Lifts & passes


Lifts will vary around the world, the most basic are Drag lifts which normally entail sticking something uncomfortable between your legs and letting it pull you up the hill. Beginners will often find themselves being dragged up the mountain with their face in the snow. Beginners are advised to travel on drag lifts with their rear foot released from its binding, as it allows for a quick getaway should you fall off, and just try and relax your body and look forward.

Chair lifts make for a more comfortable journey and should also be used with your rear foot out of its binding, just remember to keep the board flat and pointing straight when getting on and off.

Bubble/Gondola and Cable Cars are enclosed shells, normally with seats which are suspended from a cable and usually the fastest way to the top of the mountain. Some resorts have Funiculars which are underground trains that are incredibly efficient. Some resorts won't let you on the lifts without a leash on your board so stick one in your pocket in case you meet a fussy lift operator.

Lift Passes

Most resorts offer a range of lift passes which can usually be bought on a daily or multiple-day basis. Weekly tickets will normally require an attached picture, so take a passport-sized photo with you. Riders staying for a few months can buy season passes, and although expensive, you will make a massive saving in the long run. You may have the choice of one resort or an interlinked area, sometimes you may even get a free day in a nearby affiliated resort. Ask at the office when you buy your pass. Discounted passes are available for kids, old age pensioners, locals and sometimes students. You'll also find prices changes during the season; at low season you can pay around 25% less. Resorts have their own polices on reimbursement if lifts are shut.

What to wear

Many resorts offer beginner packages that offer good value for money. You get a lesson, full equipment hire and a lift pass that gives you access to the beginners slopes. Its also possible to get terrain park only lift passes at some resorts, and a few even have a few free beginner lifts, so make sure you check before shelling out on a full pass if you're not going to use it.

Don't dress just to look fly! Make sure you're wearing the right kit. Outer layers should be water and wind proof and if possible breathable. The best way to stay warm is to wear layers rather than one huge jumper, so that the air is trapped between the layers and warmed from your body heat. You can buy technical tops to wear next to your skin which are designed to be fast drying and whip the sweat away. if you sweat in cotton it stays wet.

Hiring Kit

If you plan to rent snowboard equipment, it may be better to hire in-resort. You only pay for the days you use the equipment, and it gives you the freedom to change the board and boots if they are not right. Another plus side is if you like the set up you may be able to buy it less the rental price at the end of the hire. Don't settle for substandard kit. Things are much better than they used to be and most resorts will have a snowboard specialist. Gone are the days when you had to choose between a few old boards in the back of a ski hire shop. A positive side to hiring before you leave is there maybe a wider choice and if you wanted a specific brand or size you should be able to reserve it also many shops will offer a standard package or you can pay more to hire top of the range kit.

The main things to check are that the base and edges are in good condition and that the bindings are set up for you not just screwed in any old way. For a beginner the bindings should be set centrally on the board, the front at 10/15 degrees and the back 5/10 degrees both forward, they should be about shoulder width apart and there should be no excessive boot overhang. The board should come up to your chin. A short board is good to learn on but once you start picking up speed a longer board will be more stable. Always check on screws and other parts of your kit; if bits do come loose on the mountain, then look for maintenance tools located at most lift stations. It's a good idea to buy, and carry, a mini-binding tool when on the slopes.


As more kids take up snowboarding the rental equipment for them has improved. A good store should have genuine children's kit. It's a good idea to hire a safety helmet and wrist-guards as you don't want to spend your time down the valley with little Billy while he gets put back together.

Next: Health on the hill