So you want to go to the snow but don’t know where to start?
Here’s part two of my series on travelling to the snow! Click here to find part one!
This can go either way in terms of expense. Clothing and ski/snowboard gear can be hired, bought or borrowed. I would suggest to hire your gear in Jindabyne (Australia) if it is your first time skiing at Perisher or Thredbo, hiring on the mountain can be expensive. We don’t own our own skis so hire from The Base ski and snowboard centre, they are reasonably priced and offer a discount if you have one of their membership cards. Like all gear, kids grow out of them fast, you might only get a couple of days out of a jacket/pants if that all you ski for that year so think what would be best for your situation. My kids live off hand me downs and second hand ski jackets and pants. About this time of the year we go through what we have got that fits each of us and see what we need to source – you can sometimes find gear at Op shops and ski shops selling last season’s hire gear, otherwise check out ebay etc. Up to last year I had the same jacket and pants for about 9 years, don’t worry about fashion! You will see people wearing all sorts of gear down on the slopes, with certain retro gear coming back!
There are a couple of items that I think you really need to have. Firstly, a helmet, we bought ours from Aldi (sale starts this Sat the 14th of May- get in early!) but you can hire them, all kids need them for skiing and the majority of Adults wear them nowadays. Secondly, snow chains. If you are driving up the mountain and you don’t have a four wheel drive it is law to carry them, hire them and make sure you know how to put them on before you leave for the slopes. Thirdly get warm socks (Aldi), 2 pairs of gloves each (Aldi), neck warmers (Aldi) and goggles (Aldi again!) and if you can get your hands on some thermals they are a god send!!! If you can’t get thermals thick stockings and spensors (like your grandma wears!) will do the trick. Layering is the way to go in the cold, rug up the kids and take spares gloves with you because if they get cold your ski trip will be a nightmare. When it comes to footwear, I am in a couple of frames of mind. I have never owned snow “walk boots”,and only have ever worn my hike boots when I don’t have my ski boots on. The kids have had a variety on snow walk boots which we have picked up cheap (mostly at Op Shops), or now the younger ones wear their hike boots. We don’t do much “snow play” or tobogganing, mainly just skiing so only need shoes to wear mostly in the car, so I would suggest that if you were heading up for snow play a pair of gumboots would be fine, especially those ones that have a toggle closure at the top.
Every time we ski, here is Aus and Overseas, we stay somewhere we can cook our own meals. When I come home, with tired and sometimes grumpy kids ( generally I’m not much better myself!) I don’t want to have to get changed into normal clothes and drag them out for dinner. Easy, quick dinners, sitting around still in our ski gear or thermals is what works for us. I once saw a group of 20 somethings have their slow cooker going during the day so that there was a hearty meal waiting for them when they got back. I think this is a great Idea, might try it this year! I always find a supermarket that is close by to where we are staying, in Jindabyne there is a Woolies in the main street, so we stock up on food when we get there, be warned though it gets very busy in the late arvo when people have come back from the mountain. Even up at Big White they had a small convenience store, down under where we were staying.
Buying meals up on the slopes at any ski resort is going to cost you big time. We always take a packed lunch which we carry in a back pack or put in a hired locker, and stuff our pockets with treats like lollies and chocolates (even the kids, if they go to ski school have treats in their pockets!) and sometimes we will get some hot chips, hot chocolate or bottle of coke. Don’t worry, you will not be the only people bringing your own food, a lot of people do, you won’t look like freaks! If you don’t take snacks or food for lunch, definitely take food and a drink for the trip home, you and the kids will be starving, so a box of biscuits / fruit will be demolished in minutes.
Transport / National parks entry / Ski tube.
If you are not staying on snow you will have to get to the fields somehow. In Queenstown we caught a shuttle bus up the mountain which left from town (we bought tickets from where it leaves from) and from Jindabyne we mostly drive up or catch the ski tube. When you drive up to either Perisher or Thredbo ski fields you have to pay for National Park entry, if you are on the pension it is free,( go online and apply) if you aren’t check out the price comparison on a season pass before you go. The ski tube is a great alternative if you don’t want to drive or the weather is bad on the roads and you don’t want to battle snow chains on your car, the cost is extra to your ski pass and will give you direct access to Perisher and Blue cow. There is also a shuttle that runs from Perisher to Smiggins if you want to try out those runs but don’t want to ski across. Some of the resorts in Jindabyne offer shuttle buses up the mountain, so if you are staying at one of those, check it out.
Where is best place to ski /best time to ski.
I find that the best time to ski for our winter in both Australia and New Zealand is early August. This seems to year after year provide the best snow falls, and is the reason that it is considered “peak time”. Going in the July school holidays you might be disappointed in the amount of snow (natural) and there will be a lot of people to line up behind to get on a lift. In Australia we really love skiing at Perisher, it offers a lot of terrain for different levels of skiing and everyone is friendly and helpful. This year though we might check out Thredbo for something different, we will see what happens with the snow fall. In Queenstown we skied at The Remarkables and Coronet peak on a combined ski ticket. I loved Coronet Peak over the Remarkables, it had harder runs (and where Jay skied his first black run!) although the Remarkables had more to offer for Ivy as a five-year-old skier. We loved staying and skiing at Big White in Canada. It is Australian owned, most units are ski in and out, and they have the biggest, hardest ski runs I have ever skied! and a lot cheaper than the popular Whistler. Hopefully in the near future we will ski in Japan, before I get to old and my legs give out! Wherever you are skiing keep in tune with the weather and snow updates online or on the radio. These will give you an insight into what is going up on the mountain and help you prepare for the day.
Hope these tips have inspired you and given you confidence to travel to the snow! No we just have to hope and pray for a good season!
I’m sure I have probably left out some tips….. do you have anything to add? Pop it in the comments below!