How early should we book our lessons?
What should we wear?
Can skiers & snowboarders join the same lesson?
Can we have mixed ability levels in one class?
Is it advisable to have classes with mixtures of children and adults?
What is the difference between off-piste & back-country?
How do we pay for our lessons?
Can we have individuals with big variances of ability in the same lesson?
In a lesson with only one individual, the lesson is delivered at a pace and in a manner tailored to their specific needs and wishes. In particular the terrain can be chosen to optimally allow them to acquire the skills being developed.
As the number of individuals increases in the lesson, so the lesson increasingly becomes a compromise of what is best for the group as a whole.
With this in mind, lessons with lots of people work best when the group is as homogeneous as possible. Similar ability, goals, speed and experienced at skiing similar terrain and pitches.
Once you start having differences in goals, ability, speed, comfort level on slopes etc the lesson starts to become less enjoyable for everyone. The greater those differences, the greater the impact on the participants. In lessons where there is a split in terms of ability, the instructor must for safety reasons base the whole lesson around the person with lowest level of ability. An expert skier/ rider can get down an easy slope or reduce speed to match a slower individual. If however you take a beginner and try to force them down a steep run or increase the speed beyond what they are technical able to cope with. The risk of injury to that person escalates at an alarming rate. For this reason, the instructor will stay on the appropriate terrain and at an appropriate speed for the person/people in the group with the lowest ability. The instructor would then have to give tasks to those of higher ability to occupy and challenge them at slower speed and shallower slopes than they would normally prefer.
The more advanced members of the group often get frustrated at the slow pace and the less advanced members start to feel pressure from the advanced members frustration, feeling they are expected to hurry up or offer to ski/ride steeper terrain . This does not create the best learning environment and these mixed ability lessons only work if the advanced members accept they will need to ski/ride at the speed and on the appropriate terrain for the others.
For the reasons above, we would normally attempt to discourage anyone other than close family/spouse/ best friends etc from taking lessons with a large split in ability. Obviously, In some cases such lessons do work well and if that is really what you desire, then once we have forewarned you of possible difficulties in this lesson type we will of course allow you to make such bookings.
Another option when dealing with a split in ability would be to book a longer lesson and split the time between the ability levels. This then would allow the instructor to focus solely on the individuals presently being taught and use appropriate terrain, pacing etc. For example if you had booked a 5hr lesson, the first timer in the party may take the fist couple of hours to get started and moving. The expert and the intermediate skiers or riders could use this time to warm up. The expert could go for an hour get some pointers and then let the intermediate skier/riders take the last couple of hours. This is an example and you may wish to split your lesson time differently. We allow up to 5 people in a lesson.