Newbie seeking expertise
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RunBikeSwim
3 months ago
Member since 11/14/2023 🔗
6 posts

Hi Folks! Will try to keep this succinct. Sincerely appreciate the wisdom of the crowd here!

My girlfriend and I are beginner skiers (I last skied when I was 7 and she has never skied). We are trail runners and bikers but both grew up in climates that aren't known for skiing, so we are hoping to try our hand at learning this winter and had a few questions on how to best approach this while balancing for cost, trip feasibility, and overall quality of the experience. 

Where should we go: We are based in DC and would be interested in somewhere semi-local (MD, VA, WV, PA) that is a reasonable drive. Are there any recommendations for best places to learn around the area? We know Liberty is the closest, but it seems the overall quality of skiing there is pretty questionable, so not sure this would be a great experience for us. It looks like WV (snowshoe, canaan, timberline) may have the highest quality skiing in the area, but we aren't sure if it makes sense to spend significant money (lifts, equipment rental, lessons, lodging) for a long weekend there when we haven't actually skied before unless, however, it makes the most sense to do a long weekend so we have a couple days to learn/practice all at once. Certainly open to day-tripping somewhere on the weekend as well if that is the best option.

When should we go: Given the fickle nature of the mid-atlantic winter, we are wondering when the best time to go is. Would the end of December after xmas and before new years be a reasonable time to try skiing around the area? Or is this when ski areas are totally packed and expensive? Would love to maximize for real snow and minimize for over crowding. It seems tough to plan ahead given the variability of winter weather around here--is it more a matter of closely watching forecasts and just going when the weather seems like it will be right?

What do we need: We'll be renting ski equipment, but is there any gear that would be imperative to have other than the obvious (jackets, snowpants, hats, gloves, etc.). 

Miscellaneous: Would love any general tips/tricks to optimize for cost. Was doing some high level estimates and was a bit surprised that a long weekend at Snowshoe, for example, could run up to ~$800/person all in. Additionally would appreciate advice on things we may not be thinking about or did not consider given our lack of experience. 

Thanks again!

JimK - DCSki Columnist
3 months ago (edited 3 months ago)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,944 posts


Whenever folks ask me where's a good place near DC to learn to ski I suggest Bryce Resort in Basye, VA.  What makes Bryce good for newbies is that it's relatively close, about 100 miles west of DC out I66.  It's small, but relatively inexpensive, less crowded than most other local ski areas, and very well run.  They've already opened for this season.  BTW, I've skied occasionally at Bryce since the 1960s.  It's rarely crowded all winter, even on prime weekends and holidays, especially compared to some of the more popular mtns like Whitetail, Liberty, and Snowshoe.  Bryce has sufficient beginner terrain for never-evers and some better runs for low-intermediates with about 500' vertical drop.

Here's a report from a visit to Bryce a few years ago that includes discussion and photos about the ski area:  dcski.com

I will add that pretty much all the other local ski areas will work for a good learner experience too.  It's just that Bryce is generally less expensive, less hectic, and close enough to do as a day-trip.

RunBikeSwim
3 months ago
Member since 11/14/2023 🔗
6 posts
Hey Jim, really appreciate the quick and thoughtful reply. Looks like its 2 hours from DC, making it totally practical for a day trip on a weekend. Great to know its less trafficked than other area resorts as well. Also good to know most any other location is fine for a beginner trip to learn. I'll certainly take a closer look at Bryce and follow up with any other questions!
Scott - DCSki Editor
3 months ago
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,245 posts
A few quick thoughts:

The period between Christmas and New Year's is considered a holiday period at most local resorts, with elevated crowds and often elevated prices.  And given fickle Mid-Atlantic weather, that's also still a bit early in the season, so places might not have 100% terrain open yet.  That can vary significantly year-by-year, of course.

If you're trying your hand at skiing and aren't sure you'll like it, I think I would recommend doing a day trip at a closer area first (unless you want the full experience of a "mini destination vacation").  That will be much cheaper if you forgo lodging, and the closer ski areas have excellent learning programs.  I like Jim's suggestion of Bryce.  Liberty and Whitetail are also excellent learning mountains and their snow conditions can be quite good.  They have excellent snowmaking.  If you can escape midweek (after the holiday period), you might have the slopes all to yourself.  If you sign up for group lessons, you might also find much less people in your group.  Midweek is the best tip I can give people, although I know that doesn't work for everyone's schedule.

Some resorts offer combination beginning lift/lesson/rentals packages at a heavily reduced price.  I'm not sure who's offering that right now (Liberty/Roundtop/Whitetail used to in the past, although I'm not sure they still do under Vail ownership), but definitely worth checking resort web sites for.

In terms of equipment, beyond rentals, I think you mentioned the main things: jackets, snowpants, hats, and gloves.  Actually, I'd recommend renting helmets with your ski gear, which would elminate the need for hats while still keeping your heads warm.  And protect your noggins.  :)  The weather forecast will dictate how many layers you have on underneath the jackets.  Breathable fabrics work best.

If you did want to go to Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, or one of the Vail-owned Mid-Atlantic properties, the cheapest lift tickets are via the Epic Day Pass -- and sales of that pass end at midnight today!  For non-peak days, it would be $56 for 1 day, with prices going up as you add more days.  And it provides 20% off food, lodging, group lessons, and rentals.  So that would be the cheapest option.  If you miss that deadline, you can purchase day lift tickets in advance at any of those resorts, but they'll generally be more expensive.  More info on the Epic Day Pass is at https://www.epicpass.com/passes/epic-day-pass?access=2.
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort
marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
3 months ago (edited 3 months ago)
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
3,231 posts

Welcome!  By any chance have either of you done any ice skating or roller blading?

Agree that Bryce is a good choice for a day trip from DC.  While CV and Timberline can be good, not sure it's worth the extra driving time.

I'm rather biased since Massanutten has been my home mountain for about 20 years.  I picked it over Wintergreen or any of the resorts in the NC mountains that are a bit closer to my house near Raleigh.  My daughter and my friend and her kids all learned at Mnut.  My friend was in her 30s at that point.  The ski school is very good.  I've taken lessons there as an advanced skier.  

Mnut has a beginner package that includes lift ticket, rental gear, and a. 90-min group beginner lesson.  Mnut built a separate beginner area called the Meadow a few years ago.  The advantage is that there isn't any reason for people who aren't beginners to be over in that section of the mountain.  It's served by a magic carpet so no need to think about loading/unloading a chairlift.

Massanutten Lessons - scroll down for Adult Group Lesson

Honestly the best time to go is during early or late season when rates are lower for the slopes and for lodging.  I used to take my daughter the week before Christmas when she was in K-G2.  Staying at least one night is better than doing a day trip.  Like any sport, getting over the initial hump in the learning curve takes repetition so skiing 2-3 days in a row can be helpful.  Going during the Christmas week is a bad idea.  If you need to use a holiday period, MLK weekend or Pres. Day weekend would be better.  Not only for slightly less of a crowd but also because there is more likely to be more open terrain so less congestion on beginner slopes.

It's worth investing in a good pair of ski socks.  They shouldn't be too thick.  They need to be long, as in knee sock length.

I'll be at Mnut during MLK weekend, Pres. Day weekend, and the last weekend of January.  That's when my friends with kids can go.  If any of those dates could work for you, shoot me a PM.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter 
3 months ago
Member since 12/10/2008 🔗
3,231 posts

Another multi-resort pass that might be worth considering is the Indy Pass.  Massanutten, Bryce, and Canaan Valley are on Indy.  Passholders get 2 days at each resort.  Massanutten doesn't have any black out dates.  I think there are still Indy passes available.  Sign up on the website for the wait list.

For future reference, the other Indy locations people from DC may drive to are Montage and Shawnee Peak in eastern PA.  Both are great for beginners when not too busy.

Scott - DCSki Editor
3 months ago
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,245 posts

marzNC wrote:

Another multi-resort pass that might be worth considering is the Indy Pass.  Massanutten, Bryce, and Canaan Valley are on Indy.  Passholders get 2 days at each resort.  Massanutten doesn't have any black out dates.  I think there are still Indy passes available.  Sign up on the website for the wait list.

For future reference, the other Indy locations people from DC may drive to are Montage and Shawnee Peak in eastern PA.  Both are great for beginners when not too busy.

 The Indy Pass has sold out for the 2023/2024 season, although they might offer another round or two of sales in the coming weeks.  They have a Waitlist people can join to receive a notification if/when sales re-open.  https://www.indyskipass.com/shop/indy-base-pass

dclivejazz
3 months ago
Member since 03/5/2017 🔗
55 posts
I would consider Liberty midweek as an excellent place to take lessons and do some manageable greens. They are the closest to DC and have relatively extended hours. I haven’t been to Bryce so I can’t compare them. 

If you want to go somewhere for a few days in a row, I would recommend Hidden Valley. It’s very beginner-friendly. The cool little hotel with the big fireplace hearths apparently isn’t open anymore but it is probably possible to rent someone’s nearby condo privately.

if you all are very athletic and/or expect to pick up skiing quickly I would expand to Whitetail and Seven Springs, which have more challenging terrain, even at the beginner level. 

As far as equipment goes, if you try it and like it, I would suggest buying your own equipment. How to pursue that and where to go is a whole other question, but locally I like Alpine Ski Shop in Sterling. You want to get a good fitting for boots.

I am unfortunately always close to being a beginner myself so the advice of others may be better, but I feel like a connoisseur of the world of green slopes, fwiw.
The19thHole
2 months ago
Member since 06/29/2015 🔗
84 posts

I would also add that Snowshoe and Timberline are the most likely to give you a 'Big Mountain' experience in the area with the best snow. Snowshoe has the added attraction of having a ski village to explore, and Wintergreen also has a mini-village.

If all you care about is a few hours to try skiing, then as others have said, I'd hit Bryce.

 

newbie2022
2 months ago
Member since 01/26/2023 🔗
13 posts

Hey RunBikeSwim, you're almost exactly 24 months behind my partner and I, just with a lot more fitness coming into it lol.

We've tried a bunch of places around the area and have never had a bad day out. We've taken 4 or 5 lessons at this point, they've all been good but our best ones have come at independent properties like Wisp, Bryce, and Massanutten. I wouldn't suggest Bryce for your literal first day out (but probably one of the best bets for your 2nd or 3rd!). I think Massanutten, Whitetail, or Liberty would be better for a literal first day because they all have dedicated learning areas serviced by chairs that give you a long(er) very gentle trail to practice on.

At Bryce there are two small learning areas serviced by magic carpets (which are perfectly good, but I'm guessing you're both going to want to get on a chair lift ASAP, they're just more fun :) ). Once you leave those areas though you're heading straight to the top to come down the single green run from the top with a couple of steeper sections. This is a good trail, but I don't think it's a calm one to learn on because you get a huge mix of people on the trail from those that don't have any idea what they're doing to ski team kids that are going down the easy slope as fast as they can.

Liberty and Whitetail won't be open if their learner only area isn't open. Massanutten can open without it, but it's easy to check if it is on their webcam (it's call meadow and is what currently looks like a meadow under the chair lift as you watch this cam pan through it's middle location resortcams.com).

Finally, my 0.02 is to just go for a day trip on your first day out. It sounds like you're both athletic and will probably pick it up pretty quickly, but that's not a universal rule. Sometimes it doesn't instantly click for everyone and the only thing worse than a super frustrating day trying to learn would be to know you've already paid for a hotel and rentals for the next day even though you didn't have fun day 1. If you go by mid-January and love it you still have 6+ weeks of main season and another 4-ish weeks of spring skiing that you can get out and enjoy!

JimK - DCSki Columnist
2 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,944 posts
Good input and fresh perspective from newbie!
ZARDOG
2 months ago
Member since 10/25/2020 🔗
177 posts

Best tip - midweek when school is not out.  Plenty of room, smaller class size. That means Tue, Wed, Thurs.

Search on beginners guide to ski resort.

Windy days be sure to know where the easy slopes are located. Some are full face wind and 25 MPH wind is not a good day. Liberty front side comes to mind. 

Enjoy. 

Bonzski
2 months ago
Member since 10/21/2015 🔗
647 posts
Focus on where has best qualified instructor, less on location of the resort....you'll ski a very small part of the resort. Call and ask if PSIA certified instructors are available. You want minimum level 1 but level 2 or higher is preferred. Also ask about cancellation policy......nobody teaches/learns well in the rain or ice. Don't do less than half day.
Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
2,034 posts
Learning to ski or board takes time on the slopes, so if your goal is to learn, go as often as possible. I second the idea of asking for a PSIA-certified instructor, preferably a level 2. A lot of mid-Atlantic resorts do not require their instructors to be PSIA certified. That doesn't mean they are not good instructors but, getting lessons from a PSIA instructor will ensure you of consistent method and correct movement patterns. Remember, it is perfect practice that makes for perfect technique. I would day trip often and maybe vacation at a larger resort with more challenging terrain in March to close out the season. Then buy a season pass early for next year. An Epic pass will give you at least 6 resorts to ski, all about 3 hours or so from DC. Timberline is also a popular resort.
Evans Dad - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago
Member since 01/27/2021 🔗
59 posts

Hi there & welcome!  Make sure to take lessons!  This will make your experience so much more enjoyable and less frustrating.  

Regarding gear:  

  • get fleece neck gaiters.  Unless it's really warm I use them all the time.  
  • Layering is important, so it's best to wear a moisture-wicking base layer-long underwear (merino or synthetic); mid-layer sweater and then shell or lightly insulated outer layer.  
  • Goggles- you can rent these but they are important
  • Rent your gear at the mountain so you can swap out skis or boots if they aren't working for you.  

Have fun!! Skiing is my happy place.

Crush
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,257 posts


 Layering - yes! Especially when you become a sweat-ball from getting up after a tumble 😆

Evans Dad wrote:

Hi there & welcome!  Make sure to take lessons!  This will make your experience so much more enjoyable and less frustrating.  

Regarding gear:  

  • get fleece neck gaiters.  Unless it's really warm I use them all the time.  
  • Layering is important, so it's best to wear a moisture-wicking base layer-long underwear (merino or synthetic); mid-layer sweater and then shell or lightly insulated outer layer. 
  • Goggles- you can rent these but they are important
  • Rent your gear at the mountain so you can swap out skis or boots if they aren't working for you.  

Have fun!! Skiing is my happy place.

fosphenytoin - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago
Member since 12/20/2017 🔗
168 posts

I was a newbie ~10 years ago, clueless on when/where to go.  Here are my suggestions: 

Where to go: Terrain wise, Whitetail is bit better than Liberty for beginners, as there is a separate area for beginners (trails and lift).  Driving from DC/VA/MD, only adds 15 mins. more and I think it is worth it.  These places are day trips.    Whitetail and Liberty are on Epic pass.  For epic pass holders, they have "x" number of buddy passes and  can have 40% off for lift tickets.  If you are friend with someone on Epic pass, you can try to ask. ... 

Snowshoe is fun but too far for a day trip.  It is a nice getaway.  You can consider staying at Elkins, WV.  It is about 45 min. drive to Snowshoe.  Lodging is very affordable and I stay there if I go on my own.   I don't recommend MLK or President's day long weekend.  Lift lines are insane.  Especially chairs servicing beginners/early intermediates.   Those chairs stop often since many people have trouble getting on / off the lifts.  To make money well worth, better to go during weekdays if you can.  You are spending more time skiing, not waiting in line.  Lodging will be less too!

Hidden Valley / 7 Springs / Laurel Hill:  I only been to 7 Springs and Laurel Hill.  This is not day trip either.  We stay at Somerset, PA for lodging, it is not expensive (same idea as Elkins, WV).  I never been to Hidden Valley but I heard it is good for beginners.  These 3 places are on Epic pass too.

For equipment - Check Sun & Ski in Falls Church / Chantilly, I remember they have seasons rentals.  Not sure if they still do now.  I don't recommend rent on mountains because lines usually are long.  Consider picking up rental the day before.  

If you do end up liking the sport, you consider local mountains seasonal programs for adult.  Whitetail and Liberty offer it.  It is good value because ski instructors are better (at least L2 or above), you are working with the same group of people for all sessions.  They have packages with or without equipement rental + lift tickets.  You need to be an early intermediate to join.  You can decide this next next season. 

Also, I agree with above on when to go, between mid and late season: i.e. after mid Jan. up to early March... 

bob
2 months ago
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
739 posts

Skiing is very much a time and mileage sport. The more time you spend on snow the quicker you'll become comfortable. It take some time before you are comfortable with the fact that some speed actually makes your skiing easier and more fun. When you start out, speed is anything but fun.

I spent many a night after work at Roundtop. If you are in DC, Liberty and Whitetail might give you a chance to do that. 

Give the sport a minimum of 5 days before deciding you do not like it. The first few days can be frustrating.

If you like the sport, the first piece of equipment to buy is boots. Your own well fitting boots will always beat out any rental boots. 

Good luck. Hope you enjoy the sport.

snowsmith - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,569 posts
I like Bob’s advice. But to me, skiing is not just an outdoor sport. As you get more into it, it also becomes a lifestyle. When you’re in the mountains with snow everywhere, you feel different, you dress different, you experience ‘apre ski’, you enjoy the hot tub, sitting by the fire with friends or loved ones and you actually like winter. Unlike your friends, who become couch potatoes in the winter, you actually like winter and want to be outdoors. You become obsessed with the weather forecast and you love it when it snows. And you meet a whole group of new friends, perhaps join a local ski club. Take trips to Vermont, New Hampshire, Colorado, Utah, etc.  And if you’re like me, you end up buying a ski house so you can experience the mountain life style when ever you want. I own a ski house at Hidden Valley which is a great place to learn and can be a base to ski 5 nearby ski areas (HV, 7S, LM, BK and Wisp). So as you learn to ski, you will be learning and absorbing that mountain lifestyle. I’ve been doing it for 50 years and I love it. Enjoy!
bob
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
739 posts

Agree with you snowsmith. It can be an adventure and a lifestyle. I found it theraputic, too. I was in a high stress job, but skiing was a stress killer. I found that after having time on slope,  work related stress evaporated.

A few years after I became halfway proficient, I decided to ski at leat one day every month of the year - for one year. Also wanted to ski at 20 different places and get in a million feet of vert. It was supposed to be a full "new snow year" - October thru September. Got in October at Keystone, but ended up breaking a wrist snowboarding in November at Loveland - so a "new snow year" woudnl't work

Switched to a calendar year - starting with Roundtop on January 28. I skied everywhere from the PA resorts to the Vail owned Colorado resorts plus A-Basin, then 4 Tahoe resorts, then Hoodoo, Timberline, and Bachelor  in Oregon for a 3 day trip, followed the next month by an epic 5 day Washington/ BC trip to Mission Ridge, Stevens Pass, Baker, Whistler, and Crystal. Summer was doable: June at A-Basin, Timberline Oregon the last day of July and the first day of August, and tTimberline again for Labor day. Back to Keystone for October. Loveland in November. Got my final 4 resorts in December in NM: Santa fe, Taos, Sandia Peak and another that has since closed and I don;t remeber the name.

Got to see an awful lot of North America that year.

Oh, one last thing. I did turn into a ski nut. ,   Bought a condo in Breckenridge and got in hundreds of ski days.

 
ash663
2 months ago
Member since 12/10/2023 🔗
7 posts

Also a newbie -- if you're looking to get some gear I recommend Sun and Ski in Falls Church. I did not feel rushed into making any purchase decisions, and they explained a lot about details of the gear, what to look for, and what's good for beginners, intermediates etc.

I'm hoping to go to Massanutten this weekend -- I'm picking it over Bryce as there seem to be more green trails on the mountain, and should be easier to transition from bunny slopes to actual trails!

dclivejazz
2 months ago
Member since 03/5/2017 🔗
55 posts
Hi Bob, maybe I should search for another thread about this, but what can suggest for a first time visitor to Breckinridge to check out both at the resort and in town? My partner and I are going there this weekend and will be there from Sunday until Wednesday. I’m a guy who is perpetually at the cusp of going from greens to blues. Not much seems to be open there now but my partner is off from work so we had scheduled a trip. She’s a better skier than me and should at least be able to tackle the blues are open. Whatever advice you might have about skiing this weekend and early next week, within our parameters, along with pointers about where to hang out will be appreciated. Thanks.
bob
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
739 posts

First ofall, I hope you enjoy your trip. The first thing to remember is the mountains are a lot bigger than those in the east. So you'll find long trails with lots more vertical drop than you might be used to.  Also remember that you'll be starting out at 9600 feet and up from there. The air is a lot thinner with less oxygen.You may get fatigued and out of breath more easily than you are used to. There is a drug you can take to help with that -Diamox - also available as a generic (downside: it makes diet sodas taste awful).

Actually theere's a fair amount of Breckenridge terain open -- courtesy of over 5 feet of snow so far. There are lots of green trails open on peaks 8 and 9. Also a fair amount of blues on peaks 7,8, and 9. I don;t recall any of the blues being particlarly difficult. As for skiing on Sunday, be sure to start early as it will  get crowded.

As far as things to do, the town is very old. There are lots of historic buildings in town. It's fun to walk down Main steet and take in some of the history. There are several museums in town. The place is a shoppers heaven. Everything from skiing/snowboarding related to tourist trap kind of stuff, and everything in between. You can tour a real gold mine (country boy mine) and pan for gold. It;s good enough to get a Michelin star.  Breckeridge distillers is open for tours.  etc, etc, etc -- there is lots to do.

There is an assortment of restauants - some elegant (and expensive) and some just fun. One of my favorites is a sport bar called Downstairs at Eric's.

Crush
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,257 posts

@Bob Nah not a "ski nut" - just dedicated like me and it flips your switch. Like Tom Selleck's dad said "risk is the price you pay for opportunities" - clearly. Glad you caught it.

E-

bob wrote:

... Got my final 4 resorts in December in NM: Santa fe, Taos, Sandia Peak and another that has since closed and I don;t remeber the name.

Got to see an awful lot of North America that year.

Oh, one last thing. I did turn into a ski nut. ,   Bought a condo in Breckenridge and got in hundreds of ski days.

 
dclivejazz
2 months ago
Member since 03/5/2017 🔗
55 posts
Thanks a lot, Bob, for the info. Don't mean to hijack the thread.
Scott - DCSki Editor
2 months ago
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,245 posts

dclivejazz, I’m in Colorado now and Vail — just down the road from Breck — has a lot more open terrain. Over 52% open today with great conditions. They seem to be catching the early season snow. They have a lot more terrain ready to go soon and were working today grooming new areas, so I expect they’ll have even more open this weekend. They were also firing some mortars in the Back Bowls today, so might be getting that ready too (although that was possibly for training.)

I was debating between Keystone, Breck, Vail and Beaver Creek, but settled on Vail since they’re so far ahead  of the others right now. I’m actually staying closer to Beaver Creek, and the difference in snow cover between Beaver Creek and Vail is significant, even though they’re neighboring mountains!

if you have options, I think you’ll enjoy Vail more for the coming weekend. More open terrain also means better distribution of crowds. (Vail was pretty empty today, but it’s midweek.)

Crush
2 months ago
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,257 posts

@Scott For real! Nice! Have fun and if you want to visit Lake Tahoe please let me know!

Scott wrote:

"... I’m in Colorado now and Vail — just down the road from Breck ..."

Crush
2 months ago
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,257 posts

My now wife made this vid in 2014 - your life could end up like this - watch out! We had our place there for 13 years and it was waaaay beyond anything I could image. Yes skiing excellent, I became a sharp skiier but having two girlfrends at the same time was outstanding. Oh well I WAS in Utah, right?

 Utah2014

RunBikeSwim wrote:

Hi Folks! Will try to keep this succinct. Sincerely appreciate the wisdom of the crowd here!

My girlfriend and I are beginner skiers (I last skied when I was 7 and she has never skied). We are trail runners and bikers but both grew up in climates that aren't known for skiing, so we are hoping to try our hand at learning this winter and had a few questions on how to best approach this while balancing for cost, trip feasibility, and overall quality of the experience. 

Where should we go: We are based in DC and would be interested in somewhere semi-local (MD, VA, WV, PA) that is a reasonable drive. Are there any recommendations for best places to learn around the area? We know Liberty is the closest, but it seems the overall quality of skiing there is pretty questionable, so not sure this would be a great experience for us. It looks like WV (snowshoe, canaan, timberline) may have the highest quality skiing in the area, but we aren't sure if it makes sense to spend significant money (lifts, equipment rental, lessons, lodging) for a long weekend there when we haven't actually skied before unless, however, it makes the most sense to do a long weekend so we have a couple days to learn/practice all at once. Certainly open to day-tripping somewhere on the weekend as well if that is the best option.

When should we go: Given the fickle nature of the mid-atlantic winter, we are wondering when the best time to go is. Would the end of December after xmas and before new years be a reasonable time to try skiing around the area? Or is this when ski areas are totally packed and expensive? Would love to maximize for real snow and minimize for over crowding. It seems tough to plan ahead given the variability of winter weather around here--is it more a matter of closely watching forecasts and just going when the weather seems like it will be right?

What do we need: We'll be renting ski equipment, but is there any gear that would be imperative to have other than the obvious (jackets, snowpants, hats, gloves, etc.). 

Miscellaneous: Would love any general tips/tricks to optimize for cost. Was doing some high level estimates and was a bit surprised that a long weekend at Snowshoe, for example, could run up to ~$800/person all in. Additionally would appreciate advice on things we may not be thinking about or did not consider given our lack of experience. 

Thanks again!

snowsmith - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,569 posts

Socks. Did we mention socks. Nothing worse than cold feet. DO NOT wear cotton socks, especially thick cotton socks. DO NOT wear 2 pairs of socks. Suggest wool or synthetic blend socks. DO NOT tuck your long underwear or ski pants into your ski boots. 

Long underwear- DO NOT wear cotton long under wear. Cotton absorbs moisture and as it evaporates, it will take heat from your body. Also suggest a fleece layer overtop of your long undies, if it’s a cold day. 

Googles will keep your eye balls warm and a fleece balaclava or neckling will help keep your lower face warm.

Crush
2 months ago
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,257 posts

 

snowsmith wrote:

Socks. Did we mention socks. Nothing worse than cold feet. DO NOT wear cotton socks, especially thick cotton socks. DO NOT wear 2 pairs of socks. Suggest wool or synthetic blend socks. DO NOT tuck your long underwear or ski pants into your ski boots. 

Long underwear- DO NOT wear cotton long under wear. Cotton absorbs moisture and as it evaporates, it will take heat from your body. Also suggest a fleece layer overtop of your long undies, if it’s a cold day. 

Googles will keep your eye balls warm and a fleece balaclava or neckling will help keep your lower face warm.

Shotmaker
2 months ago
Member since 02/18/2014 🔗
178 posts

In Breck:

Ollie's - Best Burger 

Breck Ale House & Pizza - Pizza

Sancho Tacos & Tequilas- Best Mexican food & Margaritas 

Whiskey Star Smokehouse- BBQ

Breck Tap House - Good Drinks

Breck Distillery - Great Bourbon!

Scott - DCSki Editor
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,245 posts

Another beautiful day at Vail.  And they surprised us this afternoon by opening some of the Back Bowls!  Here's a photo fresh off my iPhone.

1702593144_naakqtagjuff.jpg

Vail now has 60% terrain open.  The only thing keeping them from being 100% open is simply the time it's taking to prepare the terrain.  There is ample snow everywhere on the mountain.  I imagine they'll be getting close to 100% in the next several days.  I should have a complete Firsthand Report on DCSki in the next few days.

Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone are still stuck at around 20%.  They haven't received as much snow as Vail, so I'm not sure they're going to be able to expand open terrain much until the next storm.  If you have an Epic Pass, I'd recommend heading to Vail for early-season turns.  I spoke with a local today and he said these are more like mid-season conditions, but without the mid-season crowds.

Shotmaker
2 months ago
Member since 02/18/2014 🔗
178 posts
Perfect early season timing Scott!
dclivejazz
2 months ago
Member since 03/5/2017 🔗
55 posts
Thank you, Shotmaker for all the specific suggestions about options in Breckenridge. Thank you, Scott, for the suggestion to check out Vail.
ash663
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 12/10/2023 🔗
7 posts

Went to Bryce last weekend, and I felt the jump from bunny slopes to the green trail is large, but not dangerously so. You might fall a couple times especially around the icy parts at the corners but it’s a good trail to learn on. 

Some pictures below from the bunny carpet area


1702932485_alphugtuvyzs.jpg

1702932497_frjgyjtupnwv.jpg

Grumpy dad
2 months ago (edited 2 months ago)
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
142 posts

pick the shortest distance least expensive place to go, dont overthink it.  Just get one lesson and go skiing, or dont get a lesson and just go.  Watch youtube videos as well. 
New skiers tend to stand up too straight. Bend your knees a bit at all times.  Learn pizza/french fries and go find a bunny hill to practice on.
There's no reason for a new skier to go to a resort, what so ever.  Unless you want all the other stuff that comes with skiing.  
If you feel the sport is for you, go find some beginner skis on ebay used and shop locally for boots/poles.  Go about 8 times this year, then next year plan a trip somewhere. 

Weather wise, it is recommended that you wear a tight fitting thin bottom layer (pants/top), then another mid layer like a fleece (pants and top) and then a top layer (ski jacket/snow pants).   But that recommendation generally considers the top layer uninsulated, just a shell.  So keep that in mind.  If you tend to get cold easily, then bulk up the mid or top layer.  If it's going to be warm out, skip a layer except for the top layer.  That simple.  

Again, dont over think this. Ive had people up for the weekend hauling in 3 bags each of gear, that go skiing like 1 day a year.  THE ONLY thing you may need to invest in, is a pair of goggles. No one that I know of rents goggles and if it's raining or snowing, you will really wish you had them.  Or sunglasses if it's really sunny out.  

ZARDOG
2 months ago
Member since 10/25/2020 🔗
177 posts

go tue wed  thurs when no school college or holiday 

ash663
2 months ago
Member since 12/10/2023 🔗
7 posts

Been enjoying learning to ski on the bunny hills! I may just have found a wonderful hobby for the winter when it’s too cold to be riding my motorcycle.

I am now comfortable with making turns with a little bit of controlled speed. I do not think my posture is still accurate however — I have been bending a little too much (almost squatting at times), and my thighs/quads seem to be taking the brunt of it. I’ll continue working on my posture on the bunny hills — I really don’t want to develop bad habits while I’m still learning

Shotmaker
2 months ago
Member since 02/18/2014 🔗
178 posts

ash663 wrote:

"I do not think my posture is still accurate however — I have been bending a little too much (almost squatting at times), and my thighs/quads seem to be taking the brunt of it. I’ll continue working on my posture on the bunny hills — I really don’t want to develop bad habits while I’m still learning"

Keep your body weight on the ball of your foot (on the outside or the downhill ski while applying enough pressure on the inside or uphill ski to remain stable and balanced throughout the turn). Try to keep your rear end on the edge of "a barstool" rather than squating down into a dining room chair. You want to compress the hip lever slightly into and out of a turn then rise up remaining in a forward stance when you're in the traverse phase. 

It's important to relax when coming out of a turn. You can take your turn shape perpendicular to the slope or slightly uphill to slow down before moving into the next turn. This gives your muscles an opportunity to turn off the lactic acid build up briefly and allows more efficient ski technique. You can also ski longer and hopefully avoid the extreme fatigue that comes along as the day progresses.

Keep the angles parallel. The angle from your ankle to your knee should match the angle from your hip to your shoulders. The forward or horizontal pressure your applying on your shins is maximized in the turn on your outside ski. Try to lock this in going into the turn then transfer this pressure into your new outside ski while completing the turn.

Skiing is very cerebral sport it's a lot like driving a car always have a plan and a "court awareness" knowing where you are where your going and how your going to get there!

 

Laurel Hill Crazie - DCSki Supporter 
2 months ago
Member since 08/16/2004 🔗
2,034 posts

All newbies, please know the snowsport responsibility code. The slope will be much safer for it.

1703510916_qonelojopvdl.jpg

Especially heed 1 through 4 when actively engaged.

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