Mountain Basics

So you are new to winter snowsports? Let us be the first to welcome you to the awesome world of Skiing and Snowboarding. Much like golf, swimming, and tennis - snow sports are activities you will be able to participate in and enjoy for much of your life. Here are a few basics of skiing and snowboarding to help inform you about your new adventure.

What should I wear?

You should wear clothes that will keep you warm and dry. That may sound obvious but there is a lot that goes into a proper outfit. After you fall a couple of times - and you probably will fall - cotton clothing such as jeans and a sweatshirt will become wet, then cold. You will need the right kind of clothes to keep you warm and dry. Chances are you probably have most of what you need. If you don't, you can borrow some from friends. 

Learn to Layer!

You don't want to be too hot, nor do you want to be too cold. You want to be just right, and most importantly, dry. The key to warmth is making smart apparel choices and layering. We suggest dressing in three layers: inside, middle, and outer.  

Inside or "wicking" layer

Since the inner layer is worn next to your skin, it is important to pick a material that will pull moisture away from your skin, a process called wicking. Columbia's Omni-Dry® is great for this. It is made of quick-drying polyester jersey fabric that offers great moisture management and breathability. Silk, is also a good natural fabric that pulls away moisture from the skin.

Also, consider your sock choice. There is nothing worse than frozen toes. A pair of lightweight or medium-weight socks works best. Good fabrics for ski and snowboard socks are wool, polyester, and silk. Don't give into the idea that multiple layers of socks are better. That will only restrict circulation and cause your feet to be colder rather than warmer. 

Middle or "Insulation" layer

For the middle layer, look for pullovers, sweat shirts, and vests that will keep you warm by trapping air between the fibers and insulating you. A great material for this is fleece.

Outer or "Shell" layer

It is important that your jacket and pants guard against the elements and keep out the snow, while allowing some breath-ability. When looking for a jacket, look for one that has a snow guard or is long enough to overlap the pants a couple inches. One of the most important purchases you will make for skiing and snowboarding is your gloves. Hands can easily get wet and it is very important to keep them warm.

Also, Don't Forget to:

Protect your eyes! Sunglasses or goggles protect eyes from dangerous UV rays, which become stronger with the reflection of surfaces such as snow.

Wear warm hat or helmet. Like other layers, make sure the fabric works well when wet, such as wool or polyester. Helmets are also a warm and safe idea. Most helmets have the same safety standards and can often be rented if need be.

You may not need as many layers of clothing as you think. On a sunny day, you may only need two layers - the waterproof outer layer and the turtleneck/long underwear first layer. But bring a middle layer (fleece or wool sweater) just in case. You can always take off some layers as you warm up.

Knowing the Trails: 

Have you ever wondered what it means when a skier or snowboarder says, "Yeah, I can do the blacks" or "I ski mostly blue trails?" They are referring to a mountain resort trail designation system that categorizes ski and snowboard slopes by difficulty. Since the 1960s, mountain resorts throughout North America (and much of the world) have used green circles, blue squares and black diamonds to indicate difficulty. Nordic trail systems often use these symbols, too. This is what the symbols look like and mean:

Beginner Terrain / Easiest                        

Intermediate Terrain/ Medium           

Expert Only Terrain / Hardest