My family and I were first time skiers when we recently visited Beech Mountain Resort in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. I skied a bit as a kid, but I think after more than 20 years I qualified as a new beginner. I had this image in my head of our family of 6 swishing down the mountain, my hair flowing behind me, a rosy glow on our cheeks, and smiles never leaving our faces. That wasn’t exactly how it happened.
First Time Skiers
While we had an amazing time at the really great, family-friendly Beech Mountain Resort, I learned some lessons that weekend I will remember from now on. I thought other first time skiers, especially families, might also find this information useful. Check out these 13 mistakes I made and learn how to NOT make them yourself.
13 Mistakes First Time Skiers Can Avoid
1. Pee before putting on gear.
This is my number one mistake. Do you know how long it takes a 5-year-old (or a 30 something-year-old) to get all the equipment off to go to the bathroom? A LONG time. And when one goes to the bathroom, just make them all go. It will make your day so much easier.
2. Pay for ski school.
To not have to worry about who needs to go to the bathroom, put all the kids in ski school. All of them. At Beech Mountain, ski school starts at 6 years old but they also have a program for 3 to 5-year-olds. While it can be pricey, ski equipment and lift tickets (and lunch typically) are included. And you get to concentrate on learning how to ski yourself instead of dealing with the kids.
3. Put your skis where you can find them.
When you take your skis off to go to the bathroom or eat some lunch, do not leave them where everyone else has left their skis. Look for a place off to the side and pile all your skis together. The skis all look alike but you are expected to return the exact pair you were given.
4. Bring snacks.
Put them in the locker and pull them out throughout the day. Beech Mountain had several nice cafes for easy meals or snacks but those prices can add up. And if you have picky kids or deal with food allergies like I do, having something you know they will eat is priceless.
5. Drink lots of water.
When you are in higher elevation, you can become dehydrated very quickly. And you may not notice it because you haven’t been skiing before. Bring a refillable water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
6. Start early in the day.
Not to first time skiers, do not sleep in. You need to get to the ski resort as early as possible. When you get there late, there may not be your size in rental clothing or ski boots. You will have to park far away. You may run into the ski instructor’s lunch break and lose time while they eat. Also it takes about an hour or more (YES!) to get and put on all your equipment. Allow for that time.
7. Private lessons are helpful to get started.
Beech Mountain resort gave my family private lessons to get us started skiing. My 9 year old daughter, my husband and I were in a small group. Our 7, 6, and 3 year olds each had their own private instructor. This worked out very well when my 3 year old started crying. His instructor distracted him and played with him while teaching him to ski! The kids really got a good jump start on learning to ski from their instructors. However, I still say ski school is a great full-day option for kids.
8. Bring cash to tip instructors.
Don’t forget to tip your great instructors. Cash is necessary and you can avoid the high ATM fees (and the long walk over to find one) by bringing cash with you.
9. Make it fun for kids.
Don’t be too hard on kids. You just want them to try it and want to try it again. If they want to just throw snowballs after an hour, let them. Again, this is why ski school is so important. The instructors in ski school allow for downtime and age-appropriate activities.
10. Don’t tighten your boots too tight.
When I rolled down my socks after a full day of skiing, I had bruises on both legs and bloody cuts. My boots were too tight but I didn’t realize it. I knew they had to be tight to protect my ankles but ski boots aren’t really designed for women’s calves. If your boots are hurting you, adjust them. Don’t be like me!
11. Dress in layers.
First time skiers probably don’t know that skiing can be hot! At a southern ski resort like Beech Mountain, you will probably only need a fleece sweater during the afternoon. But you will want a jacket in the morning and later on in the day.
12. Buy ski socks.
If there is one piece of equipment you will really, really want, it is good ski socks. They will keep your feet warm and dry and if you do put your boots too tight, they will protect your legs from getting really beat up. And a day without blisters on the slopes is a good day.
13. Bring as much equipment as you can.
While Beech Mountain rented ski bibs, jackets, helmets, and all the other equipment, there is no way to make sure they will have your size or that you will like it. Borrow from friends, look for deals online, or scour the ski shops during the off season. It’s not cheap but worth it to have (most) of your own gear.
Check out BeechMountainResort.com for specials, promotions, and weather information related to winter skiing. With any luck, there will be snow on the ground by Christmas. Whether your family is full of first time skiers or are slope veterans, this is a resort that works for everyone.
Want to know more about skiing? Check out this review of Indianhead resort in Upper Michigan from Suburban TravelingMom, Jamie Bartosch. Also, Judy Antell, Vegetarian TravelingMom and an experienced skier, has some great tips for first time skiers.