First Timers Guide
When to Go
Thanks to Mount Pakenham’s snow making capabilities, our season generally runs from the beginning of December to the end of March. We are open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am-10pm and Sunday 9am-5pm, Monday 9am-4pm. Mount Pakenham is the best place to learn, no matter when you decide to come.
Getting Here is Easy
Just a short drive from Ottawa; only 25 minutes west of Kanata, getting here is easy. There’s no need to fight heavy traffic on bridges, we’re just around the corner. Click here for directions.
Dressing for the Weather
Mount Pakenham offers you a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. The secret to winter fun is dressing properly for the weather. You’ll want to keep warm, dry and comfortable on the snow.
Dress in Layers
Layering for winter sports allows you to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature. Generally, layering is divided into three areas:
Wicking layer (polypropylene underwear - top and bottoms) - "wicks," or moves, moisture away from your skin and dries quickly.
Insulating layer (wool, fleece, sweater) - keeps heat in and cold out.
Weather Protection - Repels water from snow and blocks the wind while letting perspiration evaporate (both jacket and pants). Choose a lightweight garment that is made of waterproof, breathable material. There are several synthetic materials on the market and available at outdoor sports stores. When buying skiwear, look for fabric that is water and wind-resistant.
Winter Hats or Headbands
Usually made of fleece or wool, a good ski hat combined with a neck warmer will retain 80% of your body’s heat, keeping you warm and toasty even on the coldest days.
Helmets are recommended for skiing and snowboarding. Skiers/riders are encouraged to educate themselves on the benefits and limitations of helmet usage. The primary safety consideration and obligation under the Alpine Responsibility Code is to ski and ride in a controlled and responsible manner. It is important to wear a properly fitted, ski/snowboard specific helmet. Helmets should fit snuggly and not obstruct vision. Helmets are included with all rentals and are available for purchase in our retail shop.
Helmets are quite warm and can be worn without a hat however; on colder days a balaclava or thin hat can be added for extra warmth.
Gloves or Mitts for Winter Sports
Waterproof, breathable shell and well insulated. Mitts are usually better for those susceptible to cold hands. Hand and toe warmers are available at our Retail Shop.
Socks for Skiing, Snowboarding, Tubing and Snowshoeing
One pair of light to medium weight works best. If the sock is too thick or if you’re wearing too many, it could make your boots too tight, reducing circulation, which causes cold feet. It’s also a good idea to change into fresh socks before putting your boots on. Damp socks quickly become cold and uncomfortable.
Have sunglasses and goggles with you. Skiing and snowboarding are a lot more fun when you can see and it is important to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
Sunscreen and Lip Balm
Protect yourself from the sun. The sun reflects off the snow and is stronger than you think, even on cloudy days! Keep lip balm in a pocket and apply often while on the slopes.
There’s no reason to be cold during your winter experience, and with a little preparation and the proper clothing and accessories, you won’t be. If you’ve forgotten anything, check out Mount Pakenham’s Retail Shop.
Once you’ve parked your car, enter the Main Lodge and you will find the ticket/snow school desk straight ahead. You can purchase tickets, lessons, and rentals at the desk. Passes and rentals are available for 4 hours, 6 hours, open-close or night. Snow School Lessons are available throughout the day; based on availability. Advanced reservations are recommended. Please arrive a minimum of 1 hour prior to lesson.
If you don’t have equipment, don’t worry. Mount Pakenham’s Rental Shop has top of the line skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, and helmets. Mount Pakenham’s Rental Shop is located to the left of the Main Lodge, when you are looking at the hill. A signed waiver form is required when renting equipment. A parent/guardian must sign the waiver for anyone under the age of 18.
If you have your own equipment, or if you plan to borrow equipment, please bear in mind that equipment must be adjusted specifically for you so that the binding may release properly when needed. To be safe on the slopes, please have a technician adjust your equipment based on your height, weight, shoe size, and level of ability. Please ensure that your equipment has been tuned (waxed and sharpened). Properly tuned equipment will give you more control on the slopes.
If you are interested in purchasing equipment at a great price, check out Mount Pakenham’s Ski Sale. Click here for details.
Tip: Don't get dressed to ski/ride when you need rental equipment. Follow these steps:
Layer Up - Put on final layers of clothing - this way you won't be so hot when trying on boots.
Store personal belongings.
To get the right boot fit, be sure to wear the proper socks (see Dressing for the Weather). The boot should fit like a sock with no pressure points. Be sure that your pants are not tucked into the boot.
How to use your ski bindings
Always clean all snow, ice and dirt from your boots, and skis before stepping into the binding.
To open the binding, depress rear lever with ski pole or ski boot.
Step in toe first. Be sure to clean the snow off of the boot sole first.
Step down and listen for a click.
To exit the binding, depress rear lever with boot, ski or pole.
Step out. The binding is now ready for re-entry.
Do not change the binding settings. If you feel that they are not working properly, bring them back to the shop for assistance.
How to use your snowboard bindings
Always clean all snow, ice and dirt from your boots, and bindings before stepping into the binding.
Always strap in your front foot first-your back foot has to be loose to get around
Push your heel into the heel cup, attach the leash to your boot, and buckle your ankle buckle first followed by the toe strap
When you are ready to start riding down the hill you will strap in your loose foot the same way
To remove the board, lift the lever on the buckle and remove the strap
If you have any questions, please ask for assistance. We want to make your skiing and snowboarding as happy and enjoyable as possible. Remember to return your equipment to the Rental Shop when you are finished for the day.
Storing Your Personal Belongings
Mount Pakenham has areas inside the Main Lodge to store your personal belongings. We recommend leaving valuables at home or locking them in a coin-operated locker located in the lobby.
Mount Pakenham has regular and locking ski racks located outside the lodge. Ski locks are available at the Retail Shop. Equipment is not permitted inside the lodge. Please use the racks.
Learning to ski/ride
Although skiing and snowboarding is a great way to stay in shape; we recommend you prepare yourself for the slopes by doing a little prep work at home. Concentrate on your cardiovascular fitness, your legs and your core strength.
Take Learning to New Heights...Take a Lesson : Instruction helps the beginner and benefits skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Like anything, you'll improve the most when you receive some guidance. The best way to become a good skier or snowboarder is to take a lesson from a qualified instructor.
Group lessons are available for skiers aged 3+ and boarders aged 6+. Private lessons are available for all ages. We offer lessons 7 days a week and we are able to work around your busy schedule. Our all inclusive (lesson, lift, rental) packages are a great way to learn to ski/ride. Click here for more details.
Eat a hearty meal before the lesson and for the most possible fun, bring along a friend and learn together! During your lesson be active, open to trying new things. Ask questions; our instructors want you to get the most out of your lesson. Don't be afraid to go first. Let your instructor know how you like to learn. Dress appropriately and be prepared to work up a sweat. Click here to learn more about Mount Pakenham’s lesson options.
When you are on the slopes, be sure to drink plenty of water and be careful not to become dehydrated. If you're tired, stop skiing. Learn to ski and snowboard smoothly-and in control. Stop before you become fatigued and, most of all have fun.
The Alpine Responsibility Code Be aware, always ski and ride with care.
There are elements of risk that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce.
Regardless of how you decide to use the slopes, always show courtesy to others.
Please adhere to the code listed below and share with others the responsibility for a safe outdoor experience.
Always stay in control. You must be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
Do not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
Before starting downhill or merging onto a trail, look up-hill and yield to others.
If you are involved in or witness a collision or accident, you must remain at the scene
and identify yourself to the Ski Patrol.
Always use proper devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
Observe and obey all posted signs and warnings.
Keep off of closed trails and area.
You must not use lifts or terrain if your ability is impaired through use of alcohol or drugs.
You must have sufficient physical dexterity, ability and knowledge to safely load, ride and unload lifts. If in doubt, ask the lift attendant.
Using Mount Pakenham's Lifts
At first, they can appear intimidating , but you will quickly master them.
Carpet Lifts are a great way for beginners to get up the hill. You just stand on the carpet and enjoy the gentle ride. Remember to leave some space between you and the person ahead of you. Please clear the unloading area immediately. If the lift is a little slippery, simply place your hands on your knees and squeeze your knees together.
The Handle Tow is our alternative lift for beginners and runs when the hill is busy.
Here are some tips on riding a Handle Tow surface lift:
Move in close to the cable with your skis in a parallel position, hip width apart, facing uphill (snowboard tip facing uphill, loose foot against binding)
When you are in the proper position, reach down and grab the handle
Stand up tall and allow the lift to pull you up the slope
Assume a relaxed stance and keep your skis parallel. If you fall over, clear the track quickly
When you reach the unload sign, release the handle, and point your skis across the slope
Clear the unloading area quickly
Here are some tips on riding a Rope Tow surface lift:
Move in close to the rope with your skis in a parallel position, hip width apart, facing uphill(snowboard tip pointing uphill with loose foot against back binding)
When you are in the proper position, reach down and wrap your hands around the rope, allowing the rope to slide through your hands
Feel your weight in your heels and slowly squeeze the rope
Stand up tall and allow the lift to pull you up the slope; maintaining a good grip
Assume a relaxed stance, keep your skis parallel, and stay in track
If you fall over, clear the track quickly
When you reach the unload sign, release the rope, and clear the unloading area quickly
Mount Pakenham has 3 chairlifts; all quad (4 seater) chairs.
Here are some tips on riding a chairlift:
Line up side by side (groups of 2, 3 or 4). Smaller children must load next to the operator-be sure to balance the chair.
Stop at line.
Alert operator if you are new.
When chair passes, shuffle to the next line/pylons.
Turn to look for chair.
When the chair comes sit down (shorter children will grab the back and pull themselves on).
Once seated, immediately lower the safety bar slowly.
Children need to sit back, sit still, and hold on.
No horseplay and no banging skis around.
Raise the bar once you reach the Raise Safety Bar Sign (not before).
Raise tips slightly and keep skis parallel.
When you reach the landing zone, stand up and lean forward
Slide straight down the offload ramp and move out of the way.
If you fall, move out of the way quickly.
If you fail to unload, lower the safety bar and sit back in the chair-get the lift operators attention.
The T-bar is often avoided by beginners because it is a little more challenging. To make using the T-bar a little easier, follow these steps:
Wait until it is clear to proceed, then move to the loading area. Either one person or two may ride.
When you are getting on, hold your poles in your outside hand
Look to the inside and grab the bar when the lift attendant hands it to you
Place the bar behind your legs, making sure your skis are parallel and hip width apart. Brace yourself to be pulled, but don't try to sit down!
While travelling assume a relaxed stance, keeping your skis parallel and allow the perch to pull you. If you fall over, clear the track quickly.
As you reach the unload sign, pull the bar from behind you and gently release it; making sure that it doesn’t hit you or your partner
Clear the unloading area immediately.
Trail Marking Symbols and Trail Map
Take a few minutes to check out the lifts and the trails marked on the trail map. Click here for details. The colored symbols next to the trails indicate the difficulty of the trail. You will also find them on posted signs on the mountain.
Before you ride a lift, make sure the trail symbols off of that lift fit your ability. If you have any questions or need directions, go talk to a lift attendant or anyone in a Mount Pakenham uniform.
If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side step down the slope. If you need assistance while on the hill, Mount Pakenham’s Patrollers are always around and would be happy to assist you.
Time to Refuel- Where to Eat
Mount Pakenham’s cafeteria has a full menu, ranging from soup and salad to burgers and poutine. Whether you want a quick snack or a full meal, you will find it in the Cafeteria. Snacks and drinks are also available in the Lounge and on sunny days, you won’t be able to resist the aroma coming from our outdoor BBQ.
If you choose to pack your own lunch, you can find seating in the Bear Den or the Algonquin Room or at the picnic tables in front of the lodge. Tip: eat lunch between 11am and noon or 1pm and 2pm to avoid crowds.
Ski and Snowboard Additions or Alternatives
Mount Pakenham is a complete Winter Outdoor Recreation Centre. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, we offer 20 km of groomed cross country trails, snow tubing, and snowshoeing, orienteering, and Frisbee challenge as part of our WOW Program. With all of these fun and exciting options, there’s no need to hibernate this winter.
For the latest news about Mount Pakenham, please read our Snow News.
SEE YOU ON THE SLOPES!