As you gear up for the next three months of skiing and riding, keep these tips in mind.
Timing is everything for resort skiing
- Arrive Early: First, you’ll be set-up for a good parking spot. At many resorts, you can avoid the shuttle and walk a couple of minutes right to the ticket window. Once you’ve gotten your tickets, you’ll be able to fly through the rental process and get right on the slopes. The first hour at most resorts is pretty mellow . . . you usually won’t notice the crowds building until ~10 am. This can very well be the best hour of your day!
- Eat an Early Lunch – So you’ve arrived early and got a primo parking spot. You are warmed up and in line for first chair. Charge hard until around 10:30 to 11 am. Dash to your favorite lunch spot and you’ll be sure to get a “first chair” at lunch, as well. Dine until around 11:30 to noon, and you’re back out on the slopes while the masses are inside.
- (alternative) Go for a Late Lunch – *This is the strategy I use on a big powder day* Bring some snacks to munch on during the chairlift ride to the top. Many southeast resorts start their half-day pricing AROUND 1 pm. . . give or take a half-hour. This is the time you should head to lunch, while the slopes/lifts get inundated. My legs are usually shredded, but it’s those rare days where it is too good to go inside, early.
- Take Advantage of Half-Day Rates – Because most resorts in the southeast are pint-sized, many of them offer half-day rates. You typically won’t find these deals anywhere out west. Many resorts’ half-day ticket is anywhere between 20% to 40% off their full-day price. Do your research before going to the ski area to figure out the best option for you.
- Look for that sweet spot right before Night – There is one benefit to skiing in such a southern locale (i.e. closer to the equator) . . . The days are noticeably longer than up north. If night skiing sessions start AROUND 4:30 pm, that means you still have an hour or two of daylight, before it starts getting really dark and cold. This interval will increase as the days are getting longer. You’ll really begin to notice a little longer daylight in late-January.
- Ski during the Super Bowl – While everyone is pre-gaming the Super Bowl, you’ll have nearly the entire resort to yourself. The big game is on Sunday, February 2nd, at 6:30 pm. From about 4 pm onwards, you’re bound to see a reduction in lift lines.
Equipment Hacks to keep you going
- Get Rid of that Stinky Smell – Toward the end of the season, my boots really begin to carry an odor . . . especially after some warm, spring ski days. Pack a couple of dryer sheets in your ski/snowboard boot bag. This should rid your boots of any funky, wet odor. If it gets real bad, put two dryer sheets directly into your boots. Teabags work as well, just don’t make some tea after use . . . yuck!
- Cold Ski/Board Boots – First, be sure to take your boots in overnight. The plastic on the boots is hardest when it’s cold. Keep the plastic at room temp. (overnight) and you’ll be sure to have an easy morning. As I always do, put your boots in the foot-well of your passenger seat on the drive to the resort. If it’s really last minute, drop a couple of handwarmers inside the boots to at least “kickstart” the warming process, while you are getting everything else ready.
- Cold Tush – If you are an intermediate/advanced skier . . . the only thing that you usually contact is the icy seat pad on the chairlift. If the temperature is below freezing (overnight), or they lift was subject to blowing snow . . . try putting two handwarmers pasted on the OUTSIDE of your undies. This will keep you a little warmer (and drier) on the chairlift ride to the top. Also, it keeps you toasty if you sit down in the snow to strap on your snowboard bindings.
- Keep a Ziplock bag in your pocket – Let’s say you get injured on the slopes. Fill a ziplock bag with ice and you’ll be ready to nurse a knee or wrist that is inflamed. Always go to ski patrol if you have a serious or life-threatening injury. Works great to also keep that cell phone dry. Speaking of cell phones and injuries, go one step further and input the ski patrol phone number into your contacts . . . you won’t regret it.
Duct Tape – Put a couple of wraps of duct tape around your ski poles. Not only does this help you identify your poles, but it always comes in handy . . . from repairing a small tear in outerwear, to labeling your skis on a busy day. As they say, “if it can’t be fixed with duct tape, then you’re not using enough duct tape!”
See you on the slopes!