Learn to Ski or Snowboard for Your New Year’s Resolution
Make this the year you finally head to the slopes.
Last winter, Chowning Poppler and her friend Colleen headed to Palisades Tahoe for a short getaway in the mountains. The two thirty-somethings work together at a law firm in San Francisco and they were looking forward to a fun weekend spent outside. Chowning skis every few years, but for Colleen, it was her first time ever stepping into skis.
So, naturally, they signed up for a first-timer lesson at Squaw Valley. “I like to take a lesson when I go skiing since I don’t go very often,” Chowning says. “It helps me feel confident enough that after the lesson, I can spend the rest of the weekend heading out on my own.”
The two friends took the lesson together. They hopped aboard the Aerial Tram to the top of Squaw Valley, to 8,200 feet in elevation, and rode beginner-friendly chairlifts Mountain Meadow and Bailey’s Beach alongside a friendly and skilled instructor. “Everyone we encountered, from the people who outfitted us with our rental gear to our instructor, were all very nice,” Chowning says. “It made the whole thing feel easy and fun.” So fun, in fact, that this winter, Chowning and Colleen have plans to recruit another work friend—a first-time skier as well—to join them on what’s becoming an annual ski weekend tradition.
Has learning to ski or snowboard or teaching your kids to ski been on your must-do list for years now? We know it can seem tough—there’s the gear, the snowy roads, the cost, the time commitment. There are a lot of reasons to say, ‘I’ll learn to snowboard next year.’ Or, ‘We’ll teach the kids to ski another time.’ But as legendary ski filmmaker Warren Miller often said in his movies, “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.”
So, as a new year is upon us, come up with a plan for 2020 to finally make it happen. This will be the year you learn to ski or ride or teach your little ones to enjoy the mountains as much as you do. Besides, Palisades Tahoe has made it as easy as possible to get you and your family on the hill for the first time, thanks to learn to ski and ride packages and other conveniences that’ll make it so simple, you’ll wonder why waited so long.
It’s Easy to Get Started
The Alpine Meadows Learn to Ski & Ride special makes learning to ski fun, easy, and affordable. Geared toward people 13 years of age and older who are first-time or beginner skiers or snowboarders, the morning or afternoon lesson includes gear rental, a lift ticket to the beginner zone, and a group lesson with a skilled instructor. You’ll explore the mountain’s beginner runs, which offer progressive terrain designed for those who are just getting started. You’ll spend two and a half hours learning the basics—turning, stopping, riding the lifts—at a pace that feels just right for your level. The best part? The cost for everything is just $129 if you book two days in advance. You can also upgrade to a full-day lesson for an additional $69.
What You Need to Know
The first thing you need to know: Remember to book your learn-to-ski lesson at least 3 days in advance for the best savings. This also guarantees that you’ll get a spot, as we can’t always offer walk-ins on busy days.
Before you head into the mountains, make sure you take a little time to plan your travel. Road conditions and weather can change quickly in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, so it’s important to be prepared. The Squaw Alpine Weather and Ops blog will keep you updated on current snow conditions and weather forecasts, so you can know what to expect. If you’re driving to Tahoe, check the CalTrans QuickMap site or download their app to make sure the road conditions are clear. Be sure to pack food, water, and tire chains in your car if a storm is in the area. If you’re flying here, many flights come directly into the nearby Reno Tahoe International Airport, about a 45-minute drive from Squaw Alpine.
Once you’re here, we have many free transportation options that make exploring the North Lake Tahoe area easy and fun, even without a vehicle. Check out our tips on parking and getting around the region so that your stay can also include a visit to both mountains or a trip into historic downtown Truckee.
Ski and snowboard gear rental—including boots, poles, and boards—come with learn-to-ski packages, but if you’re missing other essentials, there are several options for both purchasing and renting gear. The rental shop at Squaw Valley offers snowpants rentals for just $16, and both Squaw and Alpine have helmets available for $10. If you’re looking for smaller items, such as gloves, there are many stores in the Village at Squaw Valley for you to find the perfect pair, including The North Face, The Ledge Boardshop, and Parallel Mountain Sports. At Alpine Meadows, there is also Estelle Sports, where you can find hats, gloves, warm layers, and more.
Learn to Ski. Guaranteed.
If you take your New Year’s Resolutions seriously (and we commend you for that), then we’ve got an offer that may be hard to pass up. If you’re a first-time skier or snowboarder, you can sign up for three full-day group lessons at Palisades Tahoe and, get this, we promise you’ll be tackling the mellow intermediate runs at our two mountains. If you’re not, we’ll offer you additional lessons at no cost until you get there. Another bonus: If you book two beginner lessons, the third one is on us. That brings the cost of learning to ski down to as little as $146 per day.
For the little ones in your crew, Squaw Kids and Alpine Kids offer full-day or morning lessons for young skiers or snowboarders ages 3 to 13, and if you sign your child up for five group lessons, the sixth one is free.
Where You’ll Go From Here
At Squaw Valley, sign up for a beginner lesson and you’ll ride the tram to High Camp atop the mountain and enjoy striking views of Lake Tahoe. First-timers and newbies will start on beginner-friendly chairlifts like Mountain Meadow and Bailey’s Beach, where the slope angle is gradual and mellow. After a few lessons, you’ll be able to head to the high-speed Big Blue Express, where you’ll test your skills on slightly more challenging terrain.
At Alpine Meadows, the Big Carpet Surface Lift now has a protective bubble that keeps out wind and adds a fun element. First-timers will start there on a welcoming incline before eventually heading to Subway and Meadow chairs. While you’re there, don’t miss breakfast, lunch, or a snack at the new Mogrog Café that opened this winter at the base of Subway Chair.