I didn’t truly experience snow, aside from a couple trips as a kid to visit the family in Minnesota, until I was 26. I’m writing this as huge flakes of snow are falling and I can’t help but stare in wonderment. It’s so damn beautiful. While I’m sure these feelings will dissipate after the 10th time of having to scrape ice off of my windshield in 10 degree weather, I’m going to appreciate the snow inspiration while I have it.
I had no idea what I was getting into by moving here from a place with 2 days of real winter a year. So for all the other snow newbs out there, here’s what I’ve learned….
Shared ski condos – I had no idea this was a thing until a month ago when a friend invited me out. Brilliant. $250 a month gets you a place with 10-15 other people for the winter. Weekends can be crazy with all the people coming in but hella fun. During the week we have the place basically to ourselves. I have been going on with someone’s guest pass which is $30 a night and totally reasonable, especially since the place in Silverthorne is equipped with a hot tub. Which is 100% essential after a long day of hitting the mountains.
Gear – I have been slowly acquiring my gear throughout the years but I think I did a decent job of it so I’ll give out some recs. My jacket is a little too heavy for skiing so I recommend the thinner ones so you can layer up, you can easily expect to spend $150-300. I recommend Moose Jaw to start. You can get pants there too but I found a really good deal for a fuchsia pair of Colombia pants on Amazon for $45, they’re well insulated, keep the snow out of my boots, and have zip vents should I get too hot in them. The small fit perfectly on me but tried a medium on in another brand that was too small so I’m aware the sizing can be a bit off of what you normally wear depending on the brand. I was also incredibly adamant about having a bright color to see me down the mountain, my friends can definitely spot me. It must have been a fluke because the price is back up to $150, which is what you can expect to spend. I got Smith I/O ski goggles in the off season for 40% off at $100, make sure they come with a sun lens and a shade lens. The shade lenses will be more red/orange/rose so you can see the snow better without the shadow of the sun to help out. I am a baby when it comes to cold so I also have smartwool socks, under shirt, & long johns. I probably dropped another $200 on that alone. Boots, helmet, skis, and poles I recently picked up from Play It Again Sports in Lakewood for about $325. I got average 56cm K2 skis but splurged a little on the Atomic boots because I wanted to make sure my fickle feet were comfortable. Hoping to get a season or 2 out of all of it. You can also rent for the season but I recommend doing it fairly early in the season because they can run out ($100). Can’t forget my gaper which I find essential and the ski gloves. I love my hybrid ski mittens, they unzip to be gloves ($75) with an index finger that’s phone ready. So all in all I dropped about $1070 on all my gear.
Skiing – I personally never had a proper ski lesson but I was very lucky to have a really good friend give me a lesson not only the very first time I went skiing 4 years ago but also one to start out my first season with the epic pass. After 5 times on the mountain I was comfortably doing blues without eating snow but I felt pretty confident going into it given my athletic background. So for many, I would recommend a lesson or two. My best advice is to just go for it and don’t be afraid to fall, you will definitely fall. If you’re really nervous, check out some YouTube videos before you go out.
The Pass – Once again I’m so thankful to friends that give me advice on this stuff. They stop selling the season passes in mid-November, which I didn’t know, but was able to snag one on the very last day. The Ikon & Epic cover totally different mountains, so it just depends on your friend group. I have the Epic local which I got for $709.
Workout – If you want to last more than one day on the mountain, I highly recommend working out those quads in advance to help out. My legs are generally on fire by the end of the day even with some moderate workouts in advance. Wall sits, planks, and lunges are a tremendous help with skiing. Sorry I can’t help with boarding, maybe next season! Make sure to always get a good stretch in before going out too.
Grub & Drink – I start the day with a bloody and a good size breakfast so I can try to avoid wanting to eat at the resort. I try to pack some cashews in my pocket if I get hungry and my friends often bring beers for the lifts. Having a little bit of liquid courage reduces my fear of going down the mountain too fast, of which I desperately need at times.
Driving – I do not have a four-wheel drive car so I’m careful to plan around when it’s snowing, I have witnessed some moderately humorous but also potentially dangerous situations of sedans fishtailing all the way up to the shared condo in Silverthorne. I do not drive in the mountains when it is snowing, at all. Luckily they are really quick to get the snow off the road to avoid as much traffic as possible. Eisenhower tunnel can get extremely backed up and I am not at all interested in sitting around for 4 hours in traffic, of which I have heard numerous stories of. I also will avoid, as much as humanly possible, driving out on Friday evening or back on Sunday evening. Nope.