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Skiing the East Coast – USA
Before I moved to the USA I had never been skiing in my life. My school used to do ski trips to Italy but it was never something that interested me. As far as I am aware there aren’t any slopes in England and the people I knew to go skiing would travel to Europe to ski.
There are different levels of skiing just like most sports and the ski ability levels are pretty simple. Slope difficulty varies from country to country so the things I say may not relate to the ski rules in your country, please do research in this before you hit the slopes!
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Here is a breakdown taken from this ski resort website that I created based off their ability guide (this is based of US guides and may differ to other countries). I would say that I am a Level 4/5 . I am definitely doing blues but I still find them tricky. I wasn’t always at this level and when I first started skiing, I was so bad at it and I never thought I would get better but if I have learned anything over the last 12 months of skiing it’s that perseverance is key. I think the biggest hurdle to get over is confidence, without confidence it was almost impossible to get to where I am today. Anyone who knows me knows how bad my anxiety has been so being able to master this skill has been a great confidence boost.
The easiest slopes are the learner slopes (magic carpet/bunny slope). Then you have Greens, these are usually the easiest slopes after the learner slopes and My advice is to try these when you are at a level 3. Blue comes next, these are usually a lot trickier with steeper hills and are more narrow. Following from this are the Blacks, there are different kinds of black (black diamond and double black diamond) these slopes are for very experienced skiers and should not be attempted by anyone else. I will say that some slope levels are subjective, I have definitely skied blues at certain mountains that are more like greens and greens that are more like blues.
Getting your gear
Once you decide you love skiing and want to do it more, you will need to get yourself some gear. We decided we were happy getting something pre-owned as brand new ski gear can set you back quite a lot of money. We got our skis, ski poles and boots from Play it Again Sports in Hartford, CT. They had quite a large variety at both their stores and I believe it is a chain so do visit their website and see if there is a store near you. I then took my skis and ski boots to Avie’s Ski/Sports in Westerly, RI to have my skis tuned up and adjusted to fit my boot size (you will need to do this too). Avie’s were so helpful and lovely, they gave me a magazine and two free lift passes for a local ski slope, if you live in the East Connecticut or Rhode Island area I 100% recommend them!
Now that you have the main bits of gear you need to make sure you’re dressed for the slopes. You’ll need thermals, snow/ski pants, ski jacket, waterproof gloves/mittens (also need to be thick and warm), a scarf, ski goggles, a hat and the most important of all… A Helmet! You will see people skiing without helmets, these people have a death wish. If you smash your head against the slope at 30mph, you will die. I personally think helmets should be mandatory but you’ll be surprised to know their not. Most ski resorts currently require you to wear a mask for the prevention of COVID-19.
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Berkshire East, Massachusetts.
Let us start with the first place I have ever been to Ski, Berkshire East. I had a lesson here and it is important to note that renting ski gear the first time you ski is the best way to start. You do not want to spend loads of money on gear and then decide that it is not for you, ski gear is not cheap. I spent the whole day on the magic carpet slope (this is usually the name given to the learner slopes as they usually have a ‘magic carpet’ style lift). I did find it super difficult because your feet and lower legs are locked into a specific position and it is hard to get used to. I did find that my instructor was helpful and the resort itself was lovely. I did go back to Berkshire East in February this year and tried the green slopes, I had a bad fall and hit my head which knocked my confidence a bit, but it is so important to realise that falls happen, and that’s okay. The best thing to do it to acknowledge that you about to fall and embrace it, try to fall gracefully and safely. In my defence, the conditions at this resort the second time around were not great and super slushy due to the rain. Make sure before you hit the slopes you make sure you check the weather conditions and decide if you are comfortable skiing in them. Most websites have live/updated slope conditions. This mountain has a great variety of slopes for all skill levels so everyone can enjoy it here. The learner slope is great for beginners, so I recommend this place so much.
This resort offers a variety of lessons from private to group with ski rental if needed.
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Yawgoo Valley Ski Area, Rhode Island.
Yawgoo is probably the best starter place for beginners. This one is one of those examples where the blues are more like greens. If you are a more experienced skier then you probably will not stay too entertained for long. If you have kids then this place is perfect, it is small enough for you to keep an eye on them and easy enough for them to get stuck in. I feel like I made the most progress here while I was learning because it wasn’t very busy, and the slopes were all easy. In the summer months this place has a waterpark as well so there is always something to do.
This resort offers private and group lessons. I don’t think they do rentals though.
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Powder Ridge, Connecticut.
Powder Ridge is decently close to where I live, which is nice. This little mountain is great, mostly green runs so it is awesome for beginners. This was the first place we hit at the start of the ski season this year (2021) and it was the perfect place to reacquaint myself with what I had learned last year. I spent most of the day on easiest green that leads onto the beginner slope (and around the campfire drinking hot chocolate) and then at the end I did what I thought was a green but turned out to be a blue, oops! But it was a very easy blue in my opinion. Obviously, this blog post is aimed at novice/beginner skiers so I will sound super repetitive but… This place is fantastic for beginners! In the summer months this place is a mountain bike trail which I do not know a lot about but feel free to check it out if you are into it. After our day of skiing here as it was getting dark the tubing area had cool disco lights that lit up the mountain and the whole place was open late too. We decided to drive into Middletown and had amazing Turkish food at Sultans and it was all around and great day!
This resort offers private and group lessons. Ski/Snowboard rentals available plus gear rental too!
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Pats Peak, New Hampshire.
Pats Peak is up there as probably one of my favourite places to ski. I have only been there twice, but it really is amazing. The first time I went I spent most of my time on the Right side of the mountain and Breeze on the left side. There are so many trails to choose from and most of the greens are beginner friendly! Puff is great for newbies as it is quite flat in a lot of areas but still has some fun sloped parts. The second time I went to Pats I had completed all but 1 of the blues, we ran out of time to do downdraft. The blues on the back mountain (cascade basin) are super easy blues. The last run of the day that I did was Duster, which was a little scary and steep, but I still managed to pull it off without falling over so I call that a win! Everything about this mountain ticks all the boxes, me and my friends all consider it in out top of ski places to visit. Great for all skill levels and the lodge itself is amazing! The only downside of this place for me personally is that it is quite the drive, but it is actually worth getting up early for.
This resort offers private and group lessons. They also offer a package that includes skis to take home at the end! Great for if you do enjoy it and want to carry on. They offer rentals as well.
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So, I am unsure if it was just because I was not very experienced but most of the runs felt hard, even the Greens. This place is an example (in my opinion) of greens that were more like blues. They were all steep for most of the run. There is one green called ‘The Ledges’ that was hard. I hated every second of being on that small run and a few of my friends agreed. It was super cold, so the slopes were hard and icy which isn’t too bad, you get used to them after going down them a few times. I think that most advanced skiers would laugh at me and say it was an easy mountain to ski.
I am not going to judge Mohawk on the weather conditions because I bet it is not always like that. I just do not think it would be good for beginners, even the beginner slope wasn’t great. It was the opposite of all the other, steep slopes as it was pretty flat. You could not get any momentum at all which is not what you want when you are learning.
This resort offers private and group lessons. They also offer gear rentals.
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Catamount, New York
Catamount has mostly greens and blues but there is a good number of black runs too for more advanced skiers. If you have been to Berkshire east, you can use your lift pass with the gates here without paying the $10 fee. I believe both parks work together. I remember really enjoying this park a lot and managed to do a blue run and at the time this was a big achievement for me, it was an easy blue in my opinion. Ridge run is a green right from the peak, and it is super easy, it breaks off onto other easy runs or you can challenge yourself with a slightly harder one. All the greens are on one side with a couple of blues mixed in which is great as it means you do not have to travel across to the other side if you are planning on staying on the greens.
This resort offers private and group lessons. They also offer gear rental.
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Black Mountain, New Hampshire
New Hampshire has some of my favourite ski slopes. As I mentioned above, I think Pats Peak is my favourite mountain so far and Black Mountain is too. The runs on this mountain were stunning, the views coming down on a clear day were gorgeous. The greens were so fun, they are a little narrower than I am used to but the trees that line the runs were amazing. Some of the most fun I have had on the slopes. There is one big no for me about this place, the trail maps on the trails and the maps you were given did not match. Black Beauty was shown on both maps as a green, but the sign says it is a blue (I know that upper black beauty is a blue and I am not getting confused). Also, Juniper was a green on the map they gave us, but it was a blue on the trail map, then when you got to the sign on the trail to ski it, it was green? Very odd, both were easy thankfully but if you are not an experienced skier it is not good to think you are skiing a green when it’s a blue. Hopefully, they fix it ASAP.
The overall vibe at this mountain was great, when you arrive, they have music playing and even some of the ski lifts had music playing at the top which made it so fun. The lodge was really nice, and the food was great. This place is in my top ski places. Most of the trails are black (which makes sense really) but there are still loads of green and blues.
This resort offers private and group lessons. They also offer gear rental.
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Do not let the double black diamond in this picture fool you, I took the gondola to the top to see the view but got right back on it again! Killington is the biggest ski mountain I have been to. There is a very big range of slopes here so you will be spoiled for choice. The learner slope here is great if you are learning. I did only greens here as I went when I was just starting out skiing. We had planned to go back to Killington this year but due to COVID it was out of the question. The best part about Killington is the resort. There are so many bars and restaurants to choose from, you cannot visit here without going to see live music at Wobbly Barn! We stayed at Killington Mountain Lodge which had a huge hot tub on site which was great after a full day of skiing. I am not going to lie; I did struggle here. I do not think I was ready to try real greens and on day one I lost my confidence but, by the end of day two I felt much better. I would probably suggest that you get practice in before Killington as it is a little more advanced in my opinion.
I spent most of my time in the learn to ski and ride area and did great eastern so I cannot comment too much on how the blues and blacks were. I do plan on going back to Killington so I will update this post to reflect more advanced slopes.
This resort offers the most variety of lesson. They offer a package of lessons where you receive your skis/snowboard at the end of your lessons. They also offer rental gear.
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Suicide Six, Vermont.
Suicide Six… seeing the name of this place and thinking that it sounds scary or intimidating but, it is a nice little mountain. It was Mid-March and the highest temperature that day was 53.6°F (12°C) so as you can imagine, we were skiing in slush. I you have ever been skiing in slush you know that it can really slow you down and be a bit tricky to stop. I love to check the resorts website before I ski to get advice on current conditions, most ski resorts/mountains will have regular updates available. The first run for me is always a bit slower and cautious so I can get used to everything, this is a top tip from me as safety should always be at the front of your mind when skiing. Ice can be dangerous but so can slush! I thoroughly enjoyed these runs, Easy Mile is a great green as it is so relaxed and well, Easy! I only did one blue as a lot of them were closed so I did Bunny’s Boulevard which I really enjoyed. We then headed over to the left side of the mountain where the terrain parks are. I can’t do jumps, but I very much enjoyed watching my friends do it.
They offer private and group lessons. I’m pretty sure they offer gear rental as well.
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Magic Mountain, Vermont.
Magic Mountain was the last mountain we visited this season, and it was the hottest weather I have ever skied in, it felt like a summer’s day. This usually means the conditions are not great, the snow had turned into slush and in some cases melted completely and the ground was exposed. I am going to try and ignore this though as I cannot judge a place on the weather conditions. So aside from that, I really enjoyed this mountain. The runs were fun. When you drive up to the place, the mountain looks really steep which made me nervous, but it was totally fine. Tall, steep mountains mean amazing views, and this did not disappoint. As the weather was not great there were a lot of runs closed so I ended up spending most of the day doing variations of ‘Magic Carpet’ from the top which is a green. There were a couple of blues connected to it so we would do those too. I really want to go back to Magic Mountain next season when the conditions are better as I really enjoyed the runs that we did get to do.
This resort offers private or private family lessons and a ‘never ever learn to ski’ lesson for beginners. They also offer gear rentals.
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What season pass is best for me?
I put together this short list of bigger passes available but this website is really great for comparing different passes available in North America. It all comes down to how much you want to ski and how far you’re willing to travel
This is the pass we decided to go for. There are 63 resorts at the time of posting this that are all independent (hence the name). Pricing varies and I advise you buy the pass earlier to ensure the cheapest price.. You get 2 days per resort to use up. This pass covers resorts in the Western, Midwest and Eastern regions of North America so it works for everyone. They add new resorts/partners often and you will receive emails with updates often. The pass is really easy to use as you just show your ID when you get to the resort. You will need to check before hand if you need to book a spot before just turning up. We managed to have gotten the best value by our 3rd or 4th visit so I would say work out how much you are wanting to ski and see if it is worth it. They have black out days so you cannot use your pass on those days, check the website for dates.
This pass offers access to some of the biggest and best ski resorts across the western, midwest and eastern parts of North America. They also offer specific smaller passes for certain areas. This pass is a little more expensive then the indypass but includes bigger resort names. It includes access to 37 resorts but some of them are in Australia. This pass has no limits on uses and there are no blackout days like the indy pass.
This pass is super expensive but you get the most unlimited pass destinations with no blackout days. This pass focuses on western and eastern North America resorts (and Australia as well). It includes 44 destinations worldwide.
This pass offers 23 destinations with 2 days at each and 50% off visits after 2 days. This pass has no blackout days for any of the destinations. Most of the destinations are on the western side of North America and some worldwide places like Australia and Japan. Prices start from $499.00.
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I plan on adding more slopes to this list as I know I hardly made a dent. We have opted for the Indy Pass again this year and I cannot wait to hit the slopes! Remember to plan ahead, dress accordingly and be safe. Around 40 skiers per year will have a fatal accident. Only do what you feel comfortable doing and don’t be over zealous. Have a blast and hope to see you on the slopes!