21 Essential Ski Tips for Beginners

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We have compiled a list of beginner ski tips to help you make the most of your day on the mountain. Whether it’s your first time skiing or it’s been decades since you tried it, these tips will help you navigate your day on the slopes from start to finish. If you’re also interested in learning about basic skiing techniques, check out our beginner’s guide on how to ski.

Groomed scenic run

1) Pick a Beginner-Friendly Resort

Not all resorts are great for first-time skiers that want to learn the basics. Thankfully, there are many beginner-friendly ski resorts to choose from. Here’s a list of key things to look for in a resort as a beginner.
  • A gear rental shop is conveniently located at the base of the ski area.
  • There is a ski school that offers a variety of beginner lesson packages.
  • The mountain has a fair amount of beginner-friendly trails (typically denoted with a green circle on the map).

2) Figure Out Parking in Advance

Familiarize yourself with the resort area before you go. Most small to midsize resorts have a single parking lot, whereas larger resorts often have multiple parking lots that vary in cost and convenience. Many resorts also have drop-off zones where you can load or unload and offer wagons to help carry your gear. This is particularly helpful if you’re going with your kids or a large group.

3) Look at the Ski Map

Once you’ve picked which resort you’re going to, take a look at the ski map. If you plan to take a lesson, make sure you look up where the ski school is located. Otherwise, review the trail map and figure out where the beginner terrain is located. Knowing where you need to go should be one less thing to worry about your first day on the slopes.

Ski map with learning area

4) Keep Your Boots Warm

Keep your ski boots warm by bringing them inside the night before you plan to head to the resort. Don’t leave them in your car or the garage. Otherwise, they’ll become cold and stiff, making them uncomfortable and difficult to get on. This is a must that many of us have unfortunately learned the hard way!

5) Avoid Sweating in the Car

There’s nothing worse than showing up to the resort and already being sweaty. It may feel cozy to bundle up or blast the heat if it’s a cold day, but your sweat will only make you chillier on the mountain. Make sure to only wear your base layers and a pair of normal socks if you have a bit of a commute to get to the ski area.

6) Arrive Early

Wake up early and beat traffic. Give yourself time to park, rent your gear, and go to the restroom before the lifts even open. You can also use the extra time to eat breakfast. If you plan to take a lesson, you’re often asked to get there early anyway.

7) Rent Your Gear

If it’s your first time skiing, you probably shouldn’t invest in your own gear just yet. Even if you live near a resort and plan to make skiing your new favorite hobby, it’s best to get some experience under your belt before making any expensive purchases. Most ski shops offer short-term and full season rentals.

Several pairs of skis laying on the ground

8) Buy Your Own Goggles

Wait, what? You just said we should rent all of our gear. Goggles are the one caveat. Ski shops typically do not rent goggles. They’ll provide the skis, boots, poles and helmet, but you’re on your own to find a pair of goggles.

9) Learn How to Put on & Carry Your Gear

This sounds like an easy task, but many people run into issues their first time putting on ski boots and clicking into their skis. You’ll also want to learn how to carry your skis properly. Not only will you look cooler, but it will also save you some frustration.

10) Use Lockers or Valet Service

Many resorts have day use lockers for you to store extra clothes, shoes, snacks or anything else you don’t want to have with you on the mountain. This is great if you’re traveling with your kids or plan to go straight to the bars for après and don’t want to be stuck in your ski boots. You can also check out if the resort has a ski valet service, which allows you to store your gear overnight. Then you won’t have to worry about carrying it all back and forth each day.

11) Don't Buy Expensive Clothing

Although it may be tempting, you should also avoid buying the latest and greatest ski clothing. Try to borrow clothing from family or friends or check out stores that offer discounted ski apparel, such as Sierra Trading Post or Steep and Cheap. Some shops also offer rentals for essential ski clothing, such as Mountain Threads.

Woman in red jacket holding gloves

12) Wear the Right Clothing

Be prepared on the mountain for changing weather conditions by wearing the right clothing. The temperature at the top of the mountain can be different from the base, and the wind can pick up at any moment. Make sure your ski jacket and pants are waterproof and wear layers so you can add and remove them as needed. Other essentials include waterproof gloves or mittens, a neck gaiter or face mask and thin ski socks.

13) Keep Your Goggles from Fogging

Being able to clearly see where you’re going will make your life a lot easier when learning how to ski. Fogging occurs when warm, moist air trapped inside your goggles comes into contact with the cold surface of your lens. Make sure to follow these tips to prevent your goggles from fogging up.
  • Keep your goggles on while riding and don’t place them on top of your helmet.
  • Manage body heat by removing layers or utilizing vents in your clothing.
  • Don’t tuck your neck gaiter into your goggles.
  • Allow your goggles to air dry inside after a day of skiing.

14) Take a Group Lesson

If you can afford it, taking a group ski lesson is a great way to learn how to ski in a supportive, hands-on environment. In a group, you can learn from looking at what others are doing well (or not doing well), and it’s an opportunity to socialize with other people also learning for their first time. Not to mention, it’s much cheaper than a private lesson!

Woman skiing across slope with knees bent

15) Learn From Others or Videos

If you’re unable to take a lesson, it’s still important to learn the basic techniques. Go with a friend or family member that already knows how to ski and has the patience to teach you the basics. Be warned though that learning from a loved one can cause more frustration than learning from a stranger. Another option is to watch beginner ski tutorials on YouTube, such as Ski School by Elate Media.

16) Stow Away & Use Your Phone Wisely

Keep your phone in an inner pocket so that the cold air doesn’t drain the battery. Also consider buying touch screen compatible gloves or liners so that you can use your phone without letting your hands freeze. Be careful if you want to text while on the lift or snap a quick photo. It’s not uncommon to see someone drop their phone and have to go search for it.

17) Bring Your Own Lunch

Skiing is already an expensive sport without the overpriced lunch food offered at the lodge. Save some money by packing your own lunch. You can bring it in a small backpack or leave it in a locker at the base.

18) Stay Hydrated & Wear Sunscreen

It’s important to stay hydrated while skiing, especially if you’re at a resort that’s at a higher elevation than where you’re from. You can either carry a water bottle or hydration bladder in a small backpack or make frequent stops at the lodge. It’s also easy to get sunburned while skiing, which can result in the dreaded google tan. Keep your face and lips protected by using sunscreen and lip balm.

19) Give Your Feet a Break

As you’ll soon find out, ski boots are not very comfortable. Take advantage during lodge breaks or on longer chair lift or gondola rides to unbuckle your boots and give your feet a breather. More modern chair lifts also have foot rests. If your feet are tired, don’t feel bad to ask to put the bar down.

Three skiers and snowboarder resting feet on chairlift

20) Warm Up & Stretch

Like any other sport, make sure to warm up and stretch to prevent stiffness or overly sore muscles. Do some basic warm up exercises at the top of the hill, such as leg swings and arm circles, to get your blood flowing before skiing your first run. Then at the end of the day, do some stretching that targets your lower body and core.

21) Don't Overexert Yourself

Skiing can be exhausting, especially if it’s your first time. It may be tempting to stay on the slopes until the lifts close, but it’s important to listen to your body. If your legs are tired and your feet hurt, it’s best to call it a day rather than risk injury from muscle fatigue. Be patient as you’re learning and take frequent breaks.

Learning how to ski takes patience and practice, but there are so many reasons to try it. Skiing is all about creating memories with your friends or family and enjoying the stunning mountain scenery around you. We hope these beginner ski tips make you feel more prepared to hit the slopes. Take it easy as you’re learning and most of all have fun!

Were these tips helpful? What other questions do you have about skiing? Let us know in the comments below!