One of the biggest draws for us when considering the Aspen move was that Zelda was going to be able to grow up immersed in an outdoor lifestyle. We really wanted her to appreciate and enjoy time outside – in a way that you simply can’t get in a big city. At least not daily. We were so excited that basically as soon as we moved here, one of our first priorities was getting her out on the mountain and safely learning to ski.
We found out right away that taking lessons is the best way to learn all the technical stuff, and it obviously makes skiing much safer and enjoyable. This is absolutely my biggest tip for anyone that has asked me about Zelda (or me) learning to ski. Get into lessons ASAP, no matter your age – and find a stellar company to work with.
We have Zelda in ski school through Aspen Snowmass, so she goes every Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. At first, I thought that seemed like a ridiculous amount of time and that there was no way her little legs were going to last that long or that she’d have fun the whole time. I mean, six hours every weekend is a lot! But, the first day of lessons came and while Spiro and I unexpectedly bawled like babies (it felt like such a grown-up moment for Zelda) when we dropped her off, she was like peace out parents! I mean, that girl was ready to go. And she had the same amount of energy and excitement when we picked her up! We were shocked because although she had skied in Wisconsin before, we had no idea she’d take to it so quickly.
On top of her excitement, we have been completely blown away by the level of expertise of the people teaching ski lessons in Aspen and at Aspen Snowmass. I mean, they are people you want your kids spending time around because they’re so great at not only skiing but working with the kids in general and having a good time with them.
As for working out all the details, definitely book your ski lessons online BEFORE you arrive. They might be able to accommodate you without a prior reservation, but why jump through hoops if you don’t have to? Zelda takes a group lesson and loves being with the other kids. Aspen Snowmass has a few different locations depending what mountain you’re on, but everything is so easy to navigate, trust me.
For gear, your kid has to show up to ski lessons ready to go, so be prepared by either purchasing or renting. Personally, we decided not to buy boots or skis for Zelda because she’s growing so fast (I included some below though just in case you want to take a look). You can get your rentals from Aspen Snowmass but no need to book in advance. They always have plenty of gear and options available at all their locations, so no worries there.
To get you started, I’ve prepared a whole list of what your child will need for a WARM and COMFORTABLE day on the mountain. I stress those two words because if they aren’t warm and comfortable, you know what’s going to happen – there’s going to be tears and a whole lot of whining. We’ve had a couple situations where Spiro and I had to learn the hard way, so hopefully my recommendations can help you avoid this.
Here’s everything Zelda has loved and I would suggest to other parents looking for ski gear for their kids.
If I’ve learned anything when dressing for skiing (both for me and Zelda), it’s to dress in layers. It’s not quite as simple as it sounds though, there’s a formula. It starts with the base layer. Zelda wears this thermal set as her base layer and it has worked like a charm. We have it pink and black. I recommend getting a couple of sets, even if you’re only going for a weekend. That way you don’t have to wash things or rush out and buy another set if there’s an accident (kids pee their pants – it happens).
You can also go the jumpsuit route if your kid prefers that comfort-wise. Zelda has this in the pizza style. She gets so excited about wearing her “pizza suit” every week, so I count that as a win. I think really involving your kids in picking these things out gets them even more into it and builds some anticipation. The more you can amp them up about going skiing, the better in my opinion.
For when it’s extra cold, add a fleece zip-up sweater as an extra layer. We love this Roxy zip up for Zelda. Roxy has tons of great ski gear for adults and kids, so definitely check them out when shopping. But again, it’s better to have it and to have to take it off, then for your kid to get cold and not have a way to warm them up.
I’ve also been very surprised to learn the importance of having actual “ski socks”. My first instinct was to get a warm, bulky pair or maybe have her wear two pairs. Don’t do this. Get a sock specifically for skiing. This way there’s no slippage in the boots and their feet stay comfortable and warm (there are those words again). Smartwool and Bombas are two brands we really like for adults and kids.
For the next layer, you’re going to want extra warm outerwear. You can go the snowsuit route for one easy layer – Zelda has this Roxy one, which works great for skiing and just playing in the snow at home. She also has a pair of Roxy snow overalls. I recommend overalls versus a pant because then they’ll never get snow in through the top.
If you go the overall route (instead of a suit), grab this girl’s ski coat. It has tons of pockets and is extra warm.
Safety gear is paramount. No child should ever go skiing without a helmet – I can’t stress this enough. You can rent helmets, but if you’re going to be up on the mountain multiple times throughout the season, I recommend investing in one. There are a lot of really fun patterns and designs out there, so be sure to let the kids help pick these.
Another necessity for safety and practicality. You definitely don’t want snow blowing in your kids’ eyes as they go down the mountain. Grab a pair that matches their helmet and you’ll be good to go. Zelda has these Giro ones.
Hot parent tip for getting you kids gloves: get a pair that attaches to their coat or snowsuit. If you don’t, you’re going to be one glove down real quick. This pair (they match the snowsuit I linked above) clips on perfectly and if Zelda gets hot and takes them off, they just hang.
This is one of those things that if you don’t have it, you’re kicking yourself. It is 100% necessary, trust me. You can wear a regular neck warmer, or, if it’s really cold, I like to dress myself and Zelda in a balaclava. With a balaclava, no wind will hit their ears, neck or face at all, so it’s very warm and protective.
Boots and Skis
Like I said above, I recommend renting boots and skis for little ones, but if renting isn’t your thing, I totally get it. If you’re skiing a lot, renting can get expensive, so sometimes it makes sense to buy. These Nordica boots are the ones we rented this season for Zelda and they’ve been great paired with this Salomon ski.
So now you have ski lessons booked and you know what gear you need – your child is officially ready for the mountain! Make sure they eat a really good meal before heading out and you’re in for one extremely fun afternoon on the slopes.
If you have any questions at all about gear or our experience using something, please let me know and I’ll be happy to help.