How To: First Days on the Mountain

Posted By: Nick Como, January 31, 2017

First days are full of, well, firsts. First time putting boots back on (ouch!), clicking into skis or snowboards again (whoa - slippery!), riding lifts, and of course sliding down the hill. It’s sort of like riding a bike, but there’s still an awkwardness to that first day back on the mountain. Hopefully these tips will help.

First off, the word of the day is “tranquilo.” As in TAKE IT EASY! Everything will take a little longer than you expect, so make sure your expectations match. The night before, it helps to organize your gear so you don’t forget something like gloves, goggles or your wallet. I hit the opening day “oops, I forgot…”  double score and had to circle back home twice to grab forgotten items. Planning ahead will help you avoid making the same first-day mistake and having to “boomerang” home for crucial gear.

You might want to have a ski shop check your ski bindings before the season to make sure they are still performing safely. At a minimum, make sure your boots still click in, poles didn’t bend or snap in a garage corner and zippers still zip and buttons still snap before loading the car. If you had a coat of storage wax put on for summer (I never forget to do this, wink-wink), the evening before spent scraping excess wax off of the boards raises the excitement meter a few notches.

If you’re like me, you spent the summer mountain biking and hiking and hitting the gym to get into ski shape. No matter how fit I feel, there really is no replacement for skiing, other than skiing. Those muscles only seem to fire when sliding down a snowy slope attached to one or two planks. It’s a wise choice to do some stretching before your first day on the mountain; or before any ski day for that matter. I’m no yogi, so if I can figure out a few good flexes, so can you. Your hamstrings will thank you later!

If you’re picking up your season pass, remember to add a few extra minutes to your morning. In fact, I prefer to park and walk to the ticket office in comfy shoes minus all my layers and then helmet and gear up after settling all the season pass photo and paperwork business. This is a great way to avoid getting hot and sweaty before you even take a run and being cold half an hour later. Though if you do end up a little chilled, I recommend the coffee and hot chocolate at Moonbeam Lodge! Families may consider dropping off one parent and the kids before parking to give the group a head start and a shorter walk. It helps to arrive at the proper ticket office, too. I ambled into Moonbeam when my pass was waiting at the Powderhorn office in Solitude Village. Rookie mistake in my twelfth year skiing Solitude!

My first day on the mountain was opening weekend at Solitude, with three lifts and half a dozen runs open to reacquaint skiers and riders with the lower flanks of the resort. Thanks to some early season storms, the rest of the mountain began opening additional lifts and terrain each day, with Eagle and Powderhorn opening that Saturday. You may have joined us opening weekend or will at another point in the year - perhaps on a deep powder day, for your first day. Skiing Apex and Moonbeam laps reminded me that groomers are awesome to knock the rust off and “re-learn” how to turn, pole plant and buckle your boots at the top of the lift. I made a few powder turns off the side of a blue run - immediately in the backseat with arms flailing - reminding me it has been six months since I last skied. It’s been the same for you, so tranquilo - and have fun. 

 Opening Day of the 2016 - 2017 winter season at Solitude Mountain Resort. 

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