Ski Trip

I’m going skiing next week. It will be grown ups only (2 other couples), leaving the kids with family. We’re headed to Copper Mountain and staying at my parent’s summer condo in Frisco, Co. We’ll be there for 4 total days.

It’s been a long time since I’ve skied (15 years), but I’ve been 3 times before. My wife has only skied once, one couple once, and the other couple never.

Despite my misgivings (I’m out of shape and getting old!), we are planning to take ski lessons and ski the first day (after the travel day there). Everything I have read recommends acclimating to the high altitude for at least one day, but since the trip is only 4 days, everybody wants to get in more skiing. Since i’ve had nasty altitude sickness in the past, I just got a prescription for diamox and hope that will keep it at bay. And plenty of water!

So what advice do y’all have about skiing? Rentals, proper clothes, ski tips, etc?

And what other activities do you recommend while we’re there (not looking for anything too strenuous)?

Thanks for listening.

Layers, and get a good base layer. Regular ‘long johns’ will suck the life out of you. Just got a pair of decent Under Armor stuff and tried them out in our Iceland vacation and they kicked ass. Get proper ski socks, too. This stuff ain’t cheap, we just got them for this season (newbs, I skied for the first time ever this past January) and the base layers were $40 each (IIRC) for the top and bottom and socks were $25 or so a pair.

We also bought helmets but consider renting them. Not necessarily for how bad you are, but all the fuck monkeys out there.

When you rent, go with the most expensive they’ve got. Even for intermediate skiers, good equipment can make a big difference.

Wear ski socks, never regular socks. Wear one pair, do not layer them. Boots are meant to fit over one pair of socks.

For altitude, avoid liquor as much as possible for the first 24-36 hours, and drink a ton of water.

If you’re deciding on a pair of goggles, always go amber. They give you a little extra vision help when skiing in flat light conditions (overcast) for seeing changes in the white terrain you’re skiing on.

If you haven’t skied in 15 years, you may have never skied on cut-away skis with the parabolic design. They are, as Leto Tejada-Flores calls them, “magic skis”. They’ll do all the work for you once you figure out that carving a beautiful turn is as easy as a weight shift from leg to leg.

Do you think the rentals (at copper) will offer them?

Almost too late, but everyone should start doing a few leg exercises RIGHT NOW. Just a few lunges today, a few more tomorrow, some squats, etc. Very few so that you don’t get too sore but it will go a long way towards making the second day fun.


Yep, but I actually recommend getting something with a wide waist rather than parabolic.

Parabolics are old technology at this point and are simply not as stable as these types.

As for clothing definitley layer. I like Hot Chilis for a base layer with a Capaline insulation layer. For a top layer Gore Tex is best since it is both water proof and windproof (it matters).

Definitely get ski sox ( I like Thor-Lo) and don’t layer them as was previously mentioned. Some googles are a must if there is weather.

That is probably a pile of money though (well over a grand), and certainly you can get away with less, but you will also be less comfortable in the elements.

As for lessons I suggest a full day of group (or private if you are rich), probably around level 2-3 (on the standard 7 level scale) for you and definitely 2 for your wife (though they will asses you pretty quickly on hill if they are any good.)

I also suggest heading to the top of Copper at least once since standing up there is amazing. Resolution Bowl is incredible if you are up to it, but is definitley epic bump terrain!

I will also pass on this one piece of advice about actually skiing since it is the most common flaw with recreatonal skiiers. Initiate your turn by extending your uphill leg to apply pressure to the outside ski at the top of the turn. This will give you greater control through the turn rather than trying to throw on the brakes at the bottom of it.

Enjoy Copper! I haven’t been there in many years but I remember it being an amazing place to ski (though truth be told I liked A-Basin a bit better for Summit County skiing).

The googles, they do nothing.

Nitpick. :p

Have fun, I learned to ski at copper. What a great mountain. I’m kinda jealous.

Every ski–even the wide-waist skis that are the new tech–is parabolic in shape compared to the K2 290’s I used to own in the 1980’s. You could bridge rivers with those things.

philo: any decent ski shop is going to have gear at the very bottom rung that is 500% better and more easy to ski on than anything you used in 1996.

Also: dunno if there’s time, but I cannot recommend enough this book. I know what you’re thinking: you can’t learn to ski from a book. That’s 100% correct. But, you can learn to get out of that skidding, “that blue slope really wore me out” peak of the bell curve that 90% of casual skiers never escape. That book (read the first edition back in the 1980’s or so) took me from being an intermediate-level skier with zero technique to being a someone who can pretty fearlessly ski any bowl or bump run on the mountain. It is the best-written and most clear “so THAT’S what they’re doing” bit of de-mystifying for ski technique that I know of.

Hehe…true that. I still have a pair of those old 210’s in the garage. :)

Too funny. Had already started doing that. Felt ridiculous just doing random squats, but I have been trying to do this a couple of times every day. Hope that helps a little.

I’ve also had bad altitude sickness in the past, so I went to the PCP and got a prescription of acetazolamide (aka diamox). Anybody every take that before? Did it help (or make it worse)?

I would hate to spend $1k on clothes if I’m only going to ski once every 10-15 years. I picked up some cheap stuff from Walmart (online) and I’m going to borrow a jacket, hat, and gloves from my sister who lives in the area.

As for lessons, a full day, huh? We just signed up for 2 hours. All day would get pricey real quick!

Yeah, a two hour should be fine, just don’t go down to an hour. One hour just isn’t really long enough to learn much for skills.

As for clothes, it’s all really just a matter of how much you want to spend vs. how comfortable you want to be. Sounds like you have hit a happy medium by borowing some stuff from your sister.

I still STRONGLY recommend a good set of ski socks (about $20), just trust me on this one. Cotton socks are an absolute killer in ski boots, both cold and pain wise. I use these and really like em.

One last tip for skiing n00bs. If your feet are cold, you will be miserable with a capital M your entire day on the slopes. There’s no getting around that. That–and a comfortable fit in your boots–is why merry and I strongly recommend fully-purposed ski socks over any regular socks when you ski.

But–there’s one other tip for keeping your feet warm while you ski that even experienced skiers are absolute lunkheads about too much of the time: USE THE PULLDOWN BAR ON THE SKI LIFT. How does that keep your feet warm? Simple rules of anatomy and circulation.

Most of those pulldown bars also have a sort of T-bar footrest that comes into play with them. You want to be resting your feet on those on the chair ride up the mountain. Why? Well, skis and boots are heavy. They pull your feet down, and it creats a small “kink” in your circulatory system just above your knees when you sit in a chair lift and if you let your feet dangle with that heavy gear on your feet. That decreases the circulation to your lower extremities, which in turn makes your feet–and especially your toes–cold. By elevating your feet and skis on the T-bar footrest you keep good circulation going and keep them warmer.

I’m always stunned when veteran skiers and especially boarders bitch and moan about wanting to pull the bar down. It’s sheer common sense and will keep you more comfortable through the day. Just remember to lift the bar back up before the chair gets to the top. Real tough to get off that sucker with the bar down…

Good advice! Our little hill slopes around here aren’t big enough for the T-bar thing to work, but I’ll remember that if I go somewhere real again. For clothes I always just wear thermal underwear, then something, then a waterproof outer layer. Good gloves and good headwear make all the difference moment-to-moment. Good outerwear comes into play when you get covered in snow.

I think when the season finally hits around here I’m just going to go skiing in my motorcycle jacket and pants. They’re waterproof, warm, and armored so I can just ride my bike to the slopes, get off and ski, and then ride home. Winner.


Don’t skimp on the socks. You can use them for other things, as a good pair of socks will be with you for years. IMO the cutting edge in sock technology is Smartwool, and any decent outdoors store will have them. I’ve worn different styles of them in sub zero and I’ve worn them in 130 degrees, and I’ve even worn them for days at a time as a result of circumstance (although with these handwashing and rotating two pairs is perfectly viable). I find the medium cushion hiking type to be the most versatile, but you really need to try them on and see what works for you. The magic won’t kick in until you start sweating and avoid the whole hot-cold-hot-bunch up-blister-etc cycle.

A second priority after that would be good windproof gore-tex gloves that fit you well. Everything else I think you can borrow although the gore-tex jacket is a really good thing to have (I’ve had one for over a decade now that still repels everything like it was new).

I had the opportunity to go to Tahoe last Christmas after not skiing in decades and it was great, but on the cold days I would have been a miserable bastard on those slopes without the proper protection for my extremities.

Do you find that Smartwool tend to wear out really fast LK? All my Smartwool got holes really fast, so I tend to prefer Darn Tough and Thorlo.

I have been out of the skiing game for two years due to moving from Colorado to SF and back again; that and having a couple of kids really cut down on the 50+ days a year I got in the mid aughts.

Are parabolics really old news now, I mean for all types of skiing? I know the fatties have been a great choice if you are a powder hound, but have wide waist skis really leap ahead of parabolics for having a “one-quiver” all-mountain type of ski that can handle everything somewhat well?

My 2005 model Volkl AC3 Unlimiteds are (or were) awesome in the speed and power departments, and they did moderately well in powder. I just can’t see a wide waist ski ripping down the mountain, but if this is the case any insight would be great as I gear back up this year!

I still have smartwool socks that I wore daily in the Marine Corps years ago. For daily use the medium cushion socks tend to last 2-3 years. I don’t really have a timeframe on the ones I’ve bought since, since none have failed. I expect that regular skiing puts a different kind of wear and tear in concentrated places that I may not be able to account for.