For a first time skier or snowboarder you might be a little overwhelmed by all the new vocabulary, so we’ve put together a list of some of the things you might be wondering just what they are, which in turn will help you be a little more prepared for your first ski holiday. Some of the things we’ll cover are gondolas, snow parks, and magic carpets, plus looking at some of the gear you may need.
These are what you use to get yourself up the mountain, and there are quite a few types, so here are the main ski lifts you’ll find in Andorra. As well as the types listed below there are a few others in operation.
You’ll find one of these in pretty much every ski resort of Andorra. It’s an enclosed bubble lift running on a cable – some of them have seats, others are just standing, some of them you take your skis inside, others have a little rack on the outside of the door where you put your skis or snowboard. The doors open and close automatically (the main photo of this article is a gondola lift).
All of the sectors have this kind of lift, which is a chair running on a cable, seating between two and eight people. On pretty much all of them you ski up to the lift and keep your skis on, then when you get to the top you just ski off again, however in Arinsal for beginners on the chairlift from Hotel Ushuaia you can carry your skis if you’re not sure what you’re doing! When you go on a chairlift there is a safety bar to pull down once everyone is seated.
Drag or Button Lift
This type of lift is mostly found around beginner slopes, or areas which are a bit flatter/traversing to help you out, however there are a few more challenging ones on steeper slopes for intermediate and advanced skiers, and you’ll definitely need a bit of practice for these! They operate on a rope with a lot of poles dangling off it, each with a “button” on the end for you to grab hold of and put between your legs to drag you along.
Perfect for beginners, this is a conveyor belt lift, so you just edge yourself up to the start and you will be slowly taken up the gentle slope. Some of these have a cover over them, and others are open air.
This certainly isn’t something for beginners to try, but you may hear people talking about the snow park or freestyle park. This is an area with ramps, jumps, rails, and other impressive items for skiers and snowboarders to use, and you’ll find them dotted around the ski areas. Even if you’re not going in there yourself, some of them are accessible from easy slopes so you’ll be able to go and see what’s happening and enjoy the spectacle of those who know what they’re doing, as well as a few who haven’t quite mastered it yet!
All The Gear
This article won’t go into the details of everything you should be thinking of packing for your ski trip, as we have a separate article doing that here, but here’s a quick intro to the main bits of equipment you’ll need. Most beginners rent their equipment, and by pre-booking it you can save a lot of money, eg. booking with Andorra Resorts gets you up to 35% discount off the normal resort price!
The things that go on your feet. If you’re skiing you’ll have ski boots which are made of hard plastic, and if you’re snowboarding you’ll have snowboard boots which are a lot softer.
Skis or a Snowboard
The thing(s) your boots attach to! If you’re skiing you’ll have two skis, both are the same so it doesn’t matter which one goes on which side, and if you’re snowboarding you’ll have a snowboard. The bindings are different on each, but the bindings are what you use to connect your boots to your skis or snowboard. When you’re issued with your equipment the bindings are personalised to you, so it’s important that you don’t mix and match your equipment with your friends.
When you rent skis you’ll also get poles included, so make sure you don’t forget them!
Sometimes referred to as your “lid”, wearing a helmet isn’t compulsory in Andorra, but it is highly recommended, and all ski instructors now need to wear them, so you’ll see most people wearing a helmet on the slopes now. Whilst it’s impossible to make snow sports 100% safe, you can do things to help reduce the risks, such as taking lessons, using slopes you are comfortable with, not skiing too fast or out of control, and wearing a helmet.
These are where you’ll be skiing or snowboarding – you’ll hear them referred to as slopes, runs, or pistes… all the same thing! They’re graded by difficulty, which is a combination of how wide they are and how steep they are, so for beginners you’ll be starting with the “green” or “nursery” slopes, then progressing to blue, then red, then black… we won’t go into “off piste” here!
Ok, so I’m sure you know what this is! But just in case you need a refresher it’s what you do after the skiing or snowboarding, so this can be activities, chilling in the spa, or heading to a bar for a few drinks and enjoying time with your family and friends laughing about how great you were on the mountain today!