Living in Colorado, everyone kind of assumes you must be a skier. Well, let me tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth for me and my family. While we have skied before, we had never tackled anything like the Rocky Mountains and were by no means living and breathing the lifestyle.
Fast forward to living in Aspen and the pressure to ski or snowboard is real. I wanted to embrace it, but on my terms. Because honestly, I’m 37 years old, and learning to ski at 37 can be extremely intimidating. To me, it’s equivalent to sky diving. I mean, you’re flying down a mountain on these super narrow skis and I just think it’s scary as shit. I knew it was necessary to learn how, though, because one, this is where I live and I want to be a part of the culture, and two, it’s amazing family time! I want to be able to make memories on the mountain with Zelda. So…I’ve made it a priority this winter to learn to ski. Yep. It’s happening!
One of the first things I learned about skiing was that it requires a lot of equipment and basically a whole new wardrobe. Plus, I’ve been getting tons of questions from you guys ever since moving here about what I’m wearing and staying warm in style. To cover all of this, I thought it would be fun to not only share what I’m wearing but kind of make a ‘skiing for beginners in Aspen 101’ guide! From where you can find rentals to booking lessons to what to wear, I’m breaking it all down and throwing in five tips I’ve learned since I got started! Let’s dive in!
What you wear while skiing is so important. Honestly, way more important than I realized. Not just from an aesthetic perspective, although that’s important (obviously), but more from a functionality standpoint. There are two boxes you need to be sure and check before heading out: You want to be warm and you want to be comfortable. If you don’t have both of these things, trust me when I say you are in for a long, miserable day.
To avoid this, layers are your new best friend. It’s much, much better to have on too much and be hot because you can always take things off. Here is how I recommend building your layers:
Base: These are the first items of clothing to go on your body. Forget about coats and ski pants, we’ll get to them later. For me, I like to start with this Sweaty Betty top and bottom set. They’re sweat-wicking and if you have to take off your other layers, you can wear them in the lodge. If you prefer a jumpsuit, I love, love, love this one. It’s a bit pricier, but something else I’ve learned – ski gear isn’t cheap. I will say, though, these base layers will serve you season after season, so it’s a good place to invest. Or, if you’re heading to the slopes later in the season and it’s a bit warmer, you can skip the top base layer and opt for a fun sweater.
Socks: Socks are a little trickier than you might think. Your first instinct might be to go for a bulky, wool sock or to layer up several pairs. Wrong, my friends. It’s OK, I thought that too. Instead, opt for a performance ski sock. These socks are thinner and made for skiing. They’re key for boot comfort and I think we can all agree that is imperative. I love the Bombas midweight ski sock because they get the job done and the brand gives a pair back for every set purchased. Win-win.
Outerwear: OK, you’ve built up your base layer and you have the right socks, so now it’s time for your outerwear. You have some options here. First, you can go with a ski suit. I like this Sweaty Betty jumpsuit option (tip: sign up for their newsletter and you’ll save 15%!) – you slide it on over your base layer, zip it up and you’re ready to go. The faux fur detail is removable so you can change things up, it has tons of pockets/zippers for storage and your ski pass to hook onto, features a built-in cloth wipe for your goggles – it really has everything. I own it and can truly say it’s a well-constructed, quality ski suit.
Second, you can go with a classic ski overall. I love this look for spring skiing because you can pair it with just a sweater and be ready to hit the slopes. If you prefer a pant, I suggest this option because they’re high waisted and under $200, which in the ski world is a fantastic price. Whether you’re into the overall or the pant, the next step is to add your coat. This Perfect Moment coat is made for skiing and has a really fun design on the back. Because who doesn’t love details like that?
These are all great staples to start out with, but what I’m discovering is the more you ski, the more options you’ll start to build. Regardless of how often you ski, you definitely want these basics!
Protection: Girl, you are not too cool for a helmet. No one is. Protection is soooo crucial when skiing. Literally, everyone wears a helmet. If you’re doubting the idea of a helmet, remember that wearing one is chicer than a head injury, just saying. I wear this Roxy one and it is really comfortable, has a cool print and pairs back nicely with their goggles. Speaking of goggles, I’ve learned it can actually be pretty important to buy your goggles and helmet from the same manufacturer. They’ll fit perfectly together for a seamless look. It’s not 100% necessary, but you’re guaranteed to not have a gap between the two when you do.
Gloves: It goes without saying that gloves are a must. But just like socks, you want to opt for a specific kind. You want a glove that doesn’t absorb moisture and will stay dry when you get powder on them. For this, I recommend a Helly Hansen Powderqueen pair. This is the pair I have and I can promise you they work, but the real key is also having a glove liner. A liner ensures that if moisture does get through the glove, your hands won’t get wet and cold. And you definitely do not want that, so a liner it is! Plus, liners are also great to have because if you get too hot, you can slip off the gloves and just sport the liner. Layers, remember?!
Neck Warmer: This is another one that not everyone thinks of but is so incredibly important. If you’re up on the mountain and it is very frigid, you are definitely going to want to have on a neck warmer. You can pull it up over your face too, which can be a lifesaver when skiing down. I usually wear a hooded option because then my ears have some guaranteed coverage as well.
OK, now that you know all about layering and what to wear to stay warm and comfortable, now let’s talk equipment.
Buying ski equipment can get expensive fast, which is why I think it’s crucial to rent first, find out what you like, then invest. I rented my first six visits because I wanted to learn what I liked best.
If you knowing skiing is going to become a part of your lifestyle like me, I highly recommend buying. If you’re just heading out for a fun weekend, renting is definitely the way to go! If you’re coming to Aspen, there is a Four Mountain Sports located at the base of every major mountain, which makes renting super easy. You don’t have to reserve anything or do anything in advance, just show up, rent your gear and off you go!
If you’re set on buying your own gear and you’re a beginner like me, I bought these skis and these poles. I’ve only used my actual pair a few times so far, but this was a style/brand I tried while renting and really loved them.
For boots, you want to be certain to get a good-fitting pair. I’m sure if you go into a place to try some on (or if you’ve ever rented them, you know this) they’ll tell you that they’re meant to be tight, but your feet should never go numb. If your feet start to tingle at any point, that means your boots are too small. Head back down to the rental shop after your run or make an exchange if you purchased and go up a half size. Again, it’s all about comfort!
Now it’s time to ski! You look good, you’re comfortable in your gear, so the next step is to actually ski down that mountain! With this season being my first, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well I’ve done, but that’s not to say I haven’t had a few good wipeouts. I think the key to falling is to relax and kind of just let it happen. I find it’s when I tense up and try to go against it that I fall even harder. Just avoid those trees the best you can! And if you’re in Aspen and need some lessons, check out Aspen Snowmass Ski School.
SHOP SKI GEAR
To wrap things up, I want to share five tips that have really helped me and made me feel even more comfortable as I learn to ski!
1. Watch YouTube “How To Ski” Videos
2. Book a Group or Private Lesson
If it’s your first time skiing, book a lesson! There is absolutely no shame in this (no matter how old you are). Learn from a professional! It’ll make the rest of your vacation or the season a million times more enjoyable. I mentioned Aspen Snowmass Ski School above and let me tell you, they are great! I’ve taken lessons there, my mother has taken lessons there, Zelda continues to take lessons there. They’re super organized and easy to work with, just make sure you book your lesson in advance!
3. Dress Warm *KEY!!
I gave you my best advice and insight on this topic above, but I can’t stress it enough. If you aren’t warm, you won’t have a good time, so don’t be too lax about it.
4. When Getting Off the Lift, Simply Stand When Your Skis Touch, It’s That Simple!
Skiing is all fun and games until you fall getting off the lift. Honestly, this has been a pain point for me, so here’s my best tip: when you’re getting off the lift, all you have to do when your skis touch down, is simply stand up! Don’t do anything with your poles or try to maneuver in some fancy way, just stand and you’ll get going.
5. You Are There Only to Have FUN! Don’t Get in Your Own Head or Be Hard on Yourself!
Don’t get worked up or too in your head if you aren’t great at first. You’ll ski best with a clear mind while remembering you’re there to simply have fun!
If I can learn to ski, so can you! It really is the best and I’ve had so much so far. I really hope this answers some questions for you guys, but if you have more, please leave them in the comments! I’m excited to keep sharing my skiing journey and would love to hear from you on this topic as well!