Skiing in the Rain

“Man it’s raining outside. What the hell is wrong is wrong with you? Are you stupid?” I’ve heard people say that a lot over the years.

skiing in the rain

Luckily, skiing by myself bothers me even less then skiing in imperfect conditions. The ski season in the northeast is short; if I can get away and the mountains open, I want to be making turn. I don’t really understand skiers who don’t feel the same way.

That’s why, on a Sunday in late March, I found myself parking my car at Hunter in the midst of a cold 34 degree drizzle. I booted up in the car, pulled on my Gore-tex and headed for the lift. I got two or three good runs in before it really started raining hard.

For me it’s a matter of degree, when it comes to skiing in the rain. Drizzle is fine, and I don’t start to question my own sanity until I’m in a full-on downpour.

Good gear makes a big difference. A waterproof jacket and pants are vital. Gore-tex gloves sound like a good idea, but for me, dry hands while skiing in the rain may as well be cold fusion. I always bring at least two extra pairs of gloves; when one gets soaked I move on to the next pair. Skiing is a sport that requires a bit more preparation when it’s rainy.

Around mid-morning it started coming down pretty hard. It was barely warm enough for liquid precipitation and the rain turned into ice as soon as it hit a cold surface, like a ski lift for instance. Hunter’s workhorse lift is the Kaatskill Flyer, a high speed detachable six seater that has a tough time with freezing rain.

After a morning filled with stops, they took it out of service. I shifted over to a fixed grip quad and continued skiing the lower mountain.  Eventually Hunter started running the fixed grip triple to access the top, and I stuck with it the rest of the day. Thank god for fixed grip lifts.

Conditions were actually good: the snow was soft and lift lines were short. Eventually I ran out of fresh gloves and headed into the lodge to try to dry out a bit. The fireplace was crowded with other soaked skiers.

I found a gas-fired faux-wood-stove in a corner and I shoehorned myself in close enough to start drying out.

After drying out I skied a few more runs, but before too long I was done. Driving home in my damp clothes I wondered if it was really worth it.

As much as I love skiing, full on rain can be a little much. You get wet and cold and keeping your goggles clear enough is a serious challenge. But looking back now, at the end of my season, I have no such reservations.

Our season is short here in New York and, between work, kids’ sports and other activities… ski time is precious. I’m glad I went.

9 comments on “Skiing in the Rain

  1. Really inspiring, Brownski! I still recall the advice I was given by Belleayre Ski Patrol member “Ski what you’re given.” Kudos on getting out there. There is no bad weather, just bad gear.

  2. I always remind the kiddos that usually when it’s raining, the snow on the ground is usually pretty good. High quality gear makes all the difference.

  3. Waiting for that perfect combination on a day where you get ideal weather usually means crowds. I look at it like I get more bang for my buck and can ski lap after lap when others see fit to stay home or in the lodge in rain conditions or even days it’s “too cold.”

  4. Skiing in the rain is not ideal — but better than not skiing. Oh yeah, “ski time is precious!”

    Bet that fire was much appreciated, though!

  5. From the comments I can see there are at least a couple of people who understand.
    Thanks guys

  6. Fogging goggles are always what end up getting me. I just bought a pair of the dragon x1s with the transition lenses and maybe next season I’ll see if they can make it through a rainy day. Maybe I’ll also see if there is some kind of anti fog spray i could use that doesn’t smudge.

    Aside from getting wet I think a lot of people just don’t like the drearyness of it.

  7. If you put an empty soft drink or beer can in the gloves and put them on a stove or radiator, it conducts the heat nicely and helps the drying process.

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