How To Stay Safe On The Snow
How To Stay Safe In The Snow This Ski Season...
The countdown has probably begun for your eagerly anticipated winter holiday on some sun-kissed, powdery white slopes. We want you to have the best possible time, whether you’re skiing or snowboarding, and to come back safe and sound with fantastic memories to last a lifetime. Here are our Top Tips to help you have the most amazing - yet safe - ski trip.
Fit for Purpose
We love skiing because there’s nothing more exhilarating than hurtling down a slope, leaving an impressive trail of beautiful turns in virgin snow under a cloudless sky. And then doing it again! All day, and for the next five days! This is exhausting, naturally, and a tired body is more likely to pick up an injury than a fit one. So just steadily increase your regular exercise in the weeks leading up to your trip, perhaps introducing some ski-specific exercises, and you’ll be able to hit the slopes running, or should that be skiing. And if you get tired while on the piste, simply take a break in one of the many mountain restaurants or bars, especially if the legs are struggling towards the end of the day. It’s always a sad moment when you finish your last run of the holiday, the only cause for celebration being that you’ve managed to complete your week without injury.
All the gear?
Check beforehand that you have all the equipment that you think you’ll need! Not only ski clothing (check that it still fits, but perhaps take a more relaxed approach to its fashion credentials!) but ski boots, helmet and ski goggles – plus sunglasses for those blue-sky days of skiing heaven. A mobile phone is a more recent addition to essential ski gear – fully charged every day and protected as much as possible from the cold – and GPRS coverage is better than you might expect. We strongly advise you to wear a helmet, but only while you’re out skiing. Not only is the wearing of a helmet compulsory in some resorts, but it’s also a requirement of some insurance policies. Perhaps not so essential but often welcome – chocolate bars, and plenty of them!
While it is possible to ski at certain times of year in a fleece or even a football top, you’ll get the most enjoyment from your trip if the cold isn’t a cause for concern. Layers are the answer. Thermals, ski tops, a good quality jacket and salopettes are essential, especially for children and beginners. But don’t forget thermal socks, snoods, balaclavas and even padded shorts! It needn’t cost a fortune – take advantage of end-of-season sales and offers from budget retailers such as Aldi. Liner gloves can be a godsend, especially if your ski gloves have seen better days. And don’t scrimp on sun block and lip salve, especially for your children.
An absolute must! Please don’t venture anywhere near an Alp without adequate insurance. If you already have travel insurance, check beforehand that the policy provides adequate cover for the activities that you intend to do. Astonishingly, and alarming, recent research by ABTA shows that an incredible 2.5 million Brits have been on a winter sports holiday without checking their insurance beforehand. Click here for a quote from our partner Holiday Extras. Also make sure that your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is up to date. Be aware, though, that in the event of a no-deal Brexit then UK-registered EHIC cards will no longer be valid.
Lesson is More
Don’t rule out taking lessons, no matter how experienced you are, especially if you haven’t skied for a few years. We know it’s like riding a bike – once learned, never forgotten – and muscle memory is a powerful stimulus, but even the most experienced skier can still learn something to perfect their technique. Even if it’s for mornings only, leaving you the rest of the day to ski independently, you won’t regret it. Private lessons are also available at most resorts. The longer your children can be encouraged to take lessons, the better the chances are that they will ski as adults with what many regard as a faultless, elegant – and safe – technique. They will be eternally grateful for these wonderful experiences.
Enjoy après-ski – but not too much!
The first cold beer or chilled wine (or vin chaud – you’re on a winter holiday, after all) at the end of the day is a particular pleasure of a skiing trip. Jacket unzipped in a terrace bar at the bottom of the slopes, lapping up the last rays of the sun, discussing each day’s highlights to great mirth. But don’t overdo it! While it’s tempting to burn the candle at both ends, keep your focus on the main reason that you’re there – to have the best ski holiday possible. Skiing with a sore head isn’t fun, and can increase the risk of injury. The altitude and exercise will also leave you dehydrated, so drink plenty of water each day. Drink alcohol in moderation, and ski to maximum effect!
Respect the Mountain
Don’t forget who’s in charge! It’s the mountain or, more accurately, Mother Nature. There’s no shame in skiing within your capabilities, even if only slightly. Be fully aware of the skiing conditions around you, and take advantage of online forecasts and the weather bulletins often posted at the bottom of ski lifts (particularly if there is the risk of avalanche). A chairlift is an excellent vantage point to take stock of the surroundings and carry out a risk assessment. If it’s icy or a white-out, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ski, but it does mean that you should take greater care. Successfully navigating a long blue in a white-out can be as challenging – and as satisfying – as dashing down the fastest red in the resort under a clear sky. Be extra-vigilant if you’re heading off-piste. And remember that conditions can change, not only day to day, but even from one side of a mountain to another.
Don’t forget your piste map! Not only do they fold up neatly and fit into any of the multitude of pockets that you have, but they will help you plan your day and week so you ski as much of your chosen resort as possible. If you’re going on a skiing expedition, come the afternoon be aware of the times of the last lifts. You don’t want to finish a great day stranded in Les Arcs when your staying in La Plagne!
FIS and that
Click here for 10 excellent Rules for the Conduct of Skiers and Snowboarders, as put together by those wonderful people at the International Ski Federation (FIS). The beauty of these Rules is that they are nothing more than simple common sense.
Have a fantastic and memorable ski holiday and, above all, come home safe and sound! We can’t wait to hear all about it!
- 15th November 2018
- Gary Lloyd