Beginner Q & A

Skiing or snowboarding?

Snowboarding is usually a little more difficult when just starting out, but after mastering the basics, the learning curve rises greatly and you may be able to progress off the beginner runs more quickly.  In skiing, beginners often feel they better control throughout the entire learning process and can get on and off the chairlifts easier.  The two sports are actually quite different and many people are now enjoying both.

How long will it take to learn?

Most beginners will spend their first day on the beginner slopes, utilizing the base area lifts (Chairs 4 and 8 at Snow Summit and Chairs 6 and 7 at Bear Mountain).  By the second day, most people are able to ski or snowboard down one of the many low intermediate runs at either resort.  After the second day, we see wider differences in progression rates based on athletic ability.

In general, learning a snow sport can be challenging at first, yet extremely fun and exciting once mastered.  Each person learns at a different pace, but persistence will lead to a rewarding experience for everyone.

How important are lessons?

Professional instruction with proper teaching techniques can make learning a new skill fun and rewarding.  Taking lessons will help you pick up the fundamentals more quickly than learning on your own or from a friend.  Most importantly, you’ll learn how to be safe on the mountain and reduce your chance of injury.

Where can I rent equipment?

Renting equipment right here at our resorts is the most convenient way to go.  Avoid the hassle of shopping at other sports shops, carrying awkward equipment to the mountain and rushing to return it on time.  We offer a wide selection of high-quality gear for both skiers and snowboarders, which can be purchased in one easy transaction with your lift ticket and/or lessons.

Boots that fit properly, bindings that work, and skis or snowboards with smooth bottoms and sharp edges are necessary for success, whether beginner or advanced.  Our highly-trained rental staff will set you up with the perfect equipment for your level and is readily available should you experience any problems.  Burton Learn to Ride equipment is available at both resorts and is designed specifically for first-time snowboarders, with slightly beveled edges that help keep them from catching in the snow.

On peak weekends and holidays we strongly recommend you get an early start on the renting process.  Late arrivals can encounter a line at the rental outlets.  If you are renting on a Saturday, it’s best to show up at opening time or even the night before (at Snow Summit only until 8 pm) to reserve your equipment.

What other equipment and clothing do I need?

Remember that the mountains are generally colder than the beaches and valleys. Be prepared for colder weather with long underwear, several outer layers, gloves or mittens, a hat, etc. You also need goggles or sunglasses as the snow that reflects the sun can be very bright. Most days in Big Bear are sunny, so sunscreen for your face is also a necessity. We have an onsite sport shop for any of these items you may have forgotten.

Some things you should know about driving in the mountains:

We recommend that you check our websites for the most current road and weather updates. You can also find road information on which also reports Cal Trans Highway road information.

You must carry chains when driving in the mountains. Often times during snowy conditions, chains are required on all vehicles except 4WD and AWD with snow tires however those vehicles are also required to at least carry chains. There are roadside chain installers where chains are required who charge a small fee (around $20) if you don’t know how to put them on.

Driving time from the San Diego area is about three hours and from Orange County and LA  about two hours. Travel time may vary with weather conditions, chain requirements and road closures. On a busy weekend or holiday, expect to add a half-hour to an hour or more due to traffic.

When I arrive at the resort, what exactly is the process that I go through?

1. Our parking staff will direct you where to park your car as you enter the lot. If our main lot is full, you will be directed to our overflow lot which is a half mile away, where a complimentary shuttle will take you to the base area. A convenient drop-off zone is available near the resort’s main entrance if you want to drop passengers and equipment before parking and shuttling.

2. Proceed to the base area ticket windows where you purchase/pick-up your lift ticket, lesson and/or equipment rental packages in one transaction. If you are taking a lesson and/or renting equipment, you will get a lift ticket and vouchers for rentals and lessons.

3. Go to either the snowboard or the ski rental facility where you will be fitted for equipment. It takes time to fit equipment to each individual so expect at least 20 minutes even if there is no wait.

4. You may need to check your personal belongings such as a jacket, backpack, regular shoes, etc. There are plenty of lockers located throughout each resort’s base area, as well as multiple basket check stations.

5. If taking a lesson, go to the designated meeting area with your equipment and your lesson voucher. Different skill levels and ages meet at different locations indicated by signage and maps. Beginner lessons have multiple start times in the morning and afternoon, so if you miss one session you can catch a later one.

6. At the end of the day you return your rental equipment (if you are renting for the next day, you keep your equipment).

What about lunch and snacks?

Each resort has multiple food service buildings, including mountaintop restaurants, four full-service bars and large decks for eating and drinking outside on nice days. There are a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, hamburgers, burritos, tacos, soups, snacks and more.

What about injury – how likely am I to get hurt?

In spite of its reputation, skiing and snowboarding produce very few injuries, especially serious ones. The vast majority of people who are careful learn the basics and stay in control do not get hurt, or at most experience sore muscles or a few bruises. Of course, if you do get injured or just have a headache, we have a first aid facility located in the base area to help.

What about my children who are beginners, and what if I need childcare?

Snow Summit and Bear Mountain each have full beginner facilities for children including equipment rentals, and lessons for kids starting at 4 years old. Our resorts do not offer childcare however;  you may contact our information office at 909.866.5766 for referrals throughout the Big Bear Area.

How do we find a place to stay?

Big Bear Mountain Resorts works closely with the Big Bear Lake Resort Association to offer lift tickets and lodging package deals. Please refer to the Resort Association’s website or call them at 1.800.4.BIG.BEAR


Last Updated: 11/29/14, 11:53am

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