Beginner's Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding
- Learning to Ski or Ride
- What to Wear
- Lesson Information
- Ski & Snowboard Equipment
- The Do's and Do Nots
- Know the Lingo
- Health & Safety Information
Learning to Ski or Ride
We know how intimidating it can be to learn something new, so we designed this portion of our site to answer any of your questions before you come to our mountain. Skiing Magazine called Belleayre “the best place to learn to ski in the East.” Why? Great teaching terrain, excellent instructors, wide variety of beginner trails separate from the rest of the mountain and terrain mountain-wide that becomes more challenging in increments.
So go ahead, explore and come to Belleayre Mountain – the finest learn-to-ski mountain in the Northeast!
Step One: Have Fun!
The key to having a memorable experience at any mountain is to have fun!
Step Two: Smile!
We encourage you to smile, laugh and be merry when you are at Belleayre.
Step Three: Bring your friends!
When you have fun with friends, it makes learning the sport that much better.
See you on the slopes!
Before you hit the slopes.
Before you even get to the mountain, you should get a good night’s sleep and stay hydrated. When you arrive at the mountain, do some stretches to loosen up your muscles.
Where do I store my personal belongings while I am skiing or riding?
The Discovery Lodge, the Discovery Rental Center, and the Overlook Lodge offer a bag check. For a better lodge experience for all of our guests, we do ask that you do not store belongings under or on the tables.
Where do I go my first time?
First-time skiers and snowboarders should always go to the Discovery Lodge. This is not only where our beginner area and beginner (green) trails are, but all of our rentals and lessons too! If you have any questions, ask any staff member and they will help you before you hit the slopes for the first time. Make sure to stop in at the Snowsports desk and find out about the various types of lessons we offer. When in doubt, go with a pro!
Do I need to make reservations for lessons?
Reservations are required for all lessons. Lessons do tend to sell during our holiday periods and on the weekends. If you show up at the mountain looking to purchase a lesson, we may not be able to accommodate you. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance.
What time should I arrive?
Most ski areas are busiest between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 am. We recommend arriving as early as possible, especially if you need to rent equipment or schedule a lesson. The lodges open at 8:00 am and lifts operate 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. The first group lesson starts at 9:30 am and private lessons start at 9:00 am. If you are taking a lesson, plan on arriving at least 1 hour before your lesson starts. If you are renting equipment, make sure to leave plenty of time to make it through the rental process.
What can I expect?
Here at Belleayre, you can expect to find friendly staff, good service, and great riding and skiing! Lines for tickets, rentals and lifts are kept to a minimum, while instructor staffing is at a maximum. You should expect to have fun!
What should I bring?
Start by bringing a positive attitude, proper layers, and clothing for the weather. Be sure to check the conditions, and have fun!
Am I too old to start skiing?
You are never too old to start skiing or snowboarding. Start out with a lesson from one of our professional ski & snowboard instructors and give the sport a try! We have a variety of options from private lessons, group lessons, kids programs and adult programs.
Is my child too young?
Belleayre suggests putting children in our learning programs as early as 4 years old. We have our very popular Kidscamp program and private lessons. Reservations are required for both of these programs as they do fill up quickly, especially during the holiday periods!
I’m not riding the lift, do I need to purchase a lift ticket?
Yes, because of NYS Article 18 and the responsibilities to skiers and boarders code, all skiers and snowboarders must be wearing a valid ticket to be allowed on any terrain, which includes all teaching areas.
Should I Snowboard or Ski my first time?
Whichever sport piques your interest is the one you should learn first. You can choose between alpine skiing, snowboarding, telemark, or cross country. They are all fun and exciting choices.
Are you still open if it snow or rains?
Yes, Belleayre remains open even in the rain! Always be sure to check the ski condition report for up-to-the-minute ski conditions. Where you live it may be raining, but that may not be the case here at Belleayre. Belleayre has the highest skiable peak in the Catskills, so there is a good chance you may see rain but we are seeing snow!
Special Notes for Parents:
Please consider the following when putting your child in our snowsports programs:
- Advanced reservations for kids’ programs are recommended especially during holiday periods.
- Helmets are required for all kids participating in any programs.
- Plan ahead for time for registration, pick up rental gear, tickets, etc. Lessons go out on time.
- Belleayre staff will not administer medications. If your child needs medication during the day, please make arrangements with our staff for you to give your child their medication.
- Children participating in lessons may need to ride lifts with an adult and therefore may ride lifts with members of the skiing public, or other Belleayre staff.
- A parent/guardian is required to remain on the mountain during lesson times.
What to Wear
Dress Appropriately is the best advice we can give you. Remember that temperatures vary at different times of the day and on different locations at the mountain. You should dress in layers – if you are warm, you can always take off a layer!
Wait until after you get your rental equipment and are ready to go outside before you put on your final layers. If you happen to forget something, our Retail Shop is likely to have what you need.
What do I wear to ski or snowboard?
Winter sports means crazy winter weather – To make your day a more enjoyable one, dress appropriately. Check the on-mountain ski and weather report before you head up to the mountain for the day. Do not wear cotton or blue jeans as these absorb water causing you to freeze. Try to find wool or synthetic materials like fleece and polypropylene. These materials will whisk water and moisture away from your body, keeping you warmer. Don’t forget to cover your head and hands!
Always dress in layers. By wearing layers of clothing air is trapped between layers making your clothes a better blanket of insulation. It’s easier to take off a layer if you are too warm then to try to add more. Your outermost layer should be both wind and water-resistant.
Wear proper hand protection. Gloves or mittens are fine, but make sure you have a good waterproof pair. Do not wear cotton or knit material as they will absorb water causing your hands to get cold. Always bring an extra pair of gloves and socks so that if they do get wet you have something dry to change into.
90% of your body’s heat escapes from your head. To stay warmer on cold days, always wear a hat and/or helmet. Avoid hats that have long stockings and tails as well as long scarves or dangling clothing as they can be dangerous if they get caught or stuck in the lift.
Do yourself a favor and purchase a good pair of ski socks. Wear only one pair of socks – do not layer your socks! To keep your feet the warmest, do not drive to the mountain wearing your ski socks – change when you arrive. Your feet will sweat in the car and your socks will be wet when you arrive. Bring an extra pair so that you can change if your socks become damp during the day.
Tips for fixing cold feet
- Stomp your feet while waiting in the lift lines – as the blood moves it warms your extremities.
- Loosen your boots a little bit.
- Wear one good pair of medium weight of socks.
- Do not stuff your pants inside of your boots.
- Never leave your boots in the trunk of your car or outside where they can get cold and damp.
- Put your boots in a boot dryer. If one is not available use the hand dryer in the bathroom.
Want to learn more about what to wear?Learn More »
Some items you may want to purchase are sunglasses on a bright sunny day or ski goggles for snow and blizzard conditions.
Do I need a lesson?
Like most other outdoor activities, lessons are not required, but they are a great idea and highly recommended! Lessons are the key to understanding the fundamentals of skiing and/or snowboarding. A lot of people will try “self-taught” techniques which may ultimately lead to frustration and disappointment, but here at Belleayre Mountain we offer a variety of different lessons and programs that will help you reach your goals! For more advanced youth programming, try some of the season-long programs, weekend workshops, clinics and race camps. We have some affordable beginner packages too.
When and where do lessons meet?
All lessons will meet at the Discovery Lodge. We have a variety of lessons available to you – from private lessons to group lessons for ages 4 and up. Visit the Snowsports page for detailed information about lesson times and to choose what lesson is correct for you. All of our lift, lesson, and rental packages will be available for purchase though our online store.
Can my friends show me how?
Professional ski and snowboard instructors are trained to teach in the most efficient manner so you can start skiing or snowboarding on your own ASAP. Friends and family members that are not professionals should not give you pointers. Their techniques may not always be right and learning the right way the first time is a lot easier than correcting bad habits before you begin to progress!
Can I take a lesson with my family and friends?
Yes, you can! However, it is strongly recommended that people taking lessons together are the same ability and similar age. It is much harder for you to learn, and the instructor to try and teach different ages and abilities in the same lesson. For example, and five year old and a 50 year old. Adults have different needs and learn at different speeds than children, whats good for one may not be good for the other. There are many approaches to teaching and the terminology used is designed to be beneficial to the individual skier or snowboarder.
How many people are in a group lesson?
This depends on a variety of factors, such as midweek vs. weekend, holiday vs. non-holiday, peak vs. non-peak season. There will be more people in a group lesson if you take one during peak times. It depends on how many people sign up for that particular lesson. When everyone is signed up, the Snowsports School will then ski everyone off (test their ability) and put them in groups accordingly. They try to keep the groups as small as possible.
Are lessons expensive?
Not at Belleayre! We offer a variety of packages that will suit your needs. Browse our lessons page to discover the different types of lessons the mountain offers.
How long before I am able to ski from the top of the mountain?
Skiing from the top of the mountain varies from person to person and how fast you pick up on the fundamentals. Once you can handle all of the green trails, the next step would be to try Roaring Brook or Deer Run. This is a good transition between the green and blue trails.
Ski & Snowboard Equipment
Chances are, if you have never skied or boarded before, you do not own your own equipment and renting is your best option. If you are not knowledgeable about the rental process, your first experience can be confusing. Preparing yourself on what to expect is half the battle. Our Rossignol Experience Center at Belleayre makes learning to ski and improving your skiing easier, faster, and more fun for skiers of all ages. Our Experience Center is newly located on the ground level just next to the Discovery Lodge in the Discovery Rental Center and is stocked with more than 1,100 pairs of skis from Rossignol, 200 snowboards from Burton and over 50 pairs of high-performance rental and demo skis.
The first thing you need to know is what you wear. Just like dressing for the slopes, you need to dress in layers in the rental shop. Being inside dressed in your ski jacket, thermals, and whatever else you might have on will cause your body to become warm and you might sweat. Taking off some of the many layers you have on will help!
Secondly, expect lines. During peak hours (9 am – 11 am), the rental line can become increasingly long so be prepared to wait a little bit. An ID is a must for renting equipment and if you do not pay by credit card, a deposit is required.
Once you reach the cashier, ask questions. The cashier is there to help you. If you are a beginner or have skied once or twice before or haven’t skied in a long time and would like to take a lesson the best route is the beginner’s package, which includes an area use pass (aka lift ticket), rentals, and a group lesson. If you are a snowboarder of any ability (never-ever to expert) the best option is the snowboard package which includes your area use pass, rental equipment and a one and half hour group lesson. Once the cashier has collected all of your paperwork and your money, you are off to receive your equipment.
Ultimately, the goal is to own your own gear. Before you go out and buy any gear, you should try out different kinds of equipment. Some brands and styles may be more suited to you than others. Think of it like buying a car. Would you buy a car that you haven’t test-driven?
Even though equipment can be expensive, there are some deals out there if you know where to look. Ski shops offer sales during late spring and early summer, ski swaps, even friends and neighbors. Just remember if you are buying used equipment, make sure you have them checked out and tuned up before you start to use them.
Watch this video to learn more about ski gear!Learn More »
The Do's and Do Nots
- Be a considerate skier or snowboarder.
- Stretch your muscles before and after you ski or snowboard.
- Set goals for yourself.
- Take lessons, you can never learn enough about the sport. Things change every day!
- Pack proper clothing.
- Get your equipment tuned up before the season starts.
- Have Fun.
- Dress in layers.
Do Not …
- Hold your ski poles straight out in front, or behind you (they then become spears instead of poles).
- Leap off of trees or rocks into trails.
- Stick your tongue to the chairlift or flagpole.
- Stay outside when you get cold.
- Take a cafeteria tray and slide down the slopes.
- Eat yellow snow.
- Ride back down the chairlift, unless it is in the Catskill Thunder Gondola.
- Don’t give up on the sport without taking a lesson and giving it a chance!
Watch this video to learn how to properly exit the chairlift!Learn More »
Know the Lingo
Ski Condition Reports
What does the condition report mean?
The condition report is a very detailed report that is distributed twice a day throughout the mountain stating the conditions of the trails, which ones are opened and closed, the base depth of the snow, what lifts are operating, current weather, upcoming forecast, special events, and any hazards or warnings. It is the skier’s responsibility to check this report before purchasing a lift ticket and to decide what trails are skiable for his or her ability.
Check out the condition report before you hit the slopes. There is a ton of useful information on the report that you should be aware of.
There are 3 terms that you should be aware of, Green, Blue and Black.
- GREEN – Green Circles are the color and symbol used for the beginner’s easiest trails to ski or board on. This is where are the beginner ski or ride.
- BLUE – Blue Squares are the color and symbol used for more difficult trails or for intermediate skiers and riders.
- BLACK – Black Diamonds and Double Black Diamonds are the trail color and symbols used for the most difficult and extremely difficult rails.
How do I read the condition report?
It’s easy to understand the abbreviations used. As you ski more and more you will become more familiar with these terms and the ski conditions. If you do not know what any of the terms or meanings are, please ask any of our staff.
Determining your skier type is your responsibility. Your skier type, height, weight, age and ski boot sole length are used by the ski shop to determine the release/retention settings of your ski bindings. Be sure to provide accurate information; any error may increase your risk of injury. There are 3 classes of skier types – Type 1, Type II and Type III.
“Cautious skiing at lighter release/retention settings”
Ski conservatively. Prefer slower speeds. Prefer easy to moderate slopes. Favor lower than average release/retention settings. This corresponds to an increased risk of inadvertent binding release in order to gain increased release ability in a fall. Type I settings apply to entry-level skiers uncertain of their classification.
“Moderate Skiing at average release/retention settings.
Ski moderately. Prefer a variety of speeds. Ski on varied terrain, including most difficult trails. Are all skiers who do not meet all the descriptions of either Type I or III.
“Aggressive skiing at higher release/retention settings”
Ski aggressively. Normally at high speeds. Prefer steeper and more challenging terrain. Favor higher than average release/retention settings. This corresponds to decreased release ability in a fall. In order to gain a decreased risk inadvertent binding release.
Glossary of Riding & Skiing Terms
- Alpine Skiing – Downhill Skiing.
- Apres-ski – The nightlife following a day of skiing.
- Base – The average depth of snow on the mountain AND the bottom of the mountain where the lodge is. Example: Base Lodge.
- Bunny Slope – The area where beginners are taught.
- Carving – Making turns while the edges of your skis or snowboard are cutting into the snow.
- Catching an Edge – When the edge of your ski or snowboard accidentally digs into the snow and usually resulting in a fall or a near fall. (Happens to the best of them)
- Catching Some Air – After riding over a small hill or mogul, your skis or snowboard comes off of the ground.
- Corduroy – The result of snow made by groomers. Closely spaced parallel grooves that resemble corduroy pants.
- Cruising – Making a long run at less than breakneck speeds.
- Fall-Line – The straightest and steepest line down any slope.
- Freshies – Freshly fallen snow with no ski or snowboard tracks.
- Gaper – A person who stops on the slopes to look at the views OR space between your goggles and helmet.
- Glade Skiing – Special Trails for skiing through the trees
- Goofy – Right foot forward on a snowboard.
- Granular Surface – Granules look similar to rock salt, usually formed after a powder snow thaws, re-freezes and crystallizes; or an accumulation of sleet. Loose granular also may characterize surface conditions produced by machine conditioning of frozen granular or icy surfaces.
- Head Wall – The area on top of the mountain where you are just about to come down the slope usually at the start of a black diamond.
- Heli-Skiing – Skiing that can only be reached by helicopter. Not available at Belleayre Mountain.
- Mashed Potatoes – Wet, heavy snow.
- Milk Run – The first run of the day.
- Moguls – Mounds of snow (aka – bumps).
- Off Trails – In most cases, they are places that you should not be, such as closed, ungroomed, and unpatrolled slopes. If you are caught skiing or boarding on a closed trail, Ski Patrol will clip your ticket and ask you to leave.
- Pizza – See Snowplow.
- Powder – Light, ungroomed snow.
- Schussing – Skiing straight downhill, often in a full tuck. (Not usually recommended).
- Shaped Skis – Curved or hourglass-shaped skis.
- Snowplow – Also referred to as wedge. It is one of the first ways we learn to stop. It is when your ski tips are almost touching forming a triangular shape (aka – Pizza). Also the piece of machinery that clears the roads after a snowfall so we can get to the mountain.
- Terrain Park – An area maintained by a resort that is full of jumps and/or a halfpipe, rails, and other obstacles.
- Wedge – See snowplow
- Yard Sale – A wipeout fall in which skis, poles, hat, goggles, sunglasses, mittens, and anything else you may have on your person ends up strewn along the mountainside.