When skiing, you need a range of items. That includes the necessary gear, such as skis, boots, poles, as well as a backpack for extra food and a helmet for downhill runs. However, there is one aspect that’s even more important than all of those combined: snow. And plenty of it.
While enough snow to cover a mountainside is the basic element to all skiing activities, it can be a little intimidating to head out when the flakes are really coming down. If you’re a beginner, you might wonder if it’s even possible to ski during a hard snow. The easy answer to this is yes. In fact, skiing through the snow can be quite fun. However, there are a few extra considerations to keep in mind if you want to brave such conditions.
How to Prepare for Snowy Conditions
Skiing through the now is not that different than skiing on a clear day. The basics are still the same, as long as you’re properly prepared, and the fresh powder can be a dream to zip across. As long as you have the right gear and the correct mindset, the experience will be similar to skiing on a sunny day.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for snowy conditions is to bring a lot of layers. A well-prepared clothing setup includes a good pair of ski pants along with a base layer, mid-layer, and outer shell. A base layer includes thermal underwear or another thin layer. Mid-layers are often a pullover or sweater. The outer shell is your main ski jacket. If you anticipate snowy conditions, wear an outer shell with a good hood.
If the weather looks like it’s going to be wet and snowy, I would also recommend that you bring backups to your important gear pieces in case your regular ones get wet. Wet clothing quickly becomes cold when wet. As such, a backup hat/beanie and gloves can make a huge difference in prolonging your snowy ski day.
The Importance of Visibility
If you’ve ever spent any time out in the snow, you know that serious storms can lead to a drastic reduction in visibility. When skiing, you need to be able to see the terrain around you so you can safely navigate down the mountain and avoid any obstacles. The harder it’s snowing, the harder it is to see everything around you.
To compensate for a lack of visibility, invest in a nice pair of goggles that can deal with low and flat light. Goggle lenses come in many varieties to match the conditions you’ll face on the mountain. Snowy conditions typically mean limited light, and good low-light lenses will allow you to see the terrain on the mountain even when conditions are bad.
Sometimes, even low-light goggles won’t do the trick in really severe snow. If this happens to you, you can try to ski without goggles on. Though this is not the best way to enjoy the mountain, I’ve used this trick to continue skiing when conditions take a turn for the worst.
Safety in the Snow
Safety should always be your number one concern when you’re out on the slopes. That goes double for when the snow comes down hard. By being well prepared and having the right equipment, you can increase your ability to see and stay warm. However, you might need to slightly alter your style to handle the shifting conditions.
When skiing through the snow, slow down. A limited range of visibility keeps you from seeing too far. In order to avoid any people or obstacles that may be in your way, take it easy. That might be hard if you’re an advanced skier, but it is an important part of staying safe.
Also note when conditions get too rough to ski. If you find yourself in blizzard or whiteout conditions, you’ll quickly realize that you’re in over your head. Don’t push it and know when to quit. I’ve been in conditions where I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face on the lift. That was a surefire sign it wasn’t safe to continue.
Skiing is a great sport partly due to all of the varying conditions you’ll encounter. Skiing in the snow is one such condition. Even though it may be challenging to take to the hills when the snow is really coming down, it can be an exciting and rewarding experience as long as you follow the above advice.
The next time you find yourself out skiing while it’s snowing, take a look up at the sky, catch a snowflake or two in your mouth, and be thankful for the chilly substance. It may seem intimidating, but if you take the time to learn how to ski while it’s snowing, you’ll have a better appreciation for the sport!
Have you ever skied during a hard snow? Do you have any tips or tricks to share about the experience? Let us know in the comments below!