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A ski resort is a ski area with a village and / or high-end accommodations and other amenities at the base of the mountain. Ski resorts often have other activites to engage in besides skiing, such as indoor swimming, game rooms, and local forms of entertainment.
A ski area is a place where one goes to participate in the sports of skiing and snowboarding. Normally located in high mountain areas (or at least on well-built-up hills) for optimum snow coverage, they have become ubiquitous in areas where skiing is a popular pastime. The runs or trails in these ski areas are usually marked and known as pistes. Ski areas typically have one or more chair lifts for moving skiers rapidly to the top of hills, and to interconnect the various pistes. Rope tows can also be used on short slopes (usually beginner hills or "bunny slopes"). Larger ski areas tend to use gondolas for transportation across larger distances within the ski area.
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Skiing takes place in some of the most treacherous terrain in the world under very cold conditions. Be sure you are properly protected against the cold so you will not suffer from frostbite or hypothermia. When you are skiing you will be exposed to the elements all day and need to act accordingly. If you feel particularly cold, particularly if you begin to shiver, call it a day and head indoors to warm up.
When the sun comes out, the reflection from the snow around you can cause serious problems as well! Be sure to wear snow goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes from snowblindness and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn. Snow can reflect more than 50% of the light that hits it, so wear sunscreen even if it's cloudy outside! You'll thank yourself later.
Ski terrain can often be very dangerous and can lead to hazards that can potentially injure or kill a careless skier. Do not ski any terrain that is above your skill level and pay attention to all signs and Ski Patrol instructions. Also heed avalanche warning signs and avoid areas where avalanche buildup can occur. Also always ski in a group or let someone know where you are.
If you injure yourself on patrolled terrain, ask a fellow skier to fetch the resort's ski patrol for you. Lift operators can help contact them. Mark the location of an injured person by planting skis or snowboards in an upright cross just uphill.
Virtually all ski resorts have a ski school where you can sign up for lessons. It's recommended that you learn to ski at a smaller, cheaper mountain nearer to your location before going off to a major ski resort so you won't have to pay a large fee to just use the bunny hill (which would be the same more or less anywhere).
There are many types of skiing within alpine skiing, from contests to downhill (going straight without turns) to moguls (going around the bumps). Cross country skiing is usually also available. Nowadays most resorts allow snowboarders as well, but if you plan to do so double check beforehand.
Most resorts also offer a variety of other activities such as horseback-riding and ice skating. There are also usually great stores for shopping and wonderful restaurants in the area that are worth looking into after a day of hitting the slopes.
Ski resort areas are also frequented during the summer months because of their numerous hiking, mountain climbing, cycling and more.