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Your ski trips can be even better!

I have been skiing seriously since 1978 and hope I can provide you with some "how to" ski trip ideas.  Some tips will make your ski trip more enjoyable by removing stresses and inconveniences; such as automotive problems that can just ruin your ski trip.  Other important ideas for your trips involve saving money and some thoughts about your lodging!  Comfort is crucial on a successful ski trip with any kind of group; some skiing comfort methods below.  There are the inevitable safety tips suggestions; these are unique too!

Important, do not miss the unique automotive ideas below.

My number one idea for comfort, Hot Buns!

Even if the lift has foam covers, it can snow or rain, hot buns keep your butt dry!  Frequently you will not need long johns; the ski lift can really suck the warmth out of you, but not with Hot Buns on!
Sorry cannot find a source that is not sold out!

Comfort while skiing

  • To stay warm, look at the mountain. Where is the sun shining? Go there (except in the Spring).  Pick the areas well illuminated by the sun, not in the shade.  Follow the sunlight all day long, a lot of skiers do not.  If there are South facing slopes hit these pretty early in the day unless it is extremely cold.  Wind is a major factor too!  Also make sure how have some space blankets.  They are very cheap.
  • To avoid killing yourself, during Spring skiing start your morning at lower elevations and then as the day progresses work your way up the mountain and away from the sun!  (it is warm outdoors in the Spring).  You can stay on hard pack all day and only have to ski "the mush" on the last run to the lodge.
  • If you can, try skiing on that day with a light rainfall.  It can be excellent!  Cut a whole in the top of a trash bag.  (Now you can buy these great fanny warmers to keep your butt dry).
  • BUY SKI PANTS, do not wear jeans.  This could make the difference between you enjoying skiing for life and giving it up!  On cold days wear long johns underneath the pants.  On warm days just wear your underwear (under your pants).  Bring a pair of jeans to change into for Après Ski!
  • Boot warmers can be awesome, especially for your partner, again this could make the difference between a lifetime of skiing and giving up the sport!
  • On very cold days you are much better off with a real face mask.  Pulling a knit tube over your face can get very uncomfortable.  The whole thing will freeze into a clump due to the moisture in your breath.
  • Keep your ski boots warm before you ski.  Do not store them in the trunk, put them in the passenger compartment with you!  Many ski lodges (not areas) provide outlets in their boot storage area.  Note: Many lodges would prefer you not take your boots to your room; they certainly do not want you to wear them to and from your room!
  • The long lift ride mistake.  Your lodging is "on the mountain", first thing in the morning you ski for five minutes, then spend twenty minutes on the lift, this will make you feel awful!   Except for once or twice, just drive to the base lodge, wherever, and ski from there (unless it snows a foot, then tough it out!).  Sometimes that long trail to your lodge at the end of the day can be very tough, leading to injuries!
  • After a foot of powder, in the early morning, try to avoid the long flat "run outs" at the base of the mountain, they can be torture!  The ski areas will usually run a snowmobile to cut one narrow track in that deep new snow.  You will get a shot at the untracked powder, if you are willing to take the long sludge back at the bottom.


  • Ski shop discount tickets, are the number one savings.
    • Research ski shops near the ski area, and even within 120 miles of the ski area in major metropolitan areas, even if traveling to another state.
    • Winter fest days, senior discount, college discount days, demo days (free food, well perhaps hot dogs) and other activities.
    • Elk Mountain Winter Fest days cost $15.00 if you get a voucher at the appropriate ski shop!  Sometimes the shops are near Elk, sometimes they are mostly in the city suburbs, a 3 hour drive away!  Perhaps Elk will not have Winter Fest this year?  Check this out at your destination ski area!
  • Used equipment can be the BEST way to start out!  See below, try the links, search for used skis and rental skis, try composite poles or aluminum poles, in the sport category.  The rental equipment ski areas are providing can be excellent!  I participated in a Ski Instructors training course where they insisted I try some shaped ski's; man was I arcing some wild carved turns on those rental skis; it was fun!
  • Always bring your own drinks; coffee, water, soda, they can be half your lunch bill!
  • Always look at the 3,5, or 7 day packages from the ski lodge(s) you are considering for you ski trip.  It can usually be a good deal, including your lift ticket.  This can be very convenient, having your ticket before you arrive at the slopes!
  • Volunteer at the ski area, be an ambassador!  Or get a job there, it can be very easy.
  • If you have some ski skills, consider Ski Instructor Training School. While I decided not to instruct, I received 4 days of skiing and good training for $50!  Half the training was improving skiing skills!  If you really are going to instruct remember it will be mostly kids and you will only be paid when you are actively teaching. 


Goode composite poles are low cost and tough!


  • Skiing with a book in your jacket pocket, cracked ribs anyone, maybe?  Stomach muscle cramps two weeks later is a symptom of a cracked rib.  Ask your doctor.  I know I decided to try some moguls and fell right onto the paper back inside my jacket, ouch.  Two weeks later stomach muscle cramps.
  • Your leg may be broken, mine was, and I drove everybody home (4 hours!).  I did feel strange at the rest stop on the way home.  I went to the hospital the next day and found out my fibula was broken and walked out of the hospital with a cast.  Then I had to drive my 4 speed tranny Oldsmobile (with clutch) home from downtown Phili to my West Phili 3 story walkup apartment.  No one I called was home to help!
  • Do you taste blood after you whacked your head into the ground?  Maybe you have a concussion.
  • That toboggan ride can be cold and scary, do not ski over your head (too often!).  Back in the days of safety straps for skis, your skis could turn into little helicopter blades and whack you in the head.  A cut in your scalp really bleeds, so they thought I could have a concussion.  They took me down from not to far from the top of Killington in the toboggan.  The patroller, actually the area doctor, skated me uphill at one point, incredible!  It was very cold, and scary being strapped into that toboggan, your life is in the patrollers hands; they took me down some expert terrain in that thing!  You should have seen the stares, my head was bloody all over.  In the lodge the patrollers asked me "How much do you weigh?!!"  I went to the hospital and got five stitches in my head that day.  Sort of ruined the skiing for everyone in my group.
  • Powder Skiing; Great right!  If you fall, it is like falling into a pillow!  BUT, remember they will pack the powder down, defend yourself when you fall.  The powder makes you a lazy faller!  I have really messed up both of my shoulders by falling the day they packed down the powder.
  • I am thinking about a ski helmet.  I am guessing it could keep you very comfortable.  I know from riding dirt bikes they can be so light you barely notice you are wearing them, and they wil certainly keep your head warm; your head's where you lose most of your body heat.  People I have talked to on the slopes really like them.
This helmet looks like it is truly versatile. Special features to improve goggle air flow

Après Ski (after skiing!), or lunch time.

  • Find some locals and ask for the best places, sometimes they are just off the beaten path, the food and drink is better and cheaper.  Sometimes you do have to go to the most popular place.
  • Even during the day take your breaks at 10:45 AM and 1:30 PM, avoid the crowds and the lines!  Folks with kids are pretty much forced to eat and take breaks near noontime.  Look at the ski class schedules for kids and avoid the ending times for your break times.  If you have kids see if you can break out of the pattern, perhaps, with snacks on slope at 10:30, then try to make lunch at 1:00.  A later lunch may make the ride home quieter too!
  • Tailgate in the parking lot!  This is great during Spring Skiing season, plan ahead!

Lodging (Condo's mainly)

  • Bring fire starters, starting fires with paper is difficult, even dangerous, no liquid staters, even charcoal lighter is dangerous.
  • Starting the fire.  Hold some lit paper up the chimney (after opening the damper) to start the "draft".  This way you will not get smoke all over the lodge, then use your fire starters to light the wood!
  • Do not burn the coffee table!  We arrived at one ski lodge and found a partially burned coffee table sticking out of the fireplace.
  • DO NOT put dish detergent in the dish washer!  Use "dishwasher detergent" only, otherwise you will fill the kitchen with soap suds (which can be fun, till you have to clean it up!)
  • DON'T FORGET THE COFFEE!  You do not ever want to get a caffeine withdrawal headache on a ski trip.
  • COLDS.  Do not tell anybody, especially the ski area, but shots of Yukon Jack in the morning, did wonders for a buddy many years ago.
Rutland Firestarter Specs.

 Also known as Seymour Fire Blox

Ski Trip Tips - Travel

  • Air? Take your boots; rent skis and poles!  Pick them up the day you arrive, keep them for your whole trip.  You might have to pay excess baggage charges on the plane and your skis could be damaged too!  It could be cheaper to rent!
  • Taking a bus trip?  Even if you are in a Ski Club you may not be the only group on the bus.  The tip is avoid dissimilar age groups if possible.  We took one bus trip where there were two groups on the bus, our ski club, and another chaperoned? Group of teenagers?  We watched them load numerous cases, and even a keg, of beer under the bus.  Who knows what they brought on the bus.  Regardless some were loaded and one girl even barfed before the arrival at our intermediate lodging stop.  Nothing wrong with drinking, but this was out of control and the chaperones were clueless.
    Well in the morning our bus driver was livid.  "I had to clean that mess up last night before I went to bed".  "NO more drinking on the bus!".
  • Car Trip with a group?  Whenever you take a break, before resuming travel, take an inventory, people, purses, hats, jackets, gloves, etc.  Could save you a lot of driving!


Digital pressure for accuracy.

Keychain gauges too!

Only peaks battery! No recharge.

You could be a hero!
  • Avoiding battery and starter problems
    • Buy a solar battery peak'er.  They just keep your battery topped off and warm!
    • Jumper cables, and/or, jump start battery pack with tire inflator.  I must say the jump start pack has saved me.  Even more so, the tire inflator.  Modern cast wheels sometimes will slowly leak if you park with one of the balancing weights at the bottom.  This happened to us a Mt. Snow.  Pumped it up, and there were no problems for the rest of our travels.  Run the engine when you use the inflator, it is faster and will not drain your battery!
      If your battery just cranks your car too slowly?  Stop cranking NOW and turn on your cars blower fan, say on medium.  Let this run for 10-15 minutes.  Now turn the fan off and wait for a minute or two.  Now try to crank your engine!  This process heats your battery slowly and evenly and may give you enough juice to get started!  It has saved me at least two times.  Now go out and buy a new battery, it is time, unless you discharged it yourself.
    • The completely dead battery may not be dead at all, just wiggle the terminals, and if this works what you should do very soon.  What you should do is clean and then grease the terminals.  Remember on almost all modern cars remove the negative terminal first for safety!  This prevents you from accidentally shorting the positive terminal to any metal part of your car and causing all sorts of problems!
  • Parking
    • Emergency brakes, when to use and when not to use.  The frozen cable nightmare.  We were ready to ski, but the car was not.  The left rear parking break cable had frozen locking the parking break for the left rear on.  I was unaware of this till I tried to drive away, the car's rear end kept slewing to the right!
      If you are parked on level ground, do not use your parking break, the cable could freeze leaving you with a nightmare.
    • If your car is newer and front wheel drive and you park on a hill, then use your parking brake, AND, if it is a manual leave it in gear!  This locks all 4 wheels making it less likely your car will slide down the hill AFTER you get out of it.  Once we parked our car on a hill behind another.  An hour later I was getting a hard time about the fact our car had run into the rear of the car in front of it!  There was plenty of clearance when we parked it, but you could see the skid marks where it had just slid several feet to bump the car in front.  Sorry rear wheel drive cars can only lock two of four wheels!
    • Parking orientation, hood out (back in if possible), downhill, near lot exit or on street.  Also facing sun if possible.  Leave some room behind your vehicle.  If you can park with your hood out, do so, this facilitates jump starts at the end of the day!
    • Parking at your lodging, avoid far out downhill locations, the back drag story.  Remember you want it to snow, BUT, you do not want your car stuck 100 ft. from the road, when you have to dig out in the morning.  Park as near to the primary road as you can for a quick exit.  Blocking any safety equipment or accesses is not a good idea!  If you are stuck and you see a loader or plow in the area, try to get their attention, they may help you out!  A nice guy at Mt. Snow "back dragged" a path for about 100 ft. to help us get our car out after a more than a foot of snow fell overnight.
  • Push starting a manual transmission, pop the clutch using second gear, not first.  It works better!
  • Gas, dry gas, seasonal fuel problems.  It is colder where you ski.  If you are driving from a warmer to cooler location for your trip especially early in the season, add some dry gas to your fuel!  Near Pico Vermont nearly everyone's car in the parking lot would not start, Saturday morning early season.  It was a jump start fest and even then the cars wanted to take the day off.
  • Antifreeze, you guys from Florida should use some!  A friend of mines car seriously overheated the second day of a 7 day ski trip.  The freeze out plugs in his engine block pushed out!  Fortunately, no engine block cracks and a local shop was able to repair the damage.  (And put in some anti-freeze!)
  • Tires
    • Your electric tire inflator is a life saver, as I mentioned above.  Rotate your tires so the best tread is on the driven wheels.  Blow the tires up to maximum pressure (do not exceed).
  • Getting Un Stuck
    • Always carry a shovel, NOT a snow shovel, in your car!
    • Sand, tube sand, in the trunk on a rear wheel drive car makes an incredible difference.  And the sand can help get you out of a rut.
  • Other TIPS for your Ski Trip
    • Ice scraper, you have to have one, a brass blade works well if you can find it.
    • Restart your engine upon arrival, to avoid a frozen starter and starter solenoid problems.  Then rev your engine slightly for a minute to recharge your battery, then shut off from an idle.  Moisture can freeze on your starter motor's commutator, the starter will do nothing after your long hard day of skiing.  That can be very depressing.
    • Do not idle or warm up your car for long periods.  Short periods Ok, long periods will promote later freeze up of windows, doors, locks, etc.  It is better if frost and condensation just remains frozen where it was, not jamming your windows, door locks, hood latch, emergency brake cables, etc.
    • Use LOW temperature windshield washer fluid, the blue stuff does not cut it.  The stuff with methanol, although less safe, works best.
    • There are winter windshield wiper blades available and they do work much better.

I hope these ski trip tips help you truly enjoy you next ski trip!










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Copyright 2003-2016 Robert Matheson.  All rights reserved.  Email Bob at BobsHowTo.com - . 

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