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Skiing and snowboarding comfortably

Enjoy the Mountains – Ski & Board Clothing Tips

When the snow is falling as much as it is this year (we’ve hit the 4 metre mark in Feb for the first time in at least 8 years – our snow history is here), excitement levels are high!

Skiing and snowboarding typically take place in an extreme environment though and before you blast off in excitement leaving a cloud of powdery white stuff behind you, we thought it would be good to put some tips here to help you enjoy your time on the mountain!

Absolute Alpine - come and join us...

Dress Appropriately – Top Tips for Clothing on the Mountain

My mum used to say:

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”

For the most part, she’s got a point. I say ‘for the most part’ as we were lucky enough to have the legend Eric Jones stay with us last week and there are seemingly a few circumstances where even the best clothing struggles to compensate for the weather… when climbing the North Face of the Eiger, standing on the top of Everest or sky diving in -67°C temperatures at the North Pole to mention but three.

Anyway, I digress, back to appropriate clothing…

Despite being made accessible with ski lifts and beautifully groomed pistes, the mountains are still an extreme environment and you need to be prepared for your adventure on the hill.

Here are a few clothing suggestions to make your mountain experience more comfortable.

Wear Enough Layers

It sounds obvious but it can be cold in the mountains – really cold! It can also be pretty warm, especially when you include the extra body heat generated while skiing or boarding. To manage these extremes, the best approach is to wear layers.

Adding a layer as necessary can keep you toasty when in the shade or sitting on a chair lift. Removing layers at the right time will help stop you getting too sweaty – as sweat cools, it will sap your body heat.

A wicking base layer (synthetic, merino wool or something similar) will really keep the moisture away from your skin where it impacts your body temperature the most.

Eye Protection

Snow reflects the sun and snow blindness isn’t something experienced solely by high altitude mountaineers – eye protection is essential. Even on those cloudy or snowy days, a good pair of glasses or goggles will keep the wind and elements out of your eyes as you whizz down the slopes. Careful lens selection can also help to reveal contours and features on even the whitest of whitey white-out days.

Goggles or glasses? My personal preference for boarding is goggles. You look sideways more whilst boarding (which suits goggles better), goggles fit better than glasses with helmets and it is harder to lose/break goggles should you wipe out or tumble in deep snow.

As long as glasses are rated appropriately and don’t have too much space for sun to creep in around the sides though, why not go with the sunnies instead if you prefer.

Goggles & helmet with a bonus smile!

To Helmet or Not?

I’m often asked by guests whether I think a helmet is a good idea. The way I see it is that you only have one head and given its importance, why wouldn’t you look after it with a helmet. You wouldn’t expect a motorcyclist or mountain biker to not wear a helmet and the risks, exposure and speeds can be similar in winter sports.

Modern helmets are considerably lighter and better ventilated than the first ‘sweat bucket’ that I bought for winter fun. I find it considerably easier to regulate head temperatures with a helmet than I do with a wooly hat.

If you don’t have your own helmet, the rental shop (our preferred one is Xtreme Glisse) can hire you one for a very reasonable price.

Gloves

Referring back the point on layers, it can be really cold in the mountains. Even if air temperatures feel fine, holding poles, strapping into or out of a board or putting your hands on the metal chairlift bars will suck heat from your extremities.

An amazing day on the mountain can become miserable very quickly with frozen fingers so a good pair of skiing/boarding gloves is essential. Hand warmers (reusable or disposable) are also a nice thing to tuck away in a jacket pocket or bag for those really cold days. If you are prone to cold hands, you may prefer mittens to gloves as they tend to be a bit warmer and normally have enough space for thin inner gloves too.

Neck and Face Protection

On those really cold days, the wind and snow seems to find its way into your face regardless of how high you zip your jacket. It’s days like that where a long lift can leave you red-faced with icicles where your nostrils used to be and ready for home. A neck gaiter, face mask (I have a neoprene one that covers the bottom half of my face and neck sitting snuggly against my goggles) or balaclava is very much recommended.

Cold or warm, if there’s sun you will also need to protect yourself against the UV exposure. Did you know that UV intensity increases 6% for every kilometer (that’s roughly 16% higher at 2500m)? With the reflection from the snow too, your skin is getting a much higher dose of UV than you may expect. Suncream and lip balm should feature in your daily routine whenever there’s any signs of sun in the mountains.

An Epic Season – last few chances to join us

This season continues to be an epic one with snow levels and powder days like we’ve not seen in such frequency before (our records go back eight years). We only have three weeks of availability remaining in the Grande Ourse and Petite Ourse so book soon if you don’t want to miss out on this amazing season!

Until next time…

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