Skiing, in our opinion, is the best sport ever. First, it is perfect for families because it is a discipline even kids can enjoy. Second, it is most likely snow will soften your falls, so this is the best place to try new experiences. And you can try some adrenaline-pumping stuff! True, the vast majority are happy to ski only when the sun shines. Yet, some people really want to make this sport adventurous. And they ask strange questions, like ‘can you ski in the rain?’ or ‘will I be cold while skiing?’
If you are a mountain enthusiast, stay tuned because we are going to provide valuable insights. Particularly, this time, we will show how to make skiing fun even in poor weather conditions. In the first few paragraphs, we will focus on the skiing equipment to adopt on rainy days. In the middle part, instead, you will find some basics (but crucial) safety tips. Finally, we will talk about the various kinds of snow you will have to deal with in bad weather.
Is Skiing in The Rain Possible?
When you think of the mountains in the cold season, you usually imagine them covered in snow. At least, when TV shows depict winter, they use the same “cliches”: wooden chalets, snow, and hot chocolate. Yet, if you go to a ski resort at the beginning of the season, things can be different. In a nutshell, in November or February, you should be prepared to face the rain. Sometimes it would be light rain, while other times, there could be heavy downpours. Moreover, on some occasions, snow and rain may happen at the same time!
This does not mean you have to give up your skiing sessions. In fact, if you put on the right clothes, you can still pick up your skis and have fun. Let’s see in detail what you should wear to go to a ski resort on a rainy day.
The Right Gear You Need
Outdoor sports apparel has nothing to do with fashion. Choosing the proper clothing, instead, is something that involves performance, safety, and comfort. Do you remember our article about hiking dates, the one which also highlighted hypothermia risks? If you read that, you may recall hypothermia threat is always there, no matter the season.
This is the case with skiing too. Beginners may overlook it, but skiing is a complex sport, which involves all your body muscles. Some muscles will be moving, while others will help hold your posture and keep you balanced. Thus, when you ski in normal conditions, you usually sweat. With downpours, things get worse because, besides being covered in sweat, you will be soaked by rain. To prevent this, you need clothes with moist-wicking and waterproof properties, which will keep you dry and warm.
We know what you are thinking. The answer is ‘no, clothes treated with DWR (durable water repellent) are not good enough’. First, water repellent treatment does not last forever. So if you have already used that gear for a few years, it may not offer a high degree of protection. Second, those kinds of products repel water only to some extent and will not do any good on the snow. After all, snow is just water in its solid-state.
And do not get fooled by the weather conditions. Remember: the moment you get wet, you will immediately start shivering. Besides, when you get soaked, all the things you carry with you may get damaged. For example, you could destroy your smartphone and soak your wallet.
How to Tell the Clothes You Brought Are Ok
As we said before, sports apparel is nothing like other clothing. Sports pieces undergo a series of tests, and one of the most important is the hydrostatic test. During this trial, specialists put clothes in a sealed tube. Then, they start filling the pipe with water while analyzing the fabric behavior. When the water is able to pass through the textile fibers, that determines the clothes’ waterproof degree. In particular, the score ranges from 0 to 20+ mm, and 20+ mm means very high resistance.
Yet, fabrics that succeed in ranking at least in the middle of this scale are also considered waterproof. Specifically, all clothes that rank 10mm – 11mm are labeled as waterproof apparel.
Water-resistance is very important. But this is not the only characteristic your clothes have to have. If you want to ski under the rain, in fact, your gear must have taped seams. This will prevent snow from leaking in your clothes and liquify on your body or your belongings. Finally, your pockets must be waterproof.
Rain can drip anywhere, even through the tiniest hole. When you leave your neck exposed, wearing waterproof is useless because you’ll get soaked in no time. You can solve this quickly: all you have to do is wear a poncho. Are you wondering about what to do if you do not have one? No worries, you can make it out of a trash bag. Probably, you’re thinking it will make you look silly, but being cool is not an issue here.
Of course, you are going to need a ski mask and ski goggles too. If you never used goggles, skiing with those could make you feel weird at first. Yet, you should never take them off while you ski in bad weather conditions. This may sound strange, but rain is particularly tricky because it can get in your eyes and leave you blind. On the other hand, keeping your goggles on does not mean skiing non-stop. Every time you feel like it, position yourself in a safe way and stop to clean your goggles.
Time to talk about the top part of your head. In an article, we mentioned that you can hike in the mountains with a polyester beanie. Yet, skiing is different, and skiing in the rain is even worse. Thus, wearing a helmet is always the best choice because it will keep your head dry. Also, goggles and the helmet need to be complementary, meaning there should be gaps between one and the other. If rain leaks in your goggles, in fact, it will soak the protective foam and cause fogging. Besides, if your head gets wet, you could face hypothermia.
Finally, you need waterproof gloves. You don’t want to get frozen hands, right?
Some Safety Tips
Skiing in the rain may be thrilling: no one is around, you can ski at your pace, etc. Yet, there are a few things you have to keep in mind. As a start, rain always reduces visibility, either it’s a downpour or light rain. This means you can never be fast with your movements or be risky because you may injure yourself. And when the wind blows, you even have to be more careful of the place you choose to ski on. So skiing next to a cliff or going backcountry is a no-go.
Second, you should always wax your skis. Wax allows your skis to slide better, and this is crucial when you have to ski in slushy snow. If you are renting them, you should not worry, as the owner already knows how to make skis safe.
The third rule is: never go skiing alone in bad weather. To extreme sports lovers, this may be a burden. Yet, the threat of an injury is always there, and if it happens, you want someone to help you.
Finally, always dry your clothes between one session and the other, even if they are waterproof. Consider that it may rain for a few days, so keeping yourself dry is a must. Plus, wearing wet clothes is not nice at all! Besides your ski pants and jacket, you should take care of your ski boots too. In fact, since skis boots insides are made with foam, they are more likely to absorb moisture.
How to Ski When It’s Raining?
As far as concerns the technique, you can use the one you already know. The thing is, you should be extra careful. Even though rain does not melt snow down, it changes its structure. Specifically:
- If the weather is hot enough to warm the snow and there are downpours, the snow may be slushy. Which means movements will be slowed down.
- If, on the other hand, the weather is freezing and it rained for a few days, snow could be icy. And to ski on a hard surface on pre-existing tracks is pretty hard. Are you wondering about the worst aspects? Well, stopping and turning requires a lot of skill in these situations.
Skiing on Icy Snow
An icy ski slope is one of the most dangerous scenarios. Usually, this happens when it rains all the daytime, and downpours stop at night. In fact, on those occasions, at night, the wind rises, and it freezes everything. And even though slope machines work hard, the morning after the ski track is not smooth at all. If you still feel like skiing there, here are a few tips.
- Do Not Panic
Controlling skis on ice require lots of experience. If, during turns, your skis slide horizontally, keep calm and try to follow their movement.
- Stay Focused
An icy surface offers less friction than snow. For this reason, working on balance and on body weight distribution is crucial. Make each movement focusing on your center of gravity and leave performance behind.
- Ski At A Slower Pace
On the ice, turning is hard, so you will have to create wider turns than usual. Moreover, you have to keep in mind skis pick up speed when held horizontally. For this reason, you should avoid any hazardous and sudden movement.
- Keep Your Legs At A Wider Stance
Keeping your legs at a wider stance will allow you to lower your center of gravity. This way, you’ll have a wide area to balance yourself, so it will be difficult to fall.
- Let It Slide!
If you are a beginner, keep your ski flat, and during turns, let your ski slide. If, instead, you are an expert, keep your ski edged and weigh more on the downstream ski.
- Keep Your Body In Control
While you ski, keep your legs slightly bent and use your muscles to hold this position.
Skiing in Slushy Snow
These kinds of surfaces are not as dangerous as icy ones. Yet, you still need to be careful with it. Slushy snow, in fact, makes your skis skin, so it takes extra effort to make any movement. And, at the end of the day, you are completely exhausted. Also, when the weather is too hot, slopes become a mess because different types of snow are mixed. Thus, you can meet a super slushy area any time, and if you are not prepared, you may fall.
The only way to prevent this is to use the neatest technique possible when skiing. In particular, we suggest that you opt for wide turns, which will avoid your skis being stuck in the snow.
The Nice Side to Ski When Water Falls from the Sky
In this article, we decided to focus on proper clothing and the dangers of skiing when it’s raining. Yet, of course, this kind of activity has got its positive aspects as well. For instance, if you go skiing in bad weather, you could have the slope all to yourself. In fact, as soon as it starts pouring, most of the people will stay home. Actually, this would be an advantage if you booked a ski class too. Since the majority of participants would not show, your group class would become a semi-private one. A perfect occasion to learn more!
All our posts are written with utmost care and are meant to satisfy any curiosity on any topic. We hope that, this time, you know how you can ski in the rain and how to do it safely.
We’d like to leave with a note. Even though we proved skiing in poor weather conditions is possible, this does not mean you can always do it. Thus, if you want to have a perfect experience on the slopes, always check the forecast first.