Skiing when the weather is nice is great fun, but it isn’t always blue skies and goggle tans. Sometimes the weather for skiing can be less than perfect, but this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the mountain.
But can you ski in the rain? The short answer is yes!
This article will cover how to ski in different types of snow caused by rain. You will learn what to expect in rainy conditions, how to shift your technique, and, most importantly, how to stay safe.
We’ve also included nine simple hacks to make it a more enjoyable experience. So, let’s get to it!
- Techniques For Skiing In The Rain
- 9 Simple Hacks For Skiing In The Rain
- What To Wear When Skiing In The Rain
- Final Thoughts
Techniques For Skiing In The Rain
Fortunately, rain doesn’t melt the snow straight away. But the snow can either become icy or slushy, depending on the temperature and how much rain there is. There are a couple of different techniques you need to master to be able to ski in the rain.
Skiing On Wet Ice
When it rains on hard-packed snow, the water can freeze, creating an icy surface. This icy snow means less friction between your skis and the snow.
Icy conditions make you slide faster, reduce your level of control, and increase your stopping distances on hard snow. This can be lots of fun if you know what you are doing, but it can be dangerous for novice skiers.
When skiing on wet ice, you must consider your edge control. You should plan your turn while anticipating the extra momentum and slip. Doing this will also give you time to assess the snow, allowing you to find nicer patches to make your turns. You will also have a better chance of avoiding other skiers, slope users, and hazards. Again, edge control is key!
This adapted turning style will make you take wider turns, as you will be more controlled. During a turn on wet snow, you may be tempted to overcompensate. But you must resist the temptation and let your skis slide until you are back in control. Instead, use the momentum to complete your turn.
You also need to adjust your stance for skiing on wet ice. Skiing with a wider stance will give you more stability.
Skiing In Slush
If the temperatures are above the freezing point and warmer temperatures are reasonably warm, rain can cause the snow to turn to slush. Some skiers love slush, while others hate it. You can still ski in wet snow, but you need to adjust your technique differently than skiing on ice.
The very heavy snow and the nature of slush make it hard work to keep moving on skis. You may need to lean back, keeping your ski tips up to overcome this.
You should always keep your knees bent to absorb bumps and stay balanced. In addition, keep even pressure on both skis to stop one from getting stuck in slushy snow. Skiing with a narrower stance will make your carving much more manageable in wet snow.
You will notice that slushy snow is slower than normal snow; therefore, you must keep your speed up. Avoid short turns that will scrub off speed to make it across flat sections without pushing yourself along with your poles. Keep your speed up by making fewer turns and using the steeper sections of the slope.
The great thing about slushy conditions is that they suit nervous and beginner skiers. The slower speed lets you fine-tune your turns and experiment with different lines. The general rule of thumb is: Wet snow is slow snow.
9 Simple Hacks For Skiing In The Rain
1. Wax Your Skis
Wax designed for cold weather doesn’t work well in wet snow caused by rain. That’s because it doesn’t let your skis run freely. So if the weather looks quite warm for your ski trip, choose the appropriate wax for the temperature.
Ski wax manufacturers indicate the wax’s optimum operating temperature range on the packaging.
If you like to service your skis yourself, keeping an eye on the forecast before heading out on the mountain is best. This will allow you to choose the correct wax for the conditions, as there are different types of wax for different temperatures.
2. Get Fit
A good fitness level will help your skiing in all conditions, including rain. But if you have a strong core and legs, you can cope with the demanding nature of skiing in the rain. The extra strength will allow you to react to the variations in the snow conditions.
3. Make Sure Your Helmet And Goggles Are Compatible
Aside from the safety aspect of wearing goggles and a helmet while skiing, they are great for skiing in the rain. Helmets don’t get soaking wet like a beanie hat, and goggles work much better for rainy days than sunglasses.
But you must ensure your goggles and helmet fit each other properly. Compatible helmets and goggles prevent the gap that exposes your forehead.
Goggles that are too big for your helmet can interfere with how well your helmet fits you, compromising comfort and safety. Try them on together before buying either item to ensure that your helmet and goggles are compatible.
4. Keep Your Goggles Dry
When skiing in the rain, you must keep the foam in your goggles free from excess moisture. If you remove your goggles and put them on your helmet, the foam will get wet, creating problems.
The first problem is putting them back on. No one likes putting on goggles that have a cold, wet lining. But the main problem lies with the lens fogging up.
If your goggle lens fogs up, don’t wipe the inside; you will damage the protective coating. Instead, warm your goggles up in your pocket, or use a hand drier in a mountain bar’s restroom to demist them and dry the foam.
5. Choose The Correct Goggle Lens
Most of today’s ski goggles have interchangeable lenses. Change the lens for one suitable for low-light when skiing in the rain.
These lenses are usually yellow and improve contrast while having a light tint, improving visibility.
6. Dry Your Clothes At The End Of The Day
Putting on wet ski clothes in the morning is a bad start to your day. Therefore, you should dry your ski clothes overnight if you have been skiing in the rain to prepare for fresh powder the following day.
Hang your ski jacket and snow pants up in a warm, dry place or over a heater or radiator. But don’t put your clothing directly on the heater, as it could melt the ski jacket or ruin the waterproof coating.
Never put your used ski gear or clothing in a drier. The heat will ruin the waterproof coating and could damage the drier.
7. Dry Your Ski Boots
You don’t want to wear wet ski boots in the morning like your waterproof ski jacket. Also, if the weather becomes colder, your feet will suffer, finishing your day of skiing. Therefore, you must dry your boots when you return to your hotel room or your accommodation.
You may be lucky enough to have access to a boot drier. These are great for ensuring you start your day with dry feet, but you should not leave your boots on them all night.
Some ski boot driers get very warm, which can ruin the moldable liners, affecting the fit of your ski boots. So make sure the ski boot drier is on a timer, or switch it off after your boots have dried out.
If you don’t have access to a ski boot drier, remove the foam liner from the boot and leave them in a warm place. Near to a radiator is fine, but remember not to put them too close or leave them there too long.
A quick search online will reveal that you can get portable ski boot dryers. These are small enough to pack into your suitcase and are inexpensive to ensure your boots are dry in the morning.
8. Pack Extra Socks And Gloves
Rain will soak your gloves, making your hands cold and uncomfortable, especially if the temperature drops.
If your ski trip’s weather forecast looks rainy, you will benefit from packing a spare pair of gloves. If you ski during rain, your gloves get soaking wet, so having a backup pair to exchange wet gloves for dry ones makes sense.
To ensure that you have at least one pair of dry gloves, you may want to pack more than two pairs. You can even ski with a spare pair in your pocket or backpack to change them at lunchtime.
You can never have enough pairs of ski socks, but this is more the case when skiing in the rain. Having more pairs of ski socks is always good than you think you need.
Like gloves, you can easily remove your wet socks and swap them for dry ones. This way, you can finish your day of skiing in relative comfort.
You can even buy heated socks and gloves with a small battery pack. These are great for keeping your hands and feet comfortable and warm for longer.
9. Head Up The Mountain Even If It Looks Bad
If you wake up in the morning and it looks the weather report says it looks like rain, head up anyway. Wrap up warm and follow all the tips we have mentioned, but you may be pleasantly surprised.
Most of the other people in the ski resort will probably not want to head out during the rain. Therefore, the slopes will be quiet, and the snow conditions may be better than you thought.
If the rain is pretty bad, you haven’t lost anything. Grab a hot cup of chocolate, and see if the rain clears. If it doesn’t, head back down the mountain for a long lunch and early après.
You may try to stick it out, but you must make a sensible decision. You don’t have to stay out if you struggle with snow conditions or visibility. Even if you have only done one run, there is nothing wrong with finishing early.
Pushing yourself too far can be dangerous and could lead to an accident. It is much better to save it for another day when the weather is more favorable than to get out of your depth. Remember, you are skiing because it is fun!
What To Wear When Skiing In The Rain
You need to choose the correct clothing for skiing in the rain. The best ski clothing has an excellent waterproof rating. You will soon learn that not all ski clothing performs well in wet weather.
More expensive ski clothing uses Gore-Tex or similar technology. But cheaper clothing uses a water-repellant coating known as DWR.
Water seeps in cheaper ski clothing during heavy downpours or if you are in rainy weather for an extended amount of time. This will make you cold pretty quickly and ruin your day.
If you expect to be skiing in the rain, you should look for ski clothing with a waterproof rating of at least 10,000 mm. But if you want the ultimate protection from rain, go for clothing with a waterproof rating between 20,000-30,000 mm.
However, the waterproofing of ski clothing can be let down by its construction, even if it has a high waterproof rating. The seams where the panels join together can let in water. Therefore, look for clothing with taped seams to keep the water out.
Ski jackets and pants with taped seams are more expensive, but they are worth the extra money to keep yourself dry.
Ski clothing in the middle of the price range will have critical seams sealed. Only the seams across the shoulders and arms will be sealed. But cheap ski clothing doesn’t have taped seams and will let the rain in.
Even though skiing in the rain is never as pleasant as doing it under blue skies, you can still enjoy it. The deserted slopes and variable conditions are ideal for practicing various techniques – even during light rain.
It is essential to be safe and comfortable, or you won’t enjoy the experience at all. Ensure you have the correct clothing and adapt your technique to include a wider stance. You may even want to book a skiing lesson to get the necessary knowledge for skiing in the rain.
Scott founded FunOutdoors to connect his professional life with his passions. When Scott isn’t working, you’ll find him on the bike trail, riding a wave, or skiing down a mountain.