Skiing or riding a new mountain is exciting! But there’s something comforting – and efficient – about sticking to known trails. So when I first started skiing, I’d stick to familiar areas rather than face fumbling around on new terrain. Heck, I was even afraid to ride a new lift my first season…perhaps because my ski technique still included “Pizza – French Fry – Pizza.”
However, it didn’t take long before my skiing improved, and I wanted to explore. To reduce my anxiety and have more fun, I formed a strategy to find the best runs, food, bathrooms, and efficient routes.
Mountain hosts are the bomb!
Spoiler alert…mountain hosts are the bomb! But don’t stop reading; I have lots to share! Then I’d love your tips for navigating a new mountain, so I can grow this post into a better resource for all of us.
Here I’ll share all of my tips, plus feature a growing list of mountain host programs guaranteed to help you feel comfortable fast on a new mountain. Bookmark this post, because I’ll add new information about Utah’s resorts over time!
Ready to explore?
My Top Two Tips for Learning a New Mountain
This is the best way to up your confidence and learn a new mountain at the same time; especially if you only get out skiing once or twice a year. An instructor will also be able to give you other tips such as where to find a nice dinner or good grocery for cheap eats. But sometimes logistics and cash don’t pan out for hiring a pro, so my next suggestion is tied for 1st place…
Outside of hiring an instructor/guide, skiing with a mountain host is my top suggestion for learning a new mountain. The first time I skied at Powder Mountain, a geographically massive resort, I stood dumbfounded in front of the map not sure where to go first. That’s when a mountain host named Roscoe slid over and offered to help. Thanks to a couple of hours with him, I had one of the best ski days of my life…read about it HERE.
If you ski with a host, understand that they may have restrictions, such as staying on groomed runs. Also, there are no rules on whether to tip or not, so I suggest trying to tip your host, especially since many are volunteers.
Alta - Ski with a Ranger
Snowbird - Mountain Tour
Brighton - Tour with a Ranger
Deer Valley - Mountain Host
Park City - Mountain Host
Powder Mountain - Complimentary Tour
Sundance - Host Tour
Other Suggestions for Learning a New Mountain
Before leaving home, spend some time on the resort’s website, but don’t stop there. Often the best info is from third-party sites. To find these, simply do a quick web search for, “ guide” or “best runs at .” Large resorts will turn up ample information.
When you arrive in town, don’t be shy about asking anyone who will listen if they have suggestions for your stay. In a ski town, you have a great chance of getting good “intel” from locals.
At the resort, find a map and stuff it in your coat pocket. It will be a back-up when all else fails or a fun way to show your friends back home what you did.
In theory trail ratings from place to place should be the same, but in practice, this isn’t true. If you’re anything short of an expert skier, warm up on a green or blue and work your way up. It’s possible that the black runs you skied at one resort could be rated blue at another.
Pull out your ear buds and strike up a conversation with your chair-mates. Even if you’re local, this is an effective way to get real-time condition reports for sections you haven’t visited yet.
If you strike out on the all of the ideas above, head over to a nearby après ski destination and either pick the brain of the server (likely a skier or boarder), or buy a local a drink (like how I slipped in taking care of the locals?). Just be sure to get your beta early before things get sloppy. Also, moderate your consumption if you’re not used to high elevations or the next day will be headache city.
What are your techniques for learning a new ski mountain?
What are your techniques for learning a new ski mountain? Please share in the comments below so I can grow this collection of ideas.
Utah Mountain Host Programs
In this section, I’ll add specifics about mountain host programs I’ve personally checked out. It will start withPark City Mountain, and I’ll add more over time, so like I said earlier…bookmark this post.Park City Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour
Visiting the largest ski resort in the nation for the first time can be mind-boggling. The Park City trail map unfurls like a centerfold revealing more mountain than most could ski in a day. With over 7,300 acres, 348 trails, 41 lifts, it’s a good thing guests have a couple of options to explore the mountain with a host.
Wanting to learn more about Park City’s mountain host program, I signed on for the guided intermediate-level Silver to Slopes Historic Mining Tour. I expected to learn a little about navigating the mountain and maybe a bit of trivia, but it was so much more! Read the full story and learn the top Park City tips shared by my host - hint, there are secret meal upgrades if you know how to ask.
When visiting for the first time, you’ll want to make sure you get the whole experience without wasting too much time learning your way. The best option to do this is starting with either a lesson or a complimentary mountain host tour. Here are the insider's tip's I learned on the mountain host tour!
(This information will not be shared)