When the “Champlain Powder” is in abundance, it's easy to have a great ski day in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Maximizing fun when the terrain options are limited can be challenging, and on occasion an art form. Outside of burning skis (which probably isn’t very good for the air) as a sacrifice in an attempt to appease the snow gods, here are a some basic rules we have found to increase your odds of scoring some sweet turns on the hill, even when the snow isn’t flying.
1. Go Skiing or Snowboarding - “You don’t know unless you go.” You have to get to the mountain to truly see what the conditions are like. You can’t trust the weatherman/woman, and you can’t tell by looking out the window. A dusting in the valley can mean serious accumulation at elevation. There is only one way to find out. Always be sure to monitor your resort's snow cams and condition reports when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night to get an idea of any possible lift closures or delays.
2. Start Early - The saying, “The early bird gets the worm,” applies here. Even if that dusting in the valley didn’t amount to much on the hill, running some fast cruises down freshly laid corduroy is one of the great joys of skiing. And if you did manage to score a surprise “Nor’Incher,” you’ll get the most out of every inch before everyone that hit the snooze button shows up. There is an exception to this rule -- if it was very warm the previous day and you had a hard freeze overnight, you may want to wait for the snow to soften up a bit. Generally speaking, the conditions will be better earlier after a fresh grooming.
3. Orientate Yourself - Have you ever noticed certain areas of the mountain ski differently than others? This is because your aspect or compass direction (north vs east facing) changes often as you make your way around the resort. If the conditions are fast and firm, try to ski where the sun has been hitting the slopes. An hour or so of direct sunlight has a dramatic effect on snow conditions. Note, these positions change as the sun makes its way across the sky. Following the sun not only will keep you warmer when the temperature dips but you’ll also have a better chance on some softer snow underfoot.
4. Dress For The Occasion – This is the most important rule when the snow surface has been somewhat less than ideal. A good sharpen and wax can make a HUGE difference in the enjoyment of your ski day. Is it going to be extremely cold and firm? Cold weather wax will keep you gliding when the snow is frigid, and sharp edges will boost your confidence when there is little for the skis or board to hang on to. Is it a spring day? Warm weather wax will help you keep your speed up when the snow gets wet. It’s a good idea to have your skis / board sharpened and waxed at least a couple times a season to make sure your edges are effective. If you'd like to sharpen and wax your gear more often, a 4 tune punch card is a cost effective way to keep your skis / board ready for any conditions.
5. Avoid The Crowds – With snowflakes in limited supply, you’ll want to maximize your turn to flake ratio by skiing with less people whenever possible. Ski or ride mid-week when you can: less traffic means better conditions. Alpine Shop has been working hard to spread awareness of the powder flu. At this time there is no vaccine and the CDC recommends hot laps on the hill to alleviate symptoms. Repeat as necessary.
We'll see you out on the hill!