Heading out on your own
I tend to have 2 personalities while skiing. One really enjoys skiing in groups and enjoying a really social activity. On the other hand, one really likes to just have the freedom to do whatever he feels like and not deal with any people drama. Solo travel and solo ski travel can really be a necessary and great experience sometimes.
Planning for a solo ski trip
Planning a trip for yourself. You don’t have to worry about what anyone else wants to ski or do. So go ahead and pick that destination you either love or you’ve always wanted to go to.
My personal example is Loveland Pass in Colorado. Everyone I know talks about going to Colorado to ski either Epic or Ikon Pass resorts. No one ever talks about Loveland. 99% of them have never skied or even thought of skiing it. I love it. It’s the one place in Colorado I really miss when I haven’t gone out there for a while. It’s not crowded. It has more of a backcountry inside the resort feel. It can have really really good powder days. If I’m going out to Colorado alone you can bet I’m stopping there. This is your trip so pick somewhere you want. Don’t worry about what your friends will think when you get home.
If you have never skied out west, check out our guide to skiing out west the first time for more information.
Figuring out how to get there
After picking where you want to go. Time to figure out how you’re getting there. You can pick whatever flights meet your schedule including that Spirit flight that gets back here at 2 am. It still gives you time to ski on the day your leaving. Rental cars rarely make sense economically when you go alone. If you’re staying anywhere with shuttles it will be cheaper than somewhere without one.
If you want to do any nonskiing sightseeing or exploring away from the resort you might want one anyway. These are the trips to risk the dirt cheap companies with poor reviews that you see on Expedia and Priceline. You don’t have to worry about the group frustrations that result from poor service. Here’s the time for taking any risks to find out what something is really like.
Now it’s time to pick where you’re staying. If you hunt around you can find some really good deals on tiny rooms. The Crystal Lodge, at Whistler Blackcomb, has tiny single rooms that only have a double (it’s actually queen sized) bed in the room and not much else. Depending on when you go these can be had for under $100 USD a night. The Crystal Lodge is less than a 100 yard walk to Whistler Gondola. I’m sure there are plenty of similar tiny rooms at other resorts if you hunt around. There really isn’t much need for a bigger room since you’ll probably spend most of your time away from the room.
Time for packing. I’ve found it’s really not difficult to get down to just 1 checked bag if you’re doing a short 3-4 ski days trip. Almost anything can be stuffed in a ski bag and a backpack. For longer trips, it always seems like one more bag is needed. Usually, a carryon is enough if you need 1 more.
Meet people on the way out.
I’ve had some interesting experiences on the plane other the years. I once sat next to a guy on the way to Seattle who worked on a crabbing boat who hauled out his laptop and showed off a ton of pictures. On another trip, I ended up with a skier who has been to way more places then I have and had way crazier stories regarding skiing out of bounds and cliffs. Hopefully, someday I can have stories as interesting as these guys had.
Now on to the good stuff. Skiing by yourself. You can start whatever time you want. As a solo skier, I rarely ever miss first chair. As a fairly OCD time punctual person, I like being there when they open. My best ski friend is the far opposite end of the spectrum and would struggle to make an hour after the first chair on a 3 foot powder dump morning.
No solo ski trip is ever a solo ski travel
When you ski alone, you never really ski alone because every run involves a lift ride where you make anywhere from 1 to 9 more friends. You’re the odd guy they picked up off the singles line. Most people are usually more interested in talking to you then the group of people they got on the chair lift with. You’ve been riding the lifts with them all day and already had every possible lift conversation you can have. Short of Jerry losing it under the lift and giving you something to talk about, the single line guy is usually a relief.
During your lunch break, a similar thing happens. It can be a real struggle to find a table for a group of 4 to 6 people. It’s usually not hard to find a spot for 1 squeezing into the end of a table or a half empty table. Although it looks packed inside the cafeteria it’s rarely so packed there isn’t room for 1 more.
Ski what you want to
When skiing by yourself you can choose whatever runs you feel like. You can do that really easy groomer when you start getting tired. You can also go do that ridiculously stupid steep run all our friends are terrified of. No matter how you ski it, you can tell your buddies you killed it. They weren’t there to watch you snowplow and sideslip half of it. The ski patrol will pick up the pieces whether it’s just you or you and your friends. Don’t worry too much about it. GoPro’s don’t lie. Just remember you forgot to turn it on for that run.
Ski at the pace you want
Remember that you can pace yourself now for the amount of trip you have. Don’t wreck yourself on the first day if you’ve got 4 more to go. Unless the first day is a 3 foot powder dump in which case go ahead and ski until you can’t and don’t worry that the next 3 days will hurt like hell.
Take lessons if you want to find the goods.
If you would like to find random ski friends while you’re out somewhere, lessons can be a really good idea. Places like Whistler Blackcomb have programs such as TheCamp that are more like 80% guide and 20% lesson. I’ve met some great people skiing this way and had some really fun times both skiing and the bar after skiing. You will be shown hidden stashes and cool places on the mountain that you wouldn’t find randomly exploring with your group of friends from home.
Time for Apres
After skiing comes the next great time. This is truly where the freedom element of solo ski travel shines through. Stop at a patio somewhere for a beer. This should be mandatory after every skiing day along with hot tubbing. Nothing is better for relaxing after a lot of ski runs. Next is dinner. You can try whatever you want. Take advantage of some experimenting and things your group typically doesn’t like.
I almost always sit at the bar while eating. Sometimes something great happens as your one margarita turns into a bottomless drink if the bartender keeps topping it off. Ski resorts tend to be more of a group oriented place. Frequently there isn’t a lot of people sitting at the bar (in restaurants) during dinner time.
I’ve found it’s never difficult to pass the time in the evenings after skiing ends. If you’re staying somewhere with a walk around the village there are plenty of places to check out at night. Time for dessert or nursing another beer or 2. Walking around and checking out shops and other things. If your somewhere like Salt Lake City where most of the resorts don’t have villages (not counting Park City and Deer Valley) then it can be time to play regular tourist for a few hours.
Solo ski travel is what you want it to be
A solo ski trip is really not very solo. There are plenty of social opportunities such as lifts. You’re never really alone on the mountain. Traveling alone gives you all the freedom and flexibility to really make a trip yours as well as the ability to do as much or as little as you want.
You might also like:
- Epic Or Ikon Pass For Michigan Skiers? The Best Money Saving Pass
- Yoga For Skiers. A Great Exercise You Can Do To Make Your Ski Days Better
- First Time Guide To Skiing Out West
About the author
My name is Doug Ryan. I am an adventure sports fan and an avid skier, sailor, mountain biker who also enjoys paddle boarding, kayaking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and travel. I take any chance I can get to get out in the snow or water. I actively run an adventure sports meetup where I get asked many questions. I decided to start Endless Rush Outdoors as a way to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for adventure sports their gear.
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