Having grown up in sunny South Florida, there weren’t too many opportunities to go skiing in the winter (barring water skiing, that is). I wasn’t able to see snow until I ventured to China in my mid-twenties and I have yet to make a snowman. With that context in mind, I ventured up to Arizona Snowbowl, a popular ski slope in Flagstaff, with my wife and a friend to begin learning the ropes of skiing at the ripe age of 30.
My First Skiing Experience
Getting geared up took a long time, mainly because we rented our equipment. Strapping on the boots and learning to walk on my heels wasn’t too bad, although walking down stairs was slightly harrowing. Getting into the skis was easy enough, mainly because I had my poles to help me keep my balance on the icy snow that blanketed the mountain that day. I learned the pizza french-fry technique but soon found myself barreling down the bunny hill unable to stop myself. I ended up turning sharply and eventually finding a way to stop but the panic I felt really threw me for a loop. My friend took a different approach to teach me how to tackle the slopes again.
For my next few runs, he went down with me, teaching me how to turn and fall properly. Knowing how to fall was the most comforting part; I recommend that everyone learn how to bail properly before hitting the slopes! Turning was challenging and I did collide with him a few times trying to get the hang of it, but I made it through four runs without wiping out (I did lose my balance and fall once or twice).
The ski lift was another interesting point of my trip: We tried the people mover once (my skis were off at that point), which wasn’t so bad, but incredibly slow. We then did the two-person chairlift. I got on alright with my wife and we glided up the mountain. At the time, I was very tense, but looking back, now that I’ve had the experience, I think I would enjoy the views and the smooth trip much more. Getting off was a point of pride as well: I jumped off and slid gracefully to the side with no problems. I hear the dismount is challenging for a lot of people, but my first time went great! I think what helped me was mastering the squat position. If you can squat well, you can get on and off the chair. We’ll see if that holds up in future rides!
The mountain (Humphrey’s Peak) itself was very nice. It’s in this beautiful part of Flagstaff surrounded by tall pines and cool winds. It is very popular during the season, though: Locals and heat-weary Phoenix residents alike make the trip up the mountain to hit the slopes. Considering how crowded it was, the mountain never felt overpacked. Not once did I feel the presence of others really interfere with my enjoyment or my incredibly slow descent. Definitely worth a trip if you’re into skiing! I never ventured into anything beyond the beginner hills, but the mountain does offer some black diamond and double black diamond runs.
Overall, the experience was a difficult one, both physically and mentally, but I’m glad I can say I gave it a try. It was a great workout and an experience I wouldn’t have sought out normally, given my warm-weather tendencies. If I can figure out how to control my turns a bit better I think it’d be a nice way to spend the day in winter.