If I was to treat the reader of this as a complete and utter beginner on a skiing holiday, I would make a couple of suggestions as a precursor to one of the best holidays you will ever experience.
We first went skiing about 18 years ago; prior to going, we went to the ski slopes out at Kilternan. I have to say from a skiing point of view, it didn’t give us much of a help, but it certainly helped with gauging the weight of the boots, wearing skis, carrying poles and getting to grips with button lifts. It was when we went to Westendorf in Austria that the real lessons began. I would urge all of you to take lessons from a qualified instructor for at least the first three days of your holiday. You can either take private lessons or hang in with a group of equally inadequate people, which can be just great fun. All the snow ploughing, the tumbles, the laughter and of course, the infamous “nail bars” (nothing glamorous, just a pub game with a stump of wood and nails – you have to try), the schnapps, the hot chocolate with rum and cream. And the sleep of the just and exhausted after a day of bending your legs in a way that they have never gone before.
As another tip pre heading on your holiday; I would say, get those arms and leg muscles working and strong. You need arm strength to “shoosh” you along to the lifts and your legs get very tired if you do a long run. Some of the other things you need to get used to and which seem intimidating on your first day; the moving carpet on the nursery slopes, the button lift, which is a type of kidney shaped seat that swings around and you have to balance yourself on the run underneath with your skis, whilst letting the seat just slide under your bum as you grab the swing and holding your poles to your side. You then just let the swing seat go as you reach the top. And the lifts. Easy peasy. Just get yourself to the start of the lift which is like a greyhound racing trap and then wait for the seat to come around. Make sure to swing the protection rail down over you all and off you go. There are also enclosed gondolas which come around very slowly. You place your skis in the holder outside, then climb inside and the gondola moves up the mountain. The views are spectacular.
What to pack:
Skin: A good sun block. I use La Roche P osay factor 50 as it is non comedogenic. I would also use a very good moisturiser both morning and evening and a good lip balm. I found my skin gets very dry. I think it’s the combination of the cold/wind/air conditioning. So maybe bring a treat of a face mask for one of the evenings.
Clothes: Get good quality ski gear to last you a decent 10 years. After all, you are probably going to be skiing just once a year for a week. So, a decent jacket with well padded trousers. Make sure they are good and warm. Wear layers underneath. Skiing/hill walking socks that come up to almost the knee so that when you put on your boot you can make sure that only the ridges of the socks are underneath. First body layer being thermals, top and bottom, and then perhaps a cotton tee shirt, long or short sleeved. Very good skiing gloves, goggles and sun glasses. Both of the last items should be suitable for snow conditions. I believe rose/grey goggles are best for all types of visibility but especially for low visibility. Nothing scarier than when the sky and snow meet and you can’t see off piste. Wear a thermal hat and also a scarf that is specially designed to stay over the lower half of the face. I have to say that I found Great Outdoors to be fantastic. Expensive, however, so if you have a friend the same size as you, don’t be afraid to ask!
You can hire all your equipment in most ski resorts and we booked our’s online as it works out cheaper. We used – –Ski Hire 2000. You will need to get boots (the tighter you put them on the more support you have on your turns), skis to suit your weight, poles to suit your height and a helmet. The first day, your order will be waiting for you and if there are any changes to be made, they will do that for you. You will also need your ski lift pass. This usually works out at about €40 per person per day, so bear that into account along with the cost of ski hire.
A skiing holiday usually works out at around €1,000 per head. I highly recommend Westendorf, but am a bit biased there. I’ll talk about it briefly in my next post.