When I moved to Colorado and decided it was time I learned to snowboard, I was already in my twenties, tackling grad school, and feeling too old to pick up new skills. As a native Floridian, I didn’t know the first thing about snow, and I wasn’t ready to watch five-year-olds zoom past me as if they’d been born on skis. But my friends were already calling to tell me they’d book their flights and lift tickets to go skiing when they visited me that winter. And faced with the alternative of sitting on my couch all winter, I knew I had to try.
Luckily for me, I had a few friends guiding me through the experience of learning to ski as an adult, and they all repeated the same advice – get started as soon as possible. Over the years, I’ve become pretty comfortable sliding on snow, and I’ve started to repeat that same advice. Whether you’re brand new to the sport or strapping into your skis again after taking a few years off, there are so many reasons to learn (or remember!) how to ski in the early season.
1) You’ll have the mountain to yourself
In the early season, many of the mountains will have wide-open slopes and no lift lines. The vacationers who flock to Colorado each winter for our excellent snow conditions haven’t arrived yet, usually waiting until the holidays. And the die-hard Colorado skiers and riders will be awaiting the huge snowstorms of mid-winter. That means you can have the chairlift to yourself, practice your turns on nice, wide runs without any obstacles, and have more personalized attention in ski school.
2) It’s a great time to take a lesson
Early season lessons are the best way to kick off the ski season, whether you’re a first-time skier or returning to sport after a few years off. Ski schools offer great programs in early season, staffed by professional instructors who are eager to get back on the snow after having the summer off.
Many ski resorts in Colorado offer multi-lesson packages, some including a ski pass with your lessons. For example, Loveland Ski Area’s 3-Class Pass features three lessons and a season pass for adults for only $439. Getting started with these lessons early gives you a great foundation for the season, plus access to your pass so you can practice in between lessons.
3) Good, reliable snow conditions
With Colorado’s world-class snowmaking equipment, many ski areas are open early in the season, with an excellent base of snow on the slopes. Combined with the early-season snowfall in the mountains, this makes for great snow to learn on, when conditions are predictable and the snow is soft. Newer skiers and riders can learn the process before they meet more challenging conditions, like the powder days of mid-winter. Experienced skiers coming back from a hiatus can dust off the cobwebs with familiar conditions before the season is in full swing.
4) You can start to gather your ski group
For many skiers and riders, one of the most important parts of hitting the slopes is having friends and family to enjoy it with. Solo skiing can also be a blast, but having friends to carpool with, ride the chairlift with and meet up with in the bar can make the mountain experience that much sweeter.
By hitting the slopes in early season, you can start to form a group of friends who plan to ski or ride the same mountains as you this winter. Plus, it’s easy to make friends in early-season lessons and lift lines – lots of folks will be new to Colorado or new to skiing and snowboarding.
5) Take advantage of the early season discounts
Another perk of learning, or remembering, to ski in early season is the affordable prices on everything from lodging to lift tickets and lessons. Many ski areas offer early season packages with deep discounts, and rates that reflect the lack of holiday crowds. Once you’ve decided where you’d like to ski, check out their website or give them a call to learn more about early-season savings.
6) Ski areas are spinning their lifts earlier than ever
This season’s early snowfall has given several ski areas the opportunity to open early. By November 1, four Colorado Ski Country member resorts will be open, including Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Wolf Creek and Eldora. By the end of November, more than half of the 23 ski areas will be open.
Check out each mountain’s anticipated opening day and get a head start on planning your first ski day of the season!
Kathryn Robinson is a native Floridian who transplanted to Colorado for graduate school and never looked back. She learned to ski for the first time in her early twenties and now she counts down the days until winter. When she’s not on the slopes, she’s working full-time in Denver, hiking, kayaking, or playing with her dog Riley.