Skiing when the weather is nice is great fun, but it isn’t always blue skies and goggle tans. Sometimes the weather for skiing can be less than perfect, but this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the mountain.
In this article, we will cover how to ski in the rain. You will learn what to expect, what to do, and much more.
What To Wear When Skiing In The Rain
You need to choose the correct clothing for skiing in the rain. The best ski clothing has an excellent waterproof rating. You will soon learn that not all ski clothing performs well in wet weather.
More expensive ski clothing uses Gore-Tex or similar technology. But cheaper clothing uses a water-repellant coating, known as DWR.
Water seeps in cheaper ski clothing during heavy downpours or if you are in rainy weather for an extended amount of time. This will make you cold pretty quickly and ruin your day.
If you expect to be skiing in the rain, you should look for ski clothing with a waterproof rating of at least 10,000 mm. But if you want the ultimate protection from rain, go for clothing with a waterproof rating between 20,000-30,000 mm.
However, the waterproofing of ski clothing can be let down by its construction, even if it has a high waterproof rating. The seams where the panels join together can let in water. Therefore, to keep the water out, look for clothing with taped seams.
Ski jackets and pants with taped seams are more expensive, but they are worth the extra money to keep yourself dry.
Ski clothing in the middle of the price range will have critical seams sealed. This means that only the seams across the shoulders and arms will be sealed. But cheap ski clothing doesn’t have taped seams and will let the rain in.
Techniques For Skiing In The Rain
Fortunately, rain doesn’t melt the snow straight away. But the snow can either become icy or slushy, depending on the temperature and how much rain there is. There are a couple of different techniques you need to master for skiing in the rain.
Skiing On Wet Ice
When it rains on hardpacked snow, the water can freeze over, creating an icy surface. This means you have less friction between your skis and the snow.
Icy conditions make you slide faster, reduce your level of control, and increase your stopping distances. This can be lots of fun if you know what you are doing, but it can be dangerous for novice skiers.
When skiing on wet ice, you need to pay attention to your edge control. You should plan your turn while anticipating the extra momentum and slip. Doing this will also give you time to assess the snow, allowing you to find nicer patches to make your turns. You will also have a better chance of avoiding other slope users and hazards.
This adapted turning style will make you take wider turns, as you will be more controlled and patient. During a turn on wet ice, you may be tempted to overcompensate. But you must resist the temptation and let your skis slide until you are back in control. Instead, use the momentum to complete your turn.
You also need to adjust your stance for skiing on wet ice. Skiing with a wider stance will give you more stability.
Skiing In Slush
If the temperatures are reasonably warm, the snow will turn to slush when it rains. Some skiers love slush while others hate it. You can still ski in slush, but you need to adjust your technique differently than if you were skiing on ice.
The heavy nature of slush makes it hard work to keep moving on skis. To overcome this, you may need to lean back, keeping your ski tips up.
You should always keep your knees bent to absorb bumps and stay balanced. In addition to this, keep even pressure on both skis to stop one from getting stuck in the slush. Skiing with a narrower stance will make your carving much more manageable in these conditions.
You will notice that slush is slower than normal snow; therefore, you need to keep your speed up. Avoid short turns that will scrub off speed so you can make it across flat sections without needing to push yourself along with your poles. Keep your speed up by making fewer turns and using the steeper sections of the slope.
The great thing about slushy conditions is that they suit nervous and beginner skiers. The slower speed allows you to fine-tune your turns and experiment with different lines.
9 Top Tips For Skiing In The Rain
Wax Your Skis
If you like to service your own skis, it is best to keep an eye on the weather forecast before you head out on the mountain. This will allow you to choose the correct wax for the conditions, as there are different types of wax for different temperatures.
Wax designed for cold weather doesn’t work well in slushy conditions, as it doesn’t let your skis run freely. So if the weather looks quite warm for your ski trip, choose the appropriate wax for the temperature.
Ski wax manufacturers indicate the wax’s optimum operating temperature range on the packaging.
A good fitness level will help your skiing in all conditions. But if you have a strong core and legs, you will be able to cope with the demanding nature of skiing in the rain. The extra strength will allow you to react to the variations in the snow conditions.
Make Sure Your Helmet And Goggles Are Compatible
Aside from the safety aspect of wearing a helmet while skiing, they are great for skiing in the rain. Helmets don’t get soaking wet like a beanie hat, and goggles work much better for rainy days than sunglasses.
But you need to make sure your goggles and helmet fit each other properly. Compatible helmets and goggles prevent the gap that exposes your forehead.
Goggles that are too big for your helmet can interfere with how well your helmet fits you, compromising comfort and safety. To ensure that your helmet and goggles are compatible, try them on together before buying either item.
Keep Your Goggles Dry
When skiing in the rain, you need to keep the foam in your goggles dry. If you take your goggles off and put them on your helmet, the foam will get wet, creating a couple of problems.
The first problem is that you will have to put them back on with cold and wet foam, which is uncomfortable. But the main problem lies with the lens fogging up.
If your goggle lens fogs up, don’t wipe the inside, as you will damage the protective coating. Instead, warm your goggles up in your pocket, or use a hand drier in a mountain bar’s restroom to demist them and dry the foam.
Choose The Correct Goggle Lens
Most ski goggles allow you to switch the lenses. If yours will enable you to, change the lens for one suitable for low light when skiing in the rain.
These lenses are usually yellow and improve contrast while having a light tint, improving visibility.
Dry Your Clothes At The End Of The Day
Putting on wet ski clothes in the morning is a bad start to your day. Therefore, you need to dry your clothes if you have been skiing in the rain to be ready for the following day.
Hang your clothes up in a warm and dry place or over a heater or radiator. But don’t put your clothing directly on the heater, as it could melt your jacket or ruin the waterproof coating.
Never put your ski clothing in a drier. The heat will ruin the waterproof coating and could damage the drier.
Dry Your Ski Boots
Like your ski jacket, you don’t want to put on wet ski boots in the morning. Also, if the weather becomes colder, your feet will really suffer, finishing your day of skiing. Therefore, you need to dry your boots when you get back to your accommodation.
You may be lucky enough to have access to a boot drier. These are great for ensuring you start your day with dry feet, but you should not leave your boots on them all night.
Some ski boot driers get very warm, which can ruin the moldable liners, affecting the fit of your ski boots. So make sure that the ski boot drier is on a timer, or switch it off after your boots have dried out.
If you don’t have access to a ski boot drier, take the foam liner out of the boot, and leave them in a warm place. Near to a radiator is fine, but remember not to put them too close or leave them there too long.
A quick search online will reveal that you can get portable ski boot driers. These are small enough to pack into your suitcase and are an inexpensive way of ensuring your boots are dry in the morning.
Pack Extra Socks And Gloves
Skiing in the rain will soak your gloves, which means your hands will get cold and uncomfortable, especially if the temperature drops.
If the weather forecast looks rainy for your ski trip, you will benefit from packing a spare pair of gloves. When your gloves get soaking wet, you have a backup pair to swap them for.
To ensure that you have at least one pair of dry gloves, you may want to pack more than two pairs. You can even ski with a spare pair in your pocket or backpack to change them at lunchtime.
You can never have enough pairs of ski socks, but this is more the case when you are skiing in the rain. It is always good to have more pairs of ski socks than you think you need.
Just like gloves, you can remove your wet socks and swap them for some dry ones. This way, you can finish your day of skiing in relative comfort.
You can even buy heated socks and gloves that use a small battery pack. These are great for keeping your hands and feet comfortable and warm for longer.
Head Up The Mountain Even If It Looks Bad
If you wake up in the morning and the weather looks terrible, head up anyway. Wrap up warm and follow all the tips we have mentioned so far, but you may be pleasantly surprised.
Most of the other people in the ski resort will probably not want to head out in lousy weather. Therefore, the slopes will be quiet, and the snow conditions may be better than you thought they would be.
If it is pretty bad, you haven’t lost anything. Grab a hot chocolate, and see if the weather improves. If it doesn’t, head back down the mountain for a long lunch and early après.
You may try to stick it out, but you need to make a sensible decision. If you struggle with the snow conditions or visibility, you don’t have to stay out. Even if you have only done one run, there is nothing wrong with finishing early.
Pushing yourself too far can be dangerous and could lead to an accident. It is much better to save it for another day when the weather is more favorable than to get out of your depth. Remember, you are skiing because it is fun!
Even though skiing in the rain is never as pleasant as doing it under blue skies, you can still enjoy it. In fact, the deserted slopes and variable conditions are ideal for practicing various techniques.
It is essential to be safe and comfortable, or you won’t enjoy the experience at all. Make sure you have the correct clothing and adapt your technique. You may even want to book a skiing lesson to get the necessary knowledge for skiing in the rain.