No matter how many goggles they advertise with incredible visibility features, we skiers and snowboarders know from experience that skiing in poor visibility or flat light is just about impossible and not much fun! We've all come across those days when you can't see further than a few feet in front of you, but the snow is great and you don't want to miss a day of skiing. Don't worry, we're here to help! These tips will help you get safely down the hill even in poor visibility.
If you've taken one glance out the curtains and decided today will be an indoor day, think again. While it's tempting to curl up under the covers, you've likely been planning this ski holiday all year and it would be a shame to waste it just because of some crappy weather.
Above all, skiing in poor weather requires absolute focus and concentration. Constantly scan your surroundings to the best of your abilities for any warnings of potential hazards. In good weather you usually look far ahead of you - this won't be possible today, so you'll have to focus on a much smaller area. Keep an eye out for the piste markers and try to get as good an idea as possible of the terrain under your feet.
It should go without saying that poor weather is no time to be going as fast as you can. Since you can't see as far in front of you, it's time to slow down and concentrate on not crashing into anybody. Keep a steady tempo that will ensure the safety of you and everybody on the mountain.
One of the most important things to do when you can't see well is to adopt a flexible stance that will allow you to respond quickly to any bumps or dips in the terrain. Keep your centre of balance slightly forward and your knees a little bent, ready to spring up or down as the snow requires.
Just because visibility is poor doesn't mean you have to get injured. Nobody will be judging you if you don't conquer the Harakiri today - stay away from black and red pistes and opt for nice easy blues. Use the opportunity to practise your carving!
If you're skiing with a group, make sure you don't drift too far apart. It might be an idea to partner up so everyone can keep tabs on each other and make sure nobody gets lost. Take frequent breaks, make sure everyone knows which route you're taking and set up meeting points in case you do fall behind. If you're skiing with children, it's even more important to stick together.
Just like when you're walking down a dark alley or mountain biking over a bumpy path, skiing uses a specific set of senses that you might call your sixth sense. Even before you consciously realise that something is wrong, you might feel the hairs rising on the back of your neck. Pay attention to your gut instinct and don't take any unnecessary risks. This doesn't mean you have to be scared, just sensible. There's no shame in retiring early to a cosy mountain hut.
One of the easiest ways to greatly increase your chances of seeing anything at all is using the right lens for the weather. Goggles with dark lenses are meant to keep the light out on sunny days and are not suitable for cloudy days. Your goggle manufacturer usually boasts about what weather the lens is suitable for, so pay attention and switch out your lenses accordingly.
Is it cloudy outside? You might have better luck with slopes that lie above the cloud line, or deep down in the valley. Foggy? If your ski resort has runs through the trees, these often offer little pockets of good visibility as well as better snow. Try experimenting with different areas of the mountain to see if you can't find some better weather.
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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