Best Bets for a Great Day on Mammoth Mountain: 10 Must-Haves for Ski School

Every dollar you spend on family ski trips, especially lessons for your children, is a sound investment. Skiing and snowboarding are lifetime sports that encourage kids to be active outdoors, appreciate nature, and create lasting memories with friends and family. Before you know it, you’ll be reaping the dividends as you struggle to keep up with your kids on the hill. Even if you don’t ski or snowboard (and it’s never too late to learn!), you’re giving your kids a unique opportunity to learn something new and have a lot of fun with a qualified instructor. Best of all, you can enjoy some time on your own while your child is enrolled in lessons and perhaps take a run or two together afterward!

For more information and to book ski or snowboard lessons, visit Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard School or call 1-800-MAMMOTH. Does your child have physical or cognitive challenges? Check out the excellent adaptive program offered byDisabled Sports Eastern Sierra or call DSES at 760-934-0791.

You can feel confident dropping your child off in these head to toe essentials:

10. Helmet.

Children ages 3 to 13 must be wearing a helmet to participate in any Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard School program. If you plan to spend much time on the slopes, it’s a good investment and there are some great brands like POC and Smith.Giro makes an adjustable helmet and I know several kids, including mine, who have used one of these for multiple years. These helmets are also great for sledding, snow tubing, and even ice skating. I strongly urge trying on any helmet before you buy to ensure a good fit, and Mammoth Lakes has a number of knowledgeable retailers. If you don’t own or want to buy a helmet, be sure to get one with your rentals. Don’t try to substitute a bike helmet, something I saw recently and do not recommend. It won’t keep your child’s head as warm or possibly as protected, and their goggles won’t fit correctly. Helmets are also designed to be worn without a hat or beanie underneath. More information can be found at Lids on Kids.

9. Goggles.

The Town of Mammoth Lakes rises from an altitude of 7,800 feet and the lowest base area of Mammoth Mountain Ski Areabegins at Eagle Lodge at 7,953 feet, ascending to an elevation of 11,053 feet at the summit of Mammoth Mountain. It’s critical to protect your kids’ eyes at these high altitudes, and goggles can also help prevent injury in the event of a fall or encounter with a low-hanging branch. Mammoth Lakes boasts over 300 sunny days per year, so whether it’s sunny or snowing, goggles will improve vision and comfort on the slopes. Find a pair that fits your child’s face and helmet and make sure their forehead is covered without a gap between the goggles and the helmet.

8. Neck gaiter.

A neck gaiter is a tube of fabric, usually soft fleece, that’s worn around the neck for warmth and can be pulled up over the chin for extra protection from the elements. A balaclava is essentially a neck gaiter with a thin hood that can be worn under a helmet for very cold or stormy days. No scarves, please—they can easily become caught or tangled!

7. Water-resistant jacket and snowpants or snowsuit.

Essential for any snow activities! It’s not necessary to spend a fortune, but do find something that fits well, is comfortable, and both breathable and water resistant. Make sure younger children are comfortable getting everything off and on for bathroom breaks, too!

6. Waterproof mittens or gloves.

Gloves allow greater dexterity, while mittens are warmer on a cold day and easier for young children. Hand warmers are also useful when temperatures drop. Some mittens and gloves have a special pocket for these. Beginning skiers and snowboarders are going to have their hands in the snow quite a bit, so make sure gloves or mittens fit well and are waterproof. You’ll also want to dry them thoroughly between lessons and perhaps have an extra pair to wear for activities around town.

5. One pair of wool or synthetic ski socks.

Your child won’t need multiple pairs or bulky socks to keep their feet warm and dry. Just one pair of long, good-quality light or medium-weight synthetic or wool socks will do the trick! Be sure to have your child wear the socks when renting or purchasing boots to ensure a good fit and maximum comfort.

4. Wool or synthetic base and midweight layers.

Start with a base layer of moisture-wicking long underwear tops and bottoms, and add a fleece pullover or jacket and fleece pants if desired. Avoid cotton as it retains moisture and can lead to chilling. Remember that it can be colder and windier on the mountain than in town and it’s always easier to shed a layer than be too cold, especially if conditions change.

3. Sunscreen and chapstick.

Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed areas prior to hitting the slopes. Sun protecting chapstick/lip balm is also great to protect lips and can easily be stashed in a pocket for re-application during a break.

2. Emergency contact information.

Ski school staff will ask you for the best way to contact you while your child is in their care, so please confirm this information at drop-off. Don’t forget to verify pick-up time, too! Even with snacks and/or lunch, many kids are pretty hungry after lessons so prepare to refuel them before asking them to demonstrate their new skills.

1. A great, relaxed attitude!

Obtain rental equipment the day before if possible, or arrive very early to ensure your child will have their gear in plenty of time for their lesson. Have a healthy, filling breakfast and head out the door in time to catch your shuttle or park/unload without having to rush. Make sure your child has a lift ticket or pass if they need one to participate in their program. A smooth start and positive attitude will help your kids get the most out of their lesson!

Mammoth Lakes retailers are experts in equipping kids and families for outdoor adventures all year round! Please check out some of our local merchants and be sure to subscribe for additional resources to help you plan your next family vacation here. I’ll talk more about equipment rentals in an upcoming entry. What are your family’s tips for a smooth day on the slopes? I’d love to hear from you!

Betsy Temple-Truax

Betsy loves living and playing in Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra with her active family and friends. A passionate advocate for community recreation, Betsy never turns down an opportunity to swim, ski, paddle, travel or let someone else cook.

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