It’s no secret that people prefer skiing under clear skies. However, there are cases when it’s raining when you visit your favorite ski resorts. While most people would simply stay inside and drink some hot chocolate by the fireplace, there are some who might enjoy a fun ski down the rainy slope.
If you want to know more about what to do when it rains during your ski vacation, read on to find some useful tips on how to adjust your stance and what clothes and gears to use when skiing during rain.
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Do Ski Resorts Close When It Rains?
Depending on how severe or light the rain is, most ski resorts don’t immediately close when it starts raining. In fact, certain snow-heads prefer skiing in the rain. There should be at least 20 inches or 50 cm of snow for people to ski. If it has been raining consistently in the past few days, the ski resort might have lost the appropriate amount of snow to open.
However, there are instances when it’s totally fine. One rainy day doesn’t mean that the ski resort will automatically close. It’s best to contact the ski resort to confirm if they will be open, even if the weather forecast predicts rain.
During or right after a rain, ski resorts are almost deserted. That means no long waiting lines on ski lifts. Since most beginners also avoid ski resorts when it has rained, there will be fewer people skiing, and you can enjoy the entire course to yourself (and a few other adventurous souls).
How Rain Affects Ski Conditions?
It goes without saying that the ski conditions when it’s raining is much different than normal days. The snow also changes based on whether it’s currently raining, or the rain just finished. If you decide to ski during rain and it stops midway, expect the ski conditions to change immediately.
Here are some things that you should expect when skiing during or after rain.
During Rain: Heavy and Slushy Snow
Since the temperature moves above the freezing point, the snow will feel much different. The snow will start to melt, which means that the surface doesn’t have soft-packed snow that is the most ideal for skiing.
You can expect slushy snow when skiing down a mountain. It’s quite fun to ski in as the snow moves around almost like powder. But it also feels heavier since the liquid content makes the snow denser.
You should also expect that your visibility will be much lower due to your goggles fogging up. You might need to get special goggles or simply opt for a simpler course and avoid doing dangerous maneuvers.
After Rain: Icy and Slippery Snow
Hard glazed ice usually forms just after a rain, especially when the temperature reaches a freezing point. You might lose control when skating overglazed ice, especially you’re on a steep racecourse. It’s better to play it safe when skiing after rain.
People who like to ski near rivers or watercourses will be familiar and much more equipped on how to properly ski after rain. Since you’re skiing on thin ice, there will be less friction, and it might be difficult to grip. This means you might be skiing at a much faster speed than usual.
How To Ski More Safely in Icy and Rainy Conditions?
Since the conditions are certainly different, you will need to be extra careful when skiing after or during the rain.
Make gradual movements
When skiing in an unfamiliar condition, you might panic when you suddenly speed up. Remember that doing sudden movements can be more dangerous than just relaxing. Speeding up means you’re skiing on glazed ice, so you need to be careful with your next steps.
If you’re familiar with driving on ice, you can apply the same techniques when skiing on glazed ice. You need to make slow and gradual movements to get a grip. It’s totally normal for people to get a little faster when skiing under rainy conditions.
Having a wider stance can help you get a more stable position. Don’t overextend your legs that you’re nearly in a split. Just make sure that your movements are balanced with your body, so you have full control over your direction while skiing down the slope.
To improve your balance, you should also bend your ankles and knees a little, as if you’re about to jump. This stance lowers your center of mass, making it easier for you to control your direction.
Needless to say, balance is important whether you’re skiing under the rain or on freshly fallen snow. But since you’re moving faster overglazed ice, it’s more important to pay attention to your balance. You have to maintain a proper center of gravity so that you can better control how you move down the slope.
Adjust to the Surface
When skiing during rain, the slope differs depending on how heavy the rain hits. Even if there’s soft-packed snow at the peak of the mountain, you might encounter glazed ice towards the end of the course.
You should, of course, always head for softer snow whenever possible. It’s rare to see a surface that is extremely uniform, especially after rain. This means that you should also be prepared to change your stance accordingly.
If you encounter a patch of icy snow, make sure to keep your athletic stance by adjusting the weight of your body. Stack your weight against your outside ski. With this stance, you maintain structural integrity, with your muscles still staying a little loose to control your movements.
Don’t Carve on Ice (Yet)
Unless you’re an expert, you need to avoid carving on ice. You need to be skilled enough to control your body while skiing on top of the ice, so it’s much better to reserve this experience if you’re more knowledgeable in controlling your body and speed.
You can try to carve on ice once you’re comfortable with the slope. Try to gauge the snow first before going for ice carving to ensure that you’re fully prepared.
Drag Your Ski Poles
If you feel like you’re going out of balance, you can troubleshoot your angle by dragging your ski poles alongside. You can regain basic control and adjust better to help you figure out how to readjust your center of mass.
If you feel that water has gone inside your clothes, you should head back in and get warmed up immediately. Water usually enters through the back of your coat, socks, or gloves. If any of these areas feel wet, it’s time for a fresh set of clothes before heading back towards the ski lift.
Tips On What to Wear When Skiing in The Rain
Since the rain moves the temperature closer to above freezing point, there’s a higher tendency that you’ll get wet during your ski. It’s important to have waterproof equipment and use them even after the rain has passed. This is to lessen the risk of hypothermia and other cold-related illnesses.
You also have to take care of your skiing gear when it’s raining. It’s almost a certainty to have a thin layer of frost build up on your goggles. You may have to scrape them off from time to time so that your vision of the racecourse is not impaired
Make sure that you have a cloth or a mini squeegee to wipe off the frost. Wear your goggles while you’re inside the ski resort and put them on tightly to avoid foggy air and moisture from entering when you’re already out in the cold. Don’t lift your goggles until you’re inside the ski resort again, or you’ll have to deal with foggy glasses for the rest of your time outside.
You can get rainproof ponchos to avoid snow entering through the back of your coat and melting down your neck. If you don’t have ponchos on hand, you can even fashion a plastic bag to seal your back to avoid this from happening. You also need waterproof gloves when skiing during a rain.
Also, don’t forget to get your gears properly waxed. Otherwise, they won’t be able to handle the moisture of the snow, ice, and rain combined. Some ski resorts handle this process for you, but be sure to contact them beforehand so you’ll be prepared with your own tools if necessary.
Bonus Tip: Extra Clothes
If, somehow, water still enters your clothes even with all the precautions, head back inside and warm up. Drink some hot chocolate or sit by the fireplace for a few minutes. Also, make sure to change into your extra clothes before going out for another ski ride down the mountain.
Skiing in the rain is certainly not for beginners, but if you have a bit of experience in the ski racecourse, it’s a definite must-try. If you’re confident with your skiing skills and you know how to traverse a difficult racecourse with ease, you might want to start challenging yourself skiing while it’s raining.