What you need to know before you hit the mountain.
|Snowboard Lessons! (photo: Whitetail)|
Day One! Take a lesson. Yes, you can teach yourself to do just about any sport or activity. However as someone who has been trained as an instructor and taught windsurfing, snowboarding, and stand up paddling, I can guarantee a beginner lesson from a good instructor will make day one at any sport a lot more fun. Just because your friend happens to be a good snowboarder, skier, paddler, surfer........fill in the blank, it does not make them a good instructor.
PRO TIP: Friends don’t let friends” teach” them to ski or ride. Go to a PSIA/AASI certified Professional instructor. You will have tons more fun and success and less frustration and likelihood of injury.
|Our friend and Stand Up paddler Dave Wisniewski showing how it is done. Dave is a Senior member of the Board of Examiners for the Eastern region of the Professional Ski Instructors of America. (photo: Wiz)|
Cool, so now you've signed up for for the trip and lined up your rental* board/skis & lesson.
* (For those that don't need a lesson, East of Maui has rental snowboards available for $15 for the trip.)
PRO TIP: If you don’t own, the rental shops at Liberty, Whitetail and Roundtop stock very high quality boots, boards and skis. They tune the equipment for performance on a regular basis, boots are stored on a piping system to circulate warm air to dry the liners between use and they also rent all important helmets.
What else do you need to know? What other gear are you going to need for your first day on the snow?
|The right gear is the difference between a good day and a great day. This was a GREAT day!|
Someone once said, "There is no bad weather, just bad clothes." This is especially true when it comes to snowboarding and skiing. Dressing correctly can make or break your day. Nothing sucks worse than being wet and cold. The key to playing the snow is dressing in layers.
|Layering L-R. Burton Expedition 1/4 Zip (base), Patagonia R2 Fleece (mid), Volcom Stone Block Jacket (outer)|
You want to start with a base layer. This will be the layer next to your skin. In the old days we called base layers long johns. Even on cold days your body produces moisture. It is important that in addition to providing some insulation that the base layer wicks and moves that moisture out away from your skin. Most of the modern base layers are synthetic and will do this. However your old cotton long underwear will not. It will get wet, stay wet, and then you get cold. No fun, and potentially dangerous. Base layers are available in many different weights or thicknesses, from what some call silk weight to heavy expedition weight. For the majority of people, a set of mid-weight will be enough to keep them warm on all but the coldest days.
Most skiers and boarders wear just a base layer on the bottom, under their snow pants (more on pants later), but usually wear additional mid-layers on the upper body. Mid-layers provide extra insulation, and can be fine tuned depending on how much warmth you need. Like the base layers, mid-layers should not be cotton. Synthetic fleece is good, and many of us wear a lightweight down insulator. Wool is old school, but works well in both base layers or mid-layers. Unfortunately, wool does not wick or dry quite as well as synthetics.
PRO TIP: Cotton kills in the cold weather. It holds moisture from perspiration. That moisture can contribute to the chills at best and hypothermia at worst.
You will need outerwear. Jackets and pants. While some outerwear is insulated for warmth, the primary job of outerwear is to keep the outside out! Almost any winter jacket you have will be OK for your 1st day on the snow. It will help if it is windproof and water proof. Dedicated snow jackets have a pit zips, snow skirts, goggle pockets, and other features that are really nice once you get into it, but on day one, you will probably be able to get by with something you already own.
Pants! Your jeans tucked into your ski or snowboard boots don't count. Even if it is your 1st day, you are going to need to borrow, beg, steal, or buy a pair of waterproof snow pants. A pair of snow pants is the single most important item to help you have fun in and on the snow.
|686 Standard Pant $99.95 (photo 686)|
|There is so much going wrong here. Just say No! (Photo: Jerry of the Day)|
What else? Gloves! You are going to need a pair of waterproof gloves. Next to your pants, a pair of gloves is probably the 2nd most important piece of gear you need to go skiing or snowboarding. It is important that the gloves are waterproof. Dry hands are warm hands. Warm hands are happy hands. You want your hands to be happy. If you can afford it, buy Gore-Tex gloves. They are the best. Gloves vs mittens. Mitts are warmer. Gloves have more dexterity. Those little packs of hand warmers will help keep the fingers warm on a really cold day. Use your fuzzy gloves to drive back and forth to the mountain, but leave them in the car, they will be completely useless on the snow.
Another often overlooked, but very important piece a gear is your socks. Your gym socks or your ankle high running socks are not good snow socks. An over the calf ski sock will not only help keep your feet drier, and thus warmer, they will also help your boots fit better and be more comfortable. Do not wear two pair of socks. If it is really cold, try a set of toe warmers. It is not a bad idea to have a spare pair of socks in the car just in case you get your feet wet somehow.
PRO TIP: Go against your intuition and how your momma dressed you as a kid. Thin is in! Synthetic or super thin wool. The boot will keep you warm, you will have good circulation and you will ski and ride better.
|You can never have enough clean and dry ski socks! (Mark Tip )|
Alright! You've signed up for a trip. You're gonna take lessons. You've got your clothing dialed in, and your ready to hit the slopes........but wait, there are sill a few more things you should know about. Protect your head. You are going to want a minimum of a beanie to help keep your head warm. The majority of skiers and boarders now wear helmets. Not only do they protect your head in a crash, they provide warmth.
We understand why you may not want to invest in one for day one, but we think helmets are a good idea and consider renting one if possible. Goggles! On a cold snowy day, sunglasses are not going to cut it. Goggles are warmer and by choosing different lens colors, it can help you see better, especially in what is called low light conditions. Good goggles sell for anywhere between $100 and $250, but we still sell a decent goggle for $40. It is worth the investment. Face masks and neck gaiters are also good for extra warmth on a cold day. Try to avoid scarves or anything loose or dangling that might get hung in a chair lift.
|Mitts, Hand warmers, Ballewrclava, Socks|
Don't forget to hydrate, and I don't mean beer or alcohol. Yes, that little shot of Jack on the lift may feel warm, but it actually can lower your core body temp and make you colder. Drink plenty of water and save the booze for après-ski.
Don't be afraid to take a break. Listen to your body. You are doing something new and perhaps using different muscles than you usually do. Leave a little in the tank. Most injuries come from being tired.
PRO TIP: Eat a big breakfast, hydrate. Keep a couple snack or energy bars in your pockets to refuel.
Last but not least remember to have fun. Don't get frustrated. Sometimes it takes a couple times out before you start getting a feel for it. One of the best windsurfing instructors I know once said, "Mastering windsurfing is when you realize that you can't." Skiing and snowboarding is exactly same. See you on the snow!
Special thanks to Dave Wisniewski for the PRO TIPS.
|East of Maui owners Mark Saunders & Mark Bandy|