First Timer's Guide
Congratulations! Skiing and snowboarding is more than just a winter sport, it is a lifestyle and point of pride for millions of American! Your interest in trying the sport will be rewarded in joyful discovery of what we established skiers and snowboarders already passionately enjoy. We can’t wait to get you started! All of us at The Summit take great pride in getting people enjoying sliding on snow the right way, through great instruction and affordable options. Read on for great information regarding getting started in one of the greatest winter pastimes!
Summit West – The Place to Learn
While there are several ways to get started, we strongly suggest heading to Summit West and trying the EZ 2 Learn program…3 days of lift, lesson and rental packages for one low price!
First Day Video
Wondering what happens on your first day learning skiing and snowboarding? Take at look at our helpful video below as we guide you through the process from the start of your day to it’s successful conclusion:
NEW! Lesson Picker Tool
We have a wide variety of lesson offerings…something for everyone! To help narrow down what choices may suit you, try out our Lesson Picker tool below.
Other Helpful Links:
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Rental Equipment
- Helpful Hints – First Timers and Parents
- Private Lessons
Looking for some helpful tips for a successful first day skiing or riding?
Read on for our suggestions on how to get started off on your skiing or snowboarding journey the right way!
First suggestion: Summit West! Long hailed as “The Place to Learn at The Summit” this base area offers an abundance of beginner terrain. Another bonus – a HUGE rental shop for all of your equipment needs! Check out the Hours of Operations for Summit West’s schedule. You can also check out a short video featuring Summit West’s highlights right here.
Second suggestion: Sign up for our EZ 2 Learn program! Take away the stress of starting out by purchasing this package which includes three days of lessons, lift tickets and rentals…everything you need for one low price.
Dress in Layers
Wearing layers keeps you warmer because it lets you adjust your clothing if the temperature changes as the day goes on. The morning might be chilly while the afternoon sun can make you bake. It’s also a good idea to wear moisture “wicking” clothing to stay dry and comfortable. The “wicking” keeps the sweat away from your body.
Your outermost layer should be wind and water resistant, including your pants. Clothes such as jeans or sweatpants just don’t cut it, and are only going to guarantee you’ll be wet and cold. One pair of quality “wicking” socks will keep your feet nice and warm. More isn’t always better when it comes to your feet, so don’t bother with the second pair of socks.
Always Wear Mittens or Gloves
Keep your hands warm, dry, and protected with a good pair of waterproof gloves or mittens. This is a “must have.”
Sure beanies look cool, but consider a helmet. No, not a motorcycle or bike helmet; I’m talking about one specifically made for skiing or snowboarding. With the latest styles, they look just as cool as beanies and they’re safer for your skull. The best helmet is the one that fits. You’re confused about how to tell if it fits? Ask the sales person at your local shop, or a rental shop tech, to explain it to you.
Parents—if you’re worried about your munchkin’s head outgrowing a new helmet every season, check out our helmet rental program. We offer season long helmet rentals at an affordable price in a variety of sizes.
Remember—You can lose up to 20% of your body heat through your head. Keep it covered to stay warm.
Wear Sunscreen and Lip Balm
The sun’s rays are less filtered at higher elevations. Snow also reflects sun rays like a giant mirror, making them even more intense. Wind can burn your skin too. It’s tough to explain to your boss or teacher why you’re bright red when you supposedly “spent the day in bed recovering from that nasty flu virus that’s going around.” Protect your skin and you won’t have to think of any excuses!
Goggles and Sunglasses
Remember the last time you walked out of a dark movie theater into the bright sunlight and were temporarily blinded? Since the bright sunlight is reflecting off the snow, there is no “temporarily” in this situation. Get some goggles or sunglasses that will protect your peepers.
But you say “it’s not sunny so I don’t need glasses or goggles.” Ever tried to keep your eyes open while rippin’ down the slopes while it’s snowing? It’s painful and difficult to see. Do yourself a favor and don the eye protection.
While a grocery list keeps you from having to go to the store more than once, a checklist can keep you from having to skip your day of skiing or snowboarding. How so you ask? Ever forgotten your pants and not realized it until you went to slip them on in the resort parking lot? And trust me, snowboarding in only your long underwear doesn’t work well.
Make a checklist of the essential items you need, and check it before leaving your house. Here’s a list of suggestions to get you started. Whether or not you think the Pink Floyd Box Set is a necessity is up to you.
- Backpack or gear bag/duffle – Many people keep their ski and snowboard gear in one handy bag and use it every time they head to the mountains.
- Hat – When your head is warm, the rest of you is more likely to stay warm.
- Waterproof Gloves or Mittens – Mittens are warmest.
- Goggles – Optional, but best for snowy days.
- Sunglasses – An absolute must; UV protection is required.
- Water-resistant pants – Wind pants, insulated.
- Warm, dry socks – Bring an extra pair.
- Jacket/parka – Water-resistant is best.
- Extra lightweight sweater or sweatshirt – For layering, if needed. Wool or Dry-weave fabrics are much warmer than cotton.
- Sunscreen – SPF 15 or higher.
- Pocket tissues – Optional, but your nose may run a little.
- Lip Balm – SPF 15 or higher.
- Energy Bar – A little snack to keep you energized.
- Trail Map – Gotta know where ya are and where ya wanna go!!
- ID/wallet/petty cash – Store in a secure, zipper pocket.
- Water – Stay Hydrated! Drink plenty of water before and after your day on the slopes. Maybe pack an extra bottle of water or two in your ski bag or locker.
Understand Your Fitness Level
You don’t have to look like a slim marathon runner to enjoy snow sports. But it’s important to work within your own limits. Pace yourself, don’t venture too far from resting places that provide shelter from the elements, and don’t overdo it.
Ha! Fooled You! No, I’m not talking about a toast with your new found friends; although that can be taken care of at the end of the day. Sun, wind, sweat and altitude rob your body of fluids. In fact, you can become dehydrated long before you even feel thirsty. Stop frequently for water or carry it with you. Caffeine and alcohol won’t replenish your body fluids as well as juice or plain water. Save toasting with the good stuff until after you’re off the slopes for the day.
Eat and Sleep Well
Long before the line was used in cereal commercials, nutrition experts knew that breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. Skipping it only leaves you fatigued and crabby before lunch, which serves only as a source of irritation for your friends. If your metabolism is running at the rate of a Formula One Race car, bring along a snack to refuel mid-morning or have some money for buying food.
And trying to watch the sunrise on the day of your trip to the mountains is not advisable. Be sure to get a good night sleep. By doing this, you’ll have plenty of energy to enjoy your day.
Pimp your ride (Winterize Your Car)
Before you travel to the mountain, make sure your car is ready for the colder alpine environment. Always carry tire chains when traveling in the mountains because you never know when the state patrol will require you to have them. (They also help when the snow gets deep to keep your car rolling on the road instead of piling into the ditch.)
An ice scraper is a necessity, unless you want to use your driver’s license or your ATM card to try and chisel ice off your windshield. Since it’s the Pacific Northwest and it snows a lot here, you’ll probably experience some fresh snow from a storm or two. When it happens, “shoulda, coulda, woulda” won’t cut it with your buds. Make sure that you’re prepared for the driving conditions because nobody waits on a powder day.
I’m at the mountain, now what do I do?
Now that you’ve arrived at The Summit at Snoqualmie, the fun begins. Here’s the insider’s line to making the most of your day on the slopes:
Arriving early allows you to park closest to the base area. This means less time from the car to the slopes. It also means we’ll have the pick of our rental equipment available for your experience and you won’t be rushed to get to your lesson. And we haven’t even talked about first tracks yet!
If you’re headed to Alpental, follow the locals and park in the shot ten or other lots located above the Armstrong Express chair. You can ski right to your car at the end of the day by parking in these lots! Since the return route from Alpental’s famous backcountry zooms right by these lots, you can ask ski patrol for their “pick of the day” as they return from early morning avalanche control work.
Headed to Summit West? This one is the easiest to find right off of exit 52. Park in one of the two lots located just west of the main plaza or in a designated area along the main road. For the best parking spots near the Summit Learning Center, turn right into the upper driveway just east of the U.S. Forest Service building.
Summit Central offers a large lot that accesses both the ski area and tubing facilities. Head up the heated walkway after the arch way and you’ll arrive at the Central plaza. From there you can access everything you’ll need for the day.
Don’t forget that we offer a free shuttle between Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central, and Summit East. Park at one and explore the others without having to get out of your boots! Our different base areas are what make The Summit at Snoqualmie experience truly unique.
Take a Lesson
Most people learn from their friends or family members, but the key to a great day on the slopes is a lesson. You’ll improve most when you receive some guidance from a pro. After all, would you trust an amateur plumber to install your new water heater or sewer system?
A pro instructor will give you the inside information as to what the sport is all about and help you maximize the fun factor. Our Learning Centers offer one-stop shopping for first time beginners. You can pick up your lift ticket, rentals and lessons at any of our base area rental shops. It’s the most convenient way to go.
If you’re planning to take advantage of our First-Time Beginner Package you should check out our EZ 2 Learn program. You get your lesson, lift ticket, and rentals for three days (do not need to be consecutive days)! It’s the best way to get exposed to the sport because you can learn at your own pace.
A Private Lesson is you and the instructor. You can also get semi private lessons with you and a friend or relative with one instructor. Private Lessons can be purchased at a Learning Center Desk or reserved in advance. Asked for a PSIA (skiing) or AASI (snowboarding) certified instructor!
During your lesson be active, open and eager to learn. Ask questions. Our instructors want you to get the most out of your lesson. Let them know what you want out of this experience.
The key to successful skiing/snowboarding is control. To have it, you must be aware of your technique, the terrain and the skiers/snowboarders around you. Be aware of the snow conditions and how they can change. We can provide all this information in a lesson!
Be sure you are in the right level. Our Learning Center staff will be able to help you decide what lessons are appropriate for your level.
You’ve never skied/snowboarded before.
Skiing: You can hold a wedge and want to work on turning and speed control. Snowboarding: You can slide in a straight run or slideslip with both feet in. You want to learn to turn and stop.
Skiing: You can make beginning wedge turns in both directions and want to develop more control and confidence.
Snowboarding: You can make beginning skidded turns and stop in control. You want to build your turning skills on easier Green terrain.
If you need to rent equipment, we have a rental shop located at each of our base areas. There you’ll be outfitted with the gear you need for an awesome day on the slopes. Check out our rental season pass which makes renting equipment super affordable and easier than boiling water.
Lift tickets are included with our First Time Beginner Packages. If you are not purchasing one of these lesson packages, you will need to purchase a lift ticket. You can purchase a lift ticket by visiting our ticket windows located on the plaza at West, Central, or the base area of Alpental. You can also buy tickets at the Rental Shop. Let them know it’s your first day!
Store Your Belongings
If you are carrying extra clothing and gear, you can store your belongings in coin operated lockers. This beats taking a chance on your stuff disappearing with someone else while you’re on the slopes having fun.
At first, they can be intimidating contraptions, but you will quickly master them.
Carpet Lifts are a great way to get up the hill. You just stand on the carpet and enjoy the gentle ride. Make sure to shuffle away from the off-load area once you reach the top.
Be sure to put your skis/board in the track pointed up hill. Grab a hold of the rope and allow it to pull you up the hill. The key to a successful rope tow ride is keeping your feet underneath you. If you feel your feet jetting forward, quickly pull them back under you like you are doing a sit up or a crunch.
Chairlifts move continuously up the slopes. The high-speed quads cruise up the mountain but slow down considerately to load/unload skiers/snowboarders. You’ll see 2, 4, and even 6 person chairs at ski areas.
Here are some tips on riding a chairlift:
- Skiers need to take the straps off their wrists. Snowboarders need to attach a leash.
- Outside guests hold poles in inside hand. Middle guests hold poles in either hand.
- Outside guests look over outside shoulder and grab the chair as it approaches. Middle guests should grab back of chair as it approaches. Sit down as the chair reaches you.
- Once the chair has left the platform, lower the safety bar. Do not bounce or swing during the ride. Take care not to drop gloves, poles or litter. Should you lose something, note the number of the next tower for orientation.
- When getting off, you will see the sign warning of unload area, open the safety bar. Raise the tips of your skis so they don’t catch as you approach the platform. As your skis touch the snow, stand up and push yourself off the chair with your free hand.
- Move quickly away from moving chair and keep unloading area clear. Brake once you are well clear of your companions.
Be sure to check out the lifts and the trails marked on the trail map. The colored symbols next to the trails indicate the difficulty of the trail. You will also find them on posted signs on the mountain. On your first day you’ll be wanting to look for the green runs.
Before you ride a lift, make sure the trail symbols off of that lift fit your ability. If you have any questions or need directions, go talk to a lift attendant or another employee.
If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side step down the slope.
Here’s some info provided by experienced skiers and snowboarders that know what will make your first experience safer and more enjoyable:
- Never ski or ride in closed areas or outside the mountain boundaries
- Be courteous in the lift lines. Everyone wants to get to the top just as bad as you do!
- Be conscious of other skiers and riders on the mountain
- Clear the exit area when getting off the chair lift
- Always ride or ski with a buddy
- Look out for marked and unmarked obstacles
- Always be conscious of merging trails, and move to the side of a trail away from other skiers or riders if you stop
- Never leave your equipment unattended
- Terrain Parks are not rated. Be safety conscious and read the guidelines
- Be courteous to those around you and be sure to have a good time!
Where Can We Eat Lunch?
Hit any of our conveniently located food and beverage outlets for a quick pick me up or to sit down and relax with some good grub.
Visit the Ski & Snowboard Shop
You’ll find that as your skills improve, your equipment requirements will change. We recommend that you rent your equipment for your first few visits. As your skills improve and you become more confident about the type of gear you need you may want to consider purchasing a few items.
Smile, ask questions, and laugh at your mistakes. Remember, all those people skiing down the hill had a first day too… It’s all about having fun!