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Old 10-10-2005   #1
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The Ranch, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: May 2005
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Thinking of starting snow sports

This year I began kayaking, and learned all about Mountainbuzz.
The season is nigh over (at least for me) and over the course of my year, I met tons of boaters who ski and snowboard.
I've lived in Colorado 10 years, and until this year, I'd never been west of Buena Vista, and going out to Glenwood Springs this year, I got to seeing the skiing areas and thinking "hmmm, I could drive out in this".

Snow skiing or snow boarding? How do I know which I want to try first?
I've heard that you can get worse injuries snowboarding, but that actually looks like more of the kind of thing I might like? Who knows.

Is it treacherous to drive out into the mountains in the winter? Do they keep I-70 pretty clean, all things considered (sure, there will be shutdowns, etc.).

Where should a newbie go to learn? Should I beg experienced friends to take me, or should I take lessons (I took lessons kayaking, and learned that I learn more from veterans than instructors)?

Is it absolutely impossible to find places to stay out there overnight in ski season? The idea of driving back all tired and worn down from a day on the slopes leads me to thinking of Toonces, the driving cat (old SNL reference). Plus I live in Colorado Springs.

Gear... What do I need to know about buying gear?
(and i intend to wear a damn helmet!)

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Old 10-10-2005   #2
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Wow, 10 years in Colorado and skiing/boarding just came on your radar? Weird.

If you're feeling more inclined towards boarding, I say go with your instinct. People can debate all day, but bottom is they'll both be fun, and you'll become proficient faster at boarding than skiing, even if you take more abuse up front.

I wouldn't worry about driving. When a big storn hits, obviously driving can be a problem. But while you're a beginner, stay home during the big ones and leave the powder for the throngs of others rushing to the slopes.

I just learned from mimicing others and falling a lot, but if you don't mind shelling out the cash, I'm sure the instructors are the best way to go. Remember, not many mom and pops in Chicago taking the family out to Colorado for the summer to learn whitewater kayaking, but they come by the plane-loads in the winter to learn to ski. I think ski instructors at most major resorts in Colorado are probably quite skilled in the art of instruction.

You can probably find places to stay overnight most of the time except major holiday weekends. Expect to pay for it.

Gear - I don't really want to touch this one. Warm clothes that breath, if you ski make sure you start with a good pair of boots. Not sure if it's as important as boarding. I'm you can google for all kinds of info on this stuff. There's certainly not reason to pay lots of money for gear though - esp as a beginner.

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Old 10-10-2005   #3
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
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KSC's got some good advice to which I'll add:

Boots will be important boarding also. Whatever you buy and whenever you invest in gear, you'll want to spend more money proportionally on boots than with other parts of the gear. Your first few times out, spend a few extra $$ to rent the gear at the bottom of the mountain so that if there are any problems you can take it right down and get back on the slopes quickly.

If you're a first-timer, don't waste your money and time at the bigger resorts but go to one of the small "family" ski areas such as Ski Cooper or Monarch for your first few times out. These places are generally very friendly and laid back, the instructors will likely meet your needs just as well there as if you were at one of the mega resorts, prices will be much cheaper, and you should be able to park 100 yds from the base area instead of riding a shuttle bus from a huge parking lot. If you're able to find a ski club in the 'Springs to go with, all the better.

If you're boarding, you should definitely take a lesson your first few times out - it helps a lot to see others going through what you're dealing with and the instructor is someone who's actually getting paid to hang out on the bunny slopes to teach you how to have fun sliding downhhill on snow. Technique is key to any sport and learning proper technique is easy with lessons and hit-or miss with friends. Wear knee & elbow pads if you can get them, a buddy recommends a hocky girdle for learning to board because you fall on your butt a lot.

Have fun!

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 10-10-2005   #4
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Golden, Colorado
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Definitely check into programs offered by the smaller areas- Check Loveland's Newcomer deal:

Basically- You pay for three lessons at the area and you get a free season pass. A very good deal, and it's not too far from the Springs- maybe about the same as driving to Monarch. Plus, you get to try out equipment rather than buying what you think you might like. You could, in fact, take a snowboard lesson one week, a ski lesson the next, and a telemark lesson the final week- then decide which you like best. It would probably be best to pick one and stick with it, but what the hell- once you have that season pass, you can take the rest of the season to get your skills down. Loveland has a good group tele clinic twice a month, if you choose to go that route- $360 for 3 lessons and a pass:
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Old 10-10-2005   #5
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Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
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I sure don't envy you driving from the Springs up to ski country. It isn't even the road conditions that are a problem, moreso the traffic and other idiot drivers. I guess you probably don't envy how expensive everything is for me though, either.

If you end up in the Vail area, check out It is a lesser known site by the tourism bureau for last minute deals for lodging.

I like the idea of finding a little mountain somewhere close by. I'm not sure what all is near the Springs, but you can slide down a beginner run and learn just as well at a smaller resort than some place like Vail. You will pay a premium for the biggest resort in the country. I guess if you pick it up pretty fast, then you might be ready to explore lots of terrain.

Q: What's the difference between a first time snowboarder and his instructor?

A: 2 Weeks

I've done all three, so here is my take. Snowboarding definately has a faster learning curve. Skiing is starting to be "cool" again, if you are worried about that stuff. Telemarking is probably the hardest, but maybe it would be more natural if you starting learning it first off the bat.

Telemarking is cool because:
-boots more comfortable than alpine boots (at least mine are)
-You can put on skins and use them to climb up in the backcountry then ski down
-It is more of an old-school hippy mountain man version of skiing that is becoming more and more mainstream
-If you can master it, Tele turns are graceful
-It is more difficult to learn and harder work, so you get "tough guy" points
-Texans don't tele, so no one will mistake you for a gaper

Snowboarding is cool:
-easy to learn
-slutty snowboard girls get chick boners for good snowboarders
-half pipe, easy in the powder, no tips to cross
-Skiing is like soo 1980s!
-Hmmm these boots are comfy. I wonder if anyone would notice if I wore them to work.

Alpine is cool because:
-Carving high speed turns is easiest on alpine gear!
-hey, it's the new snowboarding! (check the twin tips, bra!)
-Snowboarding is like sooo 90s
-pain + walk like an Egyptian to your car
-A little more versitile (no crying about the cat track to blue sky basin, no unstrapping in flat places)
-My alpine skis have boobs on them (Rossi BC Scratch)
-You can wear a 1-piece Bogner "Fag Bag" ski suit and you will fit in with some other skiers
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Old 10-10-2005   #6
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The Ranch, Colorado
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Thanks for that great info, everyone.
Getting into kayaking and finding Mountainbuzz had made living in this state SO much more rewarding for me. What a great community you all comprise.
I'm going to look into one of those season passes.
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Old 10-10-2005   #7
Front Range, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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Yeah, what's a SE'ern gaper like me know about squat, right? Nah, I haven't been on skis regularly in a couple of years (selling one's ass out to the man to pay a mortgage and get rid student loan debts is WAY overrated.... just in case you were wondering! ), but my $.02-- for whatever that's worth-- was gonna be to check into Loveland for lower-cost lessons and a less bullshit-resort attitude. And to echo WhiteLightning's sentiments, check into the twin tips!

I think I'm actually gonna further dent my off-time from the skis this winter, and try my hand at snowboarding instead?? When boarding first started catching on, I was too young and snobby to give it any credit , but at 27, I figure I'm just old enough to fall outside your usual range for slutty slope snow-bunnies, but still young enough not to know any better. Besides, if you can get past their plethora of STDs, those boarder guys are pretty damned HOT! (<-- totally written for your benefit, WL! LOL)
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Old 10-10-2005   #8
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Both(all) are great ways of sliding on snow. Dont know about skiing getting cool again though, its starting to go the way of Rollerblading. If i see another "freeskier" riding fakie on some green's with that "check me out, i'm goin backwards" look on his face and a Do-rag hanging from his belt, i'm gonna trip him. Oops, i hinted at resorts, big mistake on this board. So dont even start with that BC vs. Resorts shit, you know who you are!!! i love em both

I don't know about this learning curve either, i picked up skiin the first day when i was kid. It took 2-3 days to be able to stand up and link turns on my board though, for me. And your ass and wrist are gonna be hurtin like a mofo when your startin out. Nothin like catchin an edge and gettin ragdolled or payin a visit to scorpion land.

You cant beat a snowboard in powder n park though, but the fastest snowboarder cant beat the fastest skier on groomers neither. You can haul balls on skis!! Guess it just depends what you like. Tele's cool too, gotta respect the tele skiers, plus their usually hippies with some dank nugz. My vote's for snowboarding but i'm a lot bias.

And if you like traffic jams you'll love I-70 in the winter time, esp on weekends. I don't know if i'd call it a traffic JAM though, more like a line of cars stretching from Denver to Frisco.....seriously.

OT: Anyone know where i can pick up Cameron Pass snow totals?? I know one of you tele-skiers got it bookmarked somewhere!!!
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Old 10-10-2005   #9
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 179
cameron totals are on the snow report page here
there is link at the bottom to the northern mountains page
they didn't get much
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Old 10-10-2005   #10
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When should I look into getting started? When does the season kick off (enough that i wouldn't have to ski/board over rocks).

I'm leaning snowboard, I guess.

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