1. GET YOUR BEARINGS:
When I ski someplace I've never been, I grab a map and immediately look for the double black diamonds. That just tells me where the cool terrain is. Then I get a look at it from a groomed run or the lift and see if there are good lines in between runs.
2. MIX IT UP:
Most skiers tend to stick to a routine. They hit the same trails and ride the same lifts, and their day lacks adventure. You should challenge yourselfset a goal in the morning, like ski every black diamond or ride every lift. You see more of the mountain that way and, at the end of the day, you feel like you've accomplished something.
3. FOLLOW THE WIND AND SUN:
For instance, if high winds blew overnight from the west, maybe you'll want to check out the lee-side, east-facing slopes for some new, wind-deposited powder. Or if it's a spring skiing scenario, ski the sunny, east faces in the morning and save the shady (frozen) west sides for the afternoon.
You can tell a lot about the snow by the sound it's making. The quieter the snow, the better it is. In the West, the groomers are generally best in the morning. But if you're in a spring situation, or out east, and you've got a melt/freeze cycle going on, the groomers are probably not so good early on and might be what I call "loud snow."
5. GO LOW-TECH:
Nowadays everybody has GPS's and music players and phones and wires coming out of everywhere. It's just too much. Put that stuff away. Just go have fun.
Five Tips From Zoya DeNure
Iditarod racer and former model DeNure, 32, is a year-round resident of Paxson, Alaska
1. FUNCTION OVER FASHION:
I always wear fleece mittens under a bigger set of mittens. For feet, I go with Bunny Boots ($79; bunnyboots.com). They're ugly as sin and they're heavy, but they can handle minus 60. You can go through water and your feet stay dry.
2. PROTECT YOUR BASE:
A good base layer is extremely important. My favorite is the Merino 4 Classic Crew, by Patagonia ($125; patagonia.com). But when I started out I had very little money, so I wore Duofold's Women's Mid-Weight Long Sleeve Crew ($25; duofold.com).
3. CHOOSE BACON:
When your body switches over into survival mode, you need a lot of fat and you need it quick. You'll see Iditarod racers out there eating sticks of butter. I like bacon, because it's quick and easy and you can make it at home beforehand. We send it to the checkpoints ahead of time in little baggies.
4. HOTTER DOGS:
My dogs wear locally made Kipmik coats, which have a waterproof shell and thick fleece on the inside. They hang down low enough to completely protect them from frostbite. If it's minus 20 outside, they'll wear them when they're running.
5. NO TENT REQUIRED:
I sleep much better outside, under the stars. Spruce branchesor any branchesunder your sleeping bag keep you off the snow. I snuggle with my dogs, but a good sleeping bag is important. I have Mountain Hardwear's minus-40-degree Ghost SL ($680; mountainhardwear.com).