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, or a nordic skier who is ready for the next level—this class is for you!
The Mazama Nordic Ski School offers two types of cross-country skiing classes: Classic and Nordic Backcountry. Backcountry Ski 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 2 class sessions on consecutive weekends (Saturdays or Sundays) followed by third ski tour, depending on preference noted in your registration). Flexibility on dates is required. Skiing is condition dependent. Expect that class sessions might switch between Saturday and Sunday. 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.
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 Ski School is held in the winter and includes a combination of lecture and field sessions.
Info night December 2, 2020 6:30pm
Registration 12/2/20 to 12/11/20
Meet Your Instructor Night January 14, 2021 6:30pm
Classes will be held the weekends of 1/30/21, 2/6/21, and 2/20/21 (make up weekend or touring date)
Classes will meet at 8:30am and end at 1:30pm. Location will depend on skill level.
Groups meet three weekends, either on Saturdays or Sundays. Applicants should be prepared for either day. Participants are asked to be flexible and available both days.
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 2021 tuition* will be $135 for members and $165 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.
COVID 2020-21 Modification: This year’s Meet Your Instructor Night will be held over Zoom on January 14, 2021 6:30pm. Participants will receive the link once accepted into the course.
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.
COVID 2020-21 Modification: Carpooling with members outside your household is discouraged.
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.
COVID 2020-21 Modification: To support social distancing and reduce the burden on parking due to limited carpooling each class will have 6 students and two instructors. We will have 7 groups of classes.
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 Mazamas will contact you with the status of your scholarship application before course acceptance.
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. 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 for next year. We would love to have you!