Ever been put in the awkward position of having to turn down a group ski trip with friends because you quite simply have no idea how to ski? I feel you! Learning to ski at the age of 30 isn’t an easy venture but once you’ve hit the slopes for the very first time the chances very high you’ll be booking in for a return adventure!
When I was in school there was a certain group of girls that regularly headed out on a ski holiday over the winter period, these same girls also had holiday homes in Barbados and arrived to school in a Bentley, or so was the picture I painted in my mind! To me it seemed that ski holidays were reserved for the wealthy only and the idea of my family being able to afford a trip to the slopes when I was a child sat side by side in my imagination with winning the lottery!
When my school arranged the year 11 ski trip my mother couldn’t afford to send me so instead, I pleaded with the headmaster to allow me to join the lucky group of students on their practice run in the UK. Even though I only spent half an hour on the artificial indoor slopes I feel in love with the sport and vowed that one day I would get myself out on the real slopes! Since a young age I always had upper class connotations when it comes to ski breaks but now, as an adult and someone who has experienced one for herself, I’m pleased to say that my previous judgements are simply not true!
Just last year I accepted a very kind invitation from Inghams Ski Holidays to attend a group press trip to Montgenevre. As soon as the email reached my inbox they received a ‘yes, yes, yes! ‘ email in response and I started to prepare for the 4 day trip. Mems and I had been asked on a few ski trips with friends before but we always declined favouring a warmer holiday destination, not just because of the obvious heat factor but mainly because neither of us knew how to ski and we were admittedly a little bit embarrassed about the idea of learning to ski amongst our very experienced friends.
Having now dabbled in the sport of skiing, spending a few days in Montgenevre, I am pleased to say that a ski holiday is actually far more accessible a holiday than I had realised. If you too have always wanted to ski but share the same reservations as I once did, then please, read on!
Choosing your Resort
I travelled to Montgenevre which is a beautiful French alpine village just 2km away from the Italian border. The small rustic town was absolutely stunning with white blanketed hillsides and traditionally quaint narrow streets. I had never been to a ski resort (or any snow covered location for that matter) before my trip to Montgenevre so I am not the best person to compare and critique landscapes, for me though, it was beautiful!
The resort which is accessible via car from Turin Airport, is famously friendly to beginner skiers with multiple blue and green runs (the easier ski slopes) with some tough cookies added into the mix for people travelling to the resort who are very well experienced. If it is your first ski trip then I highly recommend looking into the resorts runs, what I loved about Montgenevre was the green runs, which are the easiest to tackle are situated really high up. Regardless of your level you were still able to enjoy those iconic views and mountainous heights.
What to Pack
When it comes to packing for a ski holiday it’s a whole other ball game! You’ll need kitting out with full ski gear. Having never even visited a snowy country for a holiday before I personally had to start from scratch so for those of you heading out skiing or snowboarding for the very first time, I’ve compiled a list of things you absolutely need here:
Hat or a warm headband – most of us already have these!
Gloves – These need to be Ski specific, I grabbed some at Sports Direct
Scarf or Snood – I would personally recommend a neck giater, mine was by Superdry and I absolutely loved it! They are light enough to shove in your pocket afterwards and super warm when you need it.
Warm Layers – Your wardrobe’s fleeces, jogging bottoms and jumpers, basically anything you have that can layer up to keep you warm.
Thermal Underlayers – Top and Bottoms, these are essential! I packed two pairs of thermals and alternated, my favourite pair was from Sweaty Betty as they added the extra fun factor with their colourful design 😉
Ski Goggles/Sunglasses – These are essential but you can rent/buy them at the resort if you don’t find a pair before heading out. I picked some up in the sale at TK Max.
Ski jacket – So this is for me, this is the item of clothing you should spend the most time on choosing as you will live in it! Try and opt for a jacket that has an external arm pocket so you can put your ski pass (as small card which allows you to use the ski lift) in it and not need to fumble with your gloves and internal pockets. I also needed extra pockets to slip in my GoPro, Lip Balm & Sun lotion. Luckily for me I had 4 large pockets inside my jacket and that was ideal! I bought mine from Topshop and I actually can’t recommend their ski range more. If you can get your hands on any item from this range snap them up! (I’ve featured some in a slider below) They are amazing quality and usually a funky design. If you already have a warm (fully lined) waterproof jacket then you can pack that as an alternative without having to spend extra pennies.
Ski trousers – Also your best friend on the slopes and the only item of clothing that you really do need to by ski specifically. The trousers are lined and waterproof allowing you to keep dry on inevitable tumbles! Sadly Topshop had sold out of these so I bought my pair from Sports Direct.
Ski Socks – You’ll need a few pairs of these to keep your tootsies warm! The thicker the better as they will also stop your ski boots rubbing on your ankles. I bought mine from Sports Direct.
Lip block & Sun Lotions – It may be cold but it’s also often very sunny on the slopes and being so close to the sun needs maximum protection. No one likes a mask mark 😉
Sensible shoes/boots with grip to walk around in the evenings – Pretty easy this one as most of us have a walking boot of some sort. I wore my black EMU boots that I pretty much live in during winter in England, they are fully lined and waterproof, they are awesome! I also packed my high top Ugg boots which were great for during the day before putting on ski’s.
I had two full outfits for three full days of skiing and I think having the option to alternate between days was amazing but completely unnecessary. Anything that touches your skin such as your socks, thermals and underwear absolutely need to be packed in pairs but you’ll be fine with just one set of outerwear. All chalets and hotels have heaters to dry off your clobber between hitting the slopes and most will have a washing machine to make it easy to alternate your base layers.
My Current Season Ski Faves:
Learning to Ski
We were booked in for skiing lessons curtesy of Inghams on the first and second day of the trip and luckily for my fellow journalist Carlie and we had our own private tutor. Putting on ski’s for the very first time was like learning to walk again, from complete scratch! As a naturally sporty gal I had expected to breeze through my first day of lessons but in fact, even manouvering to the practice area had me bambi-legged! You’ll start your lesson by simply learning to walk through the snow in ski’s, which once you’ve learnt the skill becomes your natural fall back on the slopes. Then you move on to learning how to get up the slopes themselves. Montgenevre is very well equipped for beginners so there are a few ‘learner’ slopes to practice on and to get to these you need to learn to master the simple button lift. As the swinging stool swoops beneath you, you have a few moments to lean back onto the dangling rope and glide up the slope, all the while with the guidance of your teacher.
We started our lessons with simple movements and turns, within a few minutes I felt really comfortable on my ski’s moving slowly but surely down the slope. ‘I’ve totally got this’ I thought, relieved and proud that I had picked it up so effortlessly and quickly. Whilst that may have been the case on the baby slope, little did I know at the time how terrified I would feel on the ‘big girl’ piste!
As we had demonstrated skill on the training run our guide took us up to our first slope…..and getting on to the chair lift I nearly s**t myself! The few weeks before travelling to Montgenevre I was so excited to learn to ski and enjoy the famous atmosphere of a ski resort I hadn’t given it a second thought that I would be shooting down a near vertical hill of snow with absolutely no experience in knowing how to stop myself in my tracks! I had been taught the basics yes, but nothing could have prepared me for the fear factor of just how high you are on the slopes and just out ‘out-of-control’ you feel. As we started the run I felt confident in what I had learned but then one shady turn on the slope flushed me with fear and feelings of inadequacy. No one preps you that the run is A) so so high! and B) far narrower than you may have thought! There’s a number of people on the slope at any given time and they will have no idea that you are learning so won’t hesitate to woosh past you, even if they are just two years old!
Learning a new sport is always daunting but learning a new sport in quite dangerous conditions is especially tough! Now don’t get me wrong, learning with a guide is safe as they never tale their eyes off you but that doesn’t eradicate the fear factor! After a few hours learning there were a few glorious moments of free runs that for a few short moments I totally got it, not just the physical skiing but the entire vibe of the slopes themselves. There really is nothing like the adrenaline of gliding at speed through the snow with the crisp mountain air and stunning landscape views, I knew then exactly why so many people book ski trips year in and year out! Then I would mess up and turn and the adrenaline switched back to fear in an instant 😉
I am and have always been someone who is naturally active and somewhat fearless when it comes to travel and sport (as most of you may now by know from following my social media!) so it would have been easy to take the bravado route and say everything was a breeze but it really wasn’t. It’s so rare to hear people saying that they think skiing is scary so I wanted to speak from the heart and tell you, should you feel as though it is, you are definitely not alone! That being said, after our second lesson I knew that this was sport I wanted to practice more.
Enjoy the Apres Ski
Asides from the adrenaline rush of the slopes there’s so much more to skiing than the actual sport itself. Spending the morning on the slopes is highly recommend for beginners as the snow is in perfect condition for less experienced skiers. As the sun beams down on the hills throughout the afternoon the snow melts slightly and is therefore a little mushy for those of us who barely know how to swoosh and swerve! Leaving the afternoons and evenings to be spent indulging in food and hhmmm, alcohol!
The resort of Montgenevre was relatively small and family focused so there were few restaurants and bars in the area but we made the most of what was available. Straight after the morning ski we would head to lunch and order in as many aperol sprtizes that we could work our way through! The view at every corner of the resort was gorgeous and indulging in rich, warm, delicious food whilst watching on at the snow covered hills was the perfect combo after a morning of (in my case) fear gliding down the slopes!
One evening the local pub showcased a live band which was a really fun, the girls and I danced away in our thermals and I got a taste of what a more lively ski resort would be like, whilst Mongenevre was great for a beginner’s tale the idea of a more happening night life definitely appeals!
Travel with the right people!
For the the whole experience of skiing is based largely around the group of people you are traveling with! Whilst the slopes offer a wonderful escape for a few hours once the sun starts to set the atmosphere is made by those around you. I felt a bizarre but amazing sense of community within the town as everyone there was like-minded and in high spirits.
I travelled with some lovely fellow travel bloggers, Jess Gibson from The Travelista, Carlie from Carlie Tasker and Giulia from Mondo Mulia and from cheeky tipples to giggling conversations our days consisted of rubbing our sore bellies from laughing, especially Carlie and I tackling the slopes together each morning, comedy value holds no bounds when it comes to a trip and tumble in your skis! For me travelling with great people is probably the most important factor when heading out to a ski resort.
Can I travel with people who have already skied?
The biggest put-off for learning to ski at 30 is very often the fact that most people you may know already know how to ski. This was often the case for me and amongst the reasons as to why I personally waited so long to learn.
I would genuinely recommend biting the bullet and joining a group, no matter how advanced they may be. Realistically you’ll spend a few hours a day with an instructor and the rest of your days will be spent enjoying the famously fun apres ski and dining options, most resorts also feature a spa and lively club hangouts too. You’ll only have to get through the morning solo and trust me when I say you’ll appreciate the solidarity when learning to ski!
Will it be intimidating? Abso-freaking-lutely, with toddlers whizzing past you on the slopes when you can barley put a foot in-front of the other and your instructor shouting words of encouragement when you cower over the sheer drops that lay ahead of you BUT when you eventually get the hang of it, there’s few experiences in the world that compare to the crisp mountain air swooshing past your face as your smile breaks through your fear!
Inghams offers a seven-night ski holiday to Montgenevre, France on a chalet catering basis staying at Chalet Rocher de L’Aigle from £590 per person. Price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Turin and airport transfers.
Ski and boot hire costs from £96 per adult and a six-day Whole Area lift pass costs from £189 per adult, both can be pre-booked with Inghams.