Unless you’re lucky enough to chase winter around the globe year-round, it’s easy to forget that skiing and snowboarding is an inherently cold activity.
While that may seem obvious, if it’s your first run of the season or you’ve travelled to a mountain that is far from your typical environment it can be easy to forget how important it is to be properly prepared for the low temperatures, and that’s on an average day. If you’re unlucky enough to be riding in extreme cold and are not completely prepared, then you can bet on plenty of discomfort and an early end to your day.
Mammoth Mountain is no stranger to the extreme cold, so to help you make the most of each day this season the team at ASO Mammoth has put together a quick guide on how to stay warm and safe while riding on the coldest days of the season. Check it out below!
Know Where the Wind Is
Mammoth Mountain is windier than your average resort, which means that knowing which parts of the mountain are picking up the most wind that day can be the difference between a good day and a short day. While the summit is always going to have some wind, the runs around there are naturally protected from wind while the backside of the mountain is consistently windier than anywhere else at Mammoth. Wind depends on the conditions the day you’re riding, but knowing in advance to avoid the backside on cold and windy days could make a huge difference for your trip.
Layer Like You Mean It
Although layering your ski clothes seems like a simple concept, there is plenty that can go wrong. For example, it may seem like a good idea to double up on socks to avoid cold feet but multiple socks increases pressure on your feet and cuts circulation making them get colder faster.
When layering, you’ll want to start with a thin and tight base layer that is not a material that will get wet easily or dry slowly like cotton. From there you’ll build outward with as many layers as you see fit. If you want more options for how many layers you’re wearing, use several thin layers instead of a few thick ones so you can remove or add layers easily in case the weather changes on you.
Pay Attention to Details
On the coldest days, any exposed skin or poorly protected extremities are going to be extremely uncomfortable as the day goes on so it is incredibly important to pay attention to the details of your gear. Feet can be kept warm by not layering socks and packing foot warmer packs around the toes. Hands are also easy to keep warm by packing with hand warmers, but a less well-known trick is to wear mittens instead of gloves. Even though you may be giving up a little bit of functionality, mittens will keep your fingers close together and warm while gloves will isolate them and cause them to chill faster.
You’ll also want to cover any exposed skin. The neck probably comes to mind immediately, but your ears, nose, and cheeks are all even more vulnerable to the cold. The simplest solution to cover your exposed skin is a good balaclava, but you can make due with a good neck warmer that reaches up to your nose and provides coverage for the lower parts of your ears as well.
While we are talking about keeping your head warm, we recommend wearing a helmet as opposed to only a hat. The air vents on helmets may make them look more open to the cold, but they provide more coverage with greater separation from the cold air. Lastly, work breaks from the cold into your schedule. Even if it’s only to ride the gondola, take time out of the cold to replace dead pocket warmers and let your body recover from the cold. The cold isn’t going anywhere and neither are we! If you need any cold weather gear or just need to rent skis or a snowboard, stop by ASO Mammoth on your way up the mountain!