amazing if you are used to most feeder hills.

I've had great lessons from all of the instructors that I've been sent out with. Dan, Bruce, Kjell and Link are all great. I can't remember the name or the instructor who took dad out.

Most importantly, have a good time.

post #48 of 54
Fortunately, those few days of REALLY cold weather don't last all that long relative to the entire season.

I am always available to give tours, BUT there are "Ambassadors" who meet people who want tours every day at 10:30 and 1:00 as I recall. You are assigned according to ability level and you will get shown around. As long as you are not an expert, this is the way to get a feel not only for the general layout, but also best snow of the day for your ability and probably restaurant reviews thrown in as well. Experts will be bored IMO as last year they stopped allowing the Ambassadors to take you down ungroomed terrain. I guess they found there were a sufficient number of people overstating their abilities and interfering with the success of the tour. Also, I believe it was also starting to cut into some ski school activities. (Why pay for an instructor to give you a private run down East Rim when you can get it for free from an Ambassador?) BUT, you may at least get a guy who takes you BY the runs that experts will enjoy.

Normally I am there five days a week (rarely on Saturday, however). If you are coming, PM me a week or two before you come and I will tell you how to recognize me assuming I haven't pegged you as someone I want to avoid like the plague due to your postings on the board. Although I am no extreme skier, I do like to keep moving and just talk on the chair. And, I rarely presume to give skiing "tips" as I don't like them myself unless I turn to you and say so. I'm there to have fun.
post #49 of 54
Hey there!

I was in a similar position just a few years ago. Having only skied in Indiana on man-made snow and taking my first trip west.

My'll have a tough time going back to skiing in NC. It just can't compare.

I didn't use goggles for my first year or so of skiing, but now I have no idea how I managed without them. They keep my eyes much warmer and does make it easier for me to see, especially since my sunglasses fog up almost immediately. But my husband still uses sunglasses much more often than goggles. You could always purchase some when you get there if you find you are having issues. Of course, they will be more expensive there.

For a jacket, my husband and I use the three-in-one type that have a hard-shell with a zip-in fleece mid layer. That way, you can use either one separately or both together if it's really cold. It just gives you more options. We occasionally are able to use the fleece at home in Texas. : Mine now is a North Face that I got on sale and I really like it and my husband's is a Columbia that we got as a great deal. But for the first couple of years, I used a generic 3 in 1 jacket and it worked fine. There are several good deals still available as closeouts from last year if you check places like REI outlet, Sierra Trading Post, or Backcountry outlet. Especially if you wear an unpopular size.

My husband and I got helmets last year. We skied without them for several years but now I'm glad to have them. Aside from providing protection, they keep my ears from getting cold better than a hat. Someone mentioned renting which I think is a great idea.

I can't comment specifically on the resort you are going to since I've never been. But I'm sure you'll be happy with the terrain available since there will certainly be more available than what you are accustomed to.

Have a great time!!! I'm excited for you!!!
post #50 of 54
So, to sum up all of these answers to your questions:

- Wear a helmet. Or don't. It really depends on what you want to do. Maybe it'll help, maybe it'll hinder- but it could keep you warm. Maybe.
- Get a jacket that fits. That could mean a softshell, or a parka, or a multi-layer jacket. Maybe fleece is best for you. You'll be warm, but there's a chance you will get cold.
- Sometimes it snows in Montana, and it gets tough to see. When this happens, buy some light-lensed goggles- it will solve all your problems. Except, in reality, you might have some problems seeing the snow. Or the other skiers. Stay near the trees.
- Take lessons, but not too many. They'll help a ton, and you'll get some good advice on where to ski. However, ski where you want, but be sure to use a trail map.
- Get boots that fit, and skis that are too short. That'll help a little bit too.

post #51 of 54
Snowbrained, sounds like we share the same dad!

Tons of good advice all around, even for somebody not so new or scared.

I'm all about the layering and I'm a notorious over-packer. I invariably end up with way more fleeces and jackets than I actually need. The one thing I have found that is key is to take along at least 2 sets of long underwear and 2 sets of ski/board pants, especially if it's gonna be wet and cold.

On my trip to Utah last season we got hit with a day of serious gropple. By the end of the day my hands were dyed blue from my ancient gloves being so wet and my pants were hashed. I ended up plunking down on a new pair of gloves (got some cheap at the Lift House) and thankfully had the extra pants along. If you have the room and are going on a trip exceeding 3 days, I highly suggest packing 2 of everything. The other upside to this is somebody you're with will always need something (I'm always loaning out an extra GoreTex parka or fleece or gloves to somebody).

Too bad about not drinking. I think Whitefish is where they brew Black Star lager, right? And they usually have some crazy festivals there. Never been, though.
post #52 of 54
Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
I think Whitefish is where they brew Black Star lager, right? And they usually have some crazy festivals there. Never been, though.
There was a parting of the ways a few years back with a split in ownership and various recipes, then a departing brewmaster. Anyway, I haven't seen Black Star Lager around, and I know it's not the property of the current brewery at the site, Great Northern. Great beer, wish it would reappear.
post #53 of 54
yeah, i haven't seen BS beer around for awhile. I think they used to do a "rocky mountain oyster" festival in Whitefish, right?
post #54 of 54
Originally Posted by tugboatjulie View Post
Would this work with bottom layer wicking, middle fleece, and topped off with this: (one for hubby too)???
What a deal!

I hoped you ordered that shell. That's a great deal!
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