5 Tactics To Get Your Ski Season Right

In the world of skiing, that slightly cooler autumn last year seems like years ago. Almost every one of our experts has been telling us that the Whistler area was the hottest it’s been in a decade when they returned from the Olympics; Boreal is the driest it’s been in 25 years, and Larkspur has seen three years of temperate, bone-dry summers, punctuated by even longer periods of late or freezing autumn days. So it comes as little surprise that we have already started seeing some signs of this year’s sequel.

On the season’s opening weekend, Our Lady Peace kicked off with a night performance at Blackcomb Base Lodge, where no single stage can accommodate just over 150. As the orchestra struck up to rapturous applause and the early morning crowd sent up a cheer of ”throwback to the 90s” (the skiing is a century-old institution), the tour’s young Canadian cossetedness was slightly allayed. In a season of painfully cold early-season conditions, it’s refreshing to see ski areas upping the ante, with two consecutive opening days not long after Thanksgiving giving us a series of possibilities. Some UK winter sports aficionados are even suggesting we head east to Nova Scotia for a day out on Nature’s Trail, the only former Ski Bolton hill in the country to open on time. If anyone can pull it off, it’s them.

Staying with the later forecasts, the early season has all the makings of a superhero one, with several US resorts by the end of November getting to the deep end. A year ago, we saw three of the five busiest days on record (and four very early-season ones) in November. Today, with an extra two weeks to get things started, the volume seems bound to be big again.

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It’s time to plan ahead, and that might just mean planning that last-minute business trip to the snowy slopes more carefully than ever. It’s important to remember the November gamut isn’t a one-day booking-clinching shot, so lay a few in the bank for December instead. On the subject of the halfway point, here are some other tips from the experts.

1. Bags always come back to haunt you when you’ve got too much gear in the right places, so it’s worth seriously considering packing a cheap cross-country skis, which you can set up in the tent. Or if you live in an area where there is an awesome ski-style park at the end of a long tree-lined hike, instead of dragging your heavy skis to the base, go out on your skis to spread out as much of the gear as possible on to the trails below.

2. With right-hand-turning lifts, and a lift system as labour-intensive as any you’ll find at any winter sports centre, it’s sensible to stagger your skis and poles to avoid obvious and grave inconsistencies – and you’ll find this particularly true at the moderate end of each mountain so you don’t end up skiing over a steep drop. For up to half-speed, snow cat ski descents are a boon. If skiing is the only thing you’re into, three feet of snow helps, but for faster action it’s important to make sure you don’t get caught out by winter’s pickings, so make sure you have a wide feel for your skis (you don’t want to settle for one- or two-speed boots) or you’ll feel completely out of control as soon as you get turned.

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3. The longer you’re on the slopes, the more of a problem it is to get your backpack full of skis, poles and boots (this is because your tracks usually hold onto other skis, poles and snowboards as you move – but with a lot more back and forth!). There are plenty of cross-country option for skiers who don’t want the bulk, or to just have some for little demo runs (Kicking Horse in Squamish and Revelstoke in the Rockies are good places to look). But remember, you don’t have to do the whole boatload at once, and then get some absolutely hopeless gear stuck under your skis. A choice or two after a few runs will help.

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