Skiing is one of those bucket list Canadian experiences I have not taken off my list since moving here from Australia four years a go. It’s intimidating! Flying down a slippery mountain with trees in the way is only the half of it.
This is why I needed to take a lesson. My first lesson was a good experience. We went to a smaller hill close to Mont Tremblant and really enjoyed the experience. My partner and I (he’s Venezuelan, so was just as new to skiing) conquered the bunny hill within our 90-minute lesson. And although I felt I could stop (with enough space) and turn, I still had no confidence going up the hill.
How do you use the chair lift? Are all the hills the same level? What does this pass mean? Where can I park? Do I need to buy the baggy pants or are jeans OK? Our lesson was fun and I learned a lot, but we didn’t really know what to do next.
Two days later we decided to do another lesson at the Tremblant Snow School. We had a much better experience and by the end of the day, my partner and I had successfully done two runs down the hill by ourselves. We now feel confident enough to go skiing by ourselves again and look forward to the next season.
Here’s what you can expect from a group lesson at Mont Tremblant:
When we got there, we headed directly to the ski rental shop and got fitted for our suits and gear. They are able to provide everything, including a coat check for the boots you came in.
They also offer concierge service if you’re doing a multi-day rental (or have your own gear) where they store your gear overnight so you don’t have to truck it back to your place.
We then met our instructor, Pierre. He has 27 years experience as an instructor at Tremblant alone, so there was no one better to teach us.
Tremblant has over 200+ instructors, all of whom were incredibly experienced. Another instructor I met named Helen had been teaching for 15 years. She told me she joined when her children wanted to learn to ski and she didn’t want them having all the fun. She was looking forward to the afternoon where she was going out on the mountain to teach her grandchildren. Pierre later told me that her son is Canada’s most decorated Olympic skier, Erik Guay. No shortage of experience at Tremblant.
It’s also a good to dress in a brightly coloured suit to let everyone know you’re a beginner and to be patient with you.
We were lucky to be part of a small group that included a couple from Atlanta. Talking with Pierre, it seems the largest group he gets is around eight. It was also noticeable that they made an effort to have people of the same level and age in the same group, making it easier to develop at the same pace.
The bunny hill
Pierre got us quickly on the bunny hill and had us stopping and turning in no time. His goal is always to get the group off the hill, and after five runs he said we were ready for the half hill, so up the chair lift we went.
The chair lift
Only three people can go on a ski lift at a time. With five us, this meant we had to split up for one of the more intimidating parts of learning to ski. Thankfully with 200+ instructors on hand, we all still had an instructor to help us get on and off the chair without a mishap. It’s these little things that made me feel really comfortable about the lesson.
The comfortable feeling soon vanished as soon as Pierre took us to the side of a very steep drop. He explained to us about the different colouring systems for the paths on the hill. He showed us the black (hardest) path but then explained that we were going to the other side to the green path (easiest).
We all let out a “Thank God”.
We then spent the next half hour going down the hill, practicing our turns and stops. The confidence was growing amongst the group.
The mountain top
Once we had reached the bottom, we then moved on to the top of the mountain, this time using the Express Gondola. The gondola provided some amazing and intimidating views of the mountain. At the top we were shown around the different routes you can take down the mountain and had a quick tour of the original lodge for the school. It’s here we said goodbye to our instructor and the rest of the group and with full confidence (well 80-90% confidence), we went down the mountain by ourselves.
We ended up going down the mountain twice before my legs said no more for the day. I couldn’t have been happier about finally checking this Canadian experience off my list. The team at Tremblant can take full credit in finally making it happen.
Cost and promotions
The all-inclusive package at the Tremblant Ski School is $202 for one day or $197/day for two days or more. This includes lift ticket, equipment rental and the group lesson. If you have your own gear, the price starts at $164. For more information, go to tremblant.ca/lessons-and-rentals/snow-school/index.aspx.
The 2015/2016 season is almost over, with April 10 being the last day. However, Tremblant has a Spring Escape Promotion offering 25% off two-night stays or longer between March 29 and April 30th. For more, go to tremblant.ca/ski-and-golf/ski-tickets-and-passes/season-passes/spring-pass.aspx.
There is also a summer vacation offer on until June 21 offering 30% off on four-night stays and two-night stays or more between May 1 and October 31 (except from June 24-26 and Aug. 18-21). For more, go to tremblant.ca/offers-and-packages/summer-vacation-packages/summer-vacation-offer.aspx.