Beginner Instruction

Each winter the ski club offers free lessons for beginning cross-country skiers. Everyone is welcome, so bring a friend and get started! Basic cross-country ski techniques are not difficult to learn. Later in the winter, there’s usually a trip where beginning skiers can practice in good snow. This usually means traveling to Chama or Red River. Other members are welcome, but beginning skiers are especially encouraged to join to enjoy the great snow and beautiful scenery at Cumbres Pass near Chama or Enchanted Forest Trails near Red River. Check the website calendar, newsletter and your eGroup emails for dates and announcements or contact the Instruction Chair at

What to Expect

These lessons provide you with the basic techniques to cross-country ski on gentle terrain and have fun. With more practice on your own, you will develop stamina and technique so that you can go several miles with ease and will be able to climb and descend moderate hills. If you haven’t skied in years and feel rusty, or started but never took a lesson, consider reviewing with beginner instruction.

Beginner lessons include a 90-minute classroom session where new skiers learn about winter preparedness, clothing layers, ski equipment, ski rentals, basic fitness and logistics for a day on the snow. Anyone is welcome to attend the classroom session. Outdoor lessons are free, but one must be a ski club member to attend. Outdoor lessons focus on learning balance and control, kick-and-glide technique, side-step, and kick turns. Participants also practice herringbone steps uphill and the snowplow. 

Get Prepared: 

Fitness, Clothing, Food & H20

The better shape you are in, the better you will enjoy learning and skiing. Cross country skiing in New Mexico and Colorado is at relatively high elevations in all sorts of weather. In the Sandias we ski at about 9500-10,500 ft and air temperatures can be in the teens and 20s. Wind chill can make it feel colder. Beginners also have a chance to ski near Chama, NM in the Rio Grande National Forest, or near Red River, NM, at elevations between 10,000-11,000 ft.

Start to get yourself in shape. Hiking or snow shoeing at the higher elevations or other aerobic training, weight lifting, pilates and yoga can contribute to leg and upper body strength and balance. When you take your first lessons you will fall down (that’s normal) but getting up can wear you out. Many ski club tours spend the entire day outside, traveling miles into the wilderness. Fitness is a safety factor.

Clothing layers are best for active winter sports. A wicking inner layer (long underwear), an warming middle layer and a water and wind-protection outer layer make the best combination to keep you warm and dry. Hats and gloves are essential. No cotton! No blue jeans. Cotton gets wet, stays cold and can induce hypothermia.

Cross-country skiing in the cold takes a lot of energy. It can burn a lot of calories. Eat snacks, bring lunch, drink water! At higher elevations, altitude sickness is a possibility. If you feel ill during a lesson, let the instructors know and feel free to excuse yourself from the day’s activities.

Resources for Beginners