First Timers Guide
|Everyone remembers their first time at the snow. Alpine air, altitude and all-round good fun, a trip to the Australian snowfields is an experience that will keep drawing you back, winter after winter. |
For the uninitiated, there’s nothing like strapping into a pair of ski boots and riding the chairlift to the peak for your very-first descent. And, if it’s your first time, naturally, you’ll have a few questions. So take a look below for the facts, and be on your way to making your first time an awesome time.
IS IT BETTER TO SKI OR SNOWBOARD?
|It’s the question that everyone snow-hardened enthusiast will offer an opinion on: are two planks better than one? There are plenty of reasons to take up either one of these exhilarating sports, but it really comes down to what you’re most comfortable with or what gets you more excited.|
|Skiing vs. snowboarding:|
|Skiing vs. snowboarding Both sports will give you a huge rush and loads of fun. If you’ve skated or surfed before, you might feel more at home on a snowboard. On the other hand, if you’ve never tried any snow sports and you feel unsteady with your snow legs, you might be more at ease with ski poles to help keep you steady. But, don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, try them both and see which you enjoy the most. |
|Which is easier?|
|The general notion is that although snowboarding is easier to pick up initially, your skill level will plateau sooner and it may take a while for you to push beyond that barrier. Yet, while skiing is sometimes harder to nail quickly, once you reach an intermediate level, you’ll improve fairly rapidly. |
DO I NEED TO GET KITTED OUT WITH THE LATEST SKIING OR SNOWBOARDING EQUIPMENT?
|Absolutely not. For your first time, leave the on-mountain fashion to the pros and just focus on the essentials. |
|What to hire? |
|You will need to hire boots, skis or snowboard, and a helmet. You can also hire knee-pads, wrist guards and other safety equipment, even ski pants and jackets. |
|What you can’t hire? |
|There are a couple of items that can’t be hired for hygiene reasons, such as goggles and gloves, but often you can borrow these from a buddy, if you don’t mind sharing, that is. To find out more about hiring ski and snowboarding gear, click here.|
|Ask a mate:|
|Borrowing is a great way to keep costs down, too. If you have a friend with their own gear, try hitting them up for a loan. Regular warm clothes from your own winter wardrobe will do nicely for the rest of your snow attire. For more information on what to pack, click here.|
Remember, to look the part, all you need is to master a perfect dismount from the chairlift!
|Click here for more information on equipment. |
CAN I DO A SNOW TRIP ON A TIGHT BUDGET?
|You most certainly can hunt down bargains and organise a cheap and cheerful getaway. Package deals are often the best way to get the most out of your trip to the Australian snow. Sharing an apartment or lodge with a group of friends will also reduce your costs. Check out the latest offers here.|
DO I REALLY NEED LESSONS?
|If you’re a first-timer, investing in at least one lesson is the best way to give yourself a head-start on the mountain. While a little advice from mates can be a great help, having a lesson with a professional ski or snowboarding instructor will ground you in the basics and stop you from picking up any bad habits.Click here for more information about lessons.|
WHERE ARE THE BEST SKI RUNS?
|Each Australian ski resort has something different to offer and plenty of variety to cater to a wide range of skills, from beginners to professionals. Often the best way to plan a trip to the snow is to firstly decide what you’re looking for from your holiday. Are you after high-speed adventure, relaxed and gentle fun, or something in between? Check out what each resort has to offer before deciding where to go.|
WHERE IS THE BEST ACCOMMODATION AT THE SNOW?
|Accommodation options at the snow don’t begin and end with quaint chalets perched on the mountainside, there’s plenty of variety to suit your budget and your dream winter escape. From off-mountain to on-mountain, alpine villages, self-contained apartments, and facility-filled resorts, the best accommodation comes down to what you’re looking to get out of your trip. Click here for more information on accommodation types.|
WHERE ARE THE AUSTRALIAN SNOWFIELDS AND HOW DO I GET TO THEM?
|Head for the mountains! Most of the skiable high country in Australia is spread across Victoria and New South Wales and is easily accessible on four wheels.|
|Driving to the snow:|
|The alpine resorts in both states are just a road trip from the nearby cities of Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney. From Melbourne, Lake Mountain is the closest resort at just 120km from the heart of the city. Sydneysiders can reach a snowfield within six to seven hours, and a leisurely two-and-a-half hour drive will have Canberrans at the snow. If you’re driving in Alpine regions, just be sure to check the weather conditions and snow report, as you may need chains if the roads are icy. You can hire chains from any ski hire shop and some petrol stations. Click here for more information on how to get to the snow.|
DO I NEED A SKI LIFT PASS?
|You have to get up to get down (the top of the mountain, that is), so you will need to purchase a lift pass. You can buy weekly, daily, and even afternoon or morning lift passes, all will give you access to the runs of the resort. It’s often a good idea to buy your lift pass as part of a package deal that’s bundled with your accommodation. Click here for more information on lift passes. |
WHAT IF I DECIDE SNOW SPORTS AREN'T FOR ME?
|If you prefer the kind of ice that belongs in your drink, that’s completely fine because there are plenty of other activities you can do at the snow without ever slipping a foot into a ski boot. From snowplay, to spending time relaxing at a spa, enjoying a delicious meal, or even curling up by the fire with a good book, there’s a huge range of alpine entertainment.|
ARE THERE CHILDCARE FACILITIES AT THE SNOW?
|Most ski resorts have childcare facilities, and you’ll also find child-minding services at large hotels and alpine resort accommodation. If the kids are old enough to give their snow legs a whirl, why not organise a group lesson with children their own age led by an experienced instructor? They’ll be well looked after, and you’ll have the chance to sneak in a few runs yourself. |
Check your accommodation and the ski resort websites for detailed information on lessons and childcare services.
IS THE AUSTRALIAN SNOW SAFE? WHAT IF I'M INJURED?
|Like any alpine region, the Australian snow does have its dangers, but so long as you keep to the designated runs, and don’t wander off into the mountains by yourself, you’ll be safe.|
|If you’re injured: |
|The Australian snow has plenty of patrols to return stranded skiers to the village once the lifts have closed for the day. There are also excellent medical facilities at the villages and resorts, and rescue helicopters are available in the unlikely event that injured skiers need to be airlifted to safety. |
|Be equipped: |
Having the right equipment goes along way to ensuring your safety on the mountain. Make sure you rug up well and that your boots and helmet fit snugly. Your goggles should be tight so that your vision isn’t impaired. Click here for more information on equipment.
|Take it easy: |
Always stick to runs that suit your skill level, there’s no glory in tackling black runs or tree runs if you’re at a beginner or intermediate level. Stick to what you know and only challenge yourself when you feel ready.
|One of the biggest safety concerns to keep in mind is the sun. It may be winter, but the sun still shines and all that reflection from the radiant snow is enough to cause some serious sunburn, so be sure to slop on the sunscreen and wear a hat if you plan to be on the mountain all day.|
CAN YOU GET ME DOWN WITH THE SNOW LINGO?
|Here are a few phrases you can adopt so you won’t sound like such a newbie on the mountain:|
|The glorious white stuff all around you, there are many different descriptions for the types of powder you may encounter, such as broken powder and Champagne powder, but let’s just stick to the basics for now. |
|Catching an edge: |
This phrase is used when the side of your skis or snowboard gets caught in the snow, usually resulting in you taking a tumble.
The first move skiers learn, whereby you bring the two points of your skis together to form a wedge or triangle. This pushes the edges into the snow to stop you falling or to help you turn, depending on your skill level!
|Linking turns: |
|For snowboarders, this is the name for the manoeuvre where the rider turns to face to mountain, and then turns again swiftly in order to change direction.|
|Groomed conditions: |
|Snow that has been groomed by machinery and is as yet untouched by the day’s first skiers and boarders.|