The Mazamas offers a variety of classes for all ability levels. Learn new skills in mountaineering, rock climbing, first aid, ski mountaineering, and more.
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The Mazama Nordic Ski School strives to meet students at their current skill level and take them up a notch (or two!). Whether you've never strapped into a ski binding, are an alpine skier who wants a new challenge, a ski mountaineer who wants to improve your skill set, or a nordic skier who is ready for the next level—this class is for you!
We remove impediments to progress by encouraging you to ski on high performance equipment—you should not have to fight with your skis in order to turn. Starting with groomed runs served by high speed lifts, we aim to maximize your skiing time while progressing to more difficult terrain as your skills and interests grow.
The Mazama Nordic Ski School offers two types of cross-country skiing classes: Classic and Nordic Backcountry. Backcountry Touring (formerly Ski Mountaineering) is taught as a separate program.
The Nordic Ski School program consists of one mandatory “Meet Your Instructor” Orientation followed by 3 class sessions on consecutive weekends (Saturdays OR Sundays depending on preference noted in your registration). After being accepted into the course, students will be placed into groups based on their skill levels and stay with those groups throughout the course. Classes are typically held in late January/early February.
Classic Cross Country Skiing
Matching students’ skills to the appropriate class helps to ensure a safe and fun learning experience. Students should consider their current skill level when choosing their class including endurance, how balanced and stable you feel on skis, number of miles you ski, and the terrain you are able to ski comfortably.
If you have downhill skiing experience and endurance, but want to learn the basics of Nordic skiing, a novice or intermediate class is probably appropriate for you.
Skill Level Criteria
- Have not skied before
- Skiing on gentle hills feels out of control
- Unable to demonstrate step turn, snow plow, and/or diagonal stride
- Unable to ski 2 miles on easy varied terrain without falling numerous times
- Took the Beginner class in the last few years or returning from cross country after many years
- Able to demonstrate, but not yet mastered step turn, snow plow, and diagonal stride
- Able to ski 2 miles on easy varied terrain without falling numerous times
- Have experience downhill skiing (at least black diamond)
- Have strong balancing skills on one leg
- Awareness of cross country skiing
- Able to demonstrate good body coordination
- Able to comfortably ski at least 2 miles on varied easy terrain without falling
- Mastered diagonal stride
- Mastered step turn, snow plow on non-icy, low grade slops
- Desire to increase skills and efficiency
- Desire to go on ski tours longer than 5 miles
For those who want to develop the skills and confidence to get off the beaten path. This class will emphasize winter backcountry navigation and negotiating difficult terrain with safety and comfort. Intermediate cross-country skills and intermediate navigation (map/compass) are recommended.
- This is Nordic Backcountry not AT Backcountry, meaning we will be skiing on Nordic BC equipment and away from groomed tracks, roads, and trails, but limited to areas without avy exposure. Ski Mountaineering skills will not be covered.
- Flexibility on dates is required. Skiing the backcountry is condition dependent. Expect that class sessions might switch between Saturday and Sunday, or be postponed to another weekend. This class often extends into late Feb. and occasionally early Mar. to complete the 3 full sessions.
Backcountry Recommended Equipment
Single camber or camber and a half by 78–98 mm wide with metal edges and patterned bases. No AT skis.
NNN-BC or three-pin backcountry. Telemark bindings optional, but heavier than needed. No AT bindings.
Adjustable length (extendable to shoulder height).
Kicker (preferred) or full length.
The Nordic School will be hosting an Information Night about the Nordic 2020 class on Tuesday, November 5.
This presentation will provide information about the 2020 Nordic Ski class and answer any questions that you have about the class.
You'll have a chance to meet and ask questions of the instructors who will be teaching this class.
The Nordic Ski School is held in the winter and includes a combination of lecture and field sessions. Class dates are announced in October and the application period is typically open in December.
Groups meet three consecutive weekends, either on Saturdays or Sundays. Applicants can list their preference for which day on their application.
Low—Nordic Ski School requires a minimal time commitment on weekends.
Short—Nordic Ski School takes place over a 3–4 week period.
The Nordic School 2020 tuition* will be $110 for members and $130 for nonmembers.
*lift tickets are not included
Orientation takes place at the Mazama Mountaineering Center in SE Portland. Classes are held in the Mt. Hood area.
The actual class content and location may vary at the discretion of each instructor because of snow conditions or the particular needs of the students.
Carpooling with other students in your group is encouraged and is the customary way to get up to the mountain.
The entire Nordic Ski School accepts appx. 100 people each year. This group is then split into cohorts of appx. 10 based on skill level.
We are offering a limited number of scholarships to allow students to participate who will not be able to do so without financial assistance and whose participation can help expand the Mazamas membership base beyond current cultural, economic, and ethnic demographics.
A scholarship is for course tuition ONLY. Mazamas may cover the cost of your course up to 90% of the course tuition based on factors listed above. Other costs associated with the course may apply. You must have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet to participate in the course. Please see course home page for associated costs and logistics. All scholarship awardees will qualify for select course gear at a discounted rate.
Applications for scholarships will be part of of the class application. The class/scholarship application period will begin on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 and close on Tuesday, November 26, 2019. The Mazamas will contact you with details of the status of your scholarship application when you are notified of your acceptance into the Nordic School.
The Mazamas do NOT provide equipment for this class. Skis, boots and poles may be rented from most local shops. Gear rental costs are around $12–15 per day for Nordic gear, and $25–30 per day for telemark gear.
The Nordic Ski School instructors are Nordic skiing enthusiasts and volunteer to teach Nordic skiing simply for the love of the sport. They have First Aid and CPR certification and receive professional instructor training (Wy’East Nordic), guidelines, and support from the Mazamas. The Nordic Committee pays for these trainings! Each class also has at least one assistant instructor.
If you are interested in teaching or assisting with a Mazama Nordic Ski School class, please apply here before Tuesday, November 26.