Practical Tips For Skiing Out West For The First Time

The thought of skiing out West can be really intimidating if your only point of reference is Midwest or East Coast skiing. It can be even more intimidating if you have never skied before.

I’m sharing tips to help reduce your fears of the unknown and help you embrace the fun!

skiers in Utah e1577406116461

With some preparation and these tips, you will be set up to have a great time on the slopes. 

This article contains affiliate links. 

Don’t Overdress

You will warm up quicker than you realize, especially if it’s sunny outside.

I recommend dressing in layers but you’ll want to avoid wearing cotton because it absorbs moisture.

You typically need a base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. 

It’s recommended that you only wear one pair of socks with smart wool.

If you double up on socks they can bunch up inside your boot, making them super uncomfortable. They can also make your feet sweaty which will eventually make them cold. 

For your bottom half, go with something with some stretch, not jeans (no cotton, remember?!!) under your ski pants. 

wear a helmet and goggles when you ski e1576815258705

Protect Your Eyes With Ski Goggles 

Ski goggles will help keep the sun from blinding you on a sunny day and help keep snow and water out of your eyes on a snowy one.

Ski goggles also help improve the contrast while your are skiing and stay secure on your face.

ski Resort in Utah e1577410609944

Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen While You Ski

Even though the temperatures aren’t warm outside, you can still get a LOT of sun on the slopes.

Your UV exposure increases at higher altitudes and you still get sun from the sky plus it also reflects off of the snow.

Your lips can also get really chapped so make sure that you keep some chapstick in your jacket pocket. 

ski lesson at Snowbasin in Utah e1576816568796

Stay Safe and Warm With a Helmet

The helmet serves two purposes: to protect your head if you crash or my favorite, it keeps your head warm.

Times have changed and helmets are more common than they were years ago. It’s actually more rare to see someone without a helmet on the slopes.

Most ski resorts have helmets available for rent that you can pick up with the rest of your equipment rentals. 

group lesson at Snowbasin Resort in Utah

Take a Ski or Snowboard Lesson

Lessons aren’t just for beginners.

No matter what your skill level, a lesson can help you feel more confident on the slopes and with your equipment.

If you are a brand new or newer skier please do NOT let a friend or family member try to teach you.

TRUST ME, I know this from personal experience.

It’s frustrating for both parties because they tend to put unrealistic expectations for you to progress sooner than you are ready for.

You really need a professional who can evaluate your skill level and help you progress during your time together.

skier at Snowbasin Resort in Utah 1

Group Lessons or Private?

One of the first things that I noticed during my private lesson at Snowbasin Resort was that the lesson options were WAY longer than what I’ve experienced in the Midwest.

I had the option of half-day or full-day lessons which allowed for more time to really work on improving my skills versus a one-hour lesson.

If you have multiple people in your group or family taking a group lesson, you might want to consider a private lesson. 

The price difference is that big for multiple people and a private group lesson allows everyone in your party to stay together. 

skier at Snowbasin Resort in Utah e1577411584466

Stop to Admire the Views Along the Way

The views are absolutely incredible from the top. You’ll find that each section of the mountain offers a new perspective of the area. 

snowboarder at Snowbasin Resort in Utah e1577406010443

Stop to Rest Your Legs

The runs are so much longer than in the Midwest which means that it takes some time to get down the mountain.

Your legs will definitely get tired, especially if you don’t ski or snowboard very often. It’s totally acceptable to find stopping points along the way as you travel down.

It’s best to stay over on the sides if you do decide to stop so that you don’t interfere with other skiers on their way down the hill.  

chili at Snowbasin Resort in Utah e1576989399114

Hydrate and Fuel Your Body

It’s really important that you drink a LOT of water before, during, and after you ski.

Drinking a lot of water can also keep you hydrated to help reduce your chance of getting altitude sickness

You are also burning a lot of calories so make sure that you pack a protein bar if you want to eat on the go or grab some protein at the lodge restaurant cafe. 

outdoor firepit at Snowbasin Resort in Utah

Listen to Your Body

There is a good chance that you will be using muscles that you haven’t used in a while. If you start to notice aches and pains that aren’t going away, listen to your body.

It’s ok to either stop and rest for a while in the lodge or call it a day.

You don’t want to risk an injury that could ruin your experience for the rest of your trip.

Pay attention to WHICH specific rack you drop off your equipment at the outside of the lodge NOT what you placed it next to.

There is a good chance that other skiers won’t be inside for the same amount of time as you. 

map at Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah e1577411442960

Get a Map and Ask Questions Before You 

It’s really important to know if all of the ski runs and chair lifts are open during your visit.

You don’t want to end up in a section that doesn’t offer an easier way down. A blue on one mountain might be considered a black diamond at another resort. 

chair lift at Solitude Resort in Utah 1

The Chair Lifts Are WAY FASTER So Pay Attention!

One of the biggest differences that I noticed during my visit was the speed of the chair lifts and the much waiting shorter lines. 

It’s really important to be ready when it’s time to get off the lift. 

Take it from the girl who had to jump off of the chairlift.

Don’t worry it wasn’t as extreme as it sounds.

I really thought that I had more time to transition off of the chair (from my Midwest experiences) and before I knew it I was facing back down the hill.

The lift attendant had to stop the chair lift and I had to jump off into a snow pile.

You don’t want to do that if you don’t have to.

gondola at Snowbasin Resort in Utah 1

Ride the Gondola if Possible

It’s fun to ride the gondola, just because you can. You’ll find that the views are incredible as you travel from the bottom to the top.

At many resorts, you can also ride the gondola back down if you don’t want to ski down that section of the mountain. 

chair lift at Solitude Resort in Utah 1

Tips for Riding the Chair Lift

Before you ride up the chair lift, double-check what runs the chair lift services.

You’ll ski up to the red line and put both of your ski poles in one hand so that you can look over your shoulder to watch for the chairlift approaching. 

Sit all the way back in the chair and relax on the way up. Be ready when you arrive at the top with your ski tips and poles up. 

avalanche danger sign at Solitude Resort in Utah e1576990060108

Stay On the Groomed Trails

Try not to ski alone and make sure that you only stay on the groomed trails.

Avalanches can happen so stay alert and stick to the open trails. 

I like to keep an small external battery charger in my jacket so that I never have a dead battery.  Cell phone batteries can go down quicker in the cold. 

Snowbasin Resort in Utah e1576816702765

Try to Visit More Than One Resort

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend skiing at more than one resort during your visit.

Each resort has its own personality and runs. You won’t know which one is the “best” until you try a few. 

During my visit, I skied at Solitude Mountain Resort and Snowbasin Resort in Utah. 

view from mountain at Snowbasin Resort in Utah e1577411402451

How to Save on Lift Tickets

If you plan on skiing for multiple days during your visit, the best value is an Ikon or Epic Pass

The passes are good for one year and give you access to multiple ski resorts around the world.

You will need to plan in advance if you plan on purchasing either one because the passes are limited in quantity and typically sell out for the season. 

Another way to save on lift tickets is by purchasing your single or multi-day tickets online in advance.

Afternoon, half days, and night skis are also typically discounted.

Try to avoid booking around the holidays when prices and crowds are higher. You can typically find lower rates in late January through March (avoiding holiday weekends.)

If you have a 5th or 6th grader visiting Utah make sure that you take advantage of the 5th and 6th Grade Ski Passport Plus.

skiers at Solitude Mountain Resort 1

How to Save on Lodging

If you opt to stay at a hotel. Look for an option that also includes breakfast and shuttle service. Many resort areas offer public transportation from the base of the mountains to the resort.

Resorts with condos allow guests to save on meals by cooking in their rooms.  

ski rack at Snowbasin Resort in Utah

Enjoy the Snow

Skiing in powder is soo much better than ice.

Once you experience skiing out West, it’s hard to want to go back to anything else!  

Thanks again to Ski City and America Outdoors for hosting my visit. 

Save this article for later. Pin the image below>>

Practical Tips for Skiing Out West for the First Time 2

Leave a Comment