The Grocery List: Prepping for Ski Season

Backcountry SkiingSki season is approaching our doorstep. Whether you enjoy the snow on one board or two, this is an anxious time of year. If you’re like my friends and me, you start re-downloading your favorite snow report app because you deleted it around April when you realized you hadn’t looked at it in about 6 weeks. You’re staring at your skis in the corner of the room, daydreaming about the last time you got stuck in waist deep powder, and you plan out the first big trip of the season, hopefully before Christmas. But, rather than just mentally preparing for this upcoming season, here’s a few things to be thinking of when the daydreaming subsides.

1. Be Physically Prepared.

No one likes to be enjoying themselves on a run right after lunch and then have to stop to take a gasping breath or massage their new friend, the Charlie horse. A good way to get the most out of one day on the mountain is to be able to handle a full day on the mountain.

Lower body is the name of the game on the slopes, but don’t just crank out the squats in the gym. With how much your legs becomes a suspension system for the rest of your body, it’s important to incorporate a dynamic element into your workouts. Plyometric workouts are extremely beneficial because they combine dynamic muscle movement in a cardio package, but if that isn’t your cup of tea, here are some great suggestions from the On the Snow website.

2. Have the Right Gear

It’s one thing if you have your uncle’s old snowboard and boots because you only go once a year and you have to book a $400 plane ticket because driving 20 hours for a few runs just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s another thing if you’ve been renting for the past 10 years. Get the right gear this winter. This might mean just getting a good pair of boots this year and then look at a board or skis next year. For those of us that can’t afford a pair of $600 skis, i’m sure your attire can use at least one upgraded piece. Don’t be rocking pants that you barely fit in. Get clothes that kill two birds with one stone: functionality and lookin’ good. Because a well-known fact is that if you look good, you ski good.

I won’t pretend to know about the technical features of skis and snowboards, but the guys over at Outside Online sure do know a thing or two. Visit their website to check out all the new and improved gear for 2012. Here’s a short rundown of what to wear while your carving the pow: Softshell jackets and pants will let you have full range of motion and let your body breath better when overheating while Hardshell jackets and pants will be substantially more durable and are usually waterproof. Check out some of the apparel from our top brands: Marmot, The North Face, Outdoor Research, and Patagonia.

3. Ski/Board the Best Mountain You Can.

There’s definitely an element of subjectivity in the phrase “Best Mountain.” The local that skied at Sipapu every other day for as long as he can remember might think that there’s no place this side of heaven better than that mountain. However, the pro that gets paid to travel the world and free ski the mountains of Valdez, Alaska might have something a little different to say. The point is to find the best mountain you can get to and in your budget. Being in Texas, I’ll be outlining a few local favorites in CO and NM (sorry if you’re from the North West or North East).

So far this season has been lackluster at best for snowfall. The highest base reported by the Open Snow website in Colorado is 23”. But, the good news is that it’s still early in the season, and Colorado snowfall historically doesn’t pick up until mid December. A local favorite for my circle of friends is Wolf Creek Ski Area just outside of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. It always has good snow, it’s semi-close to home, and it’s fairly priced at $56 for an adult full day pass. The ski area is located on top of Wolf Creek Pass so there isn’t a resort tied to it, which is nice because you don’t get as much of the fluff that’s usually combined with a mountain resort. The big three in New Mexico, Red River, Angel Fire, and Taos, are also local favorites here in Lubbock. If you only have a weekend to ski, 2 days tops, no one really wants to drive further than 6-8 hours and those 3 are all great mountains to ski. Toas is definitely a harder mountain with more difficult terrain than the other two, but I’d argue that they’re equally sufficient to get your powder fix.

 

So there you have it, 3 considerations to think about while the slopes are still somewhat dry before the first big snow of the season comes in. Get fit, get gear, and get going to the right mountain. Do your research, don’t go to a mountain geared toward families like Red River with your drinking buddies. If you don’t want to get scowled at for dropping the F bomb in front of a family, then go somewhere that has areas that are better suited for your group of friends. Have fun this winter, I know I can’t wait for the first time I step into my bindings as well as the first time I fall a little harder than I would like. Take all the experiences you have with a grain of salt and learn to laugh at situations that don’t necessarily warrant it. Also, take pictures because nowadays it doesn’t count unless you post it to Facebook, which is a different post all in itself.

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