Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 6 and actually quite cold

Today I woke up to hear on the radio that it was -30 on the mercury and -36 with wind chill and that was in the valley. Delayed getting to the hill for half an hour but even then it was -27 at the base and as a result the new side was't loading so the old side it was.

Just like yesterday, blue skies, even colder, even fewer people. Around the old side there had been a lot more grooming which perhaps is no bad thing. The groomers are in good shape as is the unskied ungroomed, the only stuff I have found in that category is the top of Lizard under the Saddles. All the rest is tracked ungroomed.

One of the myths of skiing is that when the temps drop like they have now the hill is preserved in great shape. What happens to tracked up ungroomed surfaces is that they become rock hard on the base with some bits soft and other bits really hard when you hit the chunks. This is very very tough skiing which if you don't stay on your game all the time will result in a season ending ACL twist. In other words the ungroomed in Fernie at the moment is no place for the inexperienced.

After a morning on the old side experiencing the above - well who is going to stay on the groomed ? Found that the new side was open and went off to try that. Much the same as the old side with the ungroomed very tough. I am sure the official publicity may tell a different story but I will go with the Pro Patrol who have posted "not recommended" signs at the top of most un groomed runs.

Lets be clear, I am not saying that things are not good, I am having a great time. What I am saying is that you either need to enjoy groomers or tough sking ( that's me) to have a good time in Fernie right now.

Ok, staying warm. A number of friends are surprised that I ski all day in -25/-30 temps. These are my tips for being able to do this and as always these are just my personal views.

Boots - Key thing is get them to fit so you don't have to over tighten them and cut off circulation leading to cold feet. Neoprene covers will slow down the cooling but not much. Hot bags don't work in boots after the first hour because of the lack of movement to allow the chemical reaction, they really warm up at the end of the day when you remove them. Electric boot warmers are much better now and may be the way to go but at $300 .... just get good fitting boots and accept that for the few days when it is really cold your feet won't be exactly warm - just suck it up.

Lower Body - I wear two pairs of thermal long johns under my ski pants. Don't waste money on the expensive ski pairs, I use Marks & Spencers which are warm, cheap and durable ( one of the pairs I was wearing today was 22 years old).

Upper body - Layer up. Today I had a Mountain Hardwear base layer with a Gill rash vest over the top. Over that was a cotton ski top ( I find the synthetic/ natural mix works well) over that a fleece then my ski jacket. As my ski pants are dungaree style there is another layer in there somewhere.

Head - No exposed skin unless you want frostbite. I wear a fleece balliclava under my helmet so only my nose is exposed and then cover that with a duck tape shield. Two key things, cut a breathing hole for the mouth or you will steam your goggles ( biggest problem on cold days) and make sure the neck seal is good - mine is tucked inside the fleece with the jacket zipped over,

Hands - Get rid of gloves and use mits and layer up. I have thin inner gloves under some thinsulate wool gloves under a pair od Auclair mits. Not great for gripping but warm.

This way you can ski warm and safe for many hours while other have to leave the hill - enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. 22 year old M&S long johns? Any chance you hail from the North?