I am lucky to have been skiing in Colorado since I was very young. My first trip out here was when I was 5 years old to visit my aunt and uncle! After my parents bought a vacation house in Breckenridge in 2008, I’ve come out for a ski weekend nearly every year.
With all this experience, I have a few tips for how save yourself time (and stress!) in order to make the most of a ski weekend!
Figure Out Your Gear Before Getting to the Mountain
If you’re not a regular skier or snowboarder, it’s likely that you don’t have your own gear and will be renting. I did this for YEARS for before I bucked up and bought long-term equipment, so I totally understand how economical it is to just rent equipment. Plus, you can get great quality stuff to try out for a few days!
A few words of warning when renting equipment:
- Test it out before you get in the car or on the slopes for the day — Make sure you learn how to put on all your gear and that everything fits comfortably. If you’re staying close to the mountain, maybe just go for a run or two right when you arrive to make sure it’s all good to go. There is seriously nothing worse that being uncomfortable on the mountain or stranded not knowing how to get your boots/skis back on after a fall.
- Remember where you rented it from — I can’t tell you how many times I straight up forgot which rental shop I got my gear from. It’s not always clearly labeled, and your mind might be elsewhere after a long day on the mountain. My rule of thumb is to return it to the exact store I got it from, even if there are alternate locations.
- Rent from an independent retailer rather than mountain itself — Unless you get some kind of deal or bundle when you buy the lift ticket, it is best to rent your equipment from an independent retailer. Their selection tends to be better, waits are shorter, and the staff is knowledgeable and helpful. Plus the prices are typically better!
Create a Grocery List Ahead of Time
My least favorite part of any ski weekend is when we have to go grocery shopping. There are typically 6-10 people staying at the house, and everyone is starving from being out on the mountain — there is no patience for waiting when it comes to food. I find it is best to go early in your weekend (the night you arrive if possible!) and get everything you need. In order to get it all in one trip, you need to plan ahead and create a thorough shopping list. Plus, the grocery stores in Breckenridge aren’t exactly fancy or large, so they get really crowded and picked over if you go after the mountain closes for the day.
The meal planning is no simple task! It’s easiest to think about meals that will feed a lot of people. My favorite things to cook & eat on a ski weekend are meals that can be cooked and left in a crock pot. Think chile, pulled pork, corn chowder, etc. Make sure to pick up ample snacks, like granola bars, pretzels, jolly ranchers and tortilla chips. Other great options for dinner are make-your-own pizzas, spaghetti & garlic bread, or ribs.
There is nothing worse than forgetting a glove or leaving your hat at home when you’re heading out for a ski weekend — prices to replace them are steep in mountain towns! The mark-up for often forgot items is massive if you go to a ski supply store on the mountain or in town in Breckenridge, so it is best to make sure you have everything you need before you leave. Double check the really important things like: gloves, hat, socks, winter shoes, lift ticket, hand warmers.
Note: If you’re looking for a full packing list, check my other post about what to pack.
Hit the Mountain Early!
When you’re only skiing for a long weekend, there is no time to waste sleeping in. The ski lift lines get REALLY long the later in the day you get, so it’s a good rule of thumb to get out there as soon as the mountain opens. At Breckenridge, lifts start running at 8:30am, and that’s when you’ll find me there! You can easily get in 3-5 runs before 11:00am when the lines get really packed! Plus, then you can go in for a warm up and snack while everyone else is out there waiting!
Drink LOTS of Water
Don’t let yourself get sick with altitude sickness or dehydration. It is the fastest way to ruin your ski weekend! Even if you live in a high altitude region of the country, mountains like Breckenridge are far higher. Our house is at 8500 feet above sea level, and even though I’m in pretty good shape, I still get winded jut walking up and down the stairs. The altitude is no joke! You should shoot to be drinking double the amount of water you normally do, and shoot for at least 100 milliliters a day while in the mountains. If you’re consuming alcohol, you need to drink 1 glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume, otherwise you’re going to wake up with an awful hangover! Personally, I drink a lot more than 100 milliliters a day but I also drink a lot of water normally.
Take It Slow. Let Yourself Adjust to the Mountain
I certainly believe in challenging yourself to do new & harder runs, but keep your expectations in check. If you’re a beginner, set your eyes on a hard green run or blue run by the end of the weekend rather than shooting for the moon. It’s easy to get overly ambitious about the runs you’re capable of, especially when you see young kids doing double black diamonds. It’s hurts your ego to see so many people doing better than you! But trust me, if you exhaust yourself early in the weekend, it will be incredibly hard to recovery. The mountain takes a toll on your body, and even the most fit people out there will be tired after a full day on the slopes.