New to the Sport

Whether it’s your kids, your friends, or that issue of National Geographic Magazine that’s got you interesed in playing in the snow at Red Lodge Mountain, you’re bound to have questions. Luckily, we’ve got answers. Let’s get the most important ones out of the way right now: Yes, it really is that fun, and No, it really isn’t that hard.

Go Ahead- Ask Away!

Red Lodge Mountain Resort, New to the sportWill I get cold?

A little. But here’s where the right clothing makes the sport a thousand times more fun. Performance clothing has come light years from the days of backyard sledding in soggy nylon snowpants and moonboots.

First, your outer layer needs to keep the elements out. Jackets, pants and gloves need to be waterproof and windproof. Every now and then, someone hits the slopes in their Carhartts, but if you think you’re gonna fall down at any point during the day, and you don’t like being cold, make Gore-tex your best friend.

Second, skiing and snowboarding are great exercise. If you’re having any fun at all, you’re going to be sweating. So to stay as dry as possible, make sure anything touching your skin is made from a moisture-wicking fabric. Cotton is not good as a base layer. Just think how well your cotton bath towel absorbs water. And how long it takes to dry out. Ick. Polyester, polypropylene, and super-soft merino wool are good base-layer options.

Your next layer is what holds the warmth in: think fleece or wool here. Cotton is okay, but it’s not the best insulator. It depends on how warm you want to stay. Fleece tights and a fleece or wool sweater are an awesome investment if warmth is a priority for you. And sweatpants aren’t terrible, but they’re bulky tucked in around your calves, which can be uncomfortable in boots.

Socks are another area where technology has changed everything. Good socks will have a bigger impact on your day than most anything else besides your jacket. Wear clean socks and only wear them once before washing. Have them come up to your mid-calf or knee if you can, as your ski boots come up to mid-calf, and you want that area as comfy as possible. Your whole body will thank you. Note: Footwarmers, while great for hiking and sledding, may or may not be comfortable in ski boots. It’s best to plan to get by without them, and if it turns out they work for you, great.

Gloves are super important, and tricky. Your hands are going to sweat, and they’re going to spend some time in the snow. Wear gloves or mittens that are water resistant on the outside, and wicking on the inside, if possible. Soggy gloves don’t do much to keep your hands warm. Some gloves have removable fleece or polypropylene linings - those are great.  Note: Handwarmers are awesome, and if you’re cold-handed, definitely a sound investment.

A hat. Did you know you lose something like 80% of your body heat from your head? Okay, so maybe that’s not true, but it feels like it. Wear a warm hat. Keep the heat in.

Grow a Beard.  The ice beard is a true Montanain way to keep the face toasty on those colder days.

Red Lodge Mountain Resort, new to the sportWhen Should I Go?

Whenever you can get up here! Seriously. But if you have to choose, it is much more enjoyable to learn to ski when it’s warmer and sunnier. Sunny days with nice snow are the best, and with 202 sunny days a year, Red Lodge Mountain gives you lots to choose from.

What time of day?

It depends on what you’re looking for. An afternoon lesson means it’s warmer, but a morning lesson means more bang for your buck - take your lesson, get to practice the rest of the day, same cost. Red Lodge Mountain offers first-timer packages (rental equipment, lift ticket, lesson) at 10:00 am and 1:30 pm daily.

Something else to think about - when it’s SNOWING, and we mean SNOWING, people get here early. It’s like a Springsteen concert. And the parking lots fill up. Consider learning on a non-snowing day (you won’t be skiing this kind of deep powder anyway, on your first day) or in the afternoon. Lifts typically open at 9:00 a.m., and you should expect some lines and extra hustle-bustle around this time.

What are the circles, squares, and diamonds?

These are standard symbols designating the difficulty of each run. A green circle indicates the easiest run, the blue square is a more difficult one, and the black diamond the most difficult. Difficulty is based on steepness and width.

I heard the drive up to the Mountain can be, um, scary.

Not really. Just make sure you’ve got good tires, and you’ll be fine. The road to the Mountain is a dirt road and often snow covered. But it’s generally wide and not very steep. Just use good sense.

How much is this going to cost?

Besides the stunning beauty of our slopes, one of the great things about Red Lodge Mountain is that it’s affordable. Our First Timer Packages are an excellent value, and they cover your rentals, lesson, and lift ticket. You can thank us 30 years from now when your photo albums are filled with shots from Grizzly Peak and your garage filled with outgrown equipment. (Or thank us right now!) For more information on great packages for new skiers and snowboarders, check out our Snowsports page.

Red Lodge Mountain Resort, new to the sportShould I take a Lesson?

Yes. If you value your relationships with your avid-skier family members or friends, you should. Our ski instructors are the best. They LOVE to ski. They love to help others learn to LOVE to ski. They will help you LOVE to ski. And that’s awesome. They’re really good at it; they understand how to teach, and they make it about 3600 times more fun than having someone you live with teach you to ski. Trust us on this one.

Looking for information on lessons? Check our our First Timer Youth Packages and our First Timer Adult Packages.

Should I ski or snowboard?

It depends on what you like. Basically, at the end of your first day snowboarding, you probably still won’t be that good. If you can turn both ways without falling, you’re doing great. On your first day of skiing, you’ll be able to turn both ways and ski down an easy slope without falling. HOWEVER, on your fourth day snowboarding, you’ll be a rockstar. On your fourth day skiing, you’ll still be on elevator music.

Red Lodge Mountain, new to the sportHow do I load and unload a chairlift?

It’s not as scary as it looks. Trust us. (And here’s a little secret: every person you can see around you has had the same butterflies you’re experiencing right now. They’ll be nice.) If you’re nervous, tell the lift operator - it’s their job to help you.

Specifically though, here goes: Prepare yourself by removing the straps of your ski poles from your wrists and placing both poles in your inside hand (opposite the outside of the chairlift). If you are on a snowboard, remove your back foot from your binding. Once you've reach the front of the line wait for the chair to go past you. The people in front of you will sit on this chair, at which point you can move forward to where they were standing and keep your skis or snowboard pointed forward. Stop when your feet are on that shiny line next to the lift operator. Look behind you. See the chair? Grab it with your outside hand, not the one next to the person you’re sitting with, and sit down. Voila! You’re on you way.
To unload the chair, you will want to continue to hold both ski poles in your inside hand. If you are a snowboarder, do not attempt to buckle into your binding until you have unloaded and cleared the ramp. As you approach the unloading ramp, make sure your ski tips or your snowboard tip is up. If you are on a snowboard, you will also need to twist your hip a little in the seat to make sure your snowboard is pointing forward. As your skis or snowboard make contact with the unloading ramp you can stand up and gently push off the seat. Ski clear of the unloading ramp before reattaching your ski poles or buckling into your snowboard.
Unlike Halfpipe, this is way easier than it looks. Need more instructions? Watch this video.

What's "apres ski?"

Literally, it’s French for “after skiing.” But it basically covers that whole “hanging out with friends after an amazing day on the Mountain, glowing with happiness, and promising to do this every day of the rest of your life” thing we all do when we’ve taken the last run our legs can manage.

Am I going to get hurt?

It’s true that there are plenty of ways to get hurt while skiing. There are also ways to avoid the more common ski injuries.

Head - Wearing a helmet will prevent the majority of head injuries. Don’t believe us? Ask a seasoned skier why they wear theirs.

Knees - Knee injuries typically happen in 2 ways. First: a twisting fall. Your bindings should release you from this type of fall. It’s actually quite rare. Second: several decades of skiing. There’s nothing we can do about this one. Ski Patrol see few, if any, injuries to knees from first-time skiers.

Wrists - This is more common in beginner snowboarders who use their wrists to break their falls. You can use wrist braces (think in-line skating) or ask your instructor about the painless way to fall.

Butt - A bruised behind is pretty common after your first day on a snowboard. It will make Monday at the office a bit uncomfortable, but nothing more.

Let it be said that there are way fewer injuries than you think associated with skiing and snowboarding. If something does happen, Red Lodge Mountain and every other ski resort has a very able, talented, and attractive Ski Patrol staff on hand armed with more certifications that you can shake a ski pole at. They will take excellent care of you, or get you to a place that will be able to assist you.

Red Lodge Mountain, new to the sportWhat do I do if I fall?

Get up! Seriously, this is why it’s so good to take a lesson. Our instructors will help you learn how to get up with your skis or board attached to your feet, and how to avoid injuries when you do fall. But remember: falling is how you know you’re having fun. You’re trying something new, learning how far you can go, and falls are part of that. Lots of skiers and snowboarders count it as a disappointing day if they don’t fall. So have fun with it.

How do I carry skis and snowboards?

How good are your juggling skills? It’s true, all that gear can be a pain. There is a trick to carrying your skis, though. Hold them over your shoulder, linked together by the binding brakes. Make sure your tips are forward, and carry your poles in the other hand. Even though ski boots aren’t the easiest thing in the world to walk in, it’s often easier to wear them than carry them.

Why would I wear goggles? I own sunglasses - aren’t they basically the same thing?

In ideal conditions, you can get away with sunglasses. But they break much more easily, and they don’t keep the wind and snow out, which means you end up fussing with them more, which means they have a greater chance of breaking. Goggles are nice that way.

Should I buy stuff? That sounds pricey.

No you don’t need to, and you won’t really even know what you want your first time out. Okay, buy your own long underwear, but borrow the other stuff. And definitely rent skis and boots your first time. If you end up loving skiing or snowboarding as much as we expect you will, you’re going to want to try different things to see what works best for you. There’s plenty of time to buy stuff once you know how it all works.

Red Lodge Mountain, new to the sportI watch skiing on the Olympics - is it like that?

Only in that thousands of people will be cheering for you every step of the way. The Olympics have a couple different types of skiing and snowboarding that are essentially for advanced skiers and riders.

Moguls - The mogul competition is about speed and style. These guys have short skis and poles and do tricks while skiing through a bump course. These bumps, or ‘moguls’ actually form naturally on runs when people move snow around. They are a natural feature that exist at all resorts.

Half Pipe - Half Pipes are man-made structures essentially shaped like half a pipe, the idea being to ride up the side of them and do a trick in the air - spinning, flipping or grabbing your skis/snowboard. This takes a lot of practice - you have to be pretty comfortable as a rider. RLMR does not have a pipe- they're also really expensive to build and maintain!

Racing - It’s essentially just normal skiing, but with a course of red and blue gates that racers must ski/snowboard around. Truth be told, once you feel good on your skis or board, this is a great sport to take up. It will improve your skills and is lots of fun!

Ski/Boarder Cross - This is where 4 people race down a course. It is a fast-paced race where contact is allowed between racers and jumps are involved. Some resorts offer “boardercross courses” that are a fun way to expand your skills, but always wear a helmet!

Aerials - This isn’t exactly the easiest thing to take up – it’s hard to find a place to practice! Skiers are judged on form, style and how big they go - like gymnastics on skis in the air. Most resorts do not offer Freestyle Aerial facilities and if they do, they are not for the public.

Ski Jumping - Requires a lot of guts and big skis. A hard sport to take up, as there are few places to take this activity up. Skiers are judged both on form and distance. Like Aerials, few resorts offer Jumping and those that do, it is strictly a spectator sport or for those with private training.

What’s the difference between cross-country skiing and downhill skiing?

It’s similar to the difference between yoga and kickboxing, but not quite. Cross country skis are generally longer and don’t turn as well. Your heel also isn’t fixed to the ski, which makes it more like your walking gait. With downhill skiing, you use your whole body to make your turns, which is why the boot is so inflexible--it transfers all that energy into your ski. It’s way more fun than Physics class, and our instructors are great at showing you how it works--so sign up for a lesson and try it out!

New to the sport, Red Lodge MountainWhat’s a gaper?

If someone calls you a gaper, cut them off in line. A “gaper” is a newbie skier, characterized by their obvious newness. Ask your instructor all your zillion questions, pay attention to what we’ve got for you here, and nobody will call you a gaper. They will high-five you for joining the club they love.

Yeah, what’s up with ski boots? They don’t look comfortable. Will I be able to walk?

They’re not awesome to walk in. But they’re not made for the parking lot. They’re made of hard plastic, and meant to fit very snugly to your foot and calf. This is so that they can transfer every ounce of torque and flexion you’re creating with your body into your ski so your skis will go exactly where you want them to. That said, they should fit snugly, but they shouldn’t hurt. Your foot and calf need to be able to torque and flex, or you won’t go where you want. Take some time in the Rental Shop. These folks know what the boot needs to feel like, and they’ll help you get the right fit.

Do I need poles?

At first, most instructors will make you set your poles aside, because they’re just one more thing to worry about. Mostly they’re used for balance when skiing fast. You’ll get there.

Can I drive in ski boots?

NO! Nonononono. You have no ankle in ski boots. Remember: they’re hard plastic, engineered to not ever bend in any way. Gas (and brake!) pedals pretty much require ankles. Please promise you’ll never attempt to drive with your ski boots on.

Red Lodge Mountain, new to the sportWhat does “Snowplow” mean? It sounds painful.

If you take up skiing, you’ll spend your first hour, or maybe two, snowplowing. You’ll be very glad to know how to snowplow. And then, when you learn how to turn and stop with your whole body, you won’t ever snowplow again. But for those first couple of hours, the technique will save your fanny. Snowplowing uses the force of your legs pushing away from one another to slow you down and stop. It works muscles in your legs and calves that don’t normally work in that way, so it’ll make you sore. And that’s a great incentive for learning how it’s really done.

How do I buy tickets?

Click this link: Season Passes, or this link: 6 & 10 Tix, or this link: Day tickets to buy them right here, right now. Or, call 406-446-2610 during normal business hours. Or visit our Downtown Red Lodge store at 24 N Broadway where they can give you lots of information on just how much fun you’re going to have. Or, show up the day you want to ski and walk straight ahead from the parking lot. The Ticket window is front and center. Ask about Military and Student discounts, too.