Would you believe, I’ve lived in Oregon for over 20 years, and I’ve never put on a pair of skis….until now.
Growing up in the Midwest I was not exposed to the sport of skiing AT ALL. My only foray to anything resembling gliding on the snow was a neighborhood hill, where my friends and I would take our Dad’s old plastic garbage pail lids and use them as a toboggan to slide precariously down it.
Ever since we moved to Portland (MANY years ago), my husband and I talked about going to Mt. Hood and taking a ski and/or snowboarding lesson. Mind you, we’ve been to Mt. Hood several times, but just to walk around and soak up the atmosphere, and experience the novelty of being on one of the world’s most beautiful and well-known mountains. As each winter went by, we’d either be too busy or too broke to afford a ski lesson, so we’d always say “maybe next year.” Well, 2017 was THE year! Almost on a whim, one weekend after New Year’s I bit the bullet and booked us a beginner ski lesson.
I’ve been approaching this ski trip with some trepidation for the last…oh, three months now? I booked our 2-hour beginner ski lesson in January, but got cold feet… or was it lady cramps? I don’t remember. No worries, if we didn’t show up at the appointed day, the great folks at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort would credit our lesson and rental for another day, just as long as we showed up before the ski season wrapped up in May.
I’m glad I waited so long, because we couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous day to spend on the mountain. Blue skies with just a few puffy clouds and warm(ish) temperatures. Mt. Hood Meadows was holding their annual Suits and Boots Day.
Mt. Hood Meadows is one of the world’s premiere ski resorts, located on the south side of Mt. Hood, a few miles west of Timberline Lodge. There are several places to ski on Mt. Hood, but the Meadows is the largest. They have all sorts of lessons and ski packages you can buy, from beginner to novice to more advanced options. And they have excellent staff that will make sure your ski experience is the best it can be.
On the Mountain
With the sun shining on us, we realized we didn’t even think to bring sunscreen. Thankfully there was plenty of free sunscreen at the information booth behind the lodge. And even though there was snow everywhere, with conditions perfect for skiing, it was warm! We actually overdressed and had to take off some layers. After checking in and grabbing our gear, we headed to the slopes to get the lay of the land and to meet our ski instructor. He taught us the basics:
- Starting and stopping
- Keep your skis perpendicular to the slope to keep from sliding while stationary
- French fries for going fast (keep your skiis parallel to each other)
- Pizza for going slow (make a wedge with your skiis to slow down)
- Turn your head in the direction to want to go while you’re moving as you’re skiing down the hill
We practiced what we had learned on the “baby” slope for an hour, before most of us graduated to the higher and steeper “beginner” slope.
But I wasn’t ready yet.
I purposefully fell down a couple of times skiing toward the beginner slope to drive home the point to the ski instructor. Thankfully he let me sit out the rest of the lesson. My husband however, was having the time of his life and I happily watched while he skied down the beginner slope.
My rented boots didn’t fit right, and pinched me in all the wrong places. And my left foot was getting numb from being smushed in my boot. By the end of the lesson, I was dying to get out of them. So I watched my husband ski down the beginner slope a couple of times. He was grinning from ear to ear as he rode the ski lift (he’ll definitely be back next season).
As for me…I learned that skiing isn’t one of my favorite activities. But that’s not to say I won’t be back next season, with better fitting boots and a renewed determination to master that baby slope before taking a ride on my first ski lift to ski down a “real” ski slope!
THINGS TO CONSIDER DURING YOUR FIRST SKI TRIP
- Dress in layers! Once you’re on the mountain, you may be chilly at first, but once you start moving, things will heat up fast.
- Sunscreen! (Yeah, even when it’s cloudy)
- Your ski boots MUST fit you properly and be comfortable. I cannot stress this enough. It’s what ruined it for me on my first ski trip.
- Learn how to properly take your skies on and off, and how to get up without taking off your skies if you fall down.
- Give yourself plenty of time to master the basics of starting, stopping and turning on the slopes before you tackle your first descent. We had only a couple of hours for our lesson, but I will need at least a full day of practice before I hit the slopes again.
- A good attitude and good ski etiquette makes all the difference in whether you have a good or bad experience on the slopes.
- Be patient! Different people learn at different speeds. Know your limits and don’t be afraid to practice, practice, practice in order to get the hang of it!
- When booking a ski rental package, Mt. Hood Meadows will provide you with ski boots, skis, helmet and ski poles. You will have to bring your own ski goggles. There are convenient lockers to store your valuables at the rental station.
- I highly recommend lessons if you’re a beginner, or haven’t been on the slopes in awhile. The instructors at Mt. Hood are upbeat, friendly and experts who can guide you and give you valuable info.