If you are anything like me, you find yourself scrambling through a garage or storage unit completely unprepared the night before the first substantial skiable dump, cursing yourself for placing your beacon in a spot you were, "sure you'd remember," last April. Or, bringing your skis in to get edged on the second day of the season to find that the shop is so slammed it can't get them back to you for two weeks. Whether our next season is coming up early or not—and I'm too superstitious to make any predictions—I figured it would be nice to round up tips to help you get ready now, before it's too late.
I spoke with Dynafit USA's Communications Manager, Eric Henderson, who used to be Lead Guide at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as well as Operation Manager and Guide for Valdez Heli Ski Guides, for tips to get early-season prep tips.
Oh yeah, and if you get your skis edged or waxed at a shop, do it this weekend.
For the Resort
Tighten Up Your Jacket Game: Henderson suggests putting on your jacket inside, particularly if it's new, and playing with all of the pockets to plan where you are going to put everything. "Accessibility is a key word," says Henderson. Your Power Bar won't do you any good if you can't get to it and scarf it down on the limited time you have on a lift. Sort out your hood in a nice warm place as well. You will be thankful you adjusted it perfectly by your fireplace when you don't have to fiddle with it while you're getting blasted by freezing winds.
Dial in Your Boots: "This goes for touring as well as non-touring," Henderson says. He suggests getting comfortable with all of your buckles and dialing in your fit before you are in the cold. If they are new, don't be embarrassed to wear them going out to get the mail, he says, breaking them in before you are skiing them is key.
Get an Extra Pair of Goggle lenses: Get the lenses now, before you need them, and thrown them next to your nice, warm, body in a large stow pocket, Henderson says. This will prevent you from ruining your day if you find yourself battling constant goggle fog.
For the Backcountry
Always check your probe: Henderson stresses the importance of assembling and testing your probe before you take it. "The probe is one of the most life saving tools in the industry. Look for cracks, bends, and make sure it ready to save a life," Henderson says. "I have been in rescues and people's probes have broken right away—that is unacceptable"
Lubricate you shovel: Your shovel is another lifesaving tool and it can get sticky, and take longer to assemble in an emergency, if you don't lubricate it. Henderson suggests using basic cooking oil to lube the buttons and sliding shaft on your snow shovel.
Build your repair kit: A good repair kit can make the difference between getting home or not if you are skiing deep enough in the backcountry. Henderson suggests building a kit that has at least bailing wire, spare binding parts, duct tape, and a spare chest buckle for your pack.
Practice your beacon skills: Henderson suggests a fun way to hone this lifesaving skill in your local grocery store. "The produce section or bread aisle works best," Henderson says. "Hide it in the store and time your friend as they search."