How To Ski Safely On Ice And Hard Packed Snow

How To Ski Safely On Ice And Hard Packed Snow (1)

Winter sports are becoming more and more popular every year. Whether you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or even cross country skiing, you’ll need to know how to stay safe.

And safety is crucial when you are skiing on ice and hard packed snow.

We can easily find ourselves in difficult situations that could be fatal if we aren’t careful. So how do we keep ourselves safe? Is there a way to ski safely on ice and hard-packed snow?

We can search and search but never find the answers that we need to these questions. Thankfully, that is where we come in! Today we are here with all the answers that you need.

Just keep reading to find out how you can ski safely on ice and hard-packed snow and get your other skiing-related questions answered today!

Best Winter Sports Tips – How To Avoid Injury And Stay In Top Form

With skiing comes the chance of getting injured. No one likes getting hurt but it can happen. Luckily we have some great tips to keep everyone safe while skiing. Here are our top 10 tips for staying safe while enjoying your favorite sport:

1. Warm-Up Before You Start Skiing Or Boarding

Before you hit the slopes make sure you warm up with light stretching and a few jumping jacks.

2. Wear The Right Shoes For The Terrain

Get yourself a good pair of skis or snowboard bindings. Your feet will thank you. You should be able to find both types at most sporting goods stores.

Make sure they are designed specifically for the type of terrain you plan on using so that if you tip over, you don’t crash through your house!

3. Learn To Read The “Read” Signs When You’re Skiing

When you see the sign “Read”, it means there might be icy spots near you. Pay attention and avoid those areas.

If you are unsure about anything, just ask someone who knows what they are doing to help you out. They won’t mind.

4. Always Carry Water

Drinking enough water is super important especially if it’s packed powder like Christmas morning! Plus having a full bladder helps prevent injury from dehydration.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

There are tons of people all across the globe who love helping others learn to ski.

Take advantage of their expertise by asking them questions when you are practicing new tricks or learning to navigate different terrains.

They can point you towards the best spots and tell you which areas are the safest.

6. Listen Carefully To The Instructors

They will warn you about potential hazards such as hidden moguls or hidden bumps. These things could lead to serious injury so listen to what they say.

The instructor isn’t going to let you get away with something dangerous.

7. Know The Basics

Knowing the basic skills of skiing or snowboarding will save you a lot of money. It takes many years to build upon these techniques until they become second nature to you.

Learning the proper technique will allow you to handle yourself well and avoid injury.

8. Use A Helmet

Everyone needs a good-quality helmet on long trips. A cheap helmet may not hold up to hard impacts so buy something high-quality.

Not only does it protect your skull and neck but it also keeps you cool under the hot sun.

9. Carry A First Aid Kit

Have it ready at your side during any sort of emergency. Skiers often injure themselves and forget to attend to minor wounds that occur throughout the day.

10. Find A Buddy System

Having a friend along will ensure your safety during unexpected situations. This person should know how to react in case you need assistance in an emergency.

Why Is It Harder To Ski On Ice And Hard Packed Snow?

How To Ski Safely On Ice And Hard Packed Snow

Snow is usually soft and fluffy, while ice is harder and less forgiving. Slippery conditions make it difficult to control your speed, especially when turning.

Skis are designed to work well on snow, but not on the ice.

You need to be careful when skiing on ice because it’s easy to lose control. Ice is hard, but snow is grippy.

Hard-packed snow may not be as difficult as ice, but it can still be pretty slippery.

When you hit snow, the contact between your foot and the surface allows for more traction than hitting the ice.

Because of this, your feet will respond better to changes in direction.

When you land on ice, you have less control and tend to sink into the bottom of whatever step you take (that explains why we use crampons).

If you are wearing boots made specifically for ice, you’ll have a much better grip on the slippery surface of the ice.

Methods For Skiing On Ice And Hard-Packed Snow

So how do we ski on ice and hard-packed snow? Well, let’s take a look at some of the methods that you can try below!

Control With The Edges

You need to be extra careful when skiing on hard-packed snow or ice. Hard-packed snow and icy patches require you to be more patient and more precise with your movement.

Turn harder on hard-packed ice by putting more pressure on the inside edges of your skis.

When skiing hard-packed snow, you should use your ski edges to get stability. You shouldn’t turn too fast or slow. Stay steady over your skis until the snow gets softer.

Turning And Sliding

When you’re halfway through a turn, if you slide off onto an icy patch, don’t panic. Instead, let your skis slide through into a larger radius turn.

On smaller patches, keep your skiers parallel and slide through the entire turn. On larger patches, complete the turn but at a slow speed.

Don’t make sudden moves or changes, just focus on keeping your balance during the whole motion of the turn.

Wider Stance

A slight change in stance helps skiers stay on top of the snow. You don’t want to be skiing while doing the splits, but push your stance out a little to keep you stable.

Don’t Worry If You Slide

If your skis start to slip, let them slide and enjoy the ride. When your skis gain traction, you can make a smooth turn.

Balance Your Weight

Ice and hard-packed snow are hard to ski in because it’s slippery and hard to control.

You need to maintain a wide stance and pivot around the turn to avoid losing control. Edge control and counterbalancing your weight are important skills to master when skiing or boarding.

You can learn how to do this by practicing on flat ground first, then gradually moving onto harder surfaces.

Be careful and slow to start with, as well as be patient and learn how to use your ski muscles correctly.

Side Slipping

Side slipping is used when you need to go fast but you don’t want to lose control. You let go of your edges that dig into the mountain and keep your still.

Then you slide while gripping your edges to regain control over yourself.

Repeating this process allows you to slide through steep icy areas or tight corridors that make turning difficult.


Stopping on hard-packed snow and ice is difficult because you have to dig deep into your edges to make them work.

To stop, put more pressure onto your inside edges and keep your body balanced.

Locking Legs

To move over frozen powder, you need to activate more muscles. You should bend your knees slightly but keep them straight.

Move forward at an inclined angle and let gravity pull you.

Center Your Weight

Stably balance yourself over your skis and maintain this posture.

Maintain Your Edging

When you’re skiing down a hill, you should put more weight on the downhill movement. This helps you stay upright as you move forward.

Keep An Eye Out For Ice

Snow is made up of ice crystals, and ice crystals glitter in the sun.

Keep An Eye Out For Snow Channels

Snow slope margins are oftentimes better than the center of the slope because of the edges. Short sharp turns allow you to avoid hard parts of the slope.

Make Sure You Don’t Ski Out Of Bounds

Skiing outside of the groomed areas is dangerous because if you get stuck in deep snow, you could easily injure yourself or other skiers. You should stay within the boundaries of the ski resort.

Keep Off Racecourses

Skiers should avoid racing down slopes that have been prepared for a ski race because race skis are better suited for such terrain.

Sharp-edged skis are designed to handle icy conditions. Racing downhill on a course that has been prepped for a race could cause you serious injury.

Choose To Ski During Snowfall

You should try to go skiing when there’s a chance of snowfall. Light and fresh snow crystals will make your experience much more enjoyable.

Don’t Go On The Last Run

Skiers should take the gondola to the top and then ski down. The slope is usually shady, icy, and full of moguls, so it’s better to avoid them if possible.

Taking the gondola saves you time and energy.

Practice Makes Perfect

Skiing is a sport that requires skill. A person must be physically fit and flexible to ski well. Skiers should practice skiing before hitting the slopes.

They should also learn how to use the right equipment and know what to expect when they go out onto the slopes.

Sharpening And Waxing

Skis should be filled after 10 days of full use. Deburring and flattening the edges of the skis rather than a full machine sharpening should be done once per year for the average skier, who skis 1-3 weeks per year.

Less often if you’re skiing on soft snow and much more often if they get beat up on hard snow.

The ski rental shop will be maintaining your ski(s) and keeping them waxed if you rent them. Owning skis, you’ll want to tune and wax them by yourself (if you know how) or bring them into a ski shop.

You need sharp skis to go fast on the hard-packed surface. Without a sharp edge, you won’t be able to grip and hold your position.

With blunt skis, you’ll slide more across the icy surface.

Skiing In Certain Weather Conditions

How To Ski Safely On Ice And Hard Packed Snow (2)


Skiing in rain isn’t dangerous, but when it rains you should wear a jacket and trousers with good waterproofing as it can get very uncomfortable if you get your ski gear soaking wet.


When you’re skiing during a snowstorm, make sure you stay close to your friend. Don’t get too far ahead of them because you might run into trouble.

Different Types Of Snow

Let’s take a quick look at the different types of snow so that you can identify them and know what to do when you encounter them.


This type of snow is made from all the slush and dirt at the base of the mountain. It may be softer than the powdery snow above, but it can be hard as concrete.

If you fall on this sort of snow, you risk injuring yourself.

Crud is not recommended for beginners because it can be difficult to control one’s speed; therefore, skis/boards can tend to turn over.


The powder is the best form of snow for skiing because it allows you to gain as much speed as you’d like without worrying too much about falling.

However, this snow can be hazardous because you run the risk of running into steep hillsides.


Ice is just frozen water. Therefore, ice can be an accident waiting to happen.

The biggest problem with ice is that it doesn’t provide any friction against the sides of the ski, making it harder to maintain balance and control. It’s also slippery, which may lead to falls.

Obstacles When Skiing

What else should you be aware of when skiing? There are a few obstacles you should keep an eye out for, let’s take a look at them now.

Tree Branches

Tree branches are a common hazard when skiing. Tree branches can be very heavy and even heavy enough to snap your leg in half.

Pine Needles

Pine needles are a constant danger during skiing. These needles may look harmless, however, they’re razor-sharp — especially in early spring when they sprout.

Even if you aren’t injured by a pine needle, the damage to your clothes can leave you cold and wet.

Mud Puddles

Mud can cause major problems. Take care to avoid mud puddles while skiing.


Debris on the ground such as rocks, pieces of wood, or broken glass can injure skiers.

Other Skiers

If you see someone else approaching you in front of you, slow down so you don’t collide; if they come from behind you, try to avoid getting hit by changing your direction.

Stay at least two meters away from anyone skiing downhill from you, keep a safe distance between you and others.

Some More Skiing Safety Tips

  • Skiing is fun when you’re safe. You should always obey the rules of the slopes.
  • Be prepared – Dress appropriately. Wear high-quality underwear, a ski jacket, hat, sunglasses, gloves, etc.
  • Keep hydrated — drinking too little can cause dehydration, especially while you’re doing a sport such as skiing. Pack extra clothing, food, and sunscreen for your ski excursion.
  • Never go off-piste unless you know what you’re doing.
  • Stay within your limits.
  • Always stay in control of your speed and direction.
  • Skiing is a sport that requires training and practice. To be safe, skiers need to know how to use slopes properly and what dangers are present.
  • Skiers must obey all signs and warnings posted by the ski area operators. Skiers should also stay away from closed trails and slopes.
  • Skiers must not overtake others, and they must give them the right of way when appropriate.
  • Skiers must also follow the posted signs and warnings.
  • Skiers should not remove or alter ski area signs.
  • Skiing is a dangerous sport. Skiers must take precautions to avoid accidents.
  • Stay left if you want to fall to the right
  • Slow down as you approach steeper terrain
  • Don’t lean back over a jump
  • Use poles to brake
  • Turn around if there is something in the way
  • Look up and to the side before turning/jumping onto anything
  • Get to know the local terrain well, especially off-piste areas (if you don’t you will end up where you shouldn’t be!)
  • Take lessons if your current skills are basic or insufficient for downhill skiing

Final Thoughts

The most important thing about skiing on hard-packed snow or ice is good preparation and skill.

You need to be well trained and practiced in skiing to manage these conditions, and you need to make sure all of your skiing gear is in tip-top condition.

There are many ways you can get hurt while skiing if you lose control, especially on surfaces that have hard-packed snow or ice as these are notoriously difficult for novice skiers to maintain control on if they haven’t had the proper training, or have faulty ski equipment.

The most common injury comes from collisions with other skiers, trees, or objects on the mountain.

If you are injured while skiing, it’s important to seek first aid immediately, then head straight to the nearest medical center for treatment.

About the author

Jesse Blaine

Jesse is the owner of, contributes to a lot of the material, and directs day-to-day operations. He lives in Colorado with his wife and kids and loves the outdoors. He’s an avid skier, hiker, kiteboarder, and adventure sports explorer. Jesse has also traveled the world and lived in five different countries. He speaks several languages and loves communicating with people

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