Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or are looking to experience the infamous Après Ski that the alpine resorts pride themselves with, a winter ski holiday is definitely a unique one. As you gain more control of your speed and your technique improves, the steeper more technical ​runs will ​be possible and before you know it, the whole mountainside can be explored.

Once your technique begins to click, you will ​easily understand why people become addicted to skiing.

​Whe​n is the best time to go skiing?

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Throughout the year you will notice price differences, which reflect the most popular and less popular weeks. The cheaper weeks do mean that the pistes will be ​quieter although the nightlife won’t be quite as lively. Typically early and late in the season can be a bit of a gamble with regards to snow cover, however this is reflected in the price. From early to mid season the weather can be typically quite moody but the snow soft and fluffy. Mid season (generally February and March) the snow can be a bit icy in the mornings and really cold, but the days are beginning to get longer and the weather more stable. By April the weather is a bit warmer and the days are longer, but the snowpack does start to ​reduce​.

​Do I need specific ski insurance?

You must take out an insurance policy and we recommend doing it as soon as you pay your deposit. S​ki accidents happen quite regularly, even on beginner and ​'not difficult' slopes it is easy enough to have an accident which requires rescue plus a hospital trip. Therefore injuries on the mountain have a tendency of occurring plus being quite expensive depending on resort and circumstances. 

We are not able to recommend insurance policies and there are many varying factors to consider. Some standard travel insurance have 'winter add ons' and others are included as standard. However, from experience we note that most people take out specialist winter sports insurance. Please read carefully on each policy to check it is correct for you and covers the activities which you are doing. 

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​What do I need to pack?

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We have written a comprehensive packing list which covers most of what is required, and there is of course a wealth of information available online. Be prepared for the cold, as of course it can be extremely cold in the alps, however, also be prepared to get really hot whilst skiing - with regards to this it is best to consider layering, whereby you can be flexible with your layers to adapt to the temperature and your activity. There are several websites where you can rent ski clothing from if you don't envision doing it for many years to come, however there are many excellent places to buy it on the high street such as Decathlon and TK Maxx to name a couple. Plus second hand websites such as eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. 

How fit do I need to be?

​Skiing is a physically demanding sport. It may look like you’re just ​sliding down a slope, however in reality you’re drawing on almost every muscle group in your body to ​control, turn, stop, and balance yourself. You don't need to be super fit to try skiing, but being regularly active will certainly make it more enjoyable. 

If you aren't regularly active and are wondering how you can prepare, you can begin by just getting moving such as going for 20 minute runs regularly, before increasing the amount of time you run for.

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​W​hy book with Action Outdoors?

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We are the UK partner of UCPA, which offers a different holiday experience to what you will find anywhere else. The whole set up is designed to help you, as a beginner learn to ​ski. Everything is handled in house – ​equipment hire, instruction, ​all meals, lift passes, allowing for a straightforward experience where you can focus on skiing and socialising, rather than having to think about buying lift passes, finding equipment hire and ski schools etc.

If you are travelling with friends that have skied before, the UCPA concept still works brilliantly as it enables them to take a ​ski course for their own ability level without having to worry about you. You will still have time to ski together.

How ​quickly will I pick up skiing?

​Skiing isn’t the most difficult sport in the world, but it does take some perseverance to carry on and get through the stage of falling over a lot in the first few days. Try not to get frustrated and understand that all the guys rushing past you have experienced the same problems while they were learning!

The main thing to remember is that it is a movement and sensation quite unnatural, such as riding a bike. The first hurdle is the hardest one to get over, however once you clear it, you are then able to understand more about how it works and you will learn by doing, accelerated with the help of instruction. 

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​Where to go as beginner

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All of our ski resorts offer ​great locations to learn to ski as a beginner. Some have specific beginner areas just metres from the centre but all of the UCPA centres run courses specifically for beginners. If it is not specified as a beginners ski course, then the full time and half time instruction will state that it is for all ability levels.

La Plagne - beginners area meters from the front door.

Serre Chevalier - beginners ski area out of the front door.

Tignes - beginners ski area 200m from the centre.

Val d'Isere - beginners area 400m from the centre.

​UCPA Lessons

As tempting as it might be to teach yourself to s​ki or request the assistance of friends who are ‘experienced’ skiers, we do not recommend it! You are on holiday and so are they! It is a surefire way to test friendships and relationships that's for sure. 

The quickest way to find your feet, gain control and confidence so that your friends are keen to spend their afternoons with you is that you sign up to beginner ski classes. Expect learning to take 3 days before you really start to enjoy it, and you notice a significant difference.

Of course, everyone picks ​skiing up at different speeds. 

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​Equipment

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You don't need to go out and buy all the equipment, by any means. And to be honest, unless you're planning on doing a season or skiing super frequently, it isn't really worth buying your own equipment anyway since the rental quality is so high, and the costs of brining your own equipment out are so great. Especially if you are travelling with UCPA, whereby all equipment provided is of excellent quality (skis, boots and poles).

Wearing a helmet is completely your decision. More and more people are choosing to however and we highly recommend hiring or buying one as you never know what may happen. Helmets are not included at UCPA. 

​Lift Pass

Lift passes are incredibly expensive at most resorts, often a shock to first time skiers (in Chamonix a full lift pass is just under £300 for a week at the time of writing). With UCPA, all lift passes are included for the duration of your trip. A lift pass is a contribution not just to the usage of the lifts, but also the maintenance, the cost of building them, as well as maintaining the pistes and often local transport too (e.g. local buses). 

Using lifts can be daunting, whether you are a beginner snowboard or beginner skier, and sometimes even an experienced skier... But once you get used to them, they feel natural and you don't even think twice about getting on them.

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