Six Tips for Exploring a New Ski Resort


Ven­tur­ing away from your local hill to a new ski resort is a great idea: dif­fer­ent ter­rain, dif­fer­ent snow con­di­tions, and lots of poten­tial for fun adven­tures. But it can also feel strange to ski some­place total­ly unfa­mil­iar. Don’t risk miss­ing out on the moun­tain’s best runs. Use our tips for explor­ing a new ski resort.

Study the Maps
Vis­it­ing an unfa­mil­iar ski resort can be excep­tion­al­ly dis­ori­ent­ing: it’s all white, it all goes down­hill, and it all (hope­ful­ly) ends at a chair­lift. Before you even set foot on the moun­tain, study the trail map. Most resort web­sites will have trail maps avail­able online. Fig­ure out where the chairs are and what they’re called, and get acquaint­ed with names of main runs.

Once you’re on the moun­tain, every­thing will seem more famil­iar. Plus, if some­one tells you about the killer pow stash just off Trail A at the top of Chair­lift B, you’ll some­what know what they’re talk­ing about.

Take a Lesson
Take a les­son? But you’re a mad pro!

Tak­ing a les­son isn’t always about improv­ing your form and technique—although if you’re used to ski­ing on ice fields and you’re head­ing to the land of cham­pagne pow­der, you’ll prob­a­bly ben­e­fit from a tip or two. The real perk to sign­ing up for a ski les­son is that your instruc­tor will be able to show you the best spots on the hill, and you’ll prob­a­bly get to bypass the lift lines. Take a half-day pri­vate les­son to get to know the resort. It’s worth the investment.


Ski With a Local
If you can get intel from a local with­out pay­ing for ski school fees, you’re way ahead of the game. If you know a guy who knows a guy who lives near the resort, see if he can play guide for a day, just don’t for­get to treat him to après. You can also try mak­ing friends on the chair­lift, at the bar, or any­where else locals might be milling about. They won’t share secrets with just any­one, but if you can man­age to forge a friend­ship with some­one who knows the moun­tain well, your chances improve—and you can return the favor when they come to your stomp­ing grounds.

Vis­it Midweek
It’s hard to get to know a moun­tain when you spend half the day wait­ing in a lift line. Do your­self a favor and book your trip mid-week when the lifts are qui­eter and the pow­der stays untracked for just a lit­tle bit longer. This will give you max­i­mum time to explore and enjoy.

Scour the Internet
There are plen­ty of web­sites, forums, and YouTube videos out there dis­cussing infa­mous runs and zones for just about every resort on the con­ti­nent. These are great resources for build­ing your must-ski area buck­et list for your trip to the new resort.

This prob­a­bly goes with­out say­ing, but we’re going to say it any­way: use your judg­ment. Humbly accept that you don’t know the ter­rain inside out and that Moth­er Nature is in con­trol. If your must-hit couloir is closed for avalanche bomb­ing or is in the unpa­trolled “slack­coun­try”, think twice.

When you’re hit­ting up a new resort, strat­e­gy is every­thing. Your crew mat­ters: make sure that you’re ski­ing with peo­ple sim­i­lar in skill lev­el and with sim­i­lar goals and atti­tudes. Decide whether you want to spend your time explor­ing one famous zone, or if you’d rather try to hit every chair to see as much as pos­si­ble. It’s okay to want to take an hour-long lunch at the chalet, and it’s okay to ski right through–just make sure you’re on the same page as the oth­ers in your group. Now, go forth and conquer!