Ski school: A dummy’s guide to ski resorts

guide to ski resortsThis post is brought to you by Sorta Outdoorsy, a weekly newsletter full of ideas for outdoor adventures around New York City. Like what you see? Subscribe to Sorta Outdoorsy.

Sometimes it seems like everybody’s family but ours took an annual ski trip, which means that most of our friends grew up going to resorts and know how to navigate them come adulthood. We, on the other hand, feel like a fish out of water every time we visit a new ski slope, and last weekend’s trip to Hunter Mountain was no exception. So to pass the time while we waited in the (wrong) line to rent gear, we made a checklist of tips that will help your first few trips to a new ski hill go off without a hitch.

Rent gear somewhere else
On nice days, you could spend over an hour waiting with the masses to rent boots, boards, skis and poles while your pals are out enjoying the early morning slopes before the crowds hit. Avoid the lines and rent somewhere else. Most ski hills are near towns with gear shops that offer cheaper prices than you’ll find at the resort.

Buy lift ticket as far in advance as possible
Many resorts will charge premium to buy day of so look online to purchase tickets as early as possible.

The nicer the day, the busier it will be
This isn’t really a tip, but it’s good to know. If you’re planning on visiting a resort on a weekend with perfect conditions, try to arrive as early as possible to beat the crowds.

Bring cash
Small bills preferred. You’ll end up using these to rent a locker which we recommend so you have a place to stash extra layers, a dry pair of socks and your shoes.

Be proactive with your rental gear
If something doesn’t feel or fit right, ask the shop about it or exchange it. This is especially true if you’re renting a snowboard—the last two times we’ve rented a board, it’s been set up by someone who didn’t snowboard themselves and we’ve had to ask for adjustments.

Have a backup plan
Agree on a meeting place and time to gather if you’re skiing with friends. Cell phone batteries are sensitive to the cold so you don’t want to rely on text messages to try to find each other if you get separated. We suggest a landmark that’s easy to navigate toward and is near amenities (nobody likes waiting at the top of a windy hill for hours).

For more ski tips (and a review of what we’ve decided is the most essential piece of gear), check out the rest of this week’s newsletter.