Table of Contents
- What happens to the snow when it rains?
- Is skiing out in the rain dangerous?
- Tips and tricks for skiing in rain safely
Skiing when it’s raining?
Yes, it is possible and might be enjoyable but it can be challenging if you don’t know how to ski in the rain. You’re probably thinking, why in the heck would someone want to ski when it’s raining? Some folks just like the thrill of skiing in heavy rain but for some, skiing under the grey sky has never been in their minds. Rain happened and they decided to go with the flow instead of staying indoors the entire trip.
To enjoy skiing in rain, there are two things you must get right; the skiing gear and the skills and techniques. We will look at both later in the article.
What happens to the snow when it rains?
It tends to rain a lot on the slopes when the weather is warmer. The rain makes the snow softer and heavier which makes it hard to turn on skis. However, you can always learn how to turn on skis even on the softest of snow.
Is skiing out in the rain dangerous?
Most definitely yes. It can be dangerous and even fatal to ski when it is raining or when it has just rained if you don’t know how to ski in rain. First off, your visibility becomes compromised when there is rain and this puts you at risk of falling. The rain also makes the ground very slippery and hard to ski on. As well, the rain will make you soaking wet if you have no waterproof clothes. The weight of the wet clothes and the cold from the clothes will make it hard for you to focus on skiing. These are just a few reasons why skiing in the rain is not highly advised especially if you are a novice.
Let’s look at the three potential risks you should be aware of before you consider skiing in the rains.
When skiing on the hard glazed ice
Be warned that skiing on the icy or hard-packed surface in wet weather will be very difficult. That is not to say you shouldn’t try. Picture yourself trying to slide on a hard surface with a thin layer of water. Difficult right? That’s pretty much how difficult it is skiing on hard glazed ice. It can turn hazardous if you are not skilled as it is hard to control the skis or make turns. It is also hard to come to a stop.
Skiing on freezing rain
The biggest challenge with skiing on freezing rain ( this happens when the level of precipitation drops as the temperatures near the freezing point) is maneuvering through the layer of frost. You have to constantly scrape off the frost on your goggles so that you can see ahead. Did I even mention that the piste will be uneven? The best advice we can give you in such a scenario is to stay indoors. If possible binge-watch all day inside your warm blanket.
When skiing during heavy slushy snow
The rains will always make the snow extra heavy when it is warm outside. Turning and skiing in heavy slushy snow is not only difficult but very tiring. You can only hack this snow condition if you are in great shape otherwise your quads will be begging you to take a couple of days off after this day. Given the amount of energy needed, it is very easy to lose concentration which can easily lead to mishaps.
When skiing in the wrong gear
Do you know the risk of skiing in the rain without the proper skiing gear? You can get hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops below 36 degrees Celsius or 98 Fahrenheit. At this point, your body’s metabolism and functions will start being impaired. If the temperatures continue dropping, it can be fatal. This is why you have to dress in the proper gear and proper gear for skiing in rain should be waterproof. No water should seep into your inner layers.
Tips and tricks for skiing in rain safely
When skiing in rain, you are likely to experience the following:
- Slushy snow which makes the snow sticky and the skis heavy
- Very strong winds which can throw you off balance
- Heavy rain droplets that will make visibility a challenge
- Blizzard and whiteout
Tip #1. Be aware of your skiing level and ability
This is one of the best advice anyone will ever give you. Now, the skiing techniques are the same in case you’re wondering. That is for both dry land and wetland. However, you will need to be more aware of your skiing level and ability. This is not the time to flex your muscles or push your skill limit. Since the snow is obviously wet and the edges are hard, you will need to master the edge control technique as well as how to manage your weight transfer. You will also need to maintain a wider stance than you would on normal skiing weather.
These two will help you gain control and stability on the wet and icy surface to prevent injuries. Let’s look at how to maneuver through the different scenarios of skiing in the rain.
1. Skiing on a wet slushy snow
When the temperatures become warmer, the snow becomes sticky making skiing such a tedious task. The ski suddenly seems heavy and you find yourself moving slowly which takes away all the thrilling fun of skiing. The solution to this is to make wide rounded turns so that the ski does not sink into the snow.
2. Skiing when there is strong wind accompanying the rain
Windy rains are pretty hard to walk in let alone ski in but if you are determined to make the best of the moments, put on your goggles to help with the visibility as well as your neck gaiter. Keep an eye on the markings and if possible ski towards a sheltered area. If the wind is too strong that you sense you are losing stability, STOP skiing.
3. Skiing when the rain is very heavy
If the rain is very heavy then the best solution is to leave the slope and head over to the resort. With heavy rain, you can barely see any markings, or where you are headed which is dangerous. The idea behind skiing in rain is to enjoy and not to put your life at risk.
4. Skiing when there is a blizzard or a whiteout
A blizzard occurs when the winds are blowing too hard while it is snowing heavily. This makes it impossible for you to see past a few meters when skiing and the chances of going off-piste are very high. Also, you can barely see any markings or signs and this can be very dangerous.
5. Ensure you keep all these in mind during a whiteout
- Seek shelter or get back to the base
- Always have a skiing partner close to you
- Ski at a slow pace
- Stay on the groomed slopes
- Be watchful of the markings
Tip #2. Ensure you use waterproof ski clothes
Not all ski clothes have equal water resistance capability. Some are highly resistant while others have low resistance. When skiing under heavy rains you should go for a higher waterproofing rating of at least 20,000 mm. This also applies for when skiing in rain for longer hours. If skiing in light showers of rain, you can go for a waterproofing rate of 10,000 mm. A higher waterproofing rating means that very less water is being absorbed into the material of your clothes. This means less water or no water at all will reach your body. So you can ski in the rain without worrying about getting soaked in water, catching a cold or even freezing to death.
Another key thing to look at when buying ski clothing is the seams. They should be sealed with a waterproof tape. Why is this important? Because the seams are the hardest to waterproof. The jacket or pants may have a high waterproof rating but water leaks through the seams if they are not properly done. This is why you must double-check the seams. Very high-quality ski clothes do not have seams for this very reason. Also, confirm that the zippers are waterproof. But then nothing can ever prepare you enough for heavy rains, so always carry an extra pair of waterproof pants and jacket for when it will be necessary.
And if you were not prepared for the rains and have no waterproof jacket, you can make do with a normal rain gear. Just cut off the sleeves to gain more mobility when in motion.
Tip #3. Ditch the hat and go for a helmet
Well, there is a reason why a ski helmet will always be the most preferred. It will protect your head from being rained on as well as keep you safe from head injuries in case of a fall.
Tip #4. Do not prop up your goggles
When moisture seeps into your googles, it starts to form a fog making it harder and harder for you to see. This can be very dangerous. Keep your goggles away when waiting in line for the first chair. When it’s nuking, keep them tucked inside your jacket.
Tip #5. Get double layer waterproof gloves
Most gloves have the inner layer waterproofed, which is great but then you still end up with a wet pair of gloves. The trick to this is to get a glove that is waterproofed both on the inside and on the outer layer so that it prevents any water from seeping through the glove. Another trick is to wear the kitchen gloves on top of the ski gloves( others refer to them as dishwashing gloves). Get a couple of sizes up so that it fits snugly. Whatever trick works is fine, the goal here is to keep the hands as dry as possible.
Tip #6. Find a way to dry your ski clothes in between your skiing days
There are times when it can pour for days. The last thing anyone is to wake up to damp clothes. Ensure that you do get a way of drying your ski clothes during the night. There are certain ski huts that will come with a drying cabinet, drying room or a drying rack
We do hope that you find this article great and helpful and that it did not discourage you from skiing while it is raining. It is fun and thrilling to ski through the rain. On top of that, you get to have the whole slope to yourself with no long queues on the chair lift lines. And don’t we all skiers dream of this?
Even though it can be challenging, Skiing in the rain does not have to be a miserable experience. With the right gear on and the mastery of the proper skills and techniques to maneuver through the wet soft snow, it is possible to enjoy. Have you ever had to ski in the rain? How was it like? Share your experience and what tips helped you in the comments section.