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Newbie help at Alta

newbieM

Certified Ski Diva
#1
Hi,
I’m a 41 year old single mom and haven’t had the pleasure to be a ski person until now. I’m heading to Alta with my somewhat newish boyfriend who is a big time skier.

I want to go let him do his thing while learning to do something new and having fun myself. Is 41 too late to learn something totally new?

Should I just get a ski instructor via the ski school and go that route? The one caveat is that it’s super expensive so I can probably only do that once or maybe twice.

Can I get an outside ski instructor to teach me at Alta for a more reasonable price?

Should I maybe not ski and see if I can get a guide to teach me cross country since I hear that is easier?

Help please any advice on best way to rent, learn, dos and don’t. I want to be able to be self sufficient and let the BF do his thing but also have fun and see if I like this since I could see this becoming a regular thing.

Thanks so much in advance.
M
 
#2
Is 41 too late to learn something totally new?
No! Tons of us learned as adults. Some people picked it up easily, others of us struggled more but still enjoy it.

Should I just get a ski instructor via the ski school and go that route? The one caveat is that it’s super expensive so I can probably only do that once or maybe twice.
You absolutely should get instruction. There's no need for very expensive private lessons, though...unless right now, in Covid times, that is all there is. That might be the case I know. If so maybe do what you can afford now, then choose to do the much more affordable group lessons in the future. Or wait until next season when group lessons are running again. If you are able to ski weekdays (again, during normal times--this may not be true during the pandemic) it is often the case that if you sign up for a group weekday lesson, you may end up with a very small group or even a private just due to the lack of weekday skiers.

Should I maybe not ski and see if I can get a guide to teach me cross country since I hear that is easier?
Classic (as opposed to skate) cross country skiing is indeed pretty easy and also just a lovely way to be outside in winter. It's cheaper, and easier to just get out and ski, too. The gear is so much easier to deal with--downhill ski boots can be such a headache to fit, requiring trips to a bootfitter, but cross country boots are comfy and easy. If you can, I'd encourage you to try both downhill and cross country and see what really piques your interest. Skate skiing takes more technique and will require lessons and lots of practice. I tried it and decided to stick with the far easier Classic style. I would recommend taking a lesson to start, but after the one lesson I think you will be good enough to tool around on your own.

(Classic nordic/x-country=people gliding along in tracks that have been set in the snow. Skate=what you might see in the Olympics when they are racing, where they are doing skating motions with their legs.)

None of this advice is specific to Alta--hopefully people like @altagirl and @marzNC can chime in with info about lessons and such in that area.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Hi, newbieM! Welcome to the forum!

I second what @Christy said. Many people here learned as adults, so it's certainly not too late. And yes, you should definitely get a lesson. I know it's expensive, but it'll pay off for years to come, and could eliminate the pain and aggravation of not knowing what to do or learning incorrectly. I'm afraid there's no alternative to using the resort's instructors. For insurance reasons, ski areas don't allow anyone to teach on their property but their own staff. Here's a word of advice, though: don't fall into the trap of learning from your boyfriend. There's too much emotional baggage there and it often doesn't end well. You want an objective third party, and you want it to be someone who's trained in teaching people how to ski. So go with a professional instructor

You could certainly try cross country. It's a lovely activity -- a great workout and a lot less expensive. But it's not downhill, and to many of us here, that's what it's all about.

Good luck!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
I’m a 41 year old single mom and haven’t had the pleasure to be a ski person until now. I’m heading to Alta with my somewhat newish boyfriend who is a big time skier.

I want to go let him do his thing while learning to do something new and having fun myself. Is 41 too late to learn something totally new?

Should I just get a ski instructor via the ski school and go that route? The one caveat is that it’s super expensive so I can probably only do that once or maybe twice.

Can I get an outside ski instructor to teach me at Alta for a more reasonable price?
Welcome! 41 is definitely not too old to learn to enjoy skiing. Just don't let the BF push you into starting on terrain that is too daunting early on.

Alta is actually a very good place to learn to ski, even though it has a reputation as the favorite destination for advanced/expert skiers looking for powder turns. I've skied at Alta for decades, including with my daughter and friends who were advanced beginners or intermediates. For that matter, I was an intermediate long ago when I first skied Alta. It remains my favorite out west even as I've been able to explore multiple destination resorts in recent years as a retired ski nut who has learned enough to really enjoy trees and bumps, in addition to powder. I didn't start skiing more regular until after age 50, mostly because I live south of Washington DC, which isn't exactly ski country.

The way the ski industry works in the U.S. is that the resort ski school has a monopoly on ski instructor. Normally that's not a big deal since group lessons for novice adults are quite a good deal. Destination resorts like Alta have very experienced instructors teaching all levels, not just intermediate and advanced.

Would help to know a little about your experience in other sports and fitness in general? Dance, ice skating, yoga, running, hiking in the mountains, mountain biking, . . . what kind of activities do you like to do for fun?
 

diymom

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#5
One more reason to start with a lesson is that it will come as a package with rental gear and lift ticket. I don't know about at Alta, but at my local hill a beginner group lesson package is about the same cost as a lift ticket plus rentals alone. Actually, just checking the Alta site, I don't see any one day lesson packages, just packages of 3 consecutive Saturdays, so maybe call them and ask about beginner lessons. Another thought depends on where you live. Are you near a smaller hill at all where you could go for a beginner lesson before your Alta trip?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
Alta is a big different than most destination resorts. That's because it isn't really a "resort" in the standard sense. Alta Ski Lifts owns and operates the lifts, a ski shop, and the ski school. Slopeside lodging is provided by independent businesses, and there are competing ski shops at the mountain. Plus many travelers rent skis in SLC if they are staying in town. So that's why there isn't much emphasis on beginner packages that bundle lift tickets, rentals, and lessons.

Normally Alta group lessons for beginners/intermediates are a very good deal. This season only private lessons are available. The cost is less than most destination resorts and the instructors are all well worth the money but still pricey.
 

newbieM

Certified Ski Diva
#7
Hi, newbieM! Welcome to the forum!

I second what @Christy said. Many people here learned as adults, so it's certainly not too late. And yes, you should definitely get a lesson. I know it's expensive, but it'll pay off for years to come, and could eliminate the pain and aggravation of not knowing what to do or learning incorrectly. I'm afraid there's no alternative to using the resort's instructors. For insurance reasons, ski areas don't allow anyone to teach on their property but their own staff. Here's a word of advice, though: don't fall into the trap of learning from your boyfriend. There's too much emotional baggage there and it often doesn't end well. You want an objective third party, and you want it to be someone who's trained in teaching people how to ski. So go with a professional instructor

You could certainly try cross country. It's a lovely activity -- a great workout and a lot less expensive. But it's not downhill, and to many of us here, that's what it's all about.

Good luck!
Thanks this is super helpful! I definitely don’t plan to have him teach me. He’s wonderful but skiing is his super happy place and I don’t want teaching me to come into play. Plus I know myself I’ll learn better when I’m not worried about the instructor :smile:
 

newbieM

Certified Ski Diva
#8
Welcome! 41 is definitely not too old to learn to enjoy skiing. Just don't let the BF push you into starting on terrain that is too daunting early on.

Alta is actually a very good place to learn to ski, even though it has a reputation as the favorite destination for advanced/expert skiers looking for powder turns. I've skied at Alta for decades, including with my daughter and friends who were advanced beginners or intermediates. For that matter, I was an intermediate long ago when I first skied Alta. It remains my favorite out west even as I've been able to explore multiple destination resorts in recent years as a retired ski nut who has learned enough to really enjoy trees and bumps, in addition to powder. I didn't start skiing more regular until after age 50, mostly because I live south of Washington DC, which isn't exactly ski country.

The way the ski industry works in the U.S. is that the resort ski school has a monopoly on ski instructor. Normally that's not a big deal since group lessons for novice adults are quite a good deal. Destination resorts like Alta have very experienced instructors teaching all levels, not just intermediate and advanced.

Would help to know a little about your experience in other sports and fitness in general? Dance, ice skating, yoga, running, hiking in the mountains, mountain biking, . . . what kind of activities do you like to do for fun?
thanks for the helpful reply. I live in Southern California and I just was never exposed to skiing growing up. I do yoga, bike ride and hike I’m in moderately good shape. I’m sure I’ll be sore but I’m looking forward to trying it. I’m not super adventurous but I try to do something that challenges me even if I don’t like it. I’ve tried mountain biking and it just isn’t for me but I’m nervous and excited to try this out. For now Alta only has private lessons because of covid but I’ll try a few of those and see how I like it.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
@newbieM you are getting great advice. I'll summarize and add some stuff.

1. Take a beginner lesson on day one in the morning. Call the ski school and reserve it now. If you are going to be there for several days, take a second follow-up lesson the next day or the day after that, in the morning. Don't wait, call now. Just pay what you have to pay. Take care of rentals and lift tickets while you're at it. These things are handled weirdly not that we have Covid rules. It's not like years past.

2. After the lesson practice by yourself, or with others who ended up in your group. DO NOT ski with your SO. Just say no. Relationships have been broken by skiers who don't realize what their new SOs are going through, who push them too hard and then get frustrated and angry at them when they just don't "get it" easily. These skiers don't remember learning because they started so early in life. Their intentions are good but knowledge of how adults learn to ski is missing altogether.

3. Much of the pleasure in skiing is the socializing that goes on before and after skiing. This year the Covid restrictions will curtail any socializing fun you two might have had in the lodge together. You should realize that next season when the two of you know each other better and make another ski trip it will be much much more fun simply because the lodges, restaurants, and bars will be fully open.

4. The base area for downhill skiing will not be the same base area as for cross-country skiing at most mountains. You'll want to start your day together, so downhill skiing it should be.

5. Once you become more comfortable staying balanced while sliding downhill on a tilted surface, you should still not ski with your boyfriend. Just say no. Ski alone, working on your skills, and meet up for breaks and lunch.

6. If the two of you really want to be together while skiing, he should ski with you on your terrain. In other words, he joins you, not the other way around. He can ride the lift up with you, then take off on his own while you make your way down slowly. You two can meet up at the bottom. OR... if he's too bored with your terrain, he can take a snowboard lesson and then practice his snowboard turns on the same terrain as you since he'll be a newbie too. Or he can take up telemarking, another type of skiing. If he's a newbie, he can empathize with you, and he'll need to work on the same terrain at the same slow speeds. Your boyfriend may not be prepared for this need for separation on the slopes; break it to him gently, but stand your ground.

7. If this boyfriend is a life-long skier, committed to skiing frequently, then you two will need to enjoy skiing as a family experience if the relationship is to flourish. Upthread you've been advised to go to a mountain near where you live to work on your skill building. That's great advice, and will speed up your skill-building. Small local mountains are the perfect place to learn to ski. For some of those mountains, beginners are their specialty. And those lessons tend to be cheaper than at the big resorts. Weekday group lessons, as has already been pointed out, can end up being privates at the group lesson price. This season because of Covid social distancing requirements, many ski schools are offering private lessons only.

8. Call ahead wherever you go to reserve lift tickets and lessons. Mountains are restricting their numbers because of Covid. Don't go expecting to buy lift tickets and get rentals when you get there.
 
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#12
1. Take a beginner lesson on day one in the morning. Call the ski school and reserve it now. If you are going to be there for several days, take a second follow-up lesson the next day or the day after that, in the morning. Don't wait, call now. Just pay what you have to pay. Take care of rentals and lift tickets while you're at it.
6. If the two of you really want to be together while skiing, he should ski with you on your terrain. In other words, he joins you, not the other way around. He can ride the lift up with you, then take off on his own while you make your way down slowly. You two can meet up at the bottom. OR... if he's too bored with your terrain, he can take a snowboard lesson and then practice his snowboard turns on the same terrain as you since he'll be a newbie too. Or he can take up telemarking, another type of skiing. If he's a newbie, he can empathize with you, and he'll need to work on the same terrain at the same slow speeds. Your boyfriend may not be prepared for this need for separation on the slopes; break it to him gently, but stand your ground.
Good general advice but some of it is not applicable to Alta. In particular, no snowboards allowed on Alta lifts.

At Alta, it will take a separate phone call to arrange for rental gear. Alta Ski School may not handle lift tickets. Pretty sure all lift tickets are being sold online for 2020-21.

What most mixed-ability groups do is either start the day on Sunnyside together, or take a run or two together there after meeting up for lunch. Sunnyside has two long greens, plus a couple blue trails that are usually groomed. Although after a powder storm, the blues may not be groomed for a day or two. What's more unusual is that the Vail Ridge is tree terrain rated Black that is good for deep powder turns. That's where Alta Ski School introduces kids who are ready to real powder skiing.

thanks for the helpful reply. I live in Southern California and I just was never exposed to skiing growing up. I do yoga, bike ride and hike I’m in moderately good shape. I’m sure I’ll be sore but I’m looking forward to trying it. I’m not super adventurous but I try to do something that challenges me even if I don’t like it. I’ve tried mountain biking and it just isn’t for me but I’m nervous and excited to try this out. For now Alta only has private lessons because of covid but I’ll try a few of those and see how I like it.
Sounds like you probably are pretty flexible and have good balance. How long can you hold a 1-leg yoga pose? (no answer expected, just think about it). I completely agree with you about mountain biking. Did a 1-day workshop (lift-served biking) that was great so now I can understand why a lot of ski nuts like mountain biking too, but have no intention of doing that again.

Look for a PM (see Inbox). I'm going to send you a few names of instructors to request for lessons.

Thanks for the helpful feedback! I don’t plan to ski with my BF. He’s a really advanced skier and I think we would both just enjoy hanging out together before and after and each enjoy skiing at our level.
After you've had a lesson or two, consider taking a run with BF off the Sunnyside lift. He can take a look and see how the trees off Vail Ridge look. But take one of the greens off to the left after you unload. There is no reason to head back using Home Run. Although it's a green, it's the way advanced skiers have to finish so can have skiers skiing fast. That can be a bit nerve wracking to a beginner.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
#13
Totally agree - you can definitely learn in your 40s! And professional lessons are always recommended. My understanding is that group lessons are not happening this year (unless you have your own group, I think?) so it's going to be more expensive than a normal year to learn (I think you may have to call for details). I don't think you're allowed to bring in outside instructors - I mean people do learn for free from friends and spouses, though there are lots of tales of how terrible an idea that can be... Honestly I'd pay for real lessons.

I guess my questions would be around which you WANT to do. Are you excited to learn to ski or really just looking for something to have fun doing when your BF is skiing? XC skiing is fun and classic style XC skiing is certainly easier and something you can probably figure out with no lessons at all and still have a good time. Many resorts also have yoga classes, and nature walks and all sorts of other things going on too - (but not this year, for the most part.) So I think COVID would also play into the decision a bit right now. Alta does have a nice beginner area and usually they have more inexpensive learn to ski programs, but I think those are cancelled this year. So if $$$ is a concern, it may make sense to do your learning skiing at Alta next year when things are things are more back to normal (if you have a local mountain with beginner lessons, that could be a cheap way to test the water). BUT if you're excited to learn and going to be there anyway, perhaps it's reasonable to you as a vacation expense to pay more to do it now.

Side note - I'm curious what you didn't like about mountain biking? It's certainly not like you have to like both, but there are many aspects to it so it just makes me wonder which parts were unappealing to you. (might help with some further recommendations...)

Anyway - I like your open minded approach. You do see people who have unrealistic expectations about wanting to just pick up skiing and hang with their SO who is a lifelong expert and that is a TALL order.... So I do think your idea to focus more on finding something fun at the same location is sensible - and perhaps the solution is a combination of activities too. You don't have to (or want to) ski all day either. It's probably better to approach it all with an open mind and see what you like and where it takes you!
 
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newbieM

Certified Ski Diva
#14
Thanks everyone! This advice is so helpful!

If anyone has Brighton instructors I would love to hear them. Brighton is also a place he wants to go skii too and he said it’s more beginner friendly.
 
#15
Brighton is offering group lessons again and that might give you a better bang for the buck over private. I can PM you the name of an instructor I like, but I've enjoyed taking group lessons there as well. You never know who you'll get but they've all been great!
 

diymom

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
For testing the waters like you are planning on doing, rentals will be just fine. But two items you might consider buying are helmet and goggles. Helmets are often rented out for an extra charge and not part of the gear package, but I've never seen goggles for rent. BF might even have an old pair you can borrow. You can buy a good quality helmet for not too much, and with it will come the peace of mind knowing that nobody else has worn it, it has not had any hard hits that might compromise its integrity, and you can choose one that fits your head shape properly. Some brands have a rounder shape, some a more oval shape, so try a few different brands on if you can to see which fits you best.
 
#18
But two items you might consider buying are helmet and goggles.
I would add that investing in a couple pairs of good ski socks is worthwhile. What might not be that obvious is that thicker is NOT better. For rental boots, mid-weight ski socks may be the way to go.

May also be worthwhile to check out the thread about face masks for skiing. A bit different when spending more than a few minutes out in the cold while exercising. Even in December when I was skiing at Alta, there were a couple days when temps stayed below 25.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/masks-for-skiing.25020/