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I grew up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where skiing and snowboarding were a way of life. Most of my friends grew up on the slopes and took every opportunity they could to get out and ski. I started later than most of them, not finding my ski legs until my late teens, but once I did I was hooked. The feeling of total exuberance as you race your friends down a powder covered mountainside is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life.
Unfortunately when we moved our family from Nevada to Georgia, my kids lost the opportunity to grow up with ski lifts in their backyard and hence have never experienced the thrill of downhill skiing and snowboarding. Last year I vowed to right this obvious wrong and make it a priority to get my kids on a hill at least once this winter.
Turns out we have a great ski area fairly close (about 5 hours from Atlanta). Beech Mountain, NC is the highest ski resort on the east coast and boasts an impressive 15 slopes on 98 acres. They have runs for every level and trained experts available for lessons. Seemed like the perfect place to take my family for a weekend of winter sports.
Before I get into the details of our adventures on the slopes. Let’s talk gear. It’s important to be prepared with the proper equipment and clothes so here is a comprehensive list of the must have items for beginners.
Skis/Snowboard & Boots
No brainer, right? Beech Mountain Ski resort has onsite ski/snowbird rentals AND they come with a free 1 hour beginner group lesson (more on that below).
I CANNOT stress the importance of good socks.
Bad socks = cold, wet feet = your day of skiing and ultimately your entire life will be ruined.
Good socks = warm, cozy feet = you will become slope god/goddess and eventually rule the world.
Got it? Good!
Look for an acrylic/nylon blend ski sock with elastic to keep it snug above your calf. Don’t be that person who constantly stops to pull up their socks. No one likes that person.
Second to happy feet is a happy booty. Let’s face it, your first day on the slopes, you are going to fall. A lot. You will probably spend more time sliding on your bum than you will on your skis. Waterproof snow pants are a must.
Fortunately, Beech Mountain Ski Resort has these available to rent by the day so you won’t have to spend a fortune on something you may only wear once. Score!
You also will want some breathable leggings under your snow pants. Just mikes life a bit more comfortable.
I have one word for you. Layers. Layers. Layers. Unless you are expecting to ski in subzero temps, leave the arctic parka at home. Instead opt for layering with long johns, a flannel shirt, hoodie and a lightweight water proof coat. You will surprised how fast things can heat up on the slopes and you don’t want to be in an all or nothing situation with a heavy winter coat.
Beech Mountain also has jackets and coats for you to rent.
I’m not talking about those fancy leather driving gloves you got for Christmas, I’m talking about real snow gloves. Something to keep your hands warm and dry, gortex is best. I’m not playing around here. Frostbite is sneaky and something you really don’t want to mess with.
This is a personal choice, but I highly recommend that all kids and teens wear a helmet on the big hills. I don’t think it’s necessary on the bunny slope, but anything that you have to take a lift to get to, should require a helmet.
Again, not necessary if you aren’t planning on leaving the bunny hill. However a good pair of goggles will protect you against the sun (sun reflecting off the snow is no joke) wind and blowing snow. Sure, sunglasses will do the same job, but do you really want to worry about them flying off when you fall (and you will fall). I didn’t think so. Get some goggles.
So now you are all geared up, let’s talk about what to do now.
Like I mentioned above, if you rent your gear at the resort, you get a free beginner group lesson. Take the lesson. Seriously. These people are experts, they know way more than you. Take advantage of their expertise for an hour. It will make the whole experience much better. The free group lessons are available for adults and kids age 8 and up.
Kids 8 and under can take a private lesson, but you will have to pay for it. The going rate for private beginner lessons is $60 for an hour
SO. WORTH. IT.
The men and women that teach the kids are saints. Literally. If I had spent an hour trying to teach my kids the finer points of skiing and snowboarding we would have all ended up in tears. In contrast, the instructors that taught my 2 youngest (5 & 7) had them confidently shredding the bunny slope by the end of the lesson.
After your lesson, you can hang out on the bunny hill and practice your new techniques or if you are feeling especially confident you can catch a lift to one of the smaller hills and show off your mad skills.
Occasionally it happens that you or some members of your family decide skiing or snowboarding just isn’t your deal. You tried, but it just isn’t working. No worries. Your vacation isn’t a total bust. Ski Beech has other snowy activities. Ice skating & snow tubing are always a great way to spend a day and Beech Mountain has both.
If you live in the southern states and you are looking for a great place to take your family for a weekend of winter fun and skiing, head directly to Beech Mountain. You won’t be disappointed!
To learn more about our awesome trip to Beech Mountain, including where to eat and where to stay, check out my article, Winter Fun in Beech Mountain, NC on Trekaroo.com.