What are you forgetting, skiers and snowboarders?
VAIL, Colorado – It’s 7 a.m. on a powder day, and all you can think about is how fast you can gear up and go. It’s easy enough to throw on some layers, slide on your snow clothes and fasten up your boots, but there are some essentials you may be forgetting that will help you make the most of your time on the mountain.
• Shield your skin: Once you’ve found parking and you still have glove-free fingers, take a second to apply sunscreen and SPF chapstick so you save yourself from burnt skin and chapped lips. Even if it’s not sunny out, a day cream with SPF will moisturize and protect your skin from dry, cold air and UV rays. Bring some extra with you so your can reapply throughout the day.
• Don’t lose your keys: Keep your car keys close by securing them in a jacket pocket that you don’t intend to open at all throughout the day. Some jackets have clips inside a pocket so your can fasten your keys.
• Walk easy: Local skier Jim Wurcak recommends using Cat Tracks when walking in ski boots to and from the slopes. The slip-on walking soles improve traction and extend the life of your ski boots.
• Stay warm: Hand and boot warmers can be a cozy comfort on cold days, especially when you are ahead of the sun in catching first chair. Matt Bluher, store manager at Vail Sports at One Vail Place, said the hand warmers are always popular and are good to have with you for when the temperature drops. Bluher said boot warmers can be installed overnight, and the Hotronics may just be worth the $240.
“Having an electronic boot heater installed is a game changer,” Bluher said. “They can keep you on the snow longer because your feet won’t go numb.”
Keep a face mask or bandanna in your pocket, as well. It will keep your face warm and will help protect your skin from wind and sunburn. Glove liners are an essential, as well, for cold and snowy days.
• Tie on your ticket: You won’t get very far on the mountain without a lift pass. Use a lanyard to keep your pass close to your heart all season long.
“Forgetting your season pass is a bummer,” Wurcak said. “You always want to be able to get up on the hill without standing in a lift-ticket line.”
• Document the descent: Going down the mountain can be faster than riding up, so capture your adventures with a camera. GoPro cameras, which can shoot still shots and video, are popping up on lots of helmets, and Bluher said the $300 investment is one that you’ll be glad you made.
“GoPro cameras are a great tool for action skiing,” said Bluher. “They are something the whole family can enjoy.”
• Be prepared: You can make binding adjustments on the fly with a small pocket tool, which will come in handy often, especially when you are in backcountry areas. An extra ladder strap for snowboard bindings will be useful if you have one break.
Bluher also recommends carrying extra goggles lenses for changing conditions, and don’t forget a goggle lens wipe.
“This is Colorado and the weather changes so quickly,” said Bluher. “Having the ability to put in new lenses for flat light or high light snow is critical for a full-day of skiing.”
Turn to some tunes: Have your cell phone and music device charged and handy to meet up with friends and listen to your mountain soundtrack. Keep one ear free at all times to stay aware and avoid accidents.
• Bring a snack: Energy bars can fuel you up and save you from high-priced eats on the mountain.
“You can avoid spending $25 for a burger if you bring a Clif Bar and some beef jerky,” said Drew Stern, a snowboarder who lives in West Vail.
• Cash and credit: If you need to warm up with a hot chocolate or a bowl of chili, you will generally be able to make purchases with a credit card or ski pass charge. but it’s always good to have some cash on you just in case.
• Bring your ID: Even when freshies give you your best buzz, there’s nothing quite like a little apres ski when you come off the mountain. Just always remember, your apres ski will be booze free if you don’t bring an ID. Put your driver’s license or another form of photo and age identification in your pants pocket so you can order a drink when you get down.
“I leave all of my gear in my pockets every night so I don’t forget it,” said Stern. “I even keep cash in my snowboard pants so it’s always there, and I always have a steezy beanie for apres ski.”