Aspen Snowmass frequently tops the charts for its nightlife, shopping, fine dining and great skiing and snowboarding. Snowmass, the largest of the four mountains, boasts an impressive 3,339 acres of terrain, holds the title for the biggest lift-served vertical in the United States (4,406 feet), and is home to arguably the friendliest beginner terrain around.

Kevin Jordan, Snowmass Ski School Coordinator, recently accompanied me up the Elk Camp Gondola in Snowmass to give me a tour of the beginner area.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said, referring to the learning area called Elk Camp Meadows, “There is nowhere else like this for first-timers.”
Stepping off the gondola, we headed to the Four Mountain Sports Beginner’s Magic rental shop, where guests pick up their equipment, get ready for the day, and learn about their gear.

To ensure comfort and optimal fit, Aspen Snowmass partners with Tecnica Group, a prominent ski-boot manufacturer, to create limited-edition rental ski boots exclusively found at Four Mountain Sports locations. Aspen Snowmass also partners with Burton to offer premium beginner snowboards, which are slightly more convex along the base of the snowboard, allowing novices to learn to turn with less of a chance to catch an edge. Rental equipment is included with the purchase of either a one-day or three-day First Time Lesson, and the knowledgeable shop staff can field any questions participants might have day-of.

“Guests can basically can show up with nothing, so long as they are wearing a waterproof jacket and pants,” said Jordan, “We’ve got everything else they need.”
Exiting the rental shop, we jumped on the Meadows lift, which services the learning area and runs at a slower speed to buoy up beginner confidence. Viewing Elk Camp Meadows from above, I began to notice the variety of terrain—unlike other learning areas I’d seen in the past.

“The features help facilitate the learning,“ Jordan explained. “It adds a 3D component to what would traditionally be a two-dimensional plane.”

Jordan went on to tell me about Terrain Based Learning ™ (TBL), a concept born from the New Jersey-based company Snow Operating, where the philosophy is to make skiing fun and accessible to children and adults of all ages.
With the inclusion of TBL™, Elk Camp Meadows was shaped intentionally in a way that encourages progression while simultaneously keeping the beginner’s speed in check.

Guests have the opportunity to practice on various snow features that foster skill mastery and confidence. This safe and controlled environment supports guests’ learning and is fun!

About the Author

Writer Katherine Keel
Writer Katherine Keel

Katherine Keel has been telling stories since she could talk. A former Division I swimmer, she ditched the pool for the Rocky Mountains shortly after graduating from the University of North Carolina, armed with a journalism degree and a faint knowledge of how to ski. She quickly fell in love with the sport, and recently moved to Aspen to be closer to fresh turns and high peaks. Never short of ideas, she’s always scheming up another adventure… or the next great meal.

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