It’s 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, and you’re sitting in more cars than you can count on on I-70. It has taken an hour to cover what should have taken 20 minutes, and you look at your friends and wonder if the payoff of learning to ski is worth it after all.

But once you slide off that chairlift, you find yourself on top of the world; surrounded by snow capped mountains. Tucking your balaclava into ski goggles, you wrap mittens around ski poles and feel adrenaline coursing through your veins as you drop into a bowl blanketed in white.

Living the dream? Yes. But you pay the price—monetarily, physically, and emotionally. There are a few costs to learning how to ski, and we’re here to make sure you know what those are and how to maximize your literal and emotional dollar before you invest in that very tight pair of shiny new ski boots.

Beginner Gear Essentials

It’s no surprise that the startup cost of skiing typically isn’t collected from spare change you find on the ground. As a winter sport, it’s not just skis or snowboard, poles, boots, goggles, and a helmet you’ll need to invest in, but quality layers to keep you warm when blasting down the mountain. Proper jackets, pants, balaclavas (face masks), gloves, and ski socks are all key pieces to the ski puzzle.

Cost breakdown:

  1. Starting off with renting your skis/snowboard is a great way to see if you like the sport before dropping some serious dough on it. Rentals: [$40/day– does not include helmet or goggles]
  2. Borrow layers and accessories from a friend or run to the nearest ski swap to grab some of last season’s leftovers. Better yet, hit up a thrift store in a mountain town and invest in a onesie… Totally rad, dude. Thrifty layers: [$60]
  3. Finally, not every skier or snowboarder is a great teacher, so if you don’t know someone who can ski and is patient, it’s great to start with a group lesson. These can be costly, and don’t always include your lift ticket, so make sure to do your research to find the best deal. Ski lesson with discounted lift ticket: [$165]

When you include a lift ticket, gas, and food, your total for Day 1 comes to [$285].

I’ve never gotten a bruise there…

It’s not just a bruised wallet you’ll be nursing, but also the ones you may be getting both physically and emotionally. Learning how to ski (especially when we don’t bounce back like when we were younger) is no easy feat. Prepare yourself beforehand for the potential of physical and emotional bruises. Ski resorts are not always caked in powder, and learning how to ski or snowboard typically results in your first days of falling down the bunny hill on your butt, back, side, [insert random body part where you haven’t gotten a bruise before].  And those physically bruises can take an emotional toll. It’s hard to watch eight year olds crushing black diamond runs when you’re inching your way down the beginner slopes. Keep in mind learning takes time, everyone has started where you are, and you’re still out there, passing everyone who gave up and are now sitting on their couch eating Oreos.

Okay, between the literal and emotional costs of learning to ski, we know you’re in serious sticker shock. It’s okay, we’ve been there. It’s true that skiing requires a hefty initial investment (though hopefully we’ve given you some tips to help mitigate the costs), but when you start connecting your turns in powder surrounded by friends and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country, you can decide for yourself if it’s worth it.

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